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Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith and Enduring Love by Lia Huber

A noted entrepreneur, food writer, and recipe developer serves up an evocative adventure story abouther quest to find healing, meaning, and a place at the table.

Hunger comes to us in many forms, writes Lia Huber–we long to be satisfied not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Nourished invites readers on Huber’s world-roaming search to find the necessary ingredients to nurture all three.
She begins her quest with an Anthony Bourdain moment in a Guatemalan village: she’s slipping fresh vegetables into a communal pot of soup she’s cooking up for chronically undernourished children. Village grannies look on disapprovingly… until the kids come back for more.
From there, Huber takes readers to the Greek island of Corfu, where she learns the joys of simple food and the power of unconditional love; to a Costa Rican jungle house (by way of an 8,000-mile road trip), where she finds hope and healing; and finally to California’s wine country, where she steps into the person she was meant to be and discovers her calling to nourish others. – Goodreads

This book made me so hungry, but it was a great read. Lia’s writing is beautiful and descriptive, and drew me in immediately. Food is a way to bring people together, and this memoir detailed the different “kinds” of food Lia needed throughout her life. I did not realize the book would be so spiritual, but it wasn’t over the top and didn’t turn me off from reading it.

At the end of each chapter was a recipe, but the memoir was much more than a cookbook. Also, I haven’t tried any of the recipes…yet.

I loved the central theme behind the book — nourishment. Nourishment is provided in a series of ways, emotionally and physically.

I’m not sure what else to say about this book — it’s definitely worth a read and would make a great gift. Thank you to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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United States of Jihad by Peter Bergen

In the wake of the attacks at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, and in Paris, here is a riveting, panoramic look at “homegrown” Islamist terrorism, from 9/11 to the present

Since 9/11, some 300 Americans–born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey, and elsewhere–have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. Some have taken the fight abroad: Americans were among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more recently a dozen US citizens have sought to join ISIS. Others have acted entirely on American soil. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our aggressive efforts to track them?

Paced like a detective story, United States of Jihad will tell the entwined stories of the key actors on the American front. Among the perpetrators are Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born radical cleric who became the first American citizen killed by a CIA drone and who mentored the Charlie Hebdo shooters; Samir Khan, whose Inspire webzine has rallied terrorists around the world, including the Tsarnaev brothers; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama native and hip hop fan who became a fixture in al Shabaab’s propaganda videos until fatally displeasing his superiors. Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen also offers an inside look at the sometimes controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists–from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of US policies on terrorism; and more.

Lucid, rigorously researched, and packed with fascinating new details, United States of Jihad is the definitive account of the Americans who have embraced militant Islam both here and abroad.

I’ve been TERRIBLE about reading non-fiction, which is why I decided to get this book. While I was in the Academy, one of our units we studied was Homeland Security — though we discussed international terrorism, we spent a bulk of our time talking about homegrown terrorism.

United States of Jihad was obviously well researched and well-written. It definitely challenged my thinking and made me realize the dangers that lurk on our own soil.

The current boogeyman of the terrorism world is ISIS. ISIS has successfully used social media to spread their propaganda and recruit new members — many of whom they encourage to stay at home to further their agenda.

I’m not quite sure how to give a full, in-depth review of this book without making it sound like CliffNotes — if you’re interested in learning more about terrorism, definitely check out this book. Thank you to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to review this.

Wake Up To The Joy of You by Agapi Stassinopoulos

This is your year of self-discovery, a journey to create a life filled with grace, meaning, zest, peace, and joy. With warmth and wisdom from a lifetime of spiritual seeking, inspirational force Agapi Stassinopoulos guides you through fifty-two weeks of letting go of what doesn t work for you and finding what does. You ll cultivate the building blocks of self-care (meditation, health, making time for yourself) and confront the common roadblocks we all face, like pouring your energy into other people or living in denial. You ll explore your conflict areas, such as relationships, money, self-esteem, anxiety, and your childhood. And you ll learn to trust your creativity, keep your heart open, and connect to the bigger spirit that lives inside you.
Keep this book by your bedside. It is your loving companion. Be creative and have fun with it. Use it as a tool to unlock your goodness, and wake up to the joy of you! – Goodreads

This little book…I love it.

I requested it through Blogging for Books (in exchange for an honest review!) because nothing else even remotely piqued my interest. I figured, hey, I just took my first step into adult coloring which is said to be a form of meditation…maybe I should try legit meditation. So I requested it.

It took forever to appear on my doorstep, and I actually thought I’d provided the wrong address. But, in the nature of things, it came at the perfect time.

Disclaimer: this is a very spiritual book, and I’m about to throw down some spiritual stuff in this review. Usually my reviews are just about this book, but this is going to get personal.

I believe that the universe/God/whatever you want to call it sends the right message at the right time. Life is full of trials and triumphs, but sometimes those trials — those moments where your faith is tested — can be incredibly difficult.

This book showed up on my doorstep in a moment of self-doubt. Now, the book features 52 chapters — each one has a different theme or message and a guided meditation to ruminate on that message. Rather than go through in order, I decided to flip to a random one. “29. Find Your Confidence and Be Bold” was my chapter that I randomly landed on, and holy shit did I need to read it. It was literally a chapter on embarking on a new journey — whether it be a new project, relationship or -ahem- job, it talked about self-doubt, self-criticism, and using opportunities to grow, test your limits, and move forward. After skimming through the other chapters, it couldn’t have been more perfect in that moment.

Fast forward a few days, the morning of my snowy PT test. My anxiety was through the god damn roof. In the words of Eminem, “Success is my only option, failure’s not” because if you fail the test, you’re booted out. ANXIETY ANXIETY ANXIETY. While waiting for my ride (my two-wheel drive car has zero chill in the snow), I flipped to another random chapter. This one (“19. The Art of Letting Go”) was about breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Let go of anxiety. I breathed and I let go, and when they told us we would be doing the test indoors…well, it was awesome. I know I could have also gotten through it had we done it outside, too.

The chapters are two to four pages long and are quick, easy reads. The idea is to do one a week and ruminate on it that week. My only gripe is how long the actual guided meditations are — I found it extremely difficult to remember a page of guided meditation without reading it (because the idea is to meditate). I think they could have definitely been shorter. It’s a great addition to the nightstand, that’s for sure!

I rated this one a 4/5.

 

Where has 2016 gone?

I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by.

I can’t believe how many books I haven’t read this year.

I wanted to read 52 (at minimum!) but only managed to read 30.

It’s a been a source of anxiety and stress for me — I run a book review blog, for heaven’s sake. Shouldn’t I be voraciously reading??

I suppose that’s the point of this blog, though. Sometimes the life that happens between reads, well, sometimes it’s a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t leave much room for reading at all. And you know what? That’s okay.

This year has been an amazing year of huge life changes. In the last twelve months, I got a divorce, did a lot of soul searching, sold my house, turned 25, moved in with my fantastic boyfriend, and found out I’m going to police academy in a week (I currently do PR; this is a HUGE career change, y’all). It was up and it was down. But mostly up, and forward, forward, forward. I am so thankful for this year, despite the low points and major life lessons I’ve learned. In fact, I’m grateful for them, too — they’ve gotten me to where I am. I am so excited for what this new year will bring.

Instead of looking at my book count as a failure this year, I’d like to accept it as a challenge for next year. I’ll continue reading, but enjoy the life in between, too.

 

 

 

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

28114396Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. – Goodreads

When I first started reading this, I was like, awww yeah. I love me some YA fantasy.

And then I found myself getting progressively more and more annoyed. At first I thought Brita was a badass (don’t get me wrong, she is — she can definitely handle her own) but one moony-eyed look from the dude she loved and she’s twitterpated and dumb. I also felt that as a reader, I wasn’t really shown that Britta was as strong of a heroine as I was told.

So yeah, I was annoyed.

The book started fairly slow — I was into it, but it took a while for the storyline to really get moving. Britta is trying to find her father’s murderer, which involves some adventuring, getting captured multiple times, running from her jailers, etc.

I don’t know. I just thought it was predictable and the romance was dull. The worldbuilding was okay, but I never really felt pulled in. I rated this a 2/5 on Goodreads.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Brace Yourself: NaNoWriMo Is Coming

First — how the hell is it November already? This year has flown by. They say it only gets worse as you get older — and I believe it. This year has been a crazy year — full of major life changes, challenges and risks. LBR has definitely suffered as a result, but I’m looking forward to getting it back on track.

Speaking of LBR suffering — I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, meaning reviews will be rather slow this month. I anticipate some cookbook reviews (because I need writing fuel, obviously) but I’m trying to limit my novel consumption so I can focus on production.

If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s essentially a month from hell where you write a 50,000 word novel…in a month. That’s about 1,667 words a day. This is (I believe) my sixth year participating, and I’ve only ever finished once. I usually peter out at the 20,000-30,000 word point because I fall behind. I’m hoping this time will be different, but I’ve also lost the shiny eyed, bright, optimistic attitude about it 😉

Wish me luck! Who else is participating?

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion by Danielle Walker

From the two-time New York Times best-selling author ofthe Against All Grain series, comes 125 recipes for grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free comfort food recipes for holidays and special occasions.

When people adopt a new diet for health or personal reasons, it’s the parties, holidays, and events with strong food traditions they worry about most. In Celebrations, best-selling author Danielle Walker provides recipes and menus for twelve special occasions, from a child’s birthday party and baby shower, to a backyard barbeque, romantic Valentine’s Day dinner for two, and even a Halloween party. Of course, Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve party, and Easter/Passover brunch are also covered–along with suggestions for beverages and cocktails and the all-important desserts. Nearly every recipe is photographed, and food and party images shot on location provide beautiful and creative entertaining ideas. Delicious and easy-to-prepare dishes encourage the whole family to get into the kitchen and create lasting memories–no matter what the occasion. – Goodreads

This is hands-down my favorite gluten-free book that I own. I enjoyed Walker’s original Against the Grain, but this one is awesome. I don’t usually go out of my way to make special GF dishes — it’s pretty easy to avoid it and still eat well. However, holidays and special events are HARD. This is nice to have on hand to make a substitution for myself or to bring something GF friendly. It includes major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas and Easter, but also throws in Mother’s Day, birthdays, New Year’s Eve, etc.

First, the photography is awesome. I want to eat everything in there. Most of the ingredients are pretty standard GF materials, so as long as your GF pantry is already stocked, that shouldn’t be an issue.

A bonus? Most of the recipes are paleo-compliant, and also tend to eliminate other ingredients that folks may be allergic to, such as nightshades, dairy, eggs, etc. The recipes themselves are easy to follow.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to those with allergies and intolerances. I’m looking forward to the upcoming holiday season to test these recipes out!

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

L

 

The Basque Book by Alexandra Raij, Eder Montero, Rebecca Flint Marx

25893750A collection of 100 Basque recipes from Alex Raij and Eder Montero, the acclaimed chef-owners of New York City restaurants Txikito, La Vara, and El Quinto Pino.

Few cuisines have captured more diners’ imaginations, or inspired more chefs and restaurants around the world than that of Spain. And within the Spanish culinary pantheon, Basque cooking from the north is considered one of the country’s most fascinating and essential traditions. In Basque, star chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero take readers on a tour of the Basque countryside, in the process revealing the iconic ingredients, cooking techniques, and traditional dishes that define Basque cooking. They also share dishes from their award-winning New York restaurants, all inspired by the Basque kitchen but featuring elegant preparations and delightfully unexpected flavor combinations. The result is a complete primer on Basque cooking, with a wide array of recipes, ranging from a simple pil pil or refrito to showstopping pintxos and mains. – Goodreads

The first thing I noticed about this book was how incredibly thick and dense it was. There’s something I love about dense book — it’s so full of information, and The Basque Book was no let down. Filled from cover-to-cover with beautiful photography and commentary, it was almost overwhelming.

I live in Boise, which has a robust Basque community (hence requesting this book for review). What I did not realize, however, is how unique their food and culture is. So many of the dishes in this book look amazing, however, I live in Boise — they don’t exactly sell squid ink at Walmart. There are also a lot of seafood recipes, which are difficult for me based on my location. Not the book’s fault, but I wish I would have been able to use the book fully — I was definitely limited.

This was a beautiful book, but is definitely suited for those who are more advanced at cooking and have access to specialty ingredients. I rated it a 4/5. I received a copy of The Basque Book in exchange for my honest review through Blogging for Books.

L

Big News!

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Over the past few months, I’ve taken a break from doing all of the things to focus more on myself and my family. There have been ups and downs and lots of crazy thrown in, and when slowly adding things back in… I realized that my heart is no longer in blogging. I’ve been half-assing it for awhile now and to be honest, knowing that I needed to write a post for every book I read was making me not want to read at all. And that’s the opposite of what we wanted to do with this blog.

That being said, I’m stepping away. Lauren will take over LBR and keep it up and running – she loves it and will take care of it like only she could. I have full faith in her ability – and she will probably do way better on her own than with me stuck to her side.

Keep reading. And if you want to see what I’m reading and not blogging about, you can come find me on Goodreads.

xoxo.

K

You read how much? My 2016 year in review

I’m simultaneously pissed and thrilled that I read 113 books this year. Pissed because I didn’t nail my original goal of 150, thrilled because 113 is an impressive stack of books.

According to Goodreads, I read 40,509 pages. I read about 810 words a minute, according to super official free online reading speed tests. There are generally about 275 words per page, so that’s roughly 13,740 minutes of reading time, or 229 hours. AKA 9.5 straight days of reading. Damn.

I love my book blogger life. ❤

L