Book Reviews Page 4
Mary E. Trimble has written a great novel that kept me on the edge until the very end of the book. I was so involved with the emotional side of this story and couldn’t predict how the story would end, and that makes for a good book, in my opinion. I loved the way that Ms. Trimble began each chapter with a newspaper article relating to Mount St. Helens in 1980, which was an integral part of this book. I must admit that I’ve never been a history buff, but when put into a book in this fashion, it works for even me! It is a gifted writer that can combine the history with the romance and suspense.
The characters were so real and believable. Corrie, who is dealing with the emotions of a divorce, leaves the city to go out and research the life of ranching. She meets up with J McClure, who is a widower with a daughter, who is running a huge cattle ranch. For very different reasons neither one of them thinks they are ready for any romance in their life. Mary Trimble does an excellent job of pulling her readers into the story of these two lives and keeps readers wondering until the very end to discover just how things turn out for Corrie and J. Tenderfoot is a real page turner, for sure.
Many books come across my desk, but I must say that Tenderfoot is one that touched my heart and because of that was one that I didn’t want to put down. Readers who enjoy romance and suspense will find this book one that will linger with them for a long time to come. I have never considered myself someone who would enjoy a “Western,” but I can’t say that anymore, either. Thank you, Mary Trimble, for sharing your gift of writing with us. I can highly recommend Tenderfoot as a great read.
Selene of Alexandria by Faith L. Justice has already received many excellent reviews and I must say that they are all very well-deserved. Ms. Justice has written a superb piece of historical fiction. The amount of research she did to create this story is phenomenal. History has never been a subject that I preferred to study, but if I could have gone to particular eras via books like this it would have been a much-preferred journey. Selene of Alexandria is a wonderful introduction to the 5th Century AD. Ms. Justice spent seventeen years of her life researching the history of that time period and it is very evident within her book. She takes readers there with much detail about the daily living and happenings of the times. Readers will truly get a sense of the time when Selene (fictional character) lived among the other characters, which are based on historical figures.
The story of Selene introduces us to a young woman who is gifted and strong-willed. She finds it within her heart to want to become a physician but she needs to fight against the restrictions of her class, beginning with her father, to be able to make that happen. Selene was a member of the Christian upper class and their women were expected to live a life of leisure and becoming a physician would be out of the question. Selene figures out a way to study under the historical figure of Hypatia, a philosopher. While this struggle is going on in Selene’s life, the city is in a battle with the Christians fighting against the Jews and pagans. This book is filled with intensity and readers will find themselves on the edge of their chairs and holding their breath as many events occur. Ms. Justice doesn’t just tell us about this time period, she takes us there. This book will capture readers to the point of not wanting to put it down, and being disappointed when it comes to an end. I highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction (and to readers who aren’t history buffs, but want to learn about history in an entertaining way!)
Flavors of Friuli by Elisabeth Antoine Crawford has received nothing but five-star reviews and I can see why. It is a whole lot more than a cookbook of foods from Northeastern Italy. Ms. Crawford divides the book into the three geographic regions of Friuli: northern (Carnia Mountains), central (Hills and Plains), and Southern (Adriatic Coast). Each of those sections is then divided into these recipe sections: antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, and dolci. Be sure to read the preface of the book to find out why Ms. Crawford chose this region of Italy and just what her experiences were while she was there. It is a very interesting story to read. The book begins with a quick geography “lesson” followed up by some history.
Then Ms. Crawford takes you to each region in Friuli with wonderful descriptions and beautiful photographs. Not knowing Italian, I appreciated the translated names of the recipes which are provided. Each recipe has a paragraph of introduction and interesting facts. The recipes are set up well and easy to understand and follow with each one getting its own page with an accompanying full-page amazing photograph. I own many cookbooks and cooking magazines, but the Flavors of Friuli is simply amazing. Anyone interested in travel, Italy, and/or Italian cooking will find this a wonderful addition to their library…and for those wanting to test out these recipes you will be kept busy for a long while. It is very easy to flip through the book and when a food photo catches your attention, choose that recipe to make! It would be a challenge for someone to look through Flavors of Friuli and not find their mouth begin to water. Congratulations, Ms. Crawford, for an excellent job of producing your culinary journey.
When Cooking Wild in Kate’s Kitchen was available for a review, I jumped at the chance to review it. The subtitle is “Fabulous Venison Dishes from Fast to Fancy.” My husband and I have been married for thirty-eight years and he has been a hunter all of those years. I would have to say that the variety of ways that venison has been served has been minimal. We always get some of the venison made into brats and jerky, but then the rest is either ground or left to be turned into cutlets, roasts, steaks, and/or stew meat. The thought that we would have recipes to give us more opportunities to enjoy the venison thrilled me.
So, needless to say, Kate Fiduccia has added a cookbook to our kitchen that is going to get a lot of use. For instance, who would have thought of Tex-Mex Egg Rolls? Not me! I’m looking forward to one venison meal a week with Venison Steak Fajitas and Broccoli-Venison Stir-Fry being the next two on the meal agenda. Ms. Fiduccia has also added in recipes for breakfast which takes our venison meal out of a “dinner only” option. There are many options for meals with ground venison. Another addition that brings “spice” to the book is the chapter on marinades, rubs, butter, and sauces as well as the many recipes for foods to accompany venison dishes. Anyone that spends time in the kitchen realizes that these “up the options” for increased varieties in dishes.
Cooking Wild in Kate’s Kitchen also includes recipes from premier chefs. I found it very interesting to see how far Kate has gone to actually hunt big game. She states: “Some of these memorable meals were prepared by seasoned wild-game chefs in unique, five-star lodges, and some equally as unforgettable were prepared by camp chefs in cook tents located hours by horseback from civilization.” Now, just how exciting is that? She finishes up the book with recipes from other hunters and folks that love to cook wild game.
The book is very professionally written and would be a wonderful addition to any family’s cookbook collection that enjoys venison (or maybe hasn’t but this book would make that difference for them). I would like to thank Ms. Fiduccia for sharing these recipes with readers, and for making the venison meals at my home much more exciting. Now I can smile when I hear, “Honey, we’re having venison today.”
It is very evident that Ms. Martin has poured her heart and soul into her cookbook Magically Delicious! The subtitle of the book on the title page tells us it is full of “Meals Inspired to Create a Healthy Lifestyle.” Ms. Martin states: “Believe me when I say that living healthy doesn’t mean nasty or tasteless food; it means you have to use your imagination to come up with new and exciting alternatives.” She has had fun putting her own spin on some old classics as well as creating her own recipes. The book is filled with a variety of recipes including aphrodisiacs. How about that!
The recipes are set up one to a page, with the ingredients listed in a column, and then step-by-step directions which are very easy to follow. There has been discussion in some reviews about the pictures not being in color, which is disappointing, but I’m sure that is due to printing costs. Readers can check out a number of the foods in color on the Magically Delicious! website. (You can also order foods already prepared. How cool is that? Check it out!)
The recipes are such that you don’t have to go out of your way to get those “one time only” ingredients. Know what I mean? They also are simple enough that all cooks would enjoy making them. Ms. Martin included a great glossary and some cleaning tips, too. Without a table of contents, I find it an easy book to just flip through when looking for a great idea. I like those kinds of cookbooks…and think readers will find it a nice addition to their cookbook shelf.
As an editor, I couldn’t give Ms. Martin a five star rating because it is obvious to me that she has a bit to learn about the publishing end of things, but that doesn’t bring down a five star rating for the recipes themselves. For her creativity, spirit, and endeavors to help the health of others, she definitely gets a five-star rating from me.
Patrick Hafner, in The Ounces Countdown, has done a superb job of putting together a resource for anyone that wants to maintain their health. The people looking for a “quick fix” to their weight loss issues really need to read this book. Patrick Hafner states (and I couldn’t summarize it better): “The Ounces Countdown weight lost approach focuses more on the big picture, bringing several components together to make it all work, to make you healthier and stronger, and to lose weight if you need to. The focus is to lose weight gradually, safely, and, in some ways, effortlessly: One ounce at a time.”
The author divides the book into four main sections: 1) The concept, 2) Fuel, 3) Combustion, and 4) Putting it all together. The subsections are well laid out and titled so the book can easily be picked up and the reader is able to find a topic. Each topic is thorough and well-researched, but is short enough to make it a read that can be digested easily in a brief amount of time. This is a “wellness” book, NOT a diet book. However, all of your “diet” books on your bookshelf should be replaced by this one book and it will take you through the rest of your life as a healthy individual if you begin to implement the suggestions. Just think about how much room you’ll have for new books!
In The Ounces Countdown, Patrick Hafner tells us from experience what hasn’t worked in his life for over fifteen years, but the approaches in this book he’s been living for over six years, so he isn’t “telling” the reader what to do, he’s “sharing” what strategies he’s proven to be successful. He feels that the factors influencing weight loss are as follows: Exercise (25%), Intake (50%), and Attitude (25%). He goes on to tell us that there are eight essentials he sees as requirements to maintain your healthy lifestyle changes, those being: 1) commitment, 2) taking it seriously, 3) planning ahead, 4) throwing away guilt feelings, 5) not depriving oneself, 6) being self-centered (YES, YOU are important!), 7) focusing on your daily routine, and 8) choosing excellence.
This book is one that should be read from cover to cover, but then kept handy as a reference to maintain and learn the various strategies for healthy living. In fact, I just used mine to help me with writing out my grocery list. One more quote from this excellent author: “Start the Ounces Countdown today. Weight loss done right: easy, gradual, and lasting. Lose the ounces and the pounds will take care of themselves.” Thanks, Patrick Hafner, for putting together a resource that will help readers live a healthier, and hopefully longer, life. It takes people like you who care about learning and then sharing it with others to make a big difference in this world.
Erica Gets a Job in a Pet Shop by Rita Fields. How often do children get asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Rita Fields gives children something to think about in Erica Gets a Job in a Pet Shop. My students could really relate to Erica’s love of animals. They also appreciated the humor in the book. The illustrations added a lot to the story. It was fun as a read aloud and then many of my students chose to reread it after that. It was a great discussion starter about all that we work on in elementary school that will help us in our future endeavors. As a teacher, I appreciated the poem at the end of the book that we turned into a little song: “You can be anything you want to be. Just believe it! Yes believe it! Then do what you need to do, to achieve it. Yes, achieve it!” The book is both educational and entertaining. I hope that many more books get added to this series. Children will benefit from reading about more career choices.
The Magic Magpie by Daniel Britton
Daniel Britton has created an absolutely beautiful book with a lesson to learn. My third graders absolutely loved this story. The illustrations are wonderful and add a lot to the book. Many children these days do not have as much experience reading fairy tales as in the past. At our school we do a study of the genre of fairy tales. The fun thing about it is there are a lot of new versions of fairy tales to compare to the many originals.
Fairy tales take children to imaginary places. The Magic Magpie takes readers to the Kingdom of Agris where Jacob and his sister, Hannah, tend a farm. At the market, Hannah is tempted to buy a magic magpie that was trained to find silver, gold, and all kinds of treasure, or so says the old woman carrying the magpie in a cage. With the purchase of the magpie, come riches that lead to giant troubles.
From there the story leads the reader to many more complications which teach children the result of greediness, but the tale turns it around to show how teamwork and effort can bring about happiness. The wealth that resulted from the teamwork was used to help others. This “financial fairy tale” is a great resource for children to learn the value of working hard. A concept many people don’t think about is that self-esteem is based on effort.
For many years I have been facilitating parenting classes, and during our time together, the topic of allowance (“responsibility money”) always comes up. I’m excited to be able to share a fun resource for families to use in teaching their children about financial responsibility. I look forward to more stories in this series.