Monday, December 10, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! My mailbox has been full of packages this past week, but most of them were gifts arriving. I did manage to snag five books, though.
COUNTING ON A COUNTESS by Eva Leigh came from Avon books

FROM DUKE TILL DAWN by Eva Leigh came from Avon books

DARE TO LOVE A DUKE by Eva Leigh came from Avon books

VIRGINIA WOOLF IN MANHATTAN by Maggie Gee came from Meryl Moss Media

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG by Jonathan Stutzman came from Chronicle Books

What was in your mailbox?



Monday, December 3, 2018

Mailbox Monday

This is definitely not your traditional Mailbox Monday post! In fact, I didn't receive any books in the mail this week -- only packages for gift giving. However, I did download a few books that I'm pretty excited about.

LITTLE BIG LOVE by Katy Regan - e-copy provided by Berkley

THE SURROGATE by Louise Regan - e-copy provided by Grand Central Publishing

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Kid Konnection: Tough Cookie

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a picture book that's sure to get you in the mood for Christmas!

Summary: When a cookie discovers he does NOT taste delicious, he has to find a new identity in this clever picture book twist on a holiday classic.

Once upon a time, while Fox was visiting the land of Holiday Treats, a little cookie—still warm from the bakery oven—burst out the front door looking sweet and ready to be devoured. But, as it turns out, Cookie is not as fast as he thinks and when Fox finally catches him, they’re both in for a big surprise: Sugar Cookie does not taste delicious—and he’s certainly not fit to be eaten. What’s an unsavory cookie to do? Is there another option for this not-so-sweet treat?

This inventive story celebrates the joy of being accepted for who we are. -- Henry Holt

TOUGH COOKIE: A CHRISTMAS STORY by Edward Hemingway is a pretty terrific holiday picture book -- even the end paper is adorable with its cute characters. This book is a creative twist on the traditional holiday story of the gingerbread man, and it has a wonderful message for kids!

Fox decides to visit the land of Holiday Treats and he discovers a freshly baked little cookie. Cookie doesn't want to be eaten and thinks he can outrun Fox, but Fox is pretty darn fast. (Sound familiar?) But here's where the story takes a turn. When Fox takes a big bite of Cookie, he discovers that Sugar Cookie isn't a delicious treat at all -- he's not even edible! So Fox decides to help Sugar Cookie find his place in the land of Holiday Treats!

I absolutely loved TOUGH COOKIE. The story and illustrations are adorable, and I loved the surprise twists. I honestly wasn't expecting the story to go in the direction it went, and I found the characters and their reactions to be hilarious. I especially appreciated how the book ended with Tough Cookie figuring out exactly where he belonged.

Another thing I really liked about TOUGH COOKIE was that the picture book included recipes for various Tough Cookies. I don't want to give away the ending, but there are a few recipes that kids (and parents) will definitely want to make after finishing this book!
In summary, I loved TOUGH COOKIE from the characters, to the illustrations, to the message, to the recipes -- I could go on and on! Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this picture book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Review: Modern Baking

Summary: Donna Hay, Australia's bestselling, favourite and most trusted cook, brings you one of her most beautiful books yet: Modern Baking, with over 250 mouthwatering recipes for cakes,biscuits and all kinds of divinely delicious sweet treats. I find there's something truly enchanting about baking. From the way ingredients change as they're whisked and whipped, to the joy that a warm slice of cake can bring - it's always been my first love in the kitchen. Even though I'm a classics girl at heart, I'm forever adding on-trend twists to my sweet recipes and I want to share them with you. This book is what I like to think of as my modern baking bible. Inside are more than 250 recipes - my all-time favourite essentials, plus some super-smart shortcuts for when life gets crazy busy. I've also included plenty of better-for-you treats, made with wholesome raw ingredients, for a touch of balance. Be it chewy cookies, the fudgiest brownies, dreamy meringue or creamy iced desserts, let these modern sweets bring a little magic into your kitchen. -- 4th Estate/Harper 360

It's that time of year when I love to bake cookies and other holiday treats! So it was perfect timing when the new cookbook MODERN BAKING: CAKES, COOKIES AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Donna Hay arrived on my doorstep. Granted my arm almost fell off when I picked up this sturdy book. It's huge in the very best way, about 400 pages; and it looks like a coffee table book. This is one amazing cookbook for bakers!

MODERN BAKING is absolutely beautiful! The photographs are even swoon-worthy. I swear I gained a pound or two just drooling over them. Donna Hay, author of twenty cookbooks, has definitely outdone herself with this one. There are more than 250 recipes; and, as the author states, "this book is what I like to think of as my modern baking bible."

MODERN BAKING is even organized extremely well. The chapters are: Chocolate; Caramel, Toffee, and Coffee; Sugar and Spice; Fruit and Berries; and Milk and Cream. Now that I have your attention...! Just kidding, but I thought it was funny that she began this book with Chocolate! As someone who has less time than ever to bake this holiday season, I absolutely love that each chapter has a "Quick Fix" section. There is also a section in each chapter called "Fresh and Light" which definitely appeals to me too!

I could write pages just listing the incredible recipes... and I'd still be leaving some out. Suffice it to say, that I am not a huge chocolate lover, so the caramel and fruit sections were my favorites. What I really appreciated is that there are traditional favorites in this book, but there are also twists on classics and entirely new (and interesting) recipes.

I can't wait to add a few of these recipes to my routine Christmas baking. There is a Choc-Toffee Pretzel Bark that's screaming out to me as well as a Peanut Butter Fudge that looks amazing. And don't even get me started on the White Chocolate and Rhubarb Jam Drops! My husband grows rhubarb for me, and that recipe looks delicious.

There really is something for everyone in MODERN BAKING from the wide variety of recipes, to the quick ones, to the healthy ones. As a result, I think it's a perfect Christmas gift for the baker in your life!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this cookbook.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mailbox Monday

If it's Monday, it's Mailbox Monday! It's ironic that I've had absolutely no time to read the past week, yet I received so many books. Good thing most of them are picture books for Kid Konnection.

HUG ME LITTLE BEAR Finger Puppet Book came from Chronicle Books

HUG  ME LITTLE BUNNY Finger Puppet Book came from Chronicle Books

LITTLE PLANE by Taro Gomi came from Chronicle Books

IT'S UP TO YOU, ABE LINCOLN: HOW I MADE THE BIGGEST DECISIONS OF MY LIFE by Tom & Leila Hirschfeld came from Crown Books

SAVING MEGHAN by D.J. Palmer came from St. Martin's Press

MOM AND ME, ME AND MOM by Miguel Tanco came from Chronicle Books

CATCH ME: A SEEK-AND-FIND Book by Anders Arhoj came from Chronicle Books

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Kid Konnection: Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a picture book that's perfect for Christmas!

Summary: It’s Christmas Eve morning, and Santa Claus is still in bed! He’s feeling stuffy and sneezy and slow as a yeti. Will Christmas have to be canceled? Not this year! Because Mrs. Claus is ready to take the reins in Santa’s place. With a plan in mind, Mrs. Claus assembles the crew, maps out the route, and preps the sleigh. Then, with a snap of the reins, she shoots off into the night. Delivering gifts all over the world without Santa’s magic won’t be easy, but Mrs. Claus proves she has some holiday sparkle of her own…

With lively rhyming text and adorable artwork, this delightful Christmas adventure will get kids into the holiday spirit. -- Two Lions

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's time to focus on Christmas! And I have an adorable picture book to share with you -- it's MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mark Chambers. This book is so darn cute, and it shows that sometimes it takes a woman to save the day!

When Santa oversleeps and wakes up feeling stuffy, Mrs. Claus decides that she will take his place. She organizes the trip including assembling the crew and mapping the route. And then she's off. There are a few bumps along the way, but Mrs. Claus is ever so resourceful and fills in for Santa despite missing that old Santa magic!

I absolutely loved this cute book. The text is rhyming and so fun to read, and the illustrations are whimsical and perfect for this story. I especially appreciated how the illustrator drew a plaid pattern on Mrs. Claus' green jacket! Some of the pictures were so darn funny. For example, the last page of the book when the elves hoist Mrs. Claus into the air is hilarious!

I think MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS is a terrific book for this holiday season. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this picture book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review: Goodbye, Paris

Summary: Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant in Goodbye, Paris, an utterly charming novel that proves that sometimes you have to break your heart to make it whole.

Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn’t been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage. -- Touchstone

Both my college-age daughter and I read GOODBYE, PARIS by Anstey Harris, and not surprisingly, we had different opinions of this novel. I enjoyed it quite a bit thought it was a heartwarming story, while my daughter thought it was just okay... and very predictable! I'm sure there are readers who will agree with each of us.

GOODBYE, PARIS tells the story of Grace, a woman who owns an instrument shop where she makes and repairs violins. She once had a promising music career, but she can't even pick up her cello without having a panic attack. She leads a pretty quiet life with her only friends being a charming older man and an angst-ridden teenage girl She also happens to have a long-distance romantic relationship with David, a married man. Grace has agreed to put her life on hold, including have a child of her own, until David's children are old enough for him to leave his wife. (See why my daughter found parts of this novel to be predictable?)

Grace eventually realizes the bitter truth about David, and it sends her reeling. However, with the help of her friends, Grace discovers that she's much stronger than she ever thought; and she even manages to overcome her past fears and truly blossom!

I found GOODBYE, PARIS to be a charming book that definitely warmed my heart. I loved Grace (even though she was a little obtuse at times), and I really appreciated her friendship with Mr. Williams and Nadia. I will admit that the book was a little predictable, but that didn't bother me at all. I especially enjoyed seeing how Grace bounced back despite numerous setbacks.

In addition to the great characters, I really was impressed with Ms. Harris' writing. Her character development was delightful, and her prose was beautiful. I loved how she revealed Grace's troubled past and the way she showed how Grace overcame this. It really was a story about redemption and second chances, and who doesn't love a story with those messages?

GOODBYE, PARIS would make a great book club selection. The story is guaranteed to entertain, but I also think there's plenty to discuss about Grace. She makes some very questionable choices that are certain to stimulate discussion. In addition, there are also some serious topics which many readers will want to talk about. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include loss, fear, forgiveness, second chances, and anxiety. Check out the reading guide for more topics.

I definitely enjoyed GOODBYE, PARIS and highly recommend it to fans of charming stories about women and friendship.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.