Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Cottage Kitchen

Book Summary:

The Cottage Kitchen is a cookbook of English countryside and Norwegian recipes. The author lives in the English countryside but born in Norway. She is also a photographer, so naturally, her cookbook is filled with beautiful pictures both of the food in various recipes and the English countryside.

My Thoughts:

I was intrigued by the combination of English and Scandinavian cooking in this cookbook. I have English heritage, so I was intrigued to try some recipes from England. I also traveled not long ago to Sweden and fell in love with a lot of Scandinavian dishes, so I was very interested in discovering those recipes or how they combined.

I was immediately struck by the variety of recipes in this book. I knew I would be able to use them not just for everyday cooking, but for special occasions as well. I am always pleased when a cookbook offers recipes that work in a variety of settings.

The book is organized by seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Also, Afternoon Tea. I thought this was a fun way to organize the book, but also very practical if you like to get your ingredients fresh from a farmer's market, your garden, or forged.

We had family over for Thanksgiving, and we made cranberry sauce with cinnamon which not only smelled good, but tasted amazing! It was a hit with dinner. We used the leftover sauce the next morning on German Pancakes. It is a recipe I will be making again!

There were a lot of recipes I want to try, but top of the list is Troll Cream, because it has troll in the title. Who cannot help but be intrigued by that? I also want to try the Steak pie, Parsnip and Cardamon Puree, Norwegian Yellow Pea Soup with Thyme, Elderflower Fritters, and Almond Rice Cream Pudding.

The photographs in this book were beautiful and inspiring. They make you want to find an English cottage and spend all your time cooking delicious recipes. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy cooking.

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

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it or one that I would not have heard about otherwise.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Republic For Which It Stands

Book Summary:

At the end of the American Civil War,  the leaders in the North envisioned a future for the country. One that was a free-labor republic with a homogenous citizenry. They were determined to reconstruct the south and the west in the image of the north. The next three decades were filled with challenges, and the unity the country paid so high a price to achieve was still out of reach. Economic, race, religious, and political differences were pervasive then as they are now. From this text we learn where modern America came from, and where many of the present day issues stem from.

My Thoughts:

The American Civil War is a fascinating time in history to me. I lack a lot of knowledge about what happened in the aftermath of the war. This book gives an easy to comprehend history of this period, and provides a thought provoking scenarios that seem as though they are from current times. I was intrigued by how similar many of the issues seemed to present day, and how easy White made it to know where a lot of current issues in the States came from. If you are at all interested in what is happening in the States now, this might be an interesting read for you.

I think this is a history that many people should read. It will give new understanding to current issues which is always beneficial. People should not be intimidated by how long the book is. You will find yourself drawn into the history and how relatable many of the issues are. I was amazed that the book only covers thirty years of history, yet contains so much information. It also covers Emancipation, Western Expansion, Indian Policy, and Women's Suffrage.

Do not let the size or variety in topics intimidate you or make you dismiss this book as having little depth. It was absolutely fascinating to see history connected(as it is) and how the reader can make connections they might not have been able to before.

If you are interested in American History, the American Civil War, or how some modern issues came about I highly suggest you read this book.

*I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program in exchange for an honest review.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have otherwise gotten to it or one I would not have heard about otherwise.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Girl In The Tower

Book Summary:

The second book in the Winternight Trilogy. Continuing where The Bear and the Nightingale left off, we discover what happened to our beloved characters. Vasya must choose between living her life as society dictates--getting married and staying out of sight or living how she wants--free to help others and explore what the world has to offer. Vasya must save the city of Moscow when it comes under siege. She chooses adventure, disguises herself as a boy, and decides to do what she can to save the city.

My thoughts:

The first book: The Bear and the Nightingale, was amazing. I was not sure if Arden would be able to maintain the momentum she started with, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the second book just as engaging as the first. I find myself anxiously awaiting the third book. This series is magical.

Arden has a wonderful ability to retell folktales in such a way the reader feels that they are reading history or historical fiction. The language grabs you so that you cannot book the book down. I found myself more engaged by this story than any other book has in a while. It was moving, enthralling, and had such real characters. I could not find anything I did not like about this book.

I am a huge fan of fairy tales and their retellings, so you can imagine how pleased I was to discover such a beautiful story. I cannot wait to discover where the trilogy goes, but what else this author writes. I felt so engaged by the characters. They jumped off the page. I became so invested in who they were and what was happening to them. I was sad when I reached the last page. I wanted the story to keep going on.

If you are a fan of fairy tales or well told tales, this book and the rest of the series is a must!

*I received a free copy of this book from Bookish First in exchange for an honest review.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it, or a book I would not have heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sweet Potatoes

Book Summary:

Sweet Potatoes is a cookbook with recipes just for those that love the delicious taste of sweet potatoes. You will learn to do wonderful things with this little cookbook filled with information about the sweet potato and around 60 recipes.

My Thoughts:

I have always been a fan of the sweet potato. From a young age, a common side dish was baked sweet potato with a little butter or pepper and salt. I will admit to feeling slightly horrified the first time I ate sweet potatoes and discovered the normally delicious taste of the sweet potato to be smothered by marshmallows and brown sugar. I have since moved on to enjoying sweet potato in a variety of dishes I make. Imagine my delight with the disclaimer in the introduction that stated no marshmallows had been harmed in the making of these dishes.

This cookbook is perfect for a person who already loves the sweet potato or one who is looking to explore what can be done with one. I enjoyed the introduction to the sweet potato. We are introduced to the different varieties, how to pick out a good sweet potato at the store, knowing what size you need, and how they are grown. All of this is of great help when preparing to make these tantalizing dishes.

I had a difficult time picking just a few recipes to try out. I decided to start with the Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, The Sweet Potato Big Macs, and the Sweet Potato Trail Mix Cookie. I have to say all three were amazing!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes fresh from the oven.


Twice Baked Sweet Potato after adding toppings.

 The first recipe I tried was the Twice Baked Sweet Potato. I really liked this meal. It was filling and left a lot of room for customization. I used a lot of the suggested toppings. I switched sour cream for greek yogurt as that is my preference.

The one recommendation I would have is to closely follow the direction to leave some potato. The skin gets really thin and you can easily break it when working with it.

I would definitely make this dish again.

Sweet Potato Big Mac
 Next I tried the Sweet Potato Big Mac. As you can see from the picture, I did not do the two patties and extra bun. I found it to be tall enough that for me personally, it would have been difficult to eat if it was taller. Again, I used the recommended toppings. I switched out iceberg lettuce from mixed greens as personal preference.

Make sure you make the sauce that goes with it. It was incredible. This was my favorite of the recipes tried and I cannot wait to make it again. There was a lot of flavor and I did not miss the meat at all. If you like vegetarian recipes this is a must! I hope to try it on some vegetarian friends soon.

Sweet Potato Trail Mix Cookie.

I was excited to make a dessert with sweet potato. I made these cookies for a co-worker's last day party. I was not sure how "sweet potato" cookies would be received. They were a huge hit. I took a whole bunch in, and none came home with me. Everyone was raving about the cookies. They are also one of my new favorite cookies and I will be making them often. There is a lot of flavor and they stay moist.

Some recipes I am looking forward to trying are: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll, Sweet Potato Rolls, Sweet Potato Fries, and the Sweet Potato and Raspberry Muffins. Honestly, I want to make all the recipes, but those are some at the top of the list.

This tiny cookbook has moved to the top of my list. I found the recipes easy to make, the flavors incredible, and a good variety of recipes. I am recommending this cookbook to everyone! Enjoy the flavors and please let me know what recipes you try and like.

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

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it or one I would not have heard about otherwise.

The Essex Serpent

Book Summary:

Cora Seaborne and Will Ransom are two extraordinary people who fall for each other in an unusual way. Cora is a well to do widow from London who moves to Essex parish where Will is the local Vicar. The village is engulfed in rumors about a giant serpent in the marshes. It is said it slithers about devouring people. Cora, who is a naturalist, is intrigued by the serpent and wants to find out more about it. Will sees it as a sign that his Parish has lost their way. Cora and Will find themselves drawn to each other, yet separated by their different views.

My Thoughts:

I found myself identifying with Cora at the start of this novel. I wanted to learn more about this mysterious serpent that everyone was so obsessed with. I wanted to know if it was something to fear or be astounded by. While this story had great potential, I found myself wondering when something was going to happen. There was so much potential between the mysterious serpent and the undertones of romance that as a reader, I felt sure meant anything could happen on the next page. I did not ever find the gripping tale that I expected to.

I appreciated the strong female lead character that is determined to follow her own interests after denying them for so long. I wanted her to succeed and find a character I could love. I never fell in love with the characters and near the end hoped the serpent would come and eat the lot of them simply for something interesting to happen. I thought there was a lot more potential with the set up than was met.

I had also hoped that the tale might be more gothic as it was described to have gothic undertones.  Or perhaps it would be a book geared more for adults similar to The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. But it was not either of these. I think some people might enjoy this book, but for me it was too slow and never reached stated purpose.

*I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review. Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it or one I would not have heard about otherwise.