Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cupcake Cakes Cookbook Review

Cupcake Cakes Cookbook Review
Cupcakes have always been a favored treat for school days, parties, or just for dessert. They are even better when they are arranged to make a fun design. 

Consider the cupcake cake on the front of the Cupcake Cakes cookbook.  It looks like an ice cream cone, but in fact it is 18 cupcakes frosted and arranged in a delightful design pattern.  And, seriously!  What could be easier?  10 chocolate cupcakes, 7 strawberry cupcakes and 1 cherry frosted cupcake.  Once decorated with the Good & Fruity candy that looks like sprinkles, you have made a beautiful ice cream cone cake.  Truly fabulous! 


Using Store Bought Cupcakes 


I normally make my own cupcakes, but if you find yourself in a rush, you could simply buy cupcakes from the grocery store or bakery.  Purchase whatever decoration candy is needed and the necessary frosting color, and whip out that cake design in no time.  Using the ice cream cone cupcake cake again as the example, it would be extremely easy to buy chocolate and strawberry cupcakes, the Good & Fruity candy, and a can or tube of cherry frosting.  This is perfect for the mom who is required to bring cupcakes for the classroom party, but doesn't have time to bake.


The Cupcake Cakes Cookbook 

The Cupcake Cake Cookbook - Inside the cookbook
I own several cookbooks that include cupcake cakes, but this is my personal favorite.  All of the cupcake cake designs are easy to replicate, yet they are adorable.  

The book is fairly small compared to other cookbooks, plus it is lightweight.  That makes it extremely easy to grab and carry to a party or school destination if you need it for reference when assembling the cake.  

It has a spiral binding inside the cover which makes the book lay open flat.  Anyone who has ever fought to keep a cookbook open to a specific page knows just how fabulous an internal spiral binding is to the chef.

Cupcake Cakes has instructions for 25 different cupcake cakes and each one is awesome.  I love all of the animal designs myself, but there is also a wizards hat for Harry Potter fans, a flower bouquet cupcake cake and a princess crown for girls.  There is even a treasure chest cupcake cake design which would be perfect for a scavenger hunt party or pirate themed party.

Cupcake Cakes Cookbook Review


Buy Your Own Copy of Cupcake Cakes 

The book is available for a Kindle, but I recommend the actual hardcover book since there are color pictures.  Of course, if you have a Kindle Fire, that is not an issue since it shows pictures in color. 


Read More Book Reviews at
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Read More Cookbook Reviews atReviewThisReviews.com ~ Cookbooks


Cupcake Cakes Cookbook Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls Book Review

I don't ordinarily open a book review with a negative thought but that is how I felt when I began reading Lauren Graham's 2016 autobiography, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between.) I was disappointed. The book was not what I expected.

I should have known by ALL THOSE WORDS on the cover.

What did I expect? Well, an ordinary autobiographical book about Lauren Graham's life to date.

What did I get? A book that almost seemed to move as quickly as the dialogue on the Gilmore Girls.

According to Graham, The Gilmore Girls series featured some of the longest scripts in television history. While another television show script might have 50 pages, the Gilmore Girls were known to pack 80 pages of dialogue into their one hour less commercial breaks time slot. Yes, that means they talked almost non-stop. Verbal diarrhea comes to mind. Graham has actually been asked if she can talk normally.

It turned out that I also had a book in my hands that was not overly serious with paragraphs that were frequently disrupted by a witty comment from the author, which I could have done with out. Lauren Graham is a brilliant comedic actor but, at least at first, I would have preferred a more serious approach. I agree with Entertainment Weekly when they said that as an author Graham is "much better in the honest, earnest passages where she’s not trying to entertain us. We like her already!

As Katherine on Women's Post said, it takes a while to get used to Graham's style, which is "conversational and as scattered as a Gilmore Girl." If you are a fan, you will know what that means. If not, well...carry on. Graham befriends you as she jumps from a thought to some song lyrics to a discussion on the telephone. "It’s through this writing style the readers are truly able to get to know Graham." Perhaps that is true.

Of course, it is helpful and the book makes more sense once you know that the book is meant to be a series of essays.

So...did I like the book?


I did.

Is it recommended?


Yes, it is particularly if you are a fan of the Gilmore Girls and/or Lauren Graham and you approach the book in a less than serious manner. The book deals with Graham's childhood and adulthood through to the remake of the Gilmore Girls and it is interesting.  It is just not particularly serious. The back cover says that this book contains details about Graham's, "awkward growing up years, confusing dating years, fulfilling working years; and what it was like to be asked to play one of my characters again." I think that gives you a sense that this book treats Graham's life in a light manner.

I do like Lauren Graham and I will be checking out her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, which is about a young actress trying to make it in New York, a subject about which she definitely has firsthand knowledge. I would also like to revisit the Gilmore Girls series and watch the new movies though with seven seasons and four movies that is a whole lot of viewing! Meanwhile, you can find Talking As Fast as I can and Lauren Graham's other works on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you have read Talking as Fast as Fast as I Can, be sure to let us know what you thought.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Talking As Fast As I Can here on Amazon. It's available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats.

Read about Graham's co-star Alexis Bledel in my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie review.

If you are a big Gilmore Girls fan, you might like to follow the Gilmore Girls News.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reviewing A Thesaurus

A Most Important Tool For Writing

writing desk
Writing Center image courtesy of Pixabay.com
My decision to review a thesaurus in today's post might seem a little lame at first glance. Stick with me for a bit and you will see why I think that every home and office should have at least one available.

I, along with the other reviewers here at Review This, do quite a lot of writing. Most of us write a post here each week while maintaining our own sites in other locations on the web. It would not be far-fetched for me to assume that each of us probably has at least one thesaurus that we refer to often. Mine is sitting right here next to me as I compose this post. I pick it up and use it several times every single day.

Now, I realize that not everyone considers themselves writers, as we do, but that isn't exactly the case. Adults frequently need to compose a letter or a report pertaining to their jobs. (You should know that I just picked up my thesaurus to find a better word for often and decided on frequently in that last sentence.) College students are required to write a term paper for some of their classes. A thesis might be required for many degrees. High school, middle school and even elementary school students will need to write reports about different subjects during the years that they attend school. In all of these instances the person is temporarily a writer. 

Certainly, we all have the option of looking up words (synonyms or antonyms) on an online thesaurus. Those have been available for quite a while. My preference is an actual book that I can pick up and search through quickly. I don't have to open a new window or switch screens. My writing is still in front of me and I can return to it swiftly. (I just used my thesaurus again choosing swiftly over quickly.) See how that works?

Personally, I think that if we encourage our young students to get into the habit of using this tool for their writing needs; we are also helping them practice searching for words in alphabetical order along with spelling skills. Adults will be better adept at this but even they learned at one time the order of the alphabet when looking a word up. Whether the writer is very young, middle-aged or even elderly their finished product will be a much better piece if they have taken a few minutes to find a variety of words to use in their text. Can anyone remember a paper returned from the teacher with several red marks and a note that says, "You used this word 15 times! Choose different words from time to time."

As a writer, it is my desire, to create a pleasant reading experience for anyone who might read what I have written. I don't want to sound repetitive or appear that I have a very small vocabulary. I think whether it is a conscious goal or not; most people who are writing something want it to be received well. A thesaurus can be invaluable for that very purpose.

It is probably no surprise that I think that giving a child a tool that will help them write better is a very good idea. They may not be looking to make a career out of writing but they will from time to time be required to write something. That "something" will be better if they know how to find synonyms to use to say the same thing in a different way. A by-product is that they will have a much better vocabulary.

As I stated before; I use my thesaurus regularly each day. I have found it extremely helpful as I work on my soon to be published mystery book. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau

Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet) Autobiography
Image and Review by Lou16
Let's review 'I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau', an autobiography of Gary Kemp, lead guitarist, song writer and heartthrob of 80s New Romantic band Spandau Ballet.

If you just want to know who the song True was written for then this is the book to read! "Why do I find it hard to write the next line?" because you're tongue tied in love Gary! Who to? Well trust me this book reveals all which could be why Gary has used a line from his mega hit as the book title - I Know This Much.

If you're not interested in the song, but want to reminisce about the 80s and the New Romantics especially then you'll love to read this memoir from Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp. Gary Kemp has a knack with words and I found myself laughing as he described the first time he saw a wok and cringing when he mentioned certain fashions.

Towards the end of Gary Kemp's autobiography I found myself in tears - his writing of a particularly sad event was so good I could feel the emotion jumping off the page at me.

 I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau by Gary Kemp
Confession time - I'm a huge Spandau Ballet fan and I thought I had quite a lot of knowledge about them and the beginnings of the New Romantic moviement. Even with this background I learnt a lot from Gary Kemp's Memoirs

I Know This Much is definately a book that brings back memories of names that you'd forgotten about. I loved the trip down memory lane.

Gary Kemp is also quite brutal about himself and some of his actions - it's a no holds barred autobiography from trying to murder his brother (anyone with a younger sibling can probably relate to that!) to being a total snob and a control freak.

The book also contains a few pages of photos which also help take you back in time - oh the fashions!


Who Was True Written For?


Spandau Ballet's worldwide hit ballad True really was the love song of the 80s, but who was it actually written for? I had heard Gary Kemp say that he had written True for a girl who never realized how he felt. I've never known who he was talking about until I read the book where all is revealed. I won't ruin it for you here, you can read the book instead!

From Islington to Highgate 

Gary Kemp's I Know This Much Autobiography 


I Know This Much by Gary Kemp starts off with his very working class East End upbringing and an unwanted Christmas gift - a guitar. It continues through his chid acting and early foray into music before moving onto the Blitz Kids and Spandau Ballet. The story of Gary Kemp's own contribution towards the break-up of the first New Romantic band is told in blunt honesty.

Gary's life past Spandau Ballet, the reformation and the death of his parents are all dealt with extremely well. if Gary Kemp ever decided to write fiction I think he would be consistently on the bestseller list.

A quote from I Know This Much by Gary Kemp (the 80s defined!)


There were so many lines in this book that stuck with me, but this was my first laugh out loud line as it struck me that back then a wok wouldn't have been something I knew about either. We tend to forget that things we use so often and can be found in many homes around the world were an unusual thing to have in your English home back in the 70s and early 80s.

Gary Kemp Reads Excerpts from I Know This Much



Other Spandau Ballet Autobiographies 


Other members of the band have also written their autobiographies. Martin Kemp (Gary's younger brother) was the bass guitarist for the group and was the first to write his autobiography.....

   True: The Autobiography of Martin Kemp
Martin Kemp's autobiography was called True and was written after he survived two brain tumours.

The book was written in part as therapy for himself and also because he wanted to write something for his children who were babies when he was first diagnosed with brain tumours.

 To Cut a Long Story Short: My Autobiography
Tony Hadley was Spandau Ballet's lead singer and the next member to write his autobiography.

Tony choose to use a different song title for his autobiography - To Cut A Long Story Short.

Gary Kemp was Spandau Ballet's lead guitarist and songwriter and is the latest one of them to write an autobiography which is what I have just reviewed for you.

Let me know what you thought of the book, did you cry near the end like me, or are you made of sterner stuff?

An 80s pop idol's autobiography, inside the life of Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet


Spandau Ballet had five members in total which means that two stories have yet to be told. John Keeble and Steve Norman let me know when you've started your memoirs and I'll be more than happy to read them!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat: A Book Review

Why Is This Book So Popular with Children?

I first met Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat when I was about seven. I was already reading by then, but Mom still read it to me. It had been a gift from my Cousin Edna, who was the first to read it to me. I liked the book so much I kept it. When my brother came along about three years later, both Mom and I read it to him as soon as he was old enough to understand it -- about three. He loved it and couldn't get enough of it. We had to read it over and over. The author, Morrell Gipson, has a real feel for what appeals to children. The illustrator, Angela, evokes just the right emotions with her watercolor paintings.

Mr Bear Squash You All FlatMr Bear Squash You All Flat


Why do young children love this book so much when it might seem violent to an adult? Young children often feel small and helpless, just like the animals who watched Mr. Bear squash their houses. They can identify with those animals who run and hide when they see Mr. Bear coming toward their homes. Then they can rejoice when Mr. Bear gets what he deserves at the end of the book. 


Encourage Interaction As You Read Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat Aloud


This book is full of the repetition that children love.  Adults can help them build anticipation by asking them what they expect to happen next. Adults can make the book for fun by imitating Mr. Bear's voice as he issues his warnings. By the time the child has heard the book read several times, the adult can invite him to repeat the warning with Mr. Bear. The adult can also ask children toward the end of the book what they think will happen when Mr. Bear tries to squash the tire house. Those are just my ideas. You will think of many more ways to interact with the child you read to. 


Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat: A Book Review
Check Price for Mr. Bear Squash-You-All Flat
I scanned this book cover from my own copy. 


Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat

Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat got his name because he liked to squash things -- especially the houses of smaller animals. He was too lazy to build himself a house. 

Most of the time Mr. Bear lived peacefully and didn't bother the other animals. He would sleep quietly under the trees since he had no home of his own. When the moon was full, though, all that changed. That's when he would get really grumpy and go on a house-squashing rampage and squash every house he saw. You can see how he does it on the cover of this book. (See it above.)

The Illustrations

The edition I owned almost seventy years ago is out of print. I was happy to see this new edition bring it to new generations of readers. It has the same illustrations by Angela that I loved. Although they reveal Mr. Bear's grumpiness and anger, they aren't scary. Sometimes there is even a touch of humor. The artist does a great job on the facial expressions of all the animals. You can check out more of the book's illustrations on its Amazon page by clicking to Look Inside.

The Plot

Whenever Mr. Bear decides to squash a house, he gives fair warning by stating who he is and that he intends to squash the animal's house after he counts to three. That gives the animal inside time to run away and hide. Then the homeless animal goes in search of another house. On the day described in this book, he squashes three houses. After each house he squashes, he feels less grumpy, and on this day he felt cheerful enough after squashing the third house to go take a nap. 

Meanwhile, the homeless animals discovered a very large tire and moved into it together. They were quite happy there until after the next full moon when they saw Mr. Bear approaching their new house. The baby rabbit spotted him first and ran to warn the mouse and the chipmunk. They ran to hide behind a large oak tree, hoping Mr. Bear would leave their house alone. Not a chance! I'll leave it to your imagination what happens next.

Get Mr. Bear Squash-You-All Flat for a child you love now. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review

A friend told me that Kristin Hannah’s novel The Nightingale was an excellent book and it was. Though I know this book is a work of fiction, it does deal with real situations that happened during the time period that France was occupied by Germany in World War II.

I know things that happen in this book happened to real people in France. I have always read books set in this time period. However, what happened in that war is still hard to believe. Truly unbelievable. Despite knowing that people were treated in this manner, I still managed to come away in disbelief saying to my husband things like, "How could anyone treat people the way they did?" and "How did the French people manage to survive in those conditions?" We are not talking about one or two crazy people here, right? We are talking about an 'army' of people mistreating people.

Anyway, in my opinion, Kristin Hannah has crafted a wrenching story with a family and with characters that you will come to love. Yes, you are likely going to shed some tears. Yes, you will be upset by the violence and the cruelty and the sexual situations in this book though I must say that it is far from the worst book that I have read in those matters though perhaps more disturbing because it feels so real.

The Nightingale deals with the contributions made to World War II by women. Unfortunately, those important contributions like the women depicted in this book who joined the French Resistance or who managed despite incredible odds to feed their families, have not been as widely acknowledged or recognised as those of men.

In particular, this book deals with two quite different sisters: One who wants to keep her family safe; the other who is not willing to accept the things that are happening to them. It is a story of courage and survival parts of which were inspired by real women like 19-year old Belgian, Andrée De Jongh, who took considerable risks helping people escape from France.

Here is the book trailer. I do not know if it is official or not but it does give a good idea of the things that happen in this story:



This book is well done and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by many others. If you love a book that shares a great story about women’s lives and that is historically based you will enjoy The Nightingale. It is riveting. You will not even notice that it the hardcover book is 440 pages or that the paperback is 600, particularly if you read it as an ebook.

By way of further recommendation, you might take the fact that, according to The New York Times in 2016, this book had sold more than two million copies. This book has drawn both men and women as well as young and old readers. As one who has always been captivated by World War II novels it comes as no surprise to me when the Times stated that people are drawn to them. However, I was interested to learn that this book has drawn a younger generation of readers who perhaps relate to this novel because of how young people were drawn to the French Resistance.

If you are interested in reading The Nightingale, you can find it in all formats including eBook, audiobook and traditional paper book, on Amazon by clicking right here.  I’ve just noticed on the cover that this movie is to become a major motion picture. There is not much information available as I write this other than a rumoured movie release date of 2017, which means that once you have read the book you have a movie to look forward to.

If you like historical fiction, you might also enjoy these reviews on Review This:

Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta, which is set in 14th Century Germany.

The movie The Bridge of Spies, which is set in the cold war.

The One Man by Andrew Gross, which is set in Poland in 1944.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale form Amazon.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mary's Message To The World Reviewed

Spiritual Messages For All

mary mother of jesus
Mother Mary image courtesy of Pixabay.com
I'll be reviewing an older book today, Mary's Message To The World. Originally published in 1991 the content isn't as outdated as one might think. This book and the messages within will not appeal to everyone, I'll just say that right up front. I know in my heart that some will read it and scoff just as I am sure they have since it was first published. Still, others who will read it for the first time will be moved and I believe will grow spiritually. Read it with an open mind and open heart, is all I'm asking.

One might assume that since this book is about the Mother Mary that it was written for the Catholic faith due to the strong devotion to her. That is not the case, Mary chose Annie Kirkwood (of no particular denomination) to visit and urge to spread her message to the world. In the beginning of the book, it tells of Annie's struggle with the visits from Mary. She kept telling the Holy Mother that she was not a Catholic and that Mary should visit her friend who was of that faith. At one point, she reiterates that she is not a Catholic and Mary says, "I'm not, either." Needless to say, Mary did not give up on Annie and visited her many times from 1987 to 1988 and in later years, too.


I'm not one who caters to the idea of coincidences in our lives. Since a very young age, I have believed that all things happen for a reason. We may not understand them for a while but eventually the lesson we were to learn is revealed. We might see them as blessings, some will see them as a punishment of some sort and even more will ignore the lesson or message altogether. It is human nature.

I bring up the idea of a coincidence because of the way that this book literally fell into my hands. My husband was helping a lady that we know sort through her household belongings for a long distance move that she was about to make. She had several books that she no longer wanted and told him that if he saw any that interested him; he could take them. He saw this book and knew that I have a special connection to the Holy Mother and brought it home to me. Coincidence? My heart says, "No." My soul tells me that I was supposed to read this book and reconnect with the Mother Mary.

Reconnect?  You are probably wondering why I would say that. At the age of 12, I was visited by the Mother Mary. I did not understand at the time who she was. I was a young Protestant girl who knew that Mary was the mother of Jesus but we didn't have statues of her in our church so her image was not familiar to me. I somehow knew that she was a holy woman and that this visit was a special one but received no guidance from the adults around me. In fact, they called me a liar and ordered me to stop talking about it. My imagination was a little out of line, I was told often. I can't help but believe that the adults knew exactly who I was describing and closed their minds to the possibility of her coming to me, a child of 12 and a Protestant to boot. About 30 years later, I would see her again in a Catholic church holding her arms out to me with that loving look of peace on her face. She looked the same as she did 30 years before and my life was forever changed.

I bring this up because it helps me explain that I do believe that Mary came to Annie Kirkwood and gave her the messages in this book. The Mother Mary has come to many people for hundreds of years. Some of her apparitions have been confirmed by the church while many others have been dismissed. Mary tells Annie that the men of the church often times dismissed her visits and messages because they didn't want the people to hear what she had said, warned of, or predicted. They had their own agenda and her visits didn't fit. This is one of the reasons that Mary chose Annie, she was not a Catholic; not affiliated with any particular denomination. She had a faithful heart and a good prayer life. She might be able to reach people of all cultures, all races, and all religions.

In the book, Mary makes predictions and warns of changes in the earth. She tells of the increase in earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. She warns of the climate changes with droughts and floods. Weather that is unusual and unpredictable. She describes much of what we have and are witnessing right now and in the recent past.

Now, I should explain that in the book that was published in 1991 the predictions were all to come to pass by the end of that century. This is where people will begin to scoff; but hold on! Not so fast! Mary also explains that the "end" can be postponed if people heed her warnings and begin to prepare. Mary explains that we all need to connect with God, we need to pray, communicate and love ourselves and the rest of the world. It is a simple message but not one many people will pay attention to.

Mary has told Annie since the first publication of the book that the "end" has been postponed due to the prayers and connection of so many people. When I use the term "end"; I'm not saying that the earth will end. No, it will change dramatically, though. Life as we know it will change drastically but that is actually a good thing. This goes along with the predictions of the Native Americans who have been saying for a few decades now that we will be entering into the next world soon. It also goes along with the Book of Revelations in the Bible. Mary even mentions John's writing to Annie.

As I said in the beginning of this review, the book will not appeal to everyone. However, if you are open to spiritual growth and want to grow in your faith; I recommend that you read this book. I believe it will touch your heart, sooth your fears, and help you become the person that you were meant to be.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

Half Broke Horses; A True-Life Novel
Welcome to the book review of Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls. The thing is, I haven't completed the book, so can I really consider this a review?  I'm not sure. What I am sure about, this is one of those stories that is painted so vividly that you don't want to put the book down. It is one of those stories that as soon as you begin, you want to start asking folks if they've read this book. And if they say no, you want to tell them to start. That's what this book review is about. To encourage you to sit down and meet Lily Casey Smith.


Why I Chose Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel 


I have a long list of books that are yet unread in my Kindle. There are so many books and so little free time. So why would I add yet another book to that list?  What would cause me to start a book that I hadn't even considered previously?

I was in the process of packing for my most recent camping trip and there was a commercial on the television about a soon-to-be-released movie titled The Glass Castle. The commercial went on describing the movie that is based on the best selling book by Jeannette Walls and so on and so forth.  So I stopped what I was doing an did a quick internet search to find out what all the hub-bub was about.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir is written by Jeannette Walls and has been "more than seven years on the New York Times Best Seller list". Some of my favorite books have never been, to my knowledge, on the New York Times best seller list. So that information does not guarantee that I'll purchase the book. I read the Amazon reviews and considered. Unfortunately, I really don't care for spending over $10 for a digital copy of a book so I did not click the "buy now" button.

However, I went on to look at the other books Ms. Walls had written. Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel is advertised as "Laura Ingalls for adults" and that appealed to me. I read the "look inside" excerpt and was hooked. 

This story is about Ms. Walls' grandmother's life. The life of Lily Casey Smith. Ms. Lily began in Texas. Helping to break horses and raise her siblings. Flash floods, broken bones, and tornadoes were not unexpected parts of her children. Her father, gimpy, with a speech impediment, and a quick temper depended on her to help on the ranch. Her mother, a delicate and proper woman who was prone to fainting spells. Likely due to the tightness of her corset.  As Lily became older (a whopping 15 years old), she left the nest by teaching in frontier towns over 500 miles away from home. She filled the teacher vacancies the war created at these small town schools. However, the war ended and the teachers returned. Ms. Lily was forced to return home. 

As I said, I'm only halfway through the book and after her teaching stint, I've accompanied Ms. Lily to Chicago, have witnessed the impact of the growing ownership of cars by the public, and have seen her struggle with her mother's constant warnings of becoming a spinster. However, I believe that particular disaster is about to be avoided. Honestly this time. And just as she seems to be falling in love with a decent man, I understand that the Great Depression is looming on the horizon. I am anxious to witness how Ms. Lily navigates this true disaster.

I am glad to be reading the story of Lily Casey Smith before considering reading the memoir of Ms. Walls' life. I am also very glad to be reading this before watching the movie. If you think you'd enjoy a not-so-sweet adult version of Little House on the Prairie, you ought to take a peek at Half-Broke Horses. Not that I'm speaking poorly of the Little House series. I was a huge fan. But where Nellie was the anomaly, it seems the Nellie-like characters are the norm in Ms. Lily's life. 


selections available on Amazon

Related Book Review Links:


The contributors on Review This! love to read. We enjoy a wide variety of genres. For the complete list of our book reviews click the site directory here.

The last book (series) I read that grabbed my attention and imagination like this was the Refined By Love series by Judith Miller. I could not put those books down! Rather than doze off after a chapter or two, I stayed awake, neglect housework, and devoured the three books in the series. For more details, see the review of The Brickmaker's Bride which is the first in that series.



I seem to currently be in the mood for stories of a certain time period in the earlier history of the United States. If you prefer more current memoirs and/or heartfelt stories involving dogs, check out Renaissance Woman's book review of Will's Red Coat. This is definitely one of those books on my to-read list, as soon as I come out of this historical mode. 






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

One Last Strike - Baseball Book Review

Available on Amazon
The Remarkable Story of the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals

I was living in St. Louis in 2011 watching my favorite baseball team, the Cardinals, on TV every day. As the season dwindled down, I watched and worried and agonized with the rest of the city with 'fingers crossed' while our team fell further behind, ending up more than 10 games out with less than a month left in the season. As we went through September, the Cardinals came close to catching up, but every one of the last 5 games of the regular season was an elimination game.

In "One Last Strike", Tony La Russa, the third winningest manager in baseball history, takes us through his Cardinals' 2011 season, which was also his last season as a baseball manager. He describes how the team came from ten and a half games back to make the playoffs on the night of the final game of the season and how they went on to win the World Series despite being down to their last strike 'twice' in a comeback like no other! At the beginning of September 2011, not even Tony could have foreseen the magical and memorable ride the Cardinals were about to take.
 

Manager Tony La Russa and his St. Louis Cardinals Team


You don't need to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan to enjoy this book. Any baseball fan will love the 'behind-the-scenes' look into how a manager makes game by game and inning by inning decisions to bring his team to a win. The Cardinals had to have those 'wins' over and over to first make it to the playoffs, and then to the World Series in this hard-fought 2011 baseball season.


 

Busch Stadium - Home of the St. Louis Cardinals

In his book "One Last Strike", Tony writes,

 “all the cliches we (the Cardinals) used about never giving up on yourself, believing in yourself, bouncing back from adversity – they're all true!”

Tony La Russa describes how he used his 33 years experience managing baseball teams from the Chicago White Sox to the Oakland A's to being the St. Louis Cardinals' longest serving manager to bring the Cardinals to their final game of the World Series .. and win. He gives great credit to team unity and determination.



 
Tony La Russa (Source: Wikimedia)


Tony La Russa's Rules as a Baseball Manager


La Russa had simple rules as manager.

  • Don't do something to lose the game when on defense.
  • Do something to win the game on offense.
  • Be good enough and tough enough... and keep believing.

In a team meeting prior to the beginning of the 2011 MLB Baseball Playoffs, La Russa tells his players that sports are unpredictable. The best team or player can have an off day. Just come in as prepared as you can be and play the best of your ability.

He summed it up with “Play as if each game is the 7th game of the World Series --- or the last (baseball) game of your life, and play only one game at a time.”
 

Tony La Russa talks about his book "One Last Strike"

 


More Baseball Books...

 

Available on Amazon

Additional stories about manager Tony La Russa and his analytical manager mind applied to a game.


Written by Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager is about a three-game series between the Cardinals and Cubs in 2003. It describes manager Tony La Russa's decisions for each batter and each inning of this 3-game series, based somewhat on computer data, but more importantly his experiences managing nearly 4,000 games. 


My 'Salute' to some special St. Louis Cardinals




If I were to create my perfect 'Dream Team' for the St. Louis Cardinals, using players from the past to the present at each position, this is what it would look like.

Your Review This Baseball Contributor and Article Writer, Wednesday Elf, is a Big Baseball Fan!


When I'm not 'watching' baseball... or 'talking' about baseball, I love reading books about baseball. It was great fun to relive the St. Louis Cardinals' magical 2011 season through the eyes (and words) of manager Tony La Russa. What a wild ride he had in his final managerial season!

"One Last Strike" is their story. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed being part of the St. Louis Cardinals 2011 season while living in the team city!



Article Originally Written © 2014 Wednesday-Elf.  Updated for Review This! Blog on 8/19/2017.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book Review

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book ReviewIt’s been literally decades since I read a Stephen King novel. I believe that the last one that I read was Misery in 1987, before my grown up children were born. That book was simply too horrible for me. Later, for whatever reason, I watched or tried to watch the movie version of that story and that cinched the deal for me. I have not read a Stephen King book since then and not seen many of his movies either.

That is, until the 2014 book Mr. Mercedes was chosen this year as one of the reads for our book club. Now I am wondering what I have missed in all of the books since 1987 as I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Mercedes. It was not too horror-ible at all though horrible things do happen in the book. However, it is a fast paced crime or detective story rather than a horror story. It is riveting; another book that I could not put down. A race-against-time thriller.

It is very well written with well-developed characters that include a retired police detective and a psychopath.

The police detective is not enjoying his retirement and is pulled back into one of his last, unsolved cases, that of the Mercedes killer.

The psychopath is, as The Globe and Mail says, “one of King’s great creations, twisted and deranged, but cringingly human.” On the outside, he is ordinary and could be one of your neighbours. However, on the inside he has many issues.

What results when the detective and the psychopath collide is a riveting story with two men ‘fighting’ to the end.

Mr. Mercedes is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by the Globe and Mail, too, LOL.

It is exciting that I just discovered that Mr. Mercedes is a trilogy so I (we) have two more books to read in the series, including Finders Keepers and End of Watch. I only hope that they live up to Mr. Mercedes.

There is also an AT&T Original mini series that has just started as I write this in August, 2017. I watched the trailer just now on Youtube and cannot decide if I will be watching the program or not. I have prematurely made up my mind that it cannot live up to the excellent book but I will be waiting to see what people think of the mini-series. As always, I recommend reading the book first.

You can learn more about Mr. Mercedes or order your copy of the book from Amazon by clicking here.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Mercedes is King’s 62nd novel, though only 44 feature his name. He says that this book is based on a real incident in which a woman drove her car into a McDonald’s restaurant.

Will you be reading Mr. Mercedes?

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes from Amazon.







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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Lovers Day, Let's Review Coffee Table Books for Everyone

In honor of Book Lovers Day, I'm looking at my collection of books and marveling at the variety of subjects that grace my coffee table!

Let's Review what makes a great Coffee Table Book Collection and see where it takes us.
coffee table books, special interest coffee table books, myriads of book topics
The beauty about Coffee Table books is that they are really truly works of art in themselves.  The topics can range from Architecture right through to Zebras in the Serengeti!   There are subjects that are as individual as we all are.  What appeals to one person may not appeal to another and yet when I look at Coffee Table Books (the big ones with beautiful pictures of people and places), I am always in awe at the myriad of choices.  The one common part of every Coffee Table Book is a great review of the topic and pictures that you and I will never be able to replicate.  

Travel Books

Travel books make a great collection that will be enjoyed by your many friends and family.  Especially if they are places that you have visited.  Most of the time these Travel Books have the highest quality pictures and always done under the most perfect conditions.  Now let's be clear, I am not talking about "Travel Guides" for different destinations, but rather those beautiful large hard covered books that show places in their best and most photographic light.  I have a beautiful book on the Sistine Chapel.  It is one of my favorite Coffee Table Books, because while I have seen the Sistine Chapel with my own eyes, trying to get a great picture of it when there are hundreds of people milling about, is almost impossible.  
travel coffee table books, art and architecture books, places and people coffee table books


Special Interest Books

Everyone has their own special interests and that is what makes coffee table books so interesting to me.  You may like History, while someone else is into the History of Comics.  Both of these subjects are well covered in Coffee Table Books.  There is everything in between too!  Fashion, Wars, Machinery, Animals and a host of other topics are all bound up in beautiful books that just wait for your eyes to enjoy them.  The turning of the pages will show you picture after picture of marvels that man has either made, built, destroyed and more.  There are books to inspire and even Old First Edition books that are proudly displayed on the coffee table or a bookshelf close by.  One of my favorite topics is Architecture, so needless to say this book featuring works of Gaudi, happens to be a "go to"  book when I need to relax and just enjoy some amazing buildings that are famous in their own rite.
coffee table books, architecture picture books, special interest coffee table books

Humor and Levity don't stray too far from our Coffee Table either!

My husband can be found on a Sunday evening enjoying the antics of "Calvin and Hobbs!"  He had started to collect the comics out of the paper especially when he found one that related so well to our children.  He would keep these in a file folder at his desk.  One time when one of  our boys came home, they found his "clippings file!"  That Christmas they got together and purchased the Complete Collection of Calvin and Hobbs for their dad.  Today, 10 years later, it is not uncommon to see him enjoying this gift and laughing with delight.  Friends have come for a visit and found themselves drawn to our eclectic collection of coffee table books.  Needless to say we enjoy sharing these books with our friends.  Is there a rhyme or reason for any of these books to be there?  No, other than they are all topics that we enjoy.  We can pull out a book and lose ourselves in the Space Race, the Sistine Chapel, Gaudi's amazing architecture or just laugh with Calvin or Elizabeth in my "For Better or Worse Collection."  Of course these days there is also a whole section in our bookcase beside the coffee table for the Complete Works of  Dr. Seuss!  When the grandchildren come to visit, they have their own "little library" and sit quite contently on the floor, flipping through their books strewn all over the coffee table.

Topics for Everyone!

Coffee Table Books come in any genre imaginable.  There are lovely books on Dogs, Cats, Birds, Mountains, Fish in the Oceans, and the list is endless.  I would suggest that if you have a friend or two with a special interest in a certain topic, you will find a Coffee Table book that they would enjoy for many years to come.  They do make a great gift for that person that has just about everything under the sun and I know that they will get enjoyment out of your thoughtfulness.  A beautiful quote that suits your friend and the topic of the book is all that needs to be added.  What a wonderful gift indeed!

Just In Case:


There is the chance that you don't really like these lovely picture books, so for those who would rather have a pile of paperbacks or latest Best Sellers on their coffee table, then check out all the great Book Reviews you'll find right here: Review This Book Reviews

All pictures are courtesy of Pixabay.com







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Monday, August 7, 2017

Moodle Stressed Review

Moodles - doodles that change your mood.
What is a Moodle? In a Google search, the word "Moodle" brings up a variety of search results. The Moodle I am reviewing is a book series that was designed by the author to improve mood through doodling. This is a book that I personally would have picked up from the shelf, flipped through, then put back on the shelf and wandered away. But after seeing the Stressed volume put to use, I decided that I needed to help spread the word about the Moodle series.  


What is a Moodle and why is there a series?


The Moodle books were written and illustrated by Emily Portnoi. She describes the books as:


"...a new concept in therapeutic doodling - fun doodle books for adults or children, with the power to change your mood"  -- Emily Portnoi

Ms. Portnoi is a Designer, Art Director, and Illustrator. I think that her enjoyment of aesthetics and fun art is easy to see in the pages of her book.


Why I recommend the Moodle Stressed Volume


Since I admitted that this is a book that I would have leafed through then left behind on the bookstore shelf, why would I now recommend that very same book? I recommend it because one of my "kids" recommended it. And I watched as this young person "Moodled" into calmness.

There is nothing new about coloring, doodling, and fidgeting (keeping the hands busy while focusing on a task) as a means of relieving stress or anxiety. Ms. Portnoi writes that her books are a new concept in therapeutic doodling. I don't fully agree with that statement. Doodling/drawing is something that I've done with the kids I work with for just over two decades now (wow, time flies!). Some of the doodles in the Moodle book were very similar to things I've done with the kids over the years.

Are you still wondering why I recommend these books? I can see why you would be wondering that.  Let me explain a little more.


  • The size of the book is a handy size (approx. 6" x 7.8").   
  • The bold print of the illustrations is eye-catching and Ms. Portnoi's illustrations are fun and engaging.  
  • What is new about her books is the variety of activities. All of the suggested doodles are open-ended and can be as brief or detailed as the user chooses.  
  • The page corners are rounded and smooth
  • The pages are thick and a slightly "slick" paper stock (I am not a publisher, so I am unsure of the correct terminology). Not too slick for pens and pencils, but not regular rough paper stock.
  • The feel/texture of the pages were clearly pleasing to the youngster I was with while we colored in the book.

A few quick photos I took of some of the pages in the Stressed volume to show the variety of activities

The book is suitable for pencils, pens, and colored pencils. I did note that my young friend was using markers and gel pens. Some of the most vibrant and "wet" ink markers/pens did slightly bleed through the pages while some of the gel pens did not.

While this book was not my cup of tea, it was clearly very enjoyable for this young person. The activity did in fact improve mood and release stress in a remarkably short period of time. 

As we sat and colored, I realized that I should stock up on some of the books in this series. I think that the book series will be helpful for folks who need to calm, focus, release stress, and improve mood. In my mind, I created a list of some of the people I will recommend the book to - including folks on the Autism Spectrum and who have difficulties with symptoms of anxiety, impulsivity, and ADHD.


The Moodles series offered on Amazon - including Moodles Happy


Related Link


I enjoy coloring and doodling and was recently reminded of the importance of carrying supplies with me. I prefer mandala style coloring pages and discovered these small on-the-go adult coloring books.


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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Review of Will's Red Coat by Tom Ryan

Will's Red Coat by Tom Ryan
What would happen today if we gave ourselves over, wholeheartedly, to a hurting soul?  What if we could let go of all expectations and simply concentrate on pure giving?  Tom Ryan, author of Will's Red Coat, lived the transformational answer to these questions when he responded to a Facebook post about a soul in desperate need.  Little did Ryan know at the time how that seemingly straightforward act of kindness would dramatically change him and forever alter the course of his life.

On the surface, this book would appear to be yet another memoir of a man and his dog.  Oh, but this is so much more than that.  There is a man, yes -- Ryan, the New York Times bestselling author of Following Atticus.  And there is a dog -- a deaf, mostly blind, senior dog that is raging against the dying light.  But this is not your typical rescue story of human saves animal, or animal saves his person.

This is a story of finding the life you have always wanted, and needed, by submitting to that which you would never have knowingly chosen.  Up front, Ryan thought he was providing a temporary last home for a dog that was expected to live only a very short time.  In essence, it was a hospice situation.  Ryan was offering Will a place, and space, to die with dignity.

Things are never this simple, though, are they?  This weak, angry dog wasn't ready to die without a fight, without experiencing the underlying beauty that is so easy to miss in life.  The heart of this book is how two souls, Tom and Will, became the beauty they were each seeking.

As an animal welfare volunteer who deals with abandoned, forgotten souls on a daily basis, I found myself deeply moved by the profound truths of this poignant story.  The truths you will discover when you read this book are these:
"It's never too late to trust again, to love or be loved again; and it's never too late to live again."  ~ Will's Wisdom
 Yes, this book will make you cry, but the tears will be joyous and healing.  They will be a celebration of the triumph of a life lived in full.  I found this book to be an incredibly beautiful tribute to what happens when you become who you were always meant to be.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fishy Tales Book Review

Fishy Tales - a DK Reader for Pre-School Age


Fishy Tales on Amazon

This is part of the DK Readers series, which includes 4 levels for you to choose from to match your child's reading ability.  The levels include:

  • Pre-Level 1 - Learning to Read - These books include simple sentences to introduce and reinforce vocabulary.
  • Level 1 - Beginning to Read - Books which have short and simple stories to engage interest.
  • Level 2 – Beginning to Read Alone - Books with longer stories to develop fluency and understanding.
  • Level 3 – Reading Alone - These include more complex stories to build confidence in reading. 

Fishy Tales & Friends





Fishy Tales is a DK Reader in the Pre-Level 1, for children ages 4-6.  The Fishy Tales story takes a journey in the deep blue sea where we see fish swim through through a coral reef.  There is also a starfish on the sandy ocean floor and a jellyfish floating up and down in the waves, plus pages about the sea turtle, Sea horses, jellyfish, sharks, octopuses, crabs, eels, rays and dolphins.

There are 12 different sea-life creatures shown in two-page spreads with color pictures and simple one sentence descriptions.  Each sea animal has words that describe different parts of the animal. 


TURTLE


For instance, the turtle page says:
Turtles – The turtles play in the ocean. 

The words Shell and Flipper are labels which point to those matching parts on the turtle. 

Terrance Turtle reading Fishy Tales

A handmade plush tortoise from my Etsy Toybox loves reading about the sea turtle who lives in the deep blue sea. This plush turtle is named Terrance (Terry for short) and he is hand-crocheted. 



Terry the Turtle
 He has  a tan body with a sage green shell. His head, legs and tail are done in yellow. His eyes are embroidered. He's soft and cuddly and ready to be hugged by a child who loves turtles.



Crabs & Clams

 


My Etsy Shop doesn't currently have any toy crabs, but this little yellow yarn clam in her clamshell is fascinated by the ocean crabs who can hide in the coral and in big shells. She can imagine how  much fun it would be to be 'real' and live by the seashore like the crabs in this story. 

Plush Clam in Clam Shell - Etsy
This two-piece set includes a bright yellow clam with black safety eyes and filled with soft polyfil. The 'clam' measures 3 inches across. She comes with her own 'clamshell' crocheted in brown and tan. Clamshell measures nearly 4 inches across.

Yellow clam loves the sandy beach, but she'd be just as happy living in a child's toy box or reading books with a child.  She could also be a friendly plushie sitting on your desk.




Fishies



Colorful fishies swim everywhere through the Coral reef and elsewhere in the ocean. This plush toy tropical fish pretends he could join them when he reads about them in the book. 



Plush Toy Tropical Fish

The Tropical fish in my Etsy Shop is handmade in the Amigurumi style of crochet. Fish has two back fins, two side fins, one top fin and one bottom fin -- all crocheted in royal blue yarn. He is stuffed with non-allergenic polyfil and measures 12 inches long from nose to the top of back fins and about 4 inches across the body. Fish is 6" tall from bottom fin to top fin.



Octopus

 


The many toy octopuses in my Etsy Shop find the page about the octopus in the storybook Fishy Tales to be their favorite, of course. Two of these plush yarn octopuses are busy reading about the octopuses who live in the sea.



Mini Crochet Octopus
This plush Mini Octopus with a yellow button flower is hand-crocheted in tan and Aspen Print green-tan-brown ombre yarn.  Mini octopus has yarn embroidered eyes and 8 tentacles, which are crocheted spirals. The body is stuffed with a small amount of polyfil.  Octopus measures 2.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide. 

Dolphin

 


My favorite page in Fishy Tales is the one about the dolphin, as there are multiple dolphins in plush in my Etsy crochet toybox.  And, since I live near the ocean, I also get to see real dolphins swimming and leaping in the sea close to my nearest beach.



Plush Toy Crochet Bottlenose Dolphin
Come meet my replica of a blue Bottlenose Dolphin - a plush, stuffed toy version of a favorite sea animal.

Hand crocheted in denim blue and light gray acrylic yarn and filled with a soft new polyfil, this dolphin is ready to swim his way into your heart. He has a blue top and a light gray underside. 


Denim Blue Dolphin measures about 14 inches long and 9 inches across his side fins. He is about 3.5 inches high (6 inches at his dorsal fin). His eyes are blue craft eyes.

Summary

 


Any child would enjoy reading all about these marvelous sea creatures shown here in Fishy Tales. And we hope you have enjoyed the featured crochet plush sea animals who have also enjoyed reading about the real-life sea animals which were their creators' inspiration in crochet.


  • For more DK Reader books for pre-school and older children, visit their website at DK.com.


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*Children's book review of Fishy Tales by Wednesday-Elf



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.