Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Voyages Of Captain James Cook

Book Summary:

In 1766 the Royal Society chose James Cook to lead a South Pacific voyage. He was to chart the path of Venus across the sun. After completing his task, he continued to explore the southern hemisphere for the imagined continent Terra Australis. This voyage lasted from 1768-71. He kept journals on the expedition which made him a celebrity when he returned home. He had scientists and artists traveling with him who also documented the voyage. Some of the charts he created were still used in the 1990s.

My Thoughts:

This book was such an adventure to read. I really liked reading parts of Captain Cook's journals while seeing different pictures of what he was describing. Some are from artists aboard his ship, while others are more modern. I found myself liking both, but really appreciated it when the illustrations were from people also on the voyage experiencing what Captain Cook was describing in a similar way. The modern pictures did not take away from the experience. I think they helped to enhance it. Both the historical and modern pictures complemented the writing.

I knew Captain Cook traveled a lot, but was impressed by all the different places and observations this work contained. He went to the South Pacific, South America, Antartica, New Zealand, the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska, the Arctic Circle, Siberia, the East Indies, and the Indian Ocean. I found it absolutely incredible that he went to all of these places in the 1700s. This book takes you on an adventure to all of these places. The writing is intriguing and keeps you very interested in the book.

If you are interested in reading some of Captain Cook's journal entries, I highly recommend reading this version. It is well organized and a beautiful edition.

*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 book I would not have heard about otherwise.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Fleet At Flood Tide

The Fleet At Flood Tide details the United States Pacific War campaign during World War II. From the strategic seizure of the Marianas to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we learn of the forerunners to today's Navy SEALS, aircraft carrier power, aerial battles, and naval battles. Not only do we read about the battles,  but the leaders of those battles.

This is a very detailed account of the United States' war in the Pacific. I found this very interesting to read as I have read a lot about World War II, but not very much about the Pacific part of the War. I thought that this was an excellent book to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. I am certain there is still much to learn, but found this to be a good source to begin learning about the Pacific theatre. To be clear, this is during the years 1944-5. So if you want to read about Pearl Harbour you should read a different book.

I thought this was a very detailed account of the battles in World War II Pacific theatre. I would say you need to be prepared for that when reading this book. There were a few times I felt overwhelmed with the details, but that is mainly because a lot of the names and specifics of the battles were new to me.

I did really like the different perspectives he gave while writing this book. We do not only read the American perspective. We read what civilians thought about soldiers coming into their homelands. We learn about Japanese soldiers, and regular American soldiers, not just the men at the top.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in the United States' Navy, and detailed accounts of World War II. I have not read any of this author's other books, but he has several about the Navy in World War II if you are interested in reading more of his work on the subject.

*I received a free copy of this book from 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 I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nourishing Meals

Book Summary:

This is a cookbook from two popular bloggers that have gathered healthy recipes for families. They are whole foods recipes, and every recipe is free of common allergens of gluten, soy, eggs, dairy as well as refined sugar. There are tips on how to transition into eating this way wether you are needing to switch to an allergen free diet or just want to eat a little healthier, this cookbook will help you do it.

My Thoughts:

Many people in my family are allergic to different foods, so I was very interested in trying out these recipes. It is always nice to have some delicious meals that you know everyone will be okay eating. I was impressed by the sheer number of recipes in this book. There is great variety and some truly delicious sounding dishes.

This is a picture of the finished meal. I decided to make the Orange Pepper Salmon, the Fresh Cauliflower Salad, and the Yam Fries. This was a colourful meal. It had good flavours. I will say we were not blown away by the dishes, but they were good. I liked the idea of the Cauliflower Salad the most. It was a new way of using cauliflower which was a great find.

The Cauliflower Salad had a nice crunch to it. I also liked the flavours in this dish. It was really easy to make, and I will probably make it again.

The Orange Pepper Salmon was easy to make. I liked it fine, but it did not really stand out to me. I did like the simple ingredients used.

The Yam Fries were good. I am partial to sweet potatoes. Again really easy to make. This recipe only called for a few ingredients. The fries did take a little more prep time but they tasted good.

Overall I would say if you are looking for a cookbook that has a lot of recipes that are allergen free this would be a great cookbook. Even if you were looking for more healthy recipes this would be a great place to start. I will say the one thing that I could see being problematic is many of the recipes require items that the average person might not keep on their shelves. Tapioca Flour, Chia Seeds, Coconut Flour, Rye Flour, Mung Bean Sprouts, Figs, etc. If you are trying to eat this way though, it will help you switch over which is extremely helpful. If you are not looking to completely change your diet this might not be the cookbook for you.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for and 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 that I would have gotten to it or heard about otherwise.

Women Heroes Of World War II: The Pacific Theater

Book Summary:

This book contains fifteen stories of resistance, rescue, sabotage, and survival of women in the pacific during World War II. They were nurses, war correspondents, singers, and every day people who decided to act to help their countries during the war. They refused to sit on the side lines while events unfolded around them.

My Thoughts:

This book has been on my to read list for a while. I was happy to get the chance to finally read it. This is a collection of fifteen incredible stories of women taking action. There are many more of these stories from World War II, but this collection is a wonderful place to start.

I think what impressed me the most was the variety of experiences these women had. Although there are some similarities in a few of the stories, there really is an uniqueness to each woman's story. I think this is a wonderful tribute to the brave actions they took. I liked how many of the women found themselves in this situation, and rose to the occasion. They chose to act when they could have tried to wait out the war. I found the stories inspiring, and appreciate the service of these women.

I will say that some of the women experienced truly horrific events, which can be difficult to read. I note this simply because if younger readers are to read it they should be prepared. I do think we owe it to them to not forget what happened. I think it makes my appreciation for them even higher when I and other readers understand that these are not just women that did a few things that helped the war. They made tremendous sacrifices that continued to affect them their whole lives.

I think this book is an excellent way to start learning about history. It is divided into sections by area.  So it is really easy to find stories of women in China or Okinawa. I also like that after each woman's story, there is a Learn More section. It provides sources to read more in depth about a woman if you found her story particularly interesting.

I  previously read Women Heroes of the American Revolution and also really enjoyed it. I have found this series to be excellent, and I cannot wait to read more book in the Women in Action series. I love that this series is bringing attention to the roles women have had in history, and will continue to read their books. The series is also at a level that younger readers could read about these incredible women and enjoy the books.

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

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

Gathering Blue

Book Summary:

In a society run by savagery and deceit Kira is left an orphan. In her society the weak are discarded and since she is physically flawed she must face those that would remove her from their group. Fortunately, she has an almost magic like talent that people high in the society want her to use for their benefit. As she works, Kira tries to discover the truth about her world, and will not stop no matter the consequences. If she finds the truth, it will alter her world forever.

My Thoughts:

I have always enjoyed The Giver, So I was happy that the Bookworms wanted to read the second book in the series. I think some people find it a little confusing that this book does not immediately follow the events that took place at the end of The Giver. Instead, it shows how other people are living outside Jonas' community. Here is the link to the Bookworms review of The Giver.

I think this and the other books in the series are great for young readers. They bring up a lot of talking points about society, what we value, and what our own responsibilities are. I also like that the main character in this book is a girl. So the series provides different viewpoints so more readers can identify easier with the story.

The Bookworms Thoughts:

This was the twenty-second book the Bookworms read together. This was Alejandro's pick for us. He, and the rest of us really enjoyed The Giver, and wanted to read it again. He decided that maybe we should read the second book instead of rereading The Giver. We had a good time comparing The Giver and Gathering Blue, how we view people, and how important our actions are. Here are some of the Bookworms thoughts on the story. Warning! There may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 3
Paige 3 1/2

Just as a comparison, Alejandro rated The Giver at 5 stars and Paige gave it 4 1/2.

Why do you think this story is called Gathering Blue?
Paige I didn't really think about it.
Alejandro Because they went to find what makes blue and found it. But they also found other things.

What did you think of a girl being the main character when a boy was in the first book?
Paige It was a different twist, but I didn't like her story as much. It was boring.
Alejandro Yes, her story was not as exciting.
Both Jonas' story was much more exciting.

Which community would you rather live in, Jonas' or Kira's?
Both Jonas'
Alejandro Jonas' has real jobs. Kira's has no jobs or they seem like really strange jobs.
Paige Both seem like they are sometimes fun but weird.
Alejandro I do think Jonas' community was more controlling but things weren't as whacky.

Which community is more like your community?
Alejandro I think mine is more like Kira's because it is more free.
PaigeYes. Kira's. Because I can do a lot of things.

What did you think about the rule that girls cannot read?
Alejandro I thought it was cool that one boy helped Kira learn.  It was clever to get around the rule.
Paige I think it was a stupid rule. Girls can read and it is a good experience to read.
Alejandro I didn't like the rule. I think everyone should get to read. Reading makes life funner.

Since you did not enjoy this book as much, would read the last two books in the series?
Paige I think I would read it after I finish other books I am reading.
Alejandro I will probably read the last ones.

Alejandro's Questions:

Did you like this book better than The Giver?
Alejandro It was not as good as The Giver.
Paige Yeah the first book was better.
Whitney I like the first book the best of the series.

Who do you think the boy at the end of the book was?
All Jonas!

Thank you Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to our next book.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Moon Chosen

Book Summary:

Mari is an Earth Walker with incredible healing abilities. Her life changes when she is chosen by a canine to be companions. An attack from her clan's enemies alters her course even further when people she love die and are captured. Mari must adapt to her new circumstances to survive. She embarks on a mission to save her people. One that forces her to ally with her enemy. She must choose wisely if she is to save herself and her people.

My Thoughts:

Moon Chosen was the first book I read by this author. The description caught my attention. I am always looking for new worlds in the books I read, and this one seemed as if it had promise. I thought the world building was intense. There was a lot of information from the characters to the plants they used for healing and eating. I thought it was interesting how developed this world was. I do wish the author had streamlined the information a little more. Sometimes I felt the plot was lost in the details. Perhaps a little more balance in the next book with what details are shared and when would make the story flow more. It would help readers really become absorbed in this world.

I admit I struggled with the first portion of the book. Part of it was because of the amount of details and how they were presented as mentioned above. Also, many of the details were repeated when it was unnecessary to do so. When there are so many details already, repeating them does not help the reader stay with the story.

I think the other reason I had trouble was the main character Mari. Despite her age, her speech, thoughts, and actions seemed very juvenile. Her character did develop more as the story went on, which helped. But I really did not care for her. It took a good portion of the 600 page book to really feel some depth to the characters. I frequently felt my attention wander while reading. I think if it had been edited a little the plot would have been a little quicker, and might have been more engaging.

I am not certain if I will continue with this series. I do appreciate good world building, and perhaps now that many of those details have been given the next book will be more captivating. I did think there were some intriguing new story ideas.

I have heard good things about this author, so maybe this just was not the book to start with. I might try some of her other series to discover if it was just this series that did not appeal to me. If you are looking for a new world with lots of details you might be interested in this book.

*I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Read Program.

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

Monday, October 31, 2016


Book Summary:

Victuals explores the food in the Appalachian area in the United States. It is more than just a book of recipes. It has beautiful pictures of the area the recipes come from. The author also explains some of the history of the area. There are eighty recipes with their own stories that have been carefully chosen for this unique cookbook.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed perusing this cookbook. The stories gave additional interest and depth to the recipes. Knowing the tradition or history behind some of the recipes made it even more enjoyable to cook the recipes. I liked the personal feeling of this cookbook. It felt as though the recipes could have been from your own family in the way they were presented.

The recipes are varied in type and time period. Some have been around for generations, while others are new takes on traditional recipes. They are presented in an easy to understand way, so even a beginner can make these delicious recipes. I found the ingredients were often simple, yet were combined in such a way that there were excellent flavours.

I made four different dishes from the cookbook. It was hard to choose which dishes to make first. I made the Shredded Beef Shank and Buttermilk Dumplings, Buttermilk Cucumber Salad, English Pea Salad with Cream Dressing, and Nutmeg and Buttermilk Cookies. I do not use buttermilk in recipes very often, but I was delighted with the flavour it brought to all these dishes. It was a simple way of adding a great taste to the dishes.

The English Pea Salad with Cream Dressing was delicious! It was an easy side that dressed up the peas. I also liked the radishes in the dish. I do not cook with radishes very often, but I really liked them in this recipe. It was an interesting way to add flavour. This was one I will make again.

The Buttermilk Cucumber Salad reminded me of Tzatziki. The buttermilk gives it a slightly different taste, but if you like Tzatziki, you will like this.

The Shredded Beef Shank with Buttermilk Dumplings was a delicious stew. It had simple seasoning, but it was amazing! My husband and I both really liked this dish, and the leftovers were really good the next day. I will definitely be making this again. I would recommend making a side dish with vegetables as there are none in this dish.

The Nutmeg and Buttermilk Cookies were delightful. They were savoury not sweet, so make a pleasant surprise when eating cookies. I took some into work and everyone was a fan. I cannot wait to make them again and maybe add some dried fruit or some of the other recommended ideas.


Here are all the dishes (minus the dessert cookies) ready to eat. This made a delicious meal. I could not wait to eat the leftovers the next day. If you like simple ingredients with incredible flavours this is the cookbook for you. I recommend this cookbook.

Some of the recipes I look forward to trying are: Beef Hand Pies, Jam Cake, Busy Day Cobbler, Kale Potato Cakes, Ginger Bread, Roasted Root Vegetable Salad, and so many more. I am excited to continue cooking from this beautiful cookbook.

**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 I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.

The Shores Of Tripoli

Book Summary:

In 1801 Thomas Jefferson assembles a navy to fight the growing threat of piracy in the Berber States. Americans are being kidnapped, held for ransom, enslaved, or killed. The President must send his new navy to stop this from happening. Bliven Putnam starts as a midshipman on the first foray to Tripoli. He returns later as a lieutenant learning much about life and fighting as he serves in the navy.

My Thoughts:

I was very interested in reading this book as I know little about this part of American history. I was very pleased to find a compelling story, and that it was filled with historical details that enriched the story. I particularly liked the details about the ships they sailed on. It made me feel as though I was on the ship. I felt pulled into the world of sailors in the early 1800's.

I enjoyed how real the characters seemed to me as the story progressed. They were fully fleshed out, and I could not wait to discover what would happen to them. I enjoyed the details and the growth of the different characters.

I found the subject so interesting, I will take advantage of the suggested reading list at the end of the book. I appreciate the author including this in the book. It is a great starting point for anyone who finds this subject interesting.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in this time period or who enjoys Horatio Hornblower or Master and Commander. 

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook and had no issues with it.

*I received a free copy of this book from the Penguin First To Read 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 I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Snow Queen

Book Summary:

This is the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It is the story of Kay and Gerda and their friendship. When a mirror that shows the worst thing about anything seen it shatters, pieces go everywhere. They turn people's hearts to ice and make them see terrible things. Kay gets a piece in his eye and Gerda begins a quest to find her friend and save him.

My Thoughts:

I have always been fond of Andersen's tales. I was curious to see how this fairy tale could become a unique work of art. I have to say, it is incredibly beautiful. Sanna Annukka is an amazing artist. Not only does she bring the fairy tale to life, she does it with an unique style. As soon as I opened this book I knew I had a treasure. This is definitely taking a place with my favourite books. Not only is it a delightful story, but it is beautiful as well.

I am pleased to say this is an edition that everyone who loves the story of The Snow Queen should own. I'm also adding Sanna Annukka's edition of The Fir Tree to my list to buy. I am sure it is equally beautiful. I will be keeping an eye out for any other books she illustrates as she has a unique style.

I highly recommend this edition of The Snow Queen to anyone who loves unique pieces of art or wants a beautiful copy of this story.

**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 I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

The Lightning Thief

Book Summary:

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he sometimes has trouble focusing and controlling his temper. Lately at boarding school, it has been getting worse. He thinks his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. Percy's Mom finally decides to tell him the truth about where he comes from. She sends him to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods. Soon a mystery unfolds and with his friends Percy sets out on a quest to reach the gates of the Underworld to prevent a war between the gods.

My Thoughts:

I thought this was a fun way to introduce young readers to some classic Greek mythology. I do think they get more out of it if they are already familiar with the stories, but they do not have to be to enjoy Percy's adventures. It also makes the story slightly more predictable as an adult if you know the Greek myths.

I think young readers will also identify with Percy if they do not fit in or have learning difficulties. This story gives them a hero to identify with and see him succeed despite the problems he has. Percy has to balance personal and family issues as he tries to learn about himself and his new abilities. I think the author did a great job writing a story that young readers will get excited about.

This was the twenty-first book the Bookworms read together. This was Paige's pick. I was interested in reading this book as I had heard of the series, but never read it. I also love Greek mythology so was interested in discovering how the author would portray the myths in a modern setting. We had fun talking about Percy's encounters with the gods, how he must have felt when he started seeing monsters, explaining Greek myths and how that makes the reader understand certain parts of the story. Here are some of the Bookworms' thoughts on the book. Warning! There may be some spoilers if you have not read the book yet.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Paige 5
Alejandro 5

Who was your favourite character?
Paige Charon because he is nice to Percy. Also Annabeth.
Alejandro Grover. I thought it was awesome he was half goat.

What was your favourite part of the book?
Alejandro When Percy goes into the Mississippi river and survives.
Paige The end when he returns with his Mom for the school year by themselves.

What did you think about Percy eavesdropping? Did he like what he heard? What would you do?
Paige He didn't do it on purpose.
Alejandro He didn't like what he heard.
Paige It also confused him.
Alejandro If it were me I would go away.
Paige I think I would listen to know what they were saying about me.

Did you guess who Percy's Dad was?
Paige I thought maybe it was Zeus.
Alejandro I wasn't sure.

Why do you think he did not tell anyone about the prophecy?
Alejandro I thought he was scared and wanted to keep it a secret.
Paige He didn't want to believe it or to let anyone know how scared he was.

Would you join the quest?
Alejandro No because it was dangerous and Zeus was trying to start World War 3.
Paige I would do it because it would save lives.

Would you read the other books in the series?
Paige Yes. I'm currently reading them.
Alejandro Maybe.
Paige You should they are really good! Better than the first book.

Did you watch the movie?
Paige I didn't see it yet but will see it soon.
Alejandro Yes. It skipped a lot.
Paige Was it better, worse, or the same as the book?
Alejandro I thought it was a bit better even though there are more details in the book.

Which cabin would you be in?
Alejandro A fancy one like 1,2,3, or 8.
Paige Athena. The same as Annabeth.

Did Percy make the right choice to not save his Mom?
Paige Yes because if he did it would have killed Annabeth and Grover. His Mom would not have liked it if he sacrificed his friends.
Alejandro He needed to complete the other quest, and the right choice is not always easy.

Paige's Question:

What do you think will happen in the next book?
Alejandro Probably more adventures with his friends.
Whitney He will go to school until the next creature comes and he and his friends will fight it.

Thank you Paige and Alejandro for reading and discussing this book with me. I look forward to our next book.

Black Inked Pearl

Book Summary:

This is the story of an epic romance of a naive Irish girl named Kate and her mysterious lover. She rejects him in a moment of panic, and spends her life seeking him after she realizes how much she loved him. She visits the kingdom of beasts, London, the heavenly archives, Eden, hell, and the Donegal Sea in search of him. It is in hell she saves her dying love. Will they make it to heaven together?

My Thoughts:

The novel is told in stream-of-conscious style to give the reader a dreamlike quality while reading. I think the author accomplished this goal. It is very much like being in someone's dream. Some parts are fragmented and others poetical. I do have to say this is also one of the main reasons I did not end up liking the book. Because of the style chosen to write the story, I had a difficult time connecting to it. I think that is more personal preference. It just did not work for me.

I liked the idea of the story. A quest to find your lost love, and doing anything and going anywhere to find them. I also liked the notion of questioning yourself and everything else. I wish I was able to connect to this story. I also did not care for the made up words or how sentences would be incomplete. I understand why the author chose to do this, but it did not help me focus and appreciate the story.

I would say, if you like mythology and poetry told in a stream-of-conscious style you should give this book a try. I could see how it would appeal to some people, it just did not work for me.

*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 I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Trials of the King of Hampshire

Book Summary:

In 1823 the Wallop family put the 3rd Earl of Portsmouth on trial for insanity. Why would such a distinguished family let the world know their family secrets by going to court? The author seeks to answer this question. Everyone thought him a peculiar man, but he kept company with some famous people such as: Jane Austen and Lord Byron. How could he go so many years without people realizing he was insane as his family claimed? Jurors had so sort through testimony about his habits, behaviour, claims of violence and blackmail while they determined if this man was insane.

My Thoughts:

This book caught my attention because I was very curious to know why an aristocratic family would "air their dirty laundry" to get a family member declared insane. The most obvious answer is they wanted to control the family land and money (which Lord Portsmouth could not do if declared insane). While reading, Portsmouth's life is presented while learning how this would impact his later trial. It was an interesting perspective, sometimes I got tired of the back and forth. It also make me look at his life very differently than I might have if his life had been presented, and than the trial.

When I finished the book, I was left feeling very sympathetic to Lord Portsmouth. His life was controlled by those around him. His personal life was put on trial because he was different than other people. I was left wanting a clearer answer to Portsmouth. Was he actually insane, or did he simply have peculiar habits that became known? I also wanted a very clear answer about his family. Did they truly think he was insane, or was it all personal motive? I do think it possible that the line on that might not be clear, but I would have liked the author to make a case one way or the other.

There was also a little information about how people declared insane were treated. I had expected a little more of that, but was glad that some mention of it was made. I think it is very important for the reader to understand why the trial and verdict made such a difference in the lives of those involved in it.

Overall, I found this book an interesting read. The title really catches people's attention. Several people I work with added this book to their reading list because they found it so intriguing. I would have liked some clearer arguments at a couple points, but understand that sometimes the facts are simply not known.

If you are interested in this time period or how mental illness used to be treated and viewed I recommend reading this book.

*I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing 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 that I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Monday, September 26, 2016

All Under Heaven

Book Summary:

All Under Heaven is the first cookbook in English to examine the 35 cuisines of China. The author combines centuries of culinary texts with her own experience to bring us a magnificent collection of recipes. It is a comprehensive look at China's cuisine and the geography and history that shaped it.

My Thoughts:

I was immediately impressed by the size of this cookbook. I was anxious to begin going through it to find what delicious recipes were waiting. I was impressed not only by the sheer number of recipes, but by the history that is given about the different types of cuisine.

The book is organized by region: The North and Manchurian Northeast, The Yangtze River and Its Environs, The Coastal Southeast, The Central Highlands, The Arid Lands, and The Fundamentals. At the start of each section there is a map so you know what area you are in, some information and history about that area, and the role geography and history played on the food of that region. There is also a table of contents with the recipes listed for that section. Each recipe also comes with a paragraph or two note about it. I absolutely loved all the background information. It added so much the experience of selecting recipes to try and deciding what to make.

I also really liked all the added notes in The Fundamentals section. I found it very helpful. If you want to know about steamer pots or what a salt pot is you can look in this section. Or, if you are unsure what some of the ingredients are all you have to do is flip to the back of the book. I was very pleased with how easy it was to find the information I needed.

For my first cooking experience with this book, I decided to make 3 Cups Chicken, Hot and Sour Pork, and Icy Green Mangoes. I chose two main dishes because we invited my brother in law over to try the dishes with us. My husband made a salad of lightly steamed broccoli, fresh green pepper sliced, yellow onion thinly sliced, with black vinegar and sesame seeds. I served the dishes with jasmine rice.

3 Cups Chicken.

This chicken has a wonderful spicy flavor. It was delicious over rice, but was also good in a soft taco shell the next day. I really enjoyed the slices of ginger in this dish. Everyone loved the smell of this dish cooking.

Hot and Sour Pork. 
This was everyone's favourite dish of the evening. It was a little spicy, but it was at just the right level of spiciness. We all had seconds of this dish. It is one I will definitely be making again. The only thing I changed with this recipe is: I did not fry it in all the oil the recipe called for. I only had a small amount at the bottom of the Wok. It turned out great!

Both dishes ready to eat with rice.

Icy Green Mangoes

I did have some trouble getting the mangoes to freeze properly the night we made the food. By dinner the next day they were frozen the way they should have been the day before. But we made do with chilled mangoes. We placed them over Vanilla Ice Cream so they were a topping instead of a slush. We were all happy with the results. I would recommend preparing this one early in case you also have trouble with it freezing right away.

I am looking forward to trying many more of the recipes. Some of the top recipes to try on my list are: Black Bean Asparagus, Chilled Sour Plum Infusion, Hainan Chicken and Rice, Grilled Layered Lamb Pastries, Lemongrass Chicken, Malay Sponge Cake, Candied Kumquats, and Sesame Oil Chicken Soup. The list could go on and on, but this gives you an idea of the variety of recipes.

Overall, I loved this cookbook. I am always happy to combine two of my favourite things, history and cooking. The only issue I really had was that I would have liked for the author to include approximate times for some of the steps or the overall dish. It would help people new to cooking the cuisine to know how much time it will take to make everything. 

If you like Chinese food I highly recommend trying this cookbook. The flavours were amazing!

**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 a book I might not have heard about otherwise.

Monday, September 19, 2016


A look at GMOs from a journalist and a mother who discovers health issues in her family related to GMOs. She goes on a journey around the world to discover more about GMOs, how they are handled politically, and how prevalent they are in the food industry in the States. She wants to learn how to give her family food that has not been contaminated by GMOs and why GMOs are given so much clout in the States.

I am interested in healthy eating and sustainable food, so I was interested in this book. I found it rather disappointing. First of all, I did not care for the style of writing. It was a strange mixture of personal and scientific. It would jump back and forth between the two which made it difficult to follow at some points. It also made me lose interest as I do not appreciate someone interjecting personal emotional stories while trying to present scientific facts. I think it colors the information and makes the facts she presents seem less credible.

I would have appreciated a more focused attempt at explaining GMOs and what some of the issues might be, rather than trying to have personal stories and travel logs randomly inserted throughout the book. I found it difficult to focus on what she was trying to communicate and it was a chore to finish. If you are interested in this topic, I would recommend finding a different book on the topic. Perhaps if the book had been better organized I would have been able to focus more and take more away from it.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook. It worked fine except the contents page would not load.

I received a free copy of this book from Penguin's First To Read 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 I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Christmas Carol

Scrooge hates the Christmas season. He is a miser and does not like it when other people feel joy. One Christmas, he is visited by four ghosts. His old partner Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come. They try to show Scrooge the true meaning of Christmas. Will Scrooge learn his lesson to enjoy Christmas and life?

I liked the annotated version of this book. I had read the regular version previously and liked the story, but I found it fascinating to have all the extra information. Terms that are no longer used frequently are explained, what some of the jobs mentioned are, and life in general during Dickens' time are explained so the reader can really understand what the author meant. I read the annotated version, but Alejandro and Paige read different versions.

I suggested this to the Bookworms to read as our twentieth book. I like showing them some classic tales so they know popular references. I also think it is beneficial to be exposed to lots of different kinds of stories and writing. That is one reason I enjoy this book club. Having three of us taking turns choosing the books keeps us all open to new books and experiences.

Here are some of the Bookworms' thoughts on the story. We talked about the different ghosts, what certain words or phrases mean, and what Christmas is about. There may be some spoilers if you have never read the book.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 5 and a half. It was pretty good.
Paige 4

What part did you like?
Paige I liked the beginning when Marley's ghost came in and Scrooge freaked out and didn't believe at first and was really scared.
Alejandro I liked when the ghost of the future comes.
Paige I thought it was interesting that Marley was a boy. I thought at first his wife had died and was a ghost because I know lots of girls named Marley.

Who was your favorite ghost?
Alejandro The ghost of the future because how he got to the future was really interesting. He didn't use a Delorian or anything.
Paige Marley. Because he was the first ghost and was a little freaky.

Have you seen any movie versions of this story?
Paige No.
Alejandro The Mickey Mouse version.

Do you think Scrooge changed?
Both Yes.
Alejandro He raises how much he pays his employee and Tiny Tim doesn't die.

What did you think of the book?
Alejandro It was one of the best we read so far. It teaches good lessons about sharing and not wanting all for yourself.
Paige It was interesting to read.

Thank you Paige and Alejandro for reading and reviewing this book with me. I look forward to our next book.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Reader

Book Summary:

Sefia has been trying to survive in the wilderness with her Aunt Nin. Her father was brutally murdered, and she must stay ahead of his killer if she is to live and protect the family treasure. When her Aunt Nin is kidnapped, Sefia's skills are really put to the test. She clings to the rectangular object called a book, that she has been told is very important. When a mysterious stranger appears, she must decide if he is to be trusted with her life and her secrets. Sefia sets out to rescue her Aunt, discover the truth about her father's death, and punish all responsible for harming her family.

My Thoughts:

From the moment I began reading this book, I was captivated. Chee has such a way with words. I immediately fell in love with the way the words drew me into the story. I appreciated the introduction with the tone of an old tale drawing me in to an exciting world. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. The characters are compelling, and you will want to keep reading to know what happens to them.

This is the first book in the Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy, and I cannot wait to read the next two books. This is a world you will want to return to again and again. Chee creates a unique world that completely absorbs you. There is plenty of action, but there is much more to this book than that. The characters are compelling and you will enjoy getting to know them as the story unfolds.

I also appreciated that the main character is a female who is discovering her abilities and figuring out what her own goals are. She does not let anyone else dictate her future. I cannot wait to discover what happens to her and how she grows as the story continues.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook. I had problems reading the pages that are from the book in the story. They had images on them, and would not load. Other than that I had no issues.

I was enchanted from the moment I started reading to the very end. I highly recommend reading this book if you enjoy fantasy. This series is a must read.

*I received a free copy of this book from Penguin's First To Read 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 book I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Pediatrician's Guide To Feeding Babies And Toddlers

Book Summary:

A team of pediatric medical and nutrition experts pool their expertise to make a practical guide to feeding children ages 0-Toddler. Not only do they provide current information on what to feed young children, but they also tell how to get them to eat if their are difficulties. The authors discuss nutrition, medical conditions, and parenting concerns. They hope to make meal time easy and healthy so parents and children can enjoy their meal and move on to other things they want to do.

My Thoughts:

I found this book to be very helpful. Anyone who has children, works in child care, or spends time with young family members will find this book useful. The book is divided up into age groups so you can easily find the section that applies to your situation. There are also charts that show the basic information from that chapter so you can take a quick glance to see what the basic feeding expectations are in that age group.

I also liked that there are a few recipes for each age group so you have a place to start if you need some ideas on what to feed the child in your care. There are also handy charts about where your child should be developmentally. This helps the caregiver know when their child is ready to be introduced to certain foods. The authors also spend some time on allergies and other food issues children might have so caregivers can understand the needs of their child. Common questions are answered about different feeding topics, which I thought was very helpful.

All the information is presented in a very clear way so the reader knows what is best for their child. There is even a glossary of terms at the end of the book so if the reader has any questions about terms used they can understand all the information. I also liked that the authors were clear that parents should always consult their own doctor about any issues or questions, this book is a helpful guide that does not replace a doctor that can examine your child.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has children, or takes care of young children. It has a lot of helpful advice that is presented in a very clear way.

**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 I would not have read as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Defying The Nazis

In 1939 Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha are given a mission from the American Unitarian Association. They were to leave their home and children to go to Prague Czechoslovakia to help with the refugee crisis. With only $40,000 to help their mission, Waitstill and Martha had to quickly learn the art of spying, complete dangerous missions, learn the politics in several countries, and new languages. They must help as many people in danger from the Nazis as possible without becoming targets themselves. In 1940 the Sharps are sent to Vichy France to continue their aid and rescue mission.

From the moment I read the introduction to this book I was intrigued. I found it fascinating that the author did not know the incredible role his grandparents had played in rescuing people during World War II until his Mother suggested he speak to his grandparents about their activities during the War for a school assignment. After reading this book, I cannot help but wonder what stories I do not know about my family. Although we will not all find something as momentous as the author, his discovery is a great reminder to ask family questions. You never know what you will find. I felt like I was discovering Joukowsky's grandparents with him. It added an extra level of interest to my reading.

I was very interested in the Sharps' story. Reading how they adapted to their circumstances quickly and with an intense passion so they could save as many lives as possible was inspiring. I thought this added an interesting view of history. I felt their frustration as they tried to save people and were thwarted by bureaucracy. It was also a deeply personal story as we learn how their rescue mission brings them close together for a time, but ultimately separates them.

I admit, I found the first half of the book more intriguing. I found the last part a little dull as we went through their activities after the war. I think some of it was necessary so the readers could learn how profoundly their rescue missions shaped their lives, but perhaps a little less detail for some parts would have kept the book flowing a little more.

This book is the official companion to the Ken Burns' film, and I am looking forward to seeing how the Sharps' story is portrayed on film. I am glad I read the book first so I am familiar with the details before I watch it.

This was a good book about people who tried to make a difference during World War II. I think Ken Burns summed it up best in the introduction when he said "Martha once said that neither she nor Waitstill saw themselves as anything but ordinary, that anyone else would have acted in the same way. It's hard for me to believe that's true, but their remarkable story shows us why we should at least try." I thought this was a good book, and would recommend reading it.

*I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have read as soon or heard about otherwise.

Bookworms read: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is a small town that is bewitched! There are haunted valleys, a ghostly woman, and shrieks in the night. None of these compare to the Headless Horseman that terrifies all who cross his path. Ichabod Crane, a local school teacher is fascinated by all the local spooky tales. He finds them all too real one night when traveling home after a party. He encounters the Headless Horseman! Will Ichabod escape to continue courting the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel?

I have read this book several times, and it is a classic that everyone should read at least once. I reviewed this and other classic tales by Washington Irving on my blog previously. You can read that review here. I was pleased when Alejandro chose this book for us to read. It is a story that gives you the shivers and makes you anxious about Ichabod, but it is not too much for young readers. I also like that it also has some historical references, so that was a lot of fun to discuss with the Bookworms.

This was the nineteenth book that the Bookworms read together. One of my favourite parts of our book club is finding out which book we will read next. I was excited to read a classic with them and discover what they thought of it. We had fun talking about scary stories, the characters, history, and our theories about what happened to Ichabod Crane. Here are some of the things we talked about in our book club. Warning! There may be some spoilers if you are unfamiliar with the story.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 4 1/2
Paige 4

What was your favourite part?
Alejandro When Ichabod ran away and disappeared.
Paige I liked the beginning when they were introducing Sleepy Hollow.

Why do you think the Headless Horseman rode at night?
Paige He was looking for his head.
Alejandro I think Brom was the Headless Horseman, and he was trying to scare people.

What was Ichabod's job?
Alejandro He was a school teacher and gave dance lessons.
Paige He was a school master.
Alejandro He was a bad teacher.

Ichabod gets scared thinking of scary stories he heard at night, do you?
Paige Sometimes. Scary dreams are more creepy.
Alejandro Yeah I think dreams are worse too. I got my head chopped of in a dream like the horseman!

Why do you think this book is considered a classic?
Alejandro Because it is a horror story but it isn't super scary.
Paige It is a good one for Halloween in a classroom.

Did you like the characters?
Paige Yes.
Alejandro Yes, but I didn't like Brom.

Alejandro's questions for the Bookworms:

What do you think happened to Ichabod?
Whitney I think he ran away.
Paige Maybe he disappeared.
Alejandro I think he ran away too.

Do you believe in ghosts and the Headless Horseman?
Alejandro If there is proof I would. Otherwise I only sort of believe in them.
Whitney No.
Paige No, I think these stories and movies about them are fake.

Thank you to the Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. I am excited for our next book.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Virgin of the Wind Rose

Jaqueline Quartermane is a lawyer for the State Department. While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia she discovers there is much more going on than she originally thought. She becomes obsessed with a word square puzzle found inside an underground church. Soon she is on the trail of an elusive mastermind who is searching for lost relics. Can she figure out the clues before this mysterious person tries to bring about the end of times?

This is a historical mystery that has two stories running parallel. There is the story of Jaq the young lawyer who is trying to figure out historical clues to a very old mystery. We also have the story of a secret society in the year 1452. Portugal's Order of Christ led by Henry the Navigator. He must try to foil the plots of Queen Isabella. I thought it was an interesting combination. Watching two very different groups trying to foil groups in their own time trying to bring about the events in the Book of Revelation. It was a clever way of showing how different, yet how similar historical events can be to the lives we live today.

This is a book that fans of The Da Vinci Code will enjoy. It builds on conspiracies and historical mysteries that have intrigued people for generations. There were a lot of interesting historical details that make you want to go out and read more about the subject simply because the story is so interesting. It also has a lot of suspense as the characters have to figure out the mystery if they are to prevent a catastrophic event. It keeps you reading as you want to know if the characters will figure out the puzzles in time.

I would say it took me a little time to get into the story. At first, it switches back and forth between stories so often, which is why I had a little bit of difficulty really getting into the story. Stick with it, because that calms down as the book goes on. I was able to really get to know the characters and get into the plots as I kept reading. The story really picks up the pace, and you get absorbed in all the details.

I read this as an ebook on my Nook, and had no difficulties with it. The images loaded well and I was able to enjoy reading it.

This is one I recommend to any who enjoy Dan Brown and historical mysteries.

I received a free copy of this book from the author 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 that I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Women Heroes of the American Revolution

Many people can name George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere as important figures in the American Revolution. But who were Betty Zane, Phillis Wheatley, Lydia Darragh, and Esther Reed? What role did these women play in the American Revolution, and why do we not immediately know who they are? Some had roles as spies, nurses, fundraisers, and soldiers. They played important roles in the war, yet their names are not ones we immediately connect with the American Revolution. Here are the stories of twenty women who had important roles in the outcome of the war, and whose names deserve to be remembered with George Washington and Paul Revere.

I had been looking forward to reading this book, and was pleased when I saw it on display at my local library. July 4th had just passed, and it seemed a good time to read about women heroes of the American Revolution. I found it engaging and was pleased to read about a couple women I had heard about previously, but was even more surprised by how many of these women I had never heard of. I enjoyed learning about these women and how important they were to the success of the American Revolution.

The book is set up by sections, so if you are interested in women who filled certain roles such as spy or soldier you can easily find their stories. Each woman has about 5-10 pages about them with a helpful section at the end of their story where you can learn more about them. I thought this was an excellent way to introduce each woman and her contribution without overwhelming the reader. There are quite a few women I am looking forward to learning more about.

I think a few of my favourite stories were: Esther Reed and Sarah Franklin Bache who raised funds for the soldiers and argued with George Washington about the best way to help the soldiers with the money. Lydia Darragh who spied on British soldiers and reported the information to the Americans. Dicey Langston who was also a spy, but would help whoever was in need. She generally provided information to the Americans, but when hearing some Americans were planning on stealing a loyalist's horse (terrible because people depended so much on their horses) she informed the loyalist so they could save their horse. And Deborah Sampson Gannett signed up as a soldier while pretending to be a man. These are just four stories. I found all of them to be interesting and was intrigued to see how many different ways women contributed to the war effort.

I was very pleased with this book. It was a quick read, but very informative. A must read if you are interested in stories about women in history or the American Revolution. I highly recommend reading this book.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Apache Wars

The Apache Wars is the story of the longest war in American history. It all starts with the kidnapping of Mickey Free. Both Apaches and white settlers blamed him for starting the conflict. Mickey Free moved in both worlds but was never fully trusted by either side. As the details of the two decade war are presented, we learn about many Apache leaders such as: Geronimo, Cochise, Victorio, and Mangas Coloradas and how they tried to make a stand against a never ending wave of soldiers and settlers invading their land. 

As soon as I heard about this book it went on my "to read list". Hutton covers an interesting period in American history, which I actually knew very little about. I had heard of Geronimo and Kit Carson, but did not know very much about them before I read this book.  It was fascinating to learn so much about this period in history as well as famous historical figures.

I liked the background information and how it was presented. It really helped me understand who some of these great leaders were, and helped me comprehend their actions a little better. I found it to be the right amount of detail to help put everything in context, without bogging down the flow of events.

I also appreciated how Hutton seemed to give an honest portrayal of the Apaches, Americans, and Mexicans. None were painted as all good or bad. Each action was shown for what it was, and when known, the motivation or words that were said are given to help us understand why this war lasted so long. And why each side was behaving the way they were.

I thought choosing to tell the history of this war while focusing on the life of the kidnapped boy that was the final push into such a long war was an excellent way to introduce people to this period in history. It showed how events affected people on a personal level and really helped the reader understand the tragedies of this war.

This was an engaging history and I came away from this book with a much better understanding of this part of history. I highly recommend reading this book.

**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 I would not read as soon or heard about otherwise.