Audiobook Review: Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery, narrated by Colleen Winton

anne-of-avonlea-post-hypnotic-press
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Title: Anne of Avonlea
Author: LM Montgomery
Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book 2
Narrator: Colleen Winton
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Duration: 9 hours, 25 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Following Anne of Green Gables (1908), the book covers the second chapter in the life of Anne Shirley. This book follows Anne from the age of 16 to 18, during the two years that she teaches at Avonlea school. It includes many of the characters from Anne of Green Gables, as well as new ones like Mr. Harrison, Miss Lavendar Lewis, Paul Irving, and the twins Dora and Davy. Narrated by Colleen Winton.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

*I was provided a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

In Anne of Avonlea, we get to see Anne dealing with more grown-up troubles, which prevents this book from being as humorous as the first, but it’s still entertaining. Also, Marilla and Anne adopt twins, so their antics add a bit of fun into the story.

This is a re-read for me, and as a kid, I didn’t think to appreciate how Montgomery develops Anne’s character, taking time to show her growth from a child to an adult. What I like most is how Anne is shown as being much more responsible and thoughtful while still being herself, which is a tricky balance. Overall, not much goes on in this book. It’s very much a set-up for Anne becoming an adult, and there aren’t any huge plot points that wow-ed me. An engagement or two and the adoption of Davy and Dora are pretty much the only things that I found important. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. This series is more character-driven that plot-driven, and it’s always nice to revisit Anne and her world.

My favorite part about listening to a series in audiobook format is that, with a good narrator, the characters just feel more real to me. And Colleen Winton is a great narrator — she really brings the personalities of the characters to life. She is consistent with all the old characters’ idiosyncrasies from the first book and does a good job in portraying the new characters. For this book in particular, I liked being able to listen to it, because not much goes on in the way of plot or excitement, so it’s nice to be able to do something productive while re-reading an old favorite. If you are at all a fan of audiobooks, this is a nice series to try in audio.

*Listen to a sample!*

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 1
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Duration: 12 hours 32 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first of a series, and because it’s the first, it suffers from being a bit slow in the beginning so that the foundation is laid for the rest of the books. However, the payoff is there, and I was in love with the story by the end.

However, I actually didn’t start really liking the story until about midway through, when we get to the more fantastical elements. I think that Taylor was trying to set up a contrast between Karou’s human world and the otherworld she grew up in, but the Prague stuff just wasn’t all that interesting. Her ex-boyfriend Kasimir is a useless character who doesn’t add anything to the story, and while I liked her best friend, Zuzana, I just didn’t see how they really added anything much to the overall conflict.

But I loved the story once it got going. I generally try to set aside an hour a day to listen to a book, but when it’s good, I have to pry myself away. That definitely happened when Akiva showed up — once he came into the picture, I was listening to 2-3 hours a day. The “plot twists” were a bit awkward, because I think that they’re hinted at too much in the beginning and easily guessable, but that’s redeemed by the characters’ reactions to those twists — the characters are simply beautifully done.

Hvam is a great narrator who does a good job with differentiating between characters. I especially loved her ability to capture the characters’ personalities with the way she spoke. Issa had a crooning voice and lingered over vowel sounds, which made me think of her as a loving, doting sort of aunt figure to Karou. When Hvam spoke as Zuzana, on the other hand, her sounds were clipped, giving her a no-nonsense sort of feel. Hvam’s narration added life to the characters and the story, in general. I think I enjoyed the story more in audio format than I would have in printed, just because I felt so close to the characters through the audio.

I have already added the sequel to my “to-read” list, and am excited to continue with this story. For those who aren’t good at waiting, the end was a bit abrupt, so if you want to start this series, be sure to have the first two books at hand!

Audiobook Review: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

anne-of-green-gables-post-hypnotic-press
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Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: LM Montgomery
Narrator: Colleen Winton
Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book 1
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Duration: 10 hours, 8 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Anne, a young orphan from the fictional community of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, is sent to Prince Edward Island after a childhood spent in strangers’ homes and orphanages. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, siblings in their fifties and sixties, had decided to adopt a boy from the orphanage to help Matthew run their farm. They live at Green Gables, their Avonlea farmhouse on Prince Edward Island. Through a misunderstanding, the orphanage sends Anne Shirley. And Anne brings all sorts of surprises in her wake.

So begins the classic tale of a girl who, through trying to find her place in the world, ends up bringing love and adventure to Green Gables.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

It has been over a decade since I’ve visited the world of Green Gables, so when I saw this title available to review, I just couldn’t pass up a chance to revisit it.

Anne of Green Gables is a classic coming of age story about a young girl named Anne who gets sent to siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert by mistake — they wanted a boy to help with farm work. But when Marilla agrees to keep the talkative child and raise her up, she certainly gets more than she bargained for. Anne is energetic and over-the-top imaginative, but she is also full of love and generosity.

This book is about being a kid and, oftentimes, learning lessons the hard way. It also shows that even though adults are the ones in charge, they also learn just as much from children as children do for them — I love that balance of perspective. There are also lovely lessons embedded in this story about friendship, forgiveness, and making the most out of life.

But don’t take that to mean that you’re hit over the head with moral after moral! The events flow naturally together, and to make things better, this book is funny. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions because of the ridiculousness of Anne’s antics or Matthew’s attempts to go against Marilla’s wishes and spoil Anne.

I’ve only ever read the book, so listening to this story as an audiobook was a new experience for me. In some ways, it was more difficult for me to let go and enjoy listening to the story, because I’d already made my own assumptions about these characters in my head. However, Colleen Winton is an excellent narrator and I was hooked within a couple of chapters. She’s able to see into the heart of the characters and reflect their personalities in her narration, which made for an entertaining experience.

The excellence of the performance is in the details. When the book says that Anne’s friend, Diana is the kind of girl who always laughs before she speaks, Winton is sure to give a bit of a laugh before Diana’s dialogue throughout the entire audiobook. It’s the added thoughtfulness that really makes the narration stand out. And of course, all the standard marks for a good narration apply: there are distinct voices for each character and the tone of the exposition is reflected in Winton’s voice. Winton brings this story to life, making this an audiobook well worth listening to. And if you want a taste of it yourself — check out below, where I’ve shared the publisher’s sample track.

In short, if you haven’t read it, go read it! Anne of Green Gables is by far one of my all-time favorites. But if you have read it, consider giving it another go. This one is definitely worth revisiting. And if you’re audiobook-minded, definitely consider listening to this edition — it is delightful!

A big thank you to Audiobook Jukebox for their Solid Gold Reviewer program, through which I found this title.

A second big thank you to Post Hypnotic Press for providing me with a copy.

Book Review: Shalador’s Lady by Anne Bishop

shaladors-ladyTitle: Shalador’s Lady
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: The Black Jewels, Book 8
Publisher: Roc
Hardcover: 476 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

For years the Shalador people suffered the cruelties of the corrupt Queens who ruled them, forbidding their traditions, punishing those who dared show defiance, and forcing many more into hiding. Now that their land has been cleansed of tainted Blood, the Rose-Jeweled Queen, Lady Cassidy, makes it her duty to restore it and prove her ability to rule.

But even if Lady Cassidy succeeds, other dangers await. For the Black Widows see visions within their tangled webs that something is coming that will change the land-and Lady Cassidy-forever…

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Shalador’s Lady continues the story arc introduced with The Shadow Queen — we pick up where we left off with Lady Cassidy, who is still trying to pull Dena Nehele together while trying to win the people’s hearts and negotiate a reluctant First Escort.

The Black Jewels sequels are nowhere near the quality of the original trilogy, and I’m getting a bit tired of the recycled phrases and situations. We get it: a “too soft” voice and sleepy eyes means that the all-powerful Saadi family is angry. Queens are stubborn and too reckless with their own safety, while the Warlord Princes are overprotective. Nothing new there. With that said, however, these books are fun, easy-reads that are good for a quick fix when you’re craving time in the Black Jewels world.

In this one, I wasn’t so much interested in the story as a whole, but I did like seeing the growth of the two male characters Ranon and Gray. We get to see a much more vulnerable side of Ranon, while Gray turns from vulnerable, broken boy to a strong Warlord Prince who is someone to be feared. I also enjoyed getting to see more Sceltie characters and reading about how they interacted with the other Queens and Princes.

Overall, I would say this is a light read that will appeal to fans of the series, if only to revisit old characters. Other than that, there’s not much to it.

Book Review: Digital SLR Video & Filmmaking for Dummies by John Carucci

Title: Digital SLR Video & Filmmaking for Dummies
Author: John Carucci
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Paperback: 416 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Step-by-step guide for using your digital SLR to make quality videoWith digital SLR cameras becoming more and more popular as replacements for standalone video cameras, this book helps photographers become better videographers and shows videographers how to incorporate DSLRs into their work. The book includes an overview of the DSLR video tools and process and shows how to establish camera settings for effective capture, light a scene, get sound, and achieve the film look. The book also offers the basics on editing footage into a final product using common video editing tools. Offers everything needed to shoot, produce, and edit a professional looking videos using DSLR video equipment. Written for both professional photographers and videographers and those just starting out. Includes the steps for applying information to a film project, including developing a screenplay, approaching shooting like a cinematographer, and directing. Contains a walkthrough of common video projects including making a music video, and a wedding video.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

I begged my parents for DSLR specifically because of its capabilities to capture high-quality still images and high-quality video. So, when I saw this at BookExpo America last year, I made a point to pick it up. DSLR  Video & Filmmaking for Dummies is a user-friendly reference book brimming with helpful information to make any video a success. As an amateur who wants to try her hand at making videos with her new fancy camera, I found this book to be incredibly helpful.

Carucci gives a comprehensive overview of just what’s involved with using a DSLR camera to make a video. For the most part, I read the book straight through and found it easy to follow along. The information is presented in a logical format, with straight-forward chapter titles and headings, so it’s easy to guess which information is covered where. And he covers pretty much anything you need to know, from the basics on how to use the correct shutter speed to how to edit the video using Adobe Premiere Elements. I especially found the audio and lighting section helpful, since I don’t really know what I need, or how to find the best equipment for my limited budget.

What impressed me the most was the fact that this book doesn’t even just cover the technical aspects of shooting a movie on a particular type of camera — there are also sections about how to plan a movie, which I found to be a huge bonus. Carucci goes over the basics of writing a script, making a shooting log, and putting together a schedule. I really think that there’s something for everyone in here, and for amateurs, it contains pretty much all the basics that you’ll need to know.

It’s hard to say much more other than: This book covers all the basic information you need to make any type of video you ever want with your DSLR. Want to make that home video using your new fancy camera? Read this book. Want to take your book blogging to the next level by becoming a BookTuber, but you can only afford a DSLR for shooting your videos? Read this book. Want to make a short film on your DSLR? Read this book. There’s a lot of good information in these pages, and I feel more confident in my abilities to make a video knowing that I’ll have this on-hand to reference.

 

Audiobook Review: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Title: Enchanted
Author: Alethea Kontis
Series: Woodcutter Sisters, Book 1
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Duration: 7 hours, 46 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past – and hers?

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

*I downloaded this title from Audiobook Sync during their summer program*

Sunday Woodcutter lives in a unique family that is involved with a lot of magical nonsense. Her aunts are fairy godmothers (though, one of them is not quite good), her sisters each have a special talent or gift, and her adopted brother is part fae. So, it’s not quite a surprise when she meets a human-turned-frog and develops a friendship with him. Eventually, they end up falling in love and she kisses him, not realizing that he’d turn human and that her dear friend Grumble is, in fact, Prince Rumbold. The man who the family blames for the death of Sunday’s older brother — talk about a tense situation.

However, the two eventually come together to face the evil of Rumbold’s seemingly ageless father and his lover, Sunday’s evil fairy-godmother-aunt. They find out that not everything is as it seems in Arilland, and some events have been grossly misrepresented. In order to set things right, Sunday, her family, Rumbold, and his loyal friends come together to find out the truth about what’s been going on in the kingdom for so long.

I’m a sucker for fairy tales — even more so when they’re re-imagined and put together in a new way. (Just ask about my Once Upon a Time addiction.) For a fairy-tale lover like me, Enchanted is the perfect book to escape to for a little while.

The first thing I noticed was that Kontis weaved some folk superstition into the fairy tale format. For example, Sunday is a seventh child of a seventh child, and that means she has a bit of extra magic in her. Though most of her family is magical, there are frequent mentions of Sunday’s special magical abilities, though I’m not sure that those really played a huge part in the story. I’m hoping it’ll be developed further in sequels. But I really liked this amalgamation of superstition from our world into this fairy tale world Kontis created — for me, it made the story unique and interesting.

Generally, I enjoyed the progression of this story. There are quite a few twists and turns throughout the plot, and the characters are lovely. While Sunday and Rumbold are interesting in and of themselves, I loved the minor characters and hope that we get to learn more about them. (Or maybe some of them can get their own books! I vote for Sunday’s sister, Thursday!)

Near the end of the middle, I scrounged for excuses to keep on listening. Everything came together so nicely, and I just needed to know what was going to happen next. I mean, what was Sunday’s fairy godmother playing at? And would they save Sunday’s sister from the king? And what about Sunday and Rumbold? Would they love each other again? A lot of questions, because there was a lot of drama going on. However, while I like having resolutions, the ending seemed a bit too rushed and tidy. A few things were left open to continue the series, but some things that the characters were making a huge deal about abruptly resolved themselves in an instant. Yes, this is a fairy tale retelling and those sorts of things happen in fairy tales, but I wanted a bit more build-up before getting that full resolution.

As for the format, Kellgren is one of the best narrators I’ve ever heard. She is incredibly expressive with her voice, and I think that I would have enjoyed this story far less if I had read it in print. There were quite a few times where she said a line with a bit of irony and sarcasm that I don’t think I would have caught or put into the words if I’d been reading it myself. As a result, I thought this to be a fairly funny story, and I laughed out loud quite a bit. If you have an option to listen to the audio — do so. It is excellent.

Overall, I would say this is good for light, fun reading. It’s full of drama, fairy tale references, and has quite a bit of humor. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. Or, better yet, listening to it as an audiobook. I hope they’ve got Katherine Kellgren again!



Book Review: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

Title: Palace of Spies
Author: Sarah Zettel
Series: Palace of Spies, Book 1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 368 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love…

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through BEA in exchange for an honest review.*

I’m a sucker for orphan stories, especially when they involve spying, intrigue, and Georgian fashion. Peggy is an orphan who is living in her uncle’s house and is completely at his mercy. When he tries to force her to marry a man who assaulted her, she runs away and does the only thing she can think to do: accept the offer of a stranger who promises her freedom from her uncle. This lands her the job of impersonating a lady-in-waiting at the palace who mysteriously died a few months previous. Peggy has to find a balance between doing spy work for her benefactors and finding answers to her own questions about the woman she is pretending to be.

The beginning started off wonderfully, and Zettel shows the stark reality of Peggy’s situation as an orphan. She has absolutely no status as a woman with no parents to protect her. We see this clearly when she is assaulted at a ball, and when her uncle insists that she marries her assaulter for his money. She is completely at the mercy of the men she comes into contact with, and though she runs away from the situation, she finds herself in the same place when she is put under the care of two men to impersonate a lady-in-waiting at the palace. Of course, that simply won’t do for a young woman as independent and clever as Peggy, so she learns to take matters in her own hands, and she does it beautifully.

I can’t think of anything better to say other than it was a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s funny and a bit silly at times, but Zettel throws in a bit of darkness so that the characters really shine in overcoming all the obstacles that are thrown at them. The spy/impersonation aspect keeps things lively, and I was certainly always in suspense as to whether or not Peggy would be revealed to be an impostor. Peggy is lovely, and the passive hostility between her and another lady-in-waiting perfectly parallels many female-rival conflicts I’ve seen play out in middle school and high school.

As with any story like this, I wasn’t sold on the idea of a sixteen-year-old girl being able to turn into a master spy and impersonator within a few months without raising suspicion. Yes, Peggy is spirited and capable, but if the princess and the ladies-in-waiting are supposed to be as clever as they are described, it would be difficult for that sort of scheme to pass. Despite this, the story was fun and full of drama and intrigue, so I decided to not let myself dwell on how “realistic” this concept really is.

Palace of Spies is an exciting story, with plenty of twists, and characters who are fun to get to know. I am eagerly awaiting the second in the series to see what sort of crazy adventures Peggy gets into next.

Book Review: “When Did you See Her Last?” by Lemony Snicket

Title: “When Did You See Her Last?”
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: All The Wrong Questions, Book 2
Publisher: Little Brown
Hardcover: 279 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

I should have asked the question “How could someone who was missing be in two places at once?” Instead, I asked the wrong question — four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the second.

In the fading town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, young apprentice Lemony Snicket has a new case to solve when he and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl. Is the girl a runaway? Or was she kidnapped? Was she seen last at the grocery store? Or could she have stopped at the diner? Is it really any of your business? These are All The Wrong Questions.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at BEA.*

I actually wasn’t a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events (I tried, guys — I really, really tried!), so I was hesitant to pick this one up after a friend recommended the series. However, having read and loved Snicket’s short story in Half-Minute Horrors, I decided to give this one a try.

This is book 2 of Snicket’s new series: All the Wrong Questions. While I haven’t read book 1, I’ve never been a strict adherent of series order, so I read this one first anyway. Though I’m sure I missed some details, overall, I wasn’t confused by what was going on in the book, which I count as a positive.

Children’s books are my favorite for being able to teach kids to use their own imaginations and think for themselves. This one is no different in showing how ridiculous adults can sometimes be (guilty!), and how children sometimes see things clearer than we can ever hope to. As an adult, I love this sort of wake-up call, and I know that the children in my life love reading stories where they can see themselves as the independent, intelligent savers-of-the-day.

“When Did You See Her Last?” is a cute, funny children’s mystery with enough suspense and darkness to keep things interesting. The writing fun and playful — Snicket’s style in this book reminds me a lot of Roald Dahl, or a children’s version of Jasper Fforde. Like all the best children’s books, people of any age will be able to laugh at the humor in this. I certainly laughed aloud a few times, and my seven-year-old cousin was constantly giggling at the wordplay.

Honestly, it’s good enough that I’m considering re-reading the first few books of A Series of Unfortunate Events to see if my opinion has changed on them.

Countdown until book 3: a little less than 6 months. Can’t wait to see how this series develops!

 

Picture Book Review: Don’t Push the Button! by Bill Cotter

Title: Don’t Push the Button!
Author: Bill Cotter
Illustrator: Bill Cotter
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

There’s only one rule in Larry’s book: don’t push the button.

(Seriously, don’t even think about it!)

Even if it does look kind of nice, you must never push the button. Who knows what would happen?

Okay, quick. No one is looking… push the button.

Uh, oh.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at BookExpo America.*

This is one of the cutest books I’ve read in a long time. The illustrations are simple, but pleasing, and the premise is classic — if someone says not to push the button, you’re going to push the button. And Cotter has included some great interactive reading that children are going to absolutely love.

When we were little kids, my sisters and I loved a picture book that involved doing various movements and actually interacting with the text and the story. Don’t Push the Button! is that sort of book — you have to push the button, shake the book to fix what the button has done, and various other movements. The character talks directly with the reader, which simulates and actual conversation/relationship. My baby cousins and niece in my life lit up while following along with this book, and I think that the same will be true for all children.

Cookbook Review: Fix-It and Forget-It – 250 New Slow Cooker Recipes

Title: Fix-It and Forget-It: New Cookbook – 250 New Slow Cooker Recipes
Author: Phyllis Good
Publisher: Good Books
Paperback: 350 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

After selling more than 11 million copies of her beloved slow cooker cookbooks, New York Times bestselling author Phyllis Good is launching her first full-color cookbook in the Fix-It and Forget-It series, complete with all new recipes.

Welcome to Stage 2 of the Fix-It and Forget-It brand! After selling more than 11 million copies of her beloved cookbooks, New York Times bestselling author Phyllis Good is launching her first full-color cookbook in the Fix-It and Forget-It series. Fix-It and Forget-It NEW Cookbook is coming October 1! All new recipes, fully tested and perfected for making in the slow cooker. Full color, cover to cover. But the same “I can do this” quality, the same quick and easy promise, and the same marvelous food which will please family and friends alike.

1. Phyllis shares her tricks and tips about how to get the most out of any slow cooker when you need it most—for weeknight suppers, during busy weekends, and when serving guests.

2. This new book gives you choices—Each chapter includes Basic Recipes for when you have no time to think. And each chapter offers more Challenging Recipes for when you’re in the mood to experiment. Choose the ingredients that work best for you. Either make the recipes with convenience foods—or if you steer clear of them, flip to the “Make Your Own Staples” chapter. Find recipes to prepare from-scratch cream soups; hash browns; cornbread mix; beef, chicken, and veggie stocks; dried beans; applesauce and apple butter.

3. This new book gives “Good-to-Know Essentials.” Answers to FAQs, such as: Which slow cooker is best for me? How hot and fast does my slow cooker cook? Can I keep foods from over-cooking? Does cooking on Low give better results than cooking on High? Simple tricks for cooking more delicate foods in a slow cooker—chicken, pasta, fish, and more. How to wow everyone with slow-cooker desserts. Side dish suggestions for Main Dish recipes. Chart of safe cooking temperatures for meats.

4. Phyllis Good’s abiding commitment is on every page of this Fix-It and Forget-It NEW Cookbook: “To offer delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes, so that each day you can gather your family and friends together around a table of food. “You can do this, even if your lives are crowded and chaotic and your cooking skills are minimal!”

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

*I received a free sample of this book from the publisher at BEA*

I love slow-cooker recipes. Being a grad student, working, and now observing high school classrooms, I have an insanely busy schedule, so it’s nice to throw some ingredients in the pot and then come home to a home-cooked dinner. But, I do sometimes get tired of the same-old stuff; there’s only so much soup, chili, or shredded meat a girl can have without getting tired. So I’m always looking for new recipes and new ideas.

What I love the most about this Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook is that there is such a variety in the recipes. There are heavy dishes, such as ham or chiles rellenos; there are light dishes like spinach squares and stuffed mushrooms; yummy desserts like chocolate cake; and then there are beverages! Personally, I love the Autumn Latte recipe. Who knew that you could brew a latte in your slow cooker?! I also appreciate that there is some advice for how to create things such as ketchup, meat stock, and apple butter from scratch. Talk about healthy living and great home cooking.

I’ve already done a few recipes from this book, and it is so easy to follow and easy to do. All the important information is given right at the top of the recipe (such as what size slow-cooker you need, prep time, and cooking time), and then the instructions are easily laid out alongside the recipe.

Oh, and the important part: the food is good. You can definitely serve these recipes to guests without a second thought. Some of my favorite recipes include the Omelet Camping Casserole, and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. If you use a slow-cooker, you’ll want this book. It’s a great resource.