Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

Emmie Fontana created a world that she is perfectly comfortable in. She works at her Brooklyn family bakery, and lives alone in her little apartment. Comfortable. Content... or is she? She does everything her overbearing and strict Nonna says like the dutiful granddaughter she is.  Emmie dresses comfortably, with no regard to modern styles or fads. She replaces her eyeglasses the same style for years. This woman exists in predictability. Yep, she is perfectly comfortable. Her outspoken cousin and best friend, Lucy, thinks Emmie is simply settling because it's ... well, comfortable.

Both girls are second-born daughters, and they believe the Fontana Family Curse that says all second daughters will never find love. Well, Emmie insists she doesn't think it's true, but deep down she wonders if there isn't some validity to it. Emmie, came across a family tree when she was a child, and sure enough, all second-born daughters were old maids.

One of the cursed women is her old Aunt Poppy, Nonna's sister. Nonna raised both Lucy and Emmie, and has made it clear that no-one is not to have any contact with Poppy. Apparently, Poppy was blamed for kidnapping a baby ... Emmie's mother. 

Emmie wrote to her Aunt Poppy, but Nonna found out and demanded she cut off all contact. So, as always, Emmie did as she was told to escape Nonna's wrath. But she missed her eccentric Aunt. 

Then her 80-year-old eccentric Poppy comes into Emmie's life again, and this is where the story really takes a turn.  Emmie, and her cousin Lucy accept an all expense paid trip to visit Poppy in Italy. Nonna is furious, but Emmie grows a backbone and goes anyway. The adventure that follows is filled with surprises, growth, and uncovered secrets. 

A  must read for sure. The generations of the Fontana family is a mixture of so many types of people; loving, controlling, free-spirited, lovelorn ... you name it. 

5 Stars

I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Yellowstone Yondering

Terriers and Bison and bears! OH MY! (Yes, I just twisted a line from Wizard of Oz.) Kayla’s adventure in Yellowstone is filled with her crazy antics and broken rules, much to the dismay of Alexander, a go-by-rules park ranger. Both characters are downright lovable despite their flaws.

 I won’t dwell on the storyline, as you can get that from the well-written blurb. What I would like to convey is the great storytelling by the author, Kristen Joy Wilks. This story grabbed me right from the beginning and I honestly could not put the book down. As I got deeper into the story I loved the faith inspired moments and the self-growth from both Kayla and Alexander. 

I definitely disliked Kayla’s former friends that she accidentally comes across in Yellowstone. It really showed how far Kayla had come from her old ways.

This story is filled with heart-melting moments, gasp-inducing terror, and rib-tickling laughter. What a mixture! What I enjoyed most about Yellowstone Yondering was the faith inspired lessons that were so integrated into the storyline that it didn't come across as preaching. 



5 stars


I won this book in a giveaway. I am so blessed! All opinions in this review are my own. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Set the Stars Alight

Amanday Dykes first introduced me to dual-time period books with Whose Waves These Are. Now, I've been blessed with a complimentary copy of her latest book, Set the Stars Alight

The contemporary portion of this dual-time period, is focused on Lucy and Dash. Lucy's parents take in the young boy, Dash, to live in their home. I love the cute nicknames, Lucy as Matchstick Girl, and Dash as The Lost Boy. What's adorable is that Dash is the one that gives her this nickname because her home was formally a matchstick factory. 

Lucy's father gathers the two together to tell them stories, pausing to assure they grasp the special meaning behind them. It is these stories that prod Lucy and Dash into a surprising adventure when they are older, after Lucy's father dies. This journey is intriguing, and touching.  

The historical timeline of this book takes place in the 1800s. The main characters, Juliette, Elias, and Frederick also grow from forged childhood friendships that last into adulthood. This journey has unexpected pitfalls, but lovely rewards. I connected with all the characters, but I suspect Frederick is nestled a little deeper in my heart. Read the book, and see if he does the same to you.

Both timelines have the underlying theme of family, respect, honor and the sacrifices one takes to hopefully gain a blessed outcome.

4 stars  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Prisoner's Wife

The descriptive writing pulled me into the life of Izzy, a Czech farm girl, and Bill, a British POW. Their story tells of love, determination and horrific hardships no human should endure. The forged friendships with other prisoners is touching, and shows that there is hope to be had even in the darkest times. Izzy lives life as a man, and their secret is kept despite the lack of privacy in the German labor camp. 
There is some crude and violent scenes, as would be expected in a WWII tale, yet the love Izzy and Bill cleave to is inspiring. The fact this is inspired by a true story drew me into the story even more. 
This is truly a page-turner, and not once did the story lag.
I highly recommend The Prisoner's Wife. It is my favorite book of 2020. 

5+ Stars

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dairy-Free Meal Prep

Dairy-Free diets can be challenging, but this book makes it easy. Dairy-Free Meal Prep is just one of many cookbooks by Silvana Nardone. She is the founding editor of Everyday with Rachel Ray, so I'm confident this book is chock full of reliable information. 

Unlike most cookbooks, this one delves into the reasons of why. Why go dairy-free? Why are meal plans important? This book has answers. Not only that, it has six weeks of meal plans for those who really don't know where to start. Broken down into a three part format, with easy to follow instructions, anyone can begin a healthier diet. 

4 Stars

I received this book from Callisto Publisher's Club.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dairy-Free Cookbook for Beginners

I'm always on the lookout for Dairy-Free cookbooks, and I'm so happy I came upon this one. Dairy-Free Cookbook for Beginners is full of great recipes. They're easy to follow, even for the most inexperienced cook, so the "for beginners" in the title is accurate. Everything from entrees to desserts can be found, along with substitutions and shopping tips. I reccomend this cookbook to anyone journeying into the dairy alternative lifestyle.

5 Stars

I received this book from Callisto Publisher's Club.

Everyday Stress Relief

With the Corona Virus affecting every aspect of my life, stress has become three-fold. This book is full of techniques to combat that stress. The biological effects stress has on the body is explained in layman's terms. I honestly think this book is helpful to everyone. 

5 Stars

I received this book from Callisto Publisher's Club

Mediations on Christ

This little journal is beautiful. Mediations on Christ is full of guidance, Biblical verses, prayers and  meditation. There are journal entry prompts to help you write your thoughts on the daily subject. The georgeous illustrations are an added bonus.  
The meditations are focused on many things we encounter in life: faithfulness, joy, patience, and many other qualities we strive for as a Christian. 

5 Stars. 

I received this book from Callisto Publisher's Club.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Hand Lettering Workbook

This is a little bit of whimsy and a lot of fun. The instructions are easy to follow and there's plenty of room to practice. The pages are thick, so no chance of bleed through. The lettering starts simple, and gradually progresses to more challenging letters.

Great bit of fun for anyone.

I received a copy of this book from Callisto Publisher's Club.

4 stars

Urban Gardening for Beginners

From windowsill herbs to hydroponics there is many choices for a garden. This book helps break it down by difficulty level, cost and great instructions. Being able to pluck an herb while cooking, or spending time outside in a vegetable raised bed, it really doesn't matter what you choose. The feeling you get from growing and providing food is the best. I am going to start small and work my way to a full backyard garden. But even if you don't have a backyard, there are many options in this book. Go for it! Spring is almost here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Callisto Publisher's Club.

4 stars