Category Archives: Other

Gluten-Free for Good: Simple, Wholesome Recipes Made from Scratch by Samantha Seneviratne

27774473No meal should be defined by what’s not there.Gluten-Free for Good has 100 easy, healthful gluten-free recipes that are so delicious you’ll never miss the gluten.

Here are dishes you may have thought you’d never enjoy again—not without resorting to expensive packaged gluten-free foods that aren’t as delicious or healthful as the real thing. These quick-cooking meals are for any time of day, all made from scratch without hard-to-digest processed additives like xanthan or guar gum. – Goodreads

I am not Celiac, nor am I diagnosed with a gluten allergy or sensitivity. That being said, I do notice that I have a reaction when I eat gluten after a period of avoiding it. Does this mean I have a sensitivity? I don’t know. Does this mean I should eliminate it? I don’t know. Do I believe that gluten is the devil? No. I have been trying to make a more conscious effort of eliminating it from my diet, though, as the digestive issues and achy joints that I experience after consuming it are annoying and probably not normal as compared to how I feel when I eat other things.

So, long story short, I saw this on Blogging for Books and jumped at the opportunity to review it.

Upon first flip through, I noticed the bright photography, tons of recipes, and thickness of the pages. This book is constructed well, and I had a difficult time narrowing down what I wanted to make — everything looked so good!

One gripe: many of the recipes were things that wouldn’t have had gluten in them to begin with, such as chicken and potatoes or sweet potato spinach hash. The recipes that included gluten-subs made up for it, but it still seemed odd.

Recipes vary from simple/few ingredients to much more laborious endeavors.

For the record — the Miso Shrimp with Snap Peas was the This will be a permanent weeknight staple.

I rated this a 4/5 on Goodreads — many of the recipes didn’t seem very imaginative, but the photography was beautiful and I enjoyed the idea behind it—it’s not defined by what isn’t there. I received this through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


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Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season: 165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes, and More

257172975 fresh ingredients + 5 minutes of heat = 165 recipes
Ridiculously easy from-scratch recipes to get you in and out of the kitchen in a flash every day of the week—now with sides and holiday dishes, too

The follow-up to the bestselling Michael Symon’s 5 in 5, this new book delivers 165 quick, easy, fresh recipes organized by season with an entire section devoted to making the holidays simpler than ever. Each chapter features inspired main courses as well as recipes for sides and 5 fun ways to celebrate the season, including no-bake summer fruit desserts and spiked drinks to warm up with in winter.

I loved the idea of this—five fresh, seasonal ingredients that can be cooked in five minutes. I work eight hours a day (occasionally 10-12) and don’t want to spend my evening cooking. I’d like to make something healthy and fresh in less than thirty minutes.

So, I picked this up and chose three recipes from the fall/winter categories. I chose one “sketchy” sounding one, one I knew HAD to be good, and one I wasn’t sure on.

unnam1111111edPork & Cranberries

I wasn’t sure on this one, but the thought of Thanksgiving cranberries had me like, yeah. The ingredients were easy to find (oranges, jalapeno, ginger, cranberries). Prep took about fifteen minutes to mince the jalapeno, juice and zest the oranges and grate the ginger. The verdict? 2/5. The cranberries were SO bitter that we couldn’t even eat them….we just ate the pork (which was delish).

unnam1111edPulled Chicken, Rigatoni & Feta Cheese

I had a 12-hour day, so the husband made this one. He says it was super easy and he liked how easy the directions were. The only thing that was off was the serving size—we made a GIANT pot of pasta using these directions and it easily served 8 rather than 4. It tasted alright, though! I think 3tbsp of salt in the pasta is a little much. I’d rate this one 3/5.

unn2amedPork & Gingered Plums

This one sounded sketchy, but I think you have to try the sketchy ones to see if a cookbook is all it’s cracked up to be. Believe it or not, this one was my favorite. Husband also prepped and cooked this one. The pork was great, and the plums were weird in a good way. The cilantro really added the final touch it needed to balance out the sweet.

Overall, I wasn’t that happy with this cookbook. I rated it a 3/5. Maybe my tastes aren’t that refined or something, but I wasn’t a huge fan of what I had.


I received this from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday Things 10/08


This isn’t book related necessarily, but it definitely hits home. Have you ever felt like you’re an imposter in your job or career? I have. Here’s an amazing article on Impostor Syndrome: Why You Feel Like a Fraud & How To Overcome It. Lots of Lean In references here.

Banned Book Week was last week, but here’s an interesting article on the most banned YA books from 2014-2015. How many of them have you read? I was surprised to see that I’ve read at least half of them. And speaking of banned books—how scandalous is your reading history? I was disappointed to only have read 29 out of 93 banned books—I need to work on that!

Which Harry Potter character will you go trick-or-treating with according to your birth months? Apparently I’d go with Draco, which sounds like pure hell.


I’ve been trying to read the Mortal Instruments series before the TV show premieres (it’s not happening people… Clary is just too much!) & if you’re like me, you should definitely check out this list of books being adapted into movies. We can read them all and go see the moves and snark on how bad they were! #goodplan

This (huge) list of Harry Potter fan-art is absolutely amazing. It’s so interesting to see how other people view it, and the talent that some of them have is brilliant! My favorite is #18, Molly & Arthur Weasley.

Ok. So you guys know that I’m obsessed with Twitter, the Royal family, celebrities, reality TV, etc. etc. right? Well, my absolute FAVORITE person to follow on all social media platforms is Chrissy Teigen (she is HILARIOUS!!!) and guess what. Her and John Legend just optioned a sitcom based on their lives! WHAT. I will totally be tuning in!

Have you seen these house-themed Harry Potter box sets? I totally want the Hufflepuff set but $275.00 for a set of 7 books is steeeeeep. The site has a lot of really cool book sets though, so definitely take a look around!

Linda Belcher is my spirit animal and this solidifies it. She is the best!



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Read It, Watched It: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlander_keyart_1200If I had to choose a favorite hobby besides reading, I would choose binge watching television. If I had to pick something besides that, I would pick watching shows/movies based on books and ripping them apart.

I’ve yet to watch something that beats the book. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to even get close to the book. There are some exceptions, such as Harry Potter, but even those could be a disappointment at times. I didn’t like The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Eragon. The only movies I like better than the books seem to be Nicholas Sparks books.

Seriously, he is gorgeous.

Seriously, he is gorgeous.

But damn, guys, damn. They really hit the nail on the head with the Outlander series.

I read Outlander last September, but haven’t had a chance to read the rest of the series yet. My husband was on a business trip this week and I thought hey, what the hell, I’m going to rent it from Hastings.

I loved it just as much as I loved the books. The actors they chose were perfect, I’m about 120% more in love with Jamie, and the production quality is fantastic.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I strongly recommend it! Actually—read the book first. Then watch it. You won’t regret it.

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DNF: Life Is Too Short To Read Books You Don’t Like

When I first started blogging, I finished everything I picked up. Whether it took me a day or a week to slog through something I hated, I finished. I viewed myself as a failure if I didn’t finish.

Guess what? I’m no longer afraid to slap DNF @ 25% (because I always give it until at least 25% before setting it down) on a book. It’s a classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me situation’—there are books out there that other people rave about and I just can’t get into. And visa versa. I’ve liked plenty of low-rated books.

296490_464319116922067_1857195089_n1Here’s the deal. If you were to read every book logged by The Library of Congress, it would take you about 60,000 years to finish them all. Let’s scale it back for moment. If you were to read every book released in the span of one week (roughly 2,800 books), it would take you about five years and four months to read them.

Damn! I’m constantly adding to my TBR pile, and there is about 511 books on my Goodreads list. That alone would take me about five years to complete, if I were to read at my current pace. That doesn’t account for the number of new books I add to my list as they’re released or I discover them. My point? Ain’t nobody got time for books they don’t like!

Do you guys DNF? Or do you soldier on?

Happy Saturday, folks!

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Hurry! The Magician’s Lie giveaway ends tonight!

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9781402298684_3DSourcebooks, the publisher of The Magician’s Lie, has graciously given us a physical copy to give away to one lucky reader! Today is the last day to enter, so hurry and enter before it ends.

To enter, go to our Rafflecopter entry form. There are several different ways to earn extra entries.

The contest ends at midnight on Thursday, December 18th. The winner will be contacted the following tomorrow!

Read our review of The Magician’s Lie!
click here

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Lauren’s Uppercase Review

I am no stranger to subscription boxes—Nailette, PopSugar, ipsy, Birchbox, Petit Vour…you name it, I’ve probably signed up for it. Why it never dawned on me to search for a book themed subscription box, I’ll never know—but Kiesha told me about Uppercase Box and I knew I had to try it!

Uppercase is a YA subscription box service. There are two options: Expert Pick ($29) where they choose a book they think everyone will love, or the Personalized Rec ($35) where they choose something specifically for you. Being a cheapskate and thrill-seeker, I rolled with the Expert Pick.

So cute!

So cute!

The packaging is adorable! It was obviously sent in a plastic mailer, not this. I was thrilled to feel a hardcover book.


Bertie Botts Beans and book swag!

The Expert Pick option includes book swag, a book, and a book item. My book item was a small box of Bertie Botts Beans, which is extremely creepy because my co-worker and I were reminiscing about booger-flavored beans just this week.


What’s better than book swag? Autographed book swag.

I received Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little. It looks like something I would have picked out myself, so I’m pretty excited about that. I also got an autographed card and a pin. Each Uppercase box includes a handwritten note from the Uppercase creator, so that’s pretty nifty, too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this subscription box. However, I will not be resubscribing due to the cost—it’s a little too steep for me.

I bought this box with my own money—no perks involved!

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Happy Thanksgiving: Books We Are Thankful For

Books we're

To many people, a book is just a book. To us, a book has the power to change a life, a perspective, a bad day into a good one, a regular moment into an extraordinary one. A book has the power to transport you to another place, another person’s life, another time. In the spirit of thankfulness, we would like to highlight the books that we are most thankful for.

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The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

6I wouldn’t be doing my list justice if I didn’t mention Harry Potter. I first picked up Harry Potter from my local library in 1999. I was almost ten and actually believed that my American Hogwarts letter would come in the next year. After finishing the first book, I immediately ran out (just kidding—my mom drove me) to the library to pick up the Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. By the time I’d finished, my entire family was hooked on the book. My first midnight release party at Barnes and Noble was for the Chamber of Secrets—that’s right—my mom let me stay up past midnight.

As a homeschooled kid who lived in the country, friends were sparse. Books, on the other hand, were numerous, and my only rule at the library was that if I couldn’t physically carry the stack, I had to put some back. I grew very strong for such a nerdy child. Harry Potter was the first real series that I became an obsessive fangirl with, and I continue to hold that status today.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler

94053This book gave me the travel bug, and a love of learning about other cultures. I read this during my sophomore year of college; I was in an Eastern Civilizations class, and this was an assigned reading. I read it in a week. It was truly the first nonfiction book I read that I really, really felt a connection to. It made me want to join the Peace Corps for several years before I decided against it. I haven’t re-read it since that class, but I think I ought to.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I read Life As We Knew It for a Teen’s Choice Award committee I was involved in for the library (because I wasn’t nerdy enough in high school, being on yearbook, newspaper, and showing chickens in 4-H). It’s about a girl who is trying to survive with her family when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth, creating disaster and devastation all over the globe. It made me realize how unprepared we all would be in that situation, and that we need to stop taking our way of life for granted.

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60510The Study Series by Maria V. Snyder

I know I sound like a broken record here, but seriously. THESE BOOKS. I feel like before I (finally) read Poison Study, I was kind of at a stagnant place with reading. I would read all of these books and while I liked them, I wouldn’t get as sucked in as I remember getting when I was younger and I couldn’t figure out why. Reading this series has completely changed that and renewed my hope in books, renewed that hunger for reading that I’ve always had and that had somehow dwindled over the past years. So thankful Lauren recommended the series, and so thankful that I finally started reading it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah1472878

I can’t NOT put this book on here. I read it and recognized the similarities between Kate & Tully’s lives and mine & my best friend’s and immediately made her read it. We’ve both read it numerous times since then and it’s just as good the 2nd and 3rd times as it is the 1st.

hpThe Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

We moved around a lot when I was growing up, and I remember before I made any friends in my newest neighborhood, I would spend all of my free time reading these books. I even made my mom buy me all of them because the library closest to our house always had an insane wait list for them. HP and all of this friends (and foes) got me through starting new schools, making new friends, and dealing with the angsty teenage feels that we all go through. As I got older, the series became a way to bond with my younger brother and brought us closer than we ever would have been without them. Hogwarts and Harry, every character and every setting, JK Rowling herself… they’re all lifesavers and I will forever be grateful for it all.


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Lauren’s Picks: Gifts for Book Lovers

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Unsure of what to get for the book nerd in your life? Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the internet for the coolest budget-friendly holiday gifts. Have other ideas? Post them in the comments!

Harry Potter Dumbledore Quote Print – $15

SimpleSerene | Etsy

SimpleSerene | Etsy

This is one of my absolute favorite quotes, and I love the font and design of this print. You could pick up a $5 frame from Target or Walmart to complete the gift.

Brave New World Shirt – $28

Out of Print

Out of Print

This is a fabulous unisex gift—not to mention, there are plenty more options on their website! Simply choose their favorite classic book and you’re set.

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