Category: book review

Mother’s Day books: Family Cookbook #DKCanada

Ensuring that I have healthy, good quality meals on our table every night is extremely important to me – my only problem? Coming up with a good variety of healthy meals that everyone in the family will like! Some days I feel like I am in a cooking rut – what do I cook, what will be the easiest to get into my boys and not to mention what is going to be the quickest to cook (can’t believe I just admitted that to you all!).

DKCanada’s Family Cookbook is the perfect solution for those stuck in the recipe rut. With more then 700 recipes (yes- 700!) this recipe book is full of delicious and nutritious recipes. The recipes are easy to prepare and easy on the budget. The ingredients were simple and easy to find in the pantry. DKCanada’s Family Cookbook includes recipes that are perfect for all taste buds – from the picky eaters all the way to foodies. They even had a section for making your own baby food (so helpful!).

Some of my favourite features of the Family Cookbook includes the variety of the recipes, large photographs to showcase the recipe, easy to read directions (no small print here like I am accustomed to in so many cook books) and helpful tips that follow each section. I found some excellent freezing tips and tricks on seasonal cooking which I can not wait to put to use this summer!

The cookbook is divided into several sections including (but not limited to!) fish, poultry, meat, side dishes, rice, pasta, desserts and baking. There are plenty of recipes in each section to add plenty of variety to your family’s diet. We started off with the chicken stock (photo below) and used it in several of the recipes that are included in the cook book – pretty awesome right?!

Do you know a Mom that is a foodie? Or a Mom who just really loves to cook and try new recipes? Right now DKCanada has a 30% off sale at the Mother’s Day Boutique! You can save on books for your Mom just in time for Mother’s Day.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the above mentioned book free of charge in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson #review

Adventure, Texas cowgirl charm and so much more are awaiting you in A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson.

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave the pain of her past behind in Texas. She wants and needs to move forward with her life.

She answers an advertisement from a gentleman seeking a Lone Star bride and against her usual actions she leaves her Texas ranch behind and heads to Denver to marry a man she does not know – Jack Wythe.

Jack has been hurt in the past by love and now he wants to marry to satisfy the expectations of the board at his work, Morgan Bank. The board believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Both Jake and Marty agree that they are done with romance and love and that their marriage will be nothing more then a marriage of convenience.

When money begins to go missing at the bank and a collapsing economy begins to threaten his job, Jake yearns to return to the ranches that he grew up on, much to Marty’s dismay. A fondness has developed between them which helps to complicate the matter.

A Sensible Arrangement is an exciting western novel which I love – there is just something about the west in these days that I am intrigued by! It was full of action and surprise. Marty was a fantastic character, full of spirit and life. She struggled with her faith and her with holding the truth through out the book but her Christian values helped guide her through out the novel. It was a great reminder about the affect with holding the truth can have on our lives. I love the relationship that develops between Marty and Jack (although you can just sense it from the beginning!) and it truly added to the beauty of this book.

You can find more reviews on the Litfuse Blog Tour here. You can also purchase a copy of the book here

Rating: 4.5/5

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Maybelle in Stitches #review

Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin is the story of Maybelle Kazinki whose husband is serving in World War II. Maybelle is a strong young woman but so unlike her mother – she can not sew. She was the only girl in her seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of her A-line dress. After her mother dies leaving her alone she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of the house and she decides that the quilt needs to be finished. She gathers a group of friends to help her fill her loneliness and bring hope to each one of them.

The quilt is a “crazy” quilt made with scraps of material from Maybelle’s mother and grandmother’s childhood. She decides to add Holden’s (her husband) stripes to the quilt. Suddenly life changes quickly when she receives harsh news from overseas. Maybelle’s faith falters and it is the quilting group that help brings back her hope and faith.

Maybelle in Stitches is a wonderful story of faith and friendship. Maybelle’s story was probably quite common during this era and I can imagine how many of these women and families felt alone and scared. It is only through their friendships and faith in God do these women make it through day to day. It is the power and hope in the quilt that helps them keep moving forward until they meet their husbands again. The story was believable, open and honest – I loved every moment. Each character was very real with normal faults and shortcomings. You kept praying for everything to be okay for Maybelle! I had a hard time putting the novel down because I just wanted to know what happened to Maybelle and her Holden

You can find more reviews on the Litfuse blog tour here.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy Higley #review

Betrayal, power, politics and religion. Powerful topics that are examined in the backdrop of the historical time period that brings Cleopatra and Herod in to play in The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy Higley.

The Queen’s Handmaid takes place in Alexandria, Egypt 39 B.C. and the story of Lydia. Lydia was orphaned at birth and raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace. She works hard to please those around her while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She has been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times.

When her mentor dies and entrusts her with the secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver the scrolls to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the only place she has called home and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed King, Herod, as a handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family – sister, wife and their mothers – and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warning against the truth destroys all hope of the coming Messiah.

This was an incredibly interesting novel in a very intriguing time period.We have all grown up learning of the powerful political figures during this time period, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Herod and eventually Jesus Christ. It is with these great figures that this story unfolds and it is extremely interesting to see how each of these figures played a role in the lives of each other. With all the betrayal and mystery in this novel it keeps you turning the page wondering what will happen next! I still find it shocking all of the events in history and how people were treated and Tracy Higley gives an excellent portrayal into life during this time period especially through the role of Lydia. The idea of human life being disposable is still so shocking to me but that is life in those times.

Rating: 4/5

You can find more reviews on The Queen’s Handmaid here. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Dolphin Way by Dr. Shimi Kang #Review

Parenting is hard. We always want the best for our children but how do you define what is the best? How do you encourage your children to succeed without pushing too hard?

Dr. Shimi Kang has written for parents The Dolphin Way – A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy and Motivated Kids, Without Turning Into a Tiger.

Dr. Shimi Kang is a Harvard trained child and youth psychiatrist. She is currently in the role of Medical Director for Child and Youth Mental Health Programs in British Columbia. It is within this background that she has developed this guide based on current behaviour research and first hand experience. She is also the  mother of three children and the daughter of immigrant parents so she definitely knows a thing or two!

The Dolphin Way explores the Tiger Parent model and explains (with statistics and real life examples) why this model does not work. She uses the tiger parenting model to illustrate a better parenting approach that follows the intelligent, playful, joyful and social nature of the dolphin. Parents using the dolphin model focus on maintaining balance in the home and in their children’s lives to gently (yet authoritatively) guide them towards lasting health, happiness and success. She encourages parents to trust their intuitions about what is best for our children and that this will help them in turn to obtain the traits needed in today’s modern world : adaptability, community, creativity and critical thinking.

She uses a four part approach and I honestly believe each part is needed to fully understand and appreciate her approach to parenting skills. She breaks down current parenting models (some which I have seen but never knew the names of!) especially Tiger parenting (but also looks at Jellyfish parenting). I had to admit to myself that I have been guilty of both while trying to do what I honestly believe is in the best interest for my children. We live in such a competitive environment that it is important to take a step back and look at the effects of this aggressive and competitive culture that we are fostering especially in our children. She presents all of her findings with some eye opening statistics on child and youth depression, anxiety and suicide. At times I wanted to cry reading these statistics – it is terrifying, shocking and upsetting to see how much our youth is hurting.

On a personal level this book hit close to home. Growing up I was not raised by Tiger parents. They never forced me to participate in sports, excel at school or volunteer. But I was constantly pushing myself. All around me were people telling you what career paths were the best choices for you, what good paying jobs should be, what you had to do in order to get there, what marks you need to get in to school and not to mention supplementary applications that you need! I would get up at six every morning, sometimes have a swim practice, go to school, come home, do some homework, off to soccer or to teach swimming lessons, make it home for nine and then more studying into the wee hours of the morning. It was a vicious cycle. But to my credit I also managed to do a lot too. I achieved fifth place in the Aventis Biotechnology Challenge, I earned my Canada Cord from the Girl Guides of Canada, Citizenship award, Art and Religion awards at school, my average was always above 92%, I taught Red Cross and Lifesaving programs as well as life guarding. I also volunteered twice a week in the hospital and my local church. I also made the choice to move away from my art (my one and true passion) and pursue Kinesiology. I burnt myself out in my first semester of university. I literally broke down, cried and could not continue. Like Dr. Shimi Kang mentions so many times once you achieve the main goal of getting into university all goals are done and you are lost. And this is how I felt.

I have since then graduated, matured and although still have growing pains I have adjusted and have begun to really enjoy life. My only concern now is in how I raise my children. I want them to know I love them, that I support them and want for them to be happy. I do not want them to think I want them to be machines, memorizing every fact and note for school.  But it is the how that I find so difficult. How do you empower them? How do you encourage them to strive to be their personal best without pushing too hard? How do you ensure they will be ready for the real world when what will their world look like in fifteen years from now?

Dr. Shimi Kang breaks down her tools and then hands out “prescriptions” on how to approach parenting – from the simple get more sleep, drink more water to how to talk to our children (using questions versus telling). She gave such clear examples of what may not have been the best approach and the WHY and then goes on to show how that parent could have changed their wording. It actually has me focusing more on the language I am using with my own children and rephrasing sentences to ensure I am supporting and guiding my children instead of lecturing.

The Dolphin Way is an excellent parenting tool to implement in our daily life to help guide our children to be happy and healthy. She focus on adaptability and uses fantastic resources and examples from her own experience to solidify her case. An excellent read through and through. The Dolphin Way is a parenting guide that every home should own. It is essential not only for parents but also for many adults to understand the culture we are being raised in, how it is affecting us and how we can change our own behaviours for our own personal health and well being.

Rating: 5/5

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Dolphin Way in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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