Monday, July 27, 2015

The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity by Rebecca Katz

The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental ClarityThe Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity by Rebecca Katz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As my family is working to begin transitioning our overall diet to a more healthy and mindful one, I thought this cookbook sounded right up my alley. And, for the most part, it is. I really liked how it focused on the combination of food and brain function. How to eat to improve your mood, memory and stress. Which I really enjoyed reading about quite a bit. That is what this cookbook does best!

My primary issues with the cookbook are that I'm not sure how realistic the recipes are for my family - especially my kids. I definitely think there are things that they will like but, overall, it didn't feel family friendly to me. Also, I really wish there was a photo of every dish included as a recipe. That would have taken this one to a 4 star easily.

The photography and book design are impeccable. So clean and engaging!

If you're into eating healthy and paying attention to how the food you eat impacts your mental health, I think this one will be right up your alley!

NOTE: The publisher provided a copy of this cookbook to me for an honest review.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred GrapesEight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I primarily picked this one up for the cover ... I mean come on ... it's so eye-catching! And I loved the idea of it taking place mostly at a winery. I didn't know much more about it. And I'm so glad I did indeed pick it up because it's a really nice little story about family, secrets and how things are often imperfectly perfect!

It's a mix of a family drama with some romance thrown in for good measure. The characters are well drawn, the sense of place is wonderful and the story itself is solid. The pacing was a strong point - it didn't move too fast or too slow - it was pretty much perfection!

I really enjoyed spending time with this family and getting to know them as individuals and as a group. And I loved learning a little about wine along the way which was fun. This is a lighter book - more chick-lit than literary - but I really thought it was quite well done for the genre! I definitely recommend this one if you enjoy a solid family drama ... or wine! (LOL)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Delicious FoodsDelicious Foods by James Hannaham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the most original novels that I've read in a long time. Very refreshing but impactful! Quite well written with a number of really well explored themes including grief, self-medicating, race, and more. The primary narrator is very cleverly done - very unusual frame for a story but one that is quite impactful and added a great deal of creativity to the novel. The story itself was quite engaging although I feel like the pacing was off at times. There was a chunk of the novel towards the middle that felt a little too slow to me and I wished there was more to move the story along. But, other than that, this was a really great novel.

I had no idea what I was walking into with this novel and I really think that helped me to enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised by what the novel was about as I was expecting something completely different based on the title and cover. I recommend heading into this one without a lot of information about it ... just pick it up and immerse yourself. It's definitely worth the read and it gave me a great deal to think about. Very modern and original novel that I'm so glad I read!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

The Night SisterThe Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tend to enjoy Jennifer McMahon's fiction - the suspense, the possibility of things going bump in the night, etc. This particular one really worked for me. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the atmosphere created in the novel. It grabbed me right away, kept me guessing throughout and I found the ending to be satisfying. Definitely creepy. The story explores family secrets and dynamics as well as friendship. It was all fantastic and I really enjoyed it. I don't want to give too much away because I think that McMahon unravels the story quite well.

This will be published on August 4, 2015 and I definitely recommend this one, especially if you're a fan os suspense and don't mind the creepy factor in your fiction!

NOTE: ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Review: Dietland by Sarai Walker

DietlandDietland by Sarai Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am having a really difficult time with reviewing this novel. I actually really enjoyed it but it was nothing like I expected. And that felt a little irritating to me. However, in terms of message ... I actually really liked it. I just felt as if the start of the book where we meet Plum (who I adored) was absolutely wonderful but it slowly moved from one kind of book into another. From a feminist perspective, I love where it went. However, I didn't love the beginning of the story and the end of the story being put together as one narrative. That didn't work for me for some reason which is why I'm giving 4 stars instead of 5. This is a book that many will not like because of what I've described but I hope they come away with something about societal change and feminism. I think that aspect of the novel was fantastic and gave me a great deal to think about. Although not a perfect book for me, I did enjoy the reading experience and I will miss spending time with Plum! Despite it's flaws, I definitely recommend this to women in particular.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review: Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont

Among the Ten Thousand ThingsAmong the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel a bit of trepidation about writing this review. My experience of the novel was good but not great. Julia Pierpont is a really good writer and the story itself was good and explored really interesting themes. She plays a lot with structure which is one of the things that I didn't happen to love about it. I understand why she probably made that decision but I didn't really like that aspect of the novel. Maybe I'm too traditionally minded to truly appreciate the out of the box structure she used to tell this story.

I really loved the first part of the novel - I found it engaging and fresh in a really good way. But, something shifted for me as we move into later parts of the novel ... the narrative slowed down in some way and it didn't feel quite right to me as I read it. I found myself eager to see what happens but wishing it would just move forward more quickly. Perhaps that is a result of the structure of the novel - given that the reader learns an outcome before the story that led to that outcome is told.

Overall, I do think the exploration of family, marriage and infidelity was interesting and it was done in a refreshing way. Watching the story play out from the perspective of the children in the novel was also quite interesting and compelling. That might have been some of my favorite bits.

Despite my reservations about the novel's structure, I did think it was a good read. I recommend it especially to those who are open to bold story structure and who enjoy non-traditional prose.

FYI - I struggled with my rating - it's probably closer to a 3.5 but I don't think it's quite a 4.

NOTE: The publisher provided me with a galley of this novel for my honest review.

Review: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

The Truth According to UsThe Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is such a lovely novel that does such a wonderful job of making the sense of place so central to the story that it's almost like another character in the novel. I was eager to read this when I found out that Annie Barrows was one of the authors of one of my favorite books from 2010, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I hope that this new novel doesn't suffer from comparison to that novel but I worry that it might. It's not quite as compulsively readable as that book. In fact, it's a very different sort of book ... in a good way.

I love how Macedonia, West Virginia came alive in this novel. The family that is explored in the story was fascinating to me. The time of the novel is during the Great Depression so it was interesting to see that time period play out in a small town in America. Although not as readable as her previous novel, this one was still a wonderful reading journey. It is a more quiet novel ... there isn't a ton of action. It feels slow at times - but never boring. More leisurely. I really enjoyed the exploration of family secrets, growing up in a small town, the experience of growing up, forgiveness and redemption.

I definitely recommend this novel - it's such a lovely story with an intriguing place and characters that become like good friends.

NOTE: I received a galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.