The Crown

Just this week, I sat at the dinner table discussing the royal family with a Brazilian. And it suddenly dawned on me: Americans (in general, that is) adore the queen. The happenings of the royalty have always intrigued me and (I think) carried a certain degree of importance to even us Yankees.

So you can imagine my happiness when this book-lover found out this week that there is not only now an entire TV series explaining the rise of Queen Elizabeth but also a book that details her life.

With photographs.

Yes: pictures! What could make a history book better?

I, for one, am extremely excited for “The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1.” And I think other fans of the British crown will be too.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.


Here, Kitty Color!

What better way to spend a rainy or lazy day than with a coloring book? While children’s coloring books have always existed, there seems to be a recent invention (or return, I’m not sure) of coloring pages for adults. Even in China where I currently live, I have seen all the garden-themed coloring books that one could desire. But Cats in Paris is the first cat-themed coloring book I have seen grace bookshelves.

Cat-lovers everywhere rejoice!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Women’s Bible Studies Rejoice!

A few weeks ago, I found myself reviewing Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver. Needless to say, the book met with rave reviews. But, even more than that, I am excited to announce that the book is not the end: Weaver has put together a companion video study. Women’s Bible studies the world over can find a reason to cheer, for Weaver’s message is important.

Allow my review of the book to explain:

Lazaruth, Lazaruth, Lazaruth…I remember hearing my dad mispronounce this famous biblical character’s name again and again. Each time, the little English teacher inside of me would cringe.

But, aside from Lazarus’s somewhat lisped final syllable, my dad always had something wonderful to share with us about this man. And so does Joanna Weaver.

Known more famously as the author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Weaver has recently published Lazarus Awakening, a wonderful study about a man who, through his own death and resurrection experience, encountered the heart of God. As Christians, we all too often fall back into a works-based mentality of salvation, thinking–however much we may hate to admit it–that we have somehow deserved or earned God’s favor for our lives. Not so, Lazarus’ story proclaims.

Weaver masterfully emphasizes biblical truth on this topic. Beginning her book with a quote from fourth-century Christian Serapion of Thmius (“Lord! We entreat you, make us truly alive!”), she establishes a clear connection between Christ and spiritual life.

As a woman, I realize how often my mind begins to think in terms of earning God’s favor. Because of this, I am particularly grateful for Weaver’s work (both her book and her video companion series), and I believe that many other women will also find it helpful, challenging, refreshing, and inspiring. I recommend it for any woman–age 9 to 101.

I received a complimentary copy of this DVD and study guide from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Sprouts and Other Healthy Stuff

The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon

I’m a big fan of breakfast. A day just won’t do without it. But breakfast can often become monotonous: boxed cereal, oatmeal, boxed cereal…That’s why my mouth dropped when I first opened up the pages of¬†The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon. My eyes met yummy delights.

Baked eggs with barley creamed greens and mustardy bread crumbs.

Flourless stone fruit breakfast crumble.

Winter fruit salad in ginger lime syrup.

Need I say more?

My mouth dropped even more when I continued to thumb through the book. Of course, there were more tantalizing recipes. But then there were also the photographs. The author, Sara Forte, partnered with her husband, Hugh Forte, to put together a book that holds not only appeal for the tongue but appeal for the eye, as well.

Not many people will probably be attracted to the concept of putting sprouts in daily dishes. (I, for one, am not.) But this book reveals recipes that even bean sprouts can’t ruin–recipes like strawberry tabbouleh (page 141), grapefruit lillet sherbert (page 186), dark cherry hazelnut salsa (page 194), and Thai lemongrass sauce (page 205).

Who will like this book? Why, anyone who likes food, I think. While small children may not like the mixture of flavors in some of the recipes (cherry salsa might not sound right to their ears), more mature tastebuds will.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

I realize that I have been on a steady diet of cookbook reviews recently. If you have any book recommendations or requests for reviews of other books, comment below. I’m always ready to discover a new book. ūüôā


Simply Ancient Grains

First it was MSG-free. Then it was gluten-free. Now it’s non-GMO.

Food rages come and go in stages. It seems that one study follows another, disproving all studies before it and wowing the health food connoisseur with all the potential problems inherent in the food he eats.

While I typically do not follow these trends–perhaps simply because I cannot keep up with all the changing research–I do like simple, hearty food that both time and tradition have proven is good for me.

Enter¬†Simply Ancient Grains¬†by Maria Speck. Simply looking at the photographs of the food in this cookbook assures me that the recipes are healthful. (Whether or not I will try to cook¬†and eat them is another matter.) There is something appealing about cool summer salads like “Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta” (page 100)¬†and something woodsy and quaint about “Warm Wild Rice Salad with Herb-Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan” (page 112) and something comforting about “My Mac and Cheese with Greek Yogurt and Leeks” (page 177).

Given that most cooks I know do not keep couscous, wild rice, bulgur, barley, or buckwheat as staples in their kitchen pantries, however,¬†I would say that this cookbook is not for the average kitchen. I do not recommend that the average Jane go to the bookstore and try to pick up a copy. Monday night dinners and Friday night pizza are not a highlight of Speck’s cookery.¬†¬†Instead, this cookbook is for the health-conscious cook or the experimental chef. (Take the recipe for¬†“Buckwheat and Beet Soup with Spicy Horseradish,” for example.)¬†And, while I am not that above-average chef, I bet that those who are will appreciate the time and thought and ideas¬†that went into this book, evidenced in the “Make Ahead” tips and recipes for desserts using ancient grains¬†(now that takes some thinking!). They won’t be shortchanged when it comes to instructions for preparing ancient grains; there are 25 pages dedicated completely to listing ancient grains and describing how to cook them.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Hmmmm….What’s a Milk Bar?

Creative. Artistic. Different. Delicious.

These are all words that one might use to describe the recipes in Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi.

You may be wondering, as I was: What is a milk bar? Apparently, it is a restaurant–and a unique one, just like the cookbook that comes from it. The Momofuku Milk Bar in New York bakes and sells cookies. That’s right: cookies. Now if that isn’t unique, I don’t know what is. And I think that uniqueness is on purpose. The restaurant’s owner, Tosi herself, says, “I think quirks are what make the world go ’round, just like dogs, dessert, quilting, jumping rope, bad movies, and great music” (10).

The very title itself should make it obvious that this is no ordinary cookbook with to-be-expected recipes.¬†Whether Cookie-Dough Cookie, Kimchi Quesadilla, or Eggs in Purgatory, the foods in this cookbook are truly unique. Yet twists on classics–Haute Dogs and Grilled Cheese a la Pauly Carmichael–have their due place, too.¬†And so do unique photographs ranging from “cookie doctors” to glam shots with cookies.

This cookbook is divided into sections: tried-and-true hand-me-down recipes, supermarket dishes (which, surprisingly, are not cookies), family meals, craft night and sleepover treats, etc. There is even a section on the lingo specific to a milk bar.

Overall, I would recommend this book for cooks who need to step outside of the box, hipsters who want something fun to put on their shelves, and white-elephant gift-givers. Some will love its recipes; some couldn’t care less about them. It all depends on how creative–and quirky–you are.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.