The Witch of Belladonna Bay by Suzanne Palmieri

I thoroughly enjoyed this book- a great summer read.  A unique story with a bunch of fun characters you could both enjoy and actually like, this made a fantastic combination for that beach book or something to read on the plane.  It had an interesting storyline that was easily followed, and likability is a big deal for me. It had everything you would want in a summer read- Murder, mystery, magic, family drama and intrigue.   The Southern setting was so well written I felt as if I could have been there as well, sipping on sweet tea and feeling the breezes that swayed the trees.  The story was sweet, charming, and had layers that went back generations and needed to be wrapped up by our heroine, BitsyWyn, and her niece Byrd.
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My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

If you are looking for a quick summer read, let me suggest “My Last Kiss” by Bethany Neal.  This is a one-sitting kind of read, perfect for those vacation days by the pool or lounging on the beach.  I read it on a series of train rides while traveling throughout Norway, and it was great because it was easy to pick up and put down without losing momentum or getting aggravated about “what was next”.  Fun, easy reading with no heavy brain work required, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

A young girl dies, but is not able to move on.  Only her boyfriend, who she was on the fritz with when she passed away, can see her.  She is flooded with memories, sometimes literally, that carry her away.  She can see everything and everyone, but they can’t see or hear her. She can’t remember what or who exactly caused her death, but she and her friends are going to try to figure it out.
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After I Do- Relatable Book About Marriage

We all know that marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  It has it’s good days, and it’s bad days.  What do you do when your marriage hits one of those spots, that will either end in divorce or madness?  This is the decision the characters in the book “After I Do” face- what now?  I think those of us who have been married a while all know the feeling and have been there.  Do I stay or do I go?  How will we ever get over this?  And do I really want to with this person.  Marriage is hard.  People often forget that.  Choosing to fight is not always the best decision, but it is usually the harder one.  What would you do- fight harder?  Or let it go when you feel you have nothing left to give?  This couple chooses to go to the mat in an odd way- one full year of absolutely no communication.  What happens at the end, and they journey they both walk during that year, is pretty intense.  Lots of soul searching, and the little things that you love, hate, and might not even think about come to the surface and make them think about what they really want to do with their marriage.

The book is touching, sometimes tearful and gut wrenching, and makes you think about what matters to you and how far you would go.
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‘Brer Rabbit’ Books Provide Interactive Learning for Children

Disclosure- I received the below  in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own and honest. Please see “Disclose” tab for more info.

My son loves Brer Rabbit, and after a visit to the Brer Rabbit Museum in Georgia recently, his love has only increased.  His enjoyment of the fuzzy scoundrel grew with each story we read, and now these new books just put him over the moon.  He’s not an independent reader yet, so the read along with me version is perfect for him.  The “see and say” pictures are fun and also helpful, and encourage him to read, which is his most difficult subject.  It’s made that much easier with one of his favorite literary characters.

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The “Brer Rabbit” series illustrated by Lesly Smith, tells the exciting adventures of Brer Rabbit and his friends.  Each book contains two of Joel Chandler Harris’s classic tales about the wily Brer Rabbit; parents will recognize beloved stories from their own childhood.  Perfect for beginning readers, the books contain specific picture words for children to read out loud, building their recognition and understanding.
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Hiberate- a series of short stories

I received a copy of this book to facility my review.  All opinions are my own and honest.

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This book was quite short, but not the quick read I was expecting.  The short stories were complicated and varied, jumping all over the globe and the gamut of human experiences.  Some seemed like you could know the person Eslami was writing about, the stories seemed familiar and ordinary.  Ordinary people, as well all know, do live interesting and often convoluted lives, and these were full of vibrant details and backstory.  She painted a picture for you with her words and descriptions, intertwining the labyrinth of past and present and different characters’ tales together into one several page anecdote.  Some stories were metaphors, such as the title story “Hibernate”, which made you think while you read.  Actually, most of the book made you think, which was why it was not the short summer read I had thought it would be.

Most of the short stories had no concrete or “firm” endings, which I don’t like.  Perhaps it’s unevolved of me, but I like my books (movies, TV shows, etc)  to have sure endings.

This was a very interesting read, very unusual, and a good book if you are looking for something entertaining yet not mindless this summer.  Pick it up when you get the chance.
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“Anvil of God” Book Review

Disclosure- I received a copy of this book in order to review it.  All opinions are my own and honest.

I loved this book- loved it.  “Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles” was a real page turner, with well flushed out characters that you felt vested in.  I read this book in two sittings, only stopping because the plane landed.  It was full of historical fact with each character’s personal story woven in.  Although each story was full of historic detail, some parts were pure fiction, with details of lives and even some characters made up or enhanced for the dramatic purposes of the book (which was real and what or who was made up is explained in the book’s epilogue).  It was woven together beautifully, and made me want to read more about the real people this book was based on.  I highly recommend this book, and hope that the author continues the series.

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What happens when the hammer falls?
New historical novel rides the storm that follows the death of Charles the Hammer

In the wake of his death, a dangerous mix of ambition, devotion and betrayal consumes the family of Charles the Hammer as they plot to seize the Merovingian throne.
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Quick Start Homemade: Book Review

I was sent a copy of Southern Living’s Quick Start Homemade to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

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It is not very often that a recipe book comes along that contains so many easy and budget friendly recipes in it that I had a hard time choosing which to try out for the review. Quick Start Homemade by Southern Living was such a book.

Quick Start Homemade features recipes that are hearty and delicious. The book allows you to make all the recipes using commonly found ingredients and cooking techniques that are fitting for just about any level home cook. The book contains 101 recipes for commonly made home-style meals with an extra spin on them to break up the ordinary.

 

The Good:

The book included a ton of great photos. I was always told in college when I went to culinary school that the #1 rule of food presentation was “You eat with your eyes, first”. This book gets that. The pictures are bright, bold and you can practically smell the recipes through them.

I enjoyed how the book broke down meals into colored sections so you could easily find the section you were looking for. These were broken down into categories such as pasta, pizza, eggs and so on. There were not only dinners in it, but also great dishes for lunch and brunch.
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Pies and Tarts with Heart Cookbook

 

Who doesn’t like Pie? I mean come on, you have endless possibilities of what can make up a pie. You can have cookie crusts, pastry crust, heck you can even make a vegetable crust <- Yes I said that, and no I’m not making it up! You can even make a cookie dough crust! Are you drooling yet? Hungry are you? I haven’t even started in on the fillings, you’ve got fruit, vegetables, cheese, cream, meat the sweet the sour the in between and do not ever forget the toppings!  The toppings, yum whipped topping , ice cream, warm homemade sweet fruit glazes.

How about now are you drooling? No?

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Now are you drooling?  This Crumble Top Berry Pie came from the book Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage.

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Inspired by vegan recipes for both the sweet and savory pies this book brings on pies in a whole new light . I know you all have heard the saying, “Easy as Pie” . While yes it may seem hard, Balcavage has made it that much easier with bright colorful photographs throughout the cookbook you have the beginning to a wonderful start in pie making.

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Easy to follow directions, you are walking through making your first crusts which is of course the base of it all. Go for nutty, go for gluten free or use that vegetable oil you have on hand. You have several different crusts to pick from and each one comes with step by step illustrated pictures to guide you smoothly through it. Tips and tricks are throughout the book making it extremely reader friendly.  Each recipe also has a quick code by pictures, need a Gluten Free recipe? Just look for the  wheat symbol crossed out. Short on time? There’s plenty of quick recipes, and if you have a special diet that needs to be low in fat they are all listed with quick code icons at the top of each page. Kid friendly recipes are throughout as well making it highly family friendly. Don’t feel like baking? Not a problem there’s no bake crusts and pies in here too like my kids favorite S’more Pie!
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