Book Review: Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Haunted
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld, Book 5
Publisher: Spectra Books
Paperback: 495 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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Former supernatural superpower Eve Levine has broken all the rules. But she’s never broken a promise–not even during the three years she’s spent in the afterworld. So when the Fates call in a debt she gave her word she’d pay, she has no choice but to comply.

For centuries one of the ghost world’s wickedest creatures has been loosed on humanity, thwarting every attempt to retrieve her. Now it has fallen to Eve to capture this demi-demon known as the Nix, who inhabits the bodies of would-be killers, compelling them to complete their deadly acts. It’s a mission that becomes all too personal when the Nix targets those Eve loves most–including Savannah, the daughter she left on earth. But can a renegade witch succeed where a host of angels have failed?

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Eve has always been an interesting character to me, and was made even more so from the last book, where we meet her in the ghost world and she helps Paige. So, I was happy when I found out that the next book in the series followed her as a main character. She’s the sort of badass heroine who takes an incredibly pragmatic approach to situations; she sets her own moral standards and lives by her own rules. If a person is a bad person, kill them. Killing isn’t morally justified? Says who? That’s sort of Eve’s stance on a lot of situations.

This story is more of a thriller than anything else — an evil possession demon is on the loose; one who gives her host courage and power to do horrible things like go on a serial murder spree or shoot up a YMCA. She’s been running rampant for centuries, possessing such famous killers as Lizzie Borden, among others. In exchange for them helping page, the Fates have called on Eve to return the favor by helping them out and catching this demon. Along with the chase and investigation, we get lots of Eve and Kristoff moments; he still loves her and wants to make an afterlife together with her — one they never got while living, but she’s still hesitant. One of the best parts of this book is Eve’s slow acceptance/realization of just how much she loves this man.

It’s a fun read that had some nice plot twists while also staying within the realm of possibilities (though it’s a really, really big realm for this series). Eve has taken the place of one of my favorite characters ever. I’m not as invested in her relationship with Kristoff as I am with Paige and Lucas, but I like her overall way more than I enjoy any of the other characters. She’s just awesome and smart and complicated and really, really fun to have as a main character. As always, familiar characters make their appearances throughout the course of this story, and it’s always fun to see them from another character’s perspective. With the thriller aspect and the amazing characters Armstrong has created, you really can’t go wrong with this series, and this book is no exception.

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Hardcover: 360 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

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Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I am a sucker for time travel books, always have been, always will be. The fact that this particular time travel book is paired with a sort of sci/fi thriller element? Sold. This story has two timelines: the future timeline, which is about two young adults who are stuck in a time loop, desperately trying to make sure that time travel itself is never invented, because it led to a lot of killings, some wars, and turning the US into a police state; one man is responsible for that: the Doctor, who invented the machine that allows people to travel back in time. He is keeping these two prisoner for reasons that become clear later in the story, interrogating them and torturing them for information. The past timeline is about Marina and James, two neighbors who have been best friends since forever, who are faced with a tragedy once James’s brother is assassinated.

It’s so hard to talk about this without spoiling everything. I think the structure lends itself well to the story, and though I think some of the twists are predictable, it’s still a genuinely entertaining and exciting. Everything flowed together nicely, and because of that it was a quick read! I didn’t have to waste any time in trying to figure out what was happening or going on; it all just worked. Also, this is a GOOD time travel book in that the time travel itself isn’t explained in too much detail; some authors go to far in making it scientific or realistic, but this gives a simple explanation for paradoxes and moves on. Because it’s not too detailed, it doesn’t seem weird or too convenient.

I love that the romance aspects were done in moderation; there’s no making out or weird love scenes while the characters are in danger or need to escape. Mostly, it’s just two people supporting each other and being invested in the other’s well-being, and I am all for that. It’s nice to see a realistic portrayal of what a romance would actually look like in a high stress situation.

More than anything, though, the characters are absolutely wonderful. The premise of this novel is a look at what choices mean for each of our lives; how we are shaped by our environment and the people around us, and how even the smallest decision can change that environment, which in turn enacts upon and changes us. This is all reflected in the portrayal of the characters, and it’s done beautifully. I’m guessing this is going to be one of my favorite YA reads for this year (yes, it’s early, but it’s so good!), and if you haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, I highly recommend you think about doing so.

Book Review: Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever by Patrick J Buchanan

Title: Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever
Author: Patrick J Buchanan
Publisher: Crown Forum
Hardcover: 336 pages
Source: Netgalley
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

From Vietnam to the Southern Strategy, from the opening of China to the scandal of Watergate, Pat Buchanan–speechwriter and senior adviser to President Nixon–tells the untold story of Nixon’s embattled White House, from its historic wins to it devastating defeats.

In his inaugural address, Nixon held out a hand in friendship to Republicans and Democrats alike. But by the fall of 1969, massive demonstrations in Washington and around the country had been mounted to break his presidency.

In a brilliant appeal to what he called the -Great Silent Majority, – Nixon sent his enemies reeling. Vice President Agnew followed by attacking the blatant bias of the media in a fiery speech authored and advocated by Buchanan. And by 1970, Nixon’s approval rating soared to 68 percent, and he was labeled -The Most Admired Man in America-.

Then one by one, the crises came, from the invasion of Cambodia, to the protests that killed four students at Kent State, to race riots and court ordered school busing.
Buchanan chronicles Nixon’s historic trip to China, and describes the White House strategy that brought about Nixon’s 49-state landslide victory over George McGovern in 1972.
When the Watergate scandal broke, Buchanan urged the president to destroy the Nixon tapes before they were subpoenaed, and fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, as Nixon ultimately did in the -Saturday Night Massacre.- After testifying before the Watergate Committee himself, Buchanan describes the grim scene at Camp David in August 1974, when Nixon’s staff concluded he could not survive.

In a riveting memoir from behind the scenes of the most controversial presidency of the last century, Nixon’s White House Wars reveals both the failings and achievements of the 37th President, recorded by one of those closest to Nixon from before his political comeback, through to his final days in office.

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

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Woo-boy!  Ok, so a couple of disclaimers up front.  I am definitely a left leaning person politically (if not a bit more than leaning) and was honestly mostly interested in this book to learn more about Watergate.  That being said, I also just have a fascination with history and have been trying to learn more about all the presidents since I discovered the Washington Post’s Presidential podcast a few months back.  I also have heard people compare the current White House to being most similar to Nixon’s so I was curious about that as well.  All of this is leading to say I hated this book so much.

I genuinely wanted to learn from this book.  I wanted to know more about Nixon than just the scandals.  I wanted to hear a well thought out justification for some conservative policies that I generally find abhorrent.  Unfortunately, it seems the primary purpose of this book is for Buchanan to simultaneously take a victory lap for being the genius that got Nixon elected and was behind every move that could be conceived of as good by him and at the same time bemoan how unfairly Nixon and therefore he was treated throughout the presidency.  Again this is ok.  I get it he is telling his part of the story and naturally most people make themselves more of the protagonist in their own stories, but it gets very tiresome after a while to hear that if Nixon just followed his advice he would be seen as the greatest post-war president.

However, even this is not what drives me to dislike this book.  For that, I have to credit Buchanan’s abilities to take political potshots at current politicians and situations in a book about the Nixon years.  At one point he brings up Bill Ayers and the Weathermen and cannot resist the urge to bring back the attack on President Obama from 2008 that he was friends with him.  He also does not ever explain why his conservative views (which he is very proud of being the rightest of right wingers in the administration) were correct, but instead just insists that the idea of the silent majority proves that these views are politically worthwhile.  Again, he brings up current events by saying that the only people who are still allowed to be discriminated against are white males (I almost threw my kindle) and then proceeded to say that the rise of Donald Trump shows this is true.  To be fair to him, his goal was probably not to explain his views in the book and it reads a lot more like political strategy than actual political theory, however, I think it makes it very hard to engage anybody who does not share his views since the book is so aggressive and sanctimonious about how correct all his political ideas are without offering much justification.

It was somewhat fascinating to read someone actually try to defend Nixon when it came to Watergate.  Again he casts himself as a hero, saying that if he was listened to Nixon would not have been forced to resign.  He also makes the point that the whole investigation was started over leaks which are also illegal which sounds eerily similar to arguments being made now about investigations into the current administration.  Again, to give the book some credit it was fascinating to read someone have these views and also to see the inner workings of a White House that hated the press, especially since Buchanan was tasked to deal with this in a lot of ways.  My advice to you would be if you can overlook his hack-y, conservative-cable-news style that this book is kind of an interesting read.  If not, stay away.

Book Review: The Travelers – Book One by DJ MacHale and Carla Jablonski

Title: The Travelers
Authors: DJ MacHale & Carla Jablonski
Series: Pendragon Before the War, Book 1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hardcover: 240 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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Before Bobby Pendragon.
Before Saint Dane.
Before the war . . .

Every territory of Halla has a Traveler. They lived for years—some even for decades—before learning of their true destiny. What was life like for Bobby Pendragon’s fellow Travelers before they joined him in the fight to save every time and place that has ever existed? What led up to their becoming the guardians of Halla? The answers are here!

In this first of three thrilling Pendragon prequels, read about Vo Spader’s death-defying adventures in the underwater world of Cloral, Gunny Van Dyke’s race to find a murderer in 1930’s Manhattan on First Earth, and the tough challenges Kasha faced on Eelong well before Bobby Pendragon arrived . . .

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

This was a cute collection of side stories of the various Travelers before Bobby became one. This edition features Kasha, Spader, and Gunny, and offers a little insight into their lives before Bobby and Saint Dane arrived. The stories go by quickly — I feel like they’re written at a much lower level than the main series, and offers interesting perspectives to each character. Kasha starts wondering that maybe the humans that serve her species are intelligent and capable of emotion after all; Spader finds common ground with a person who was his rival at the Academy; Gunny helps keep a young boy who’s just lost his father on track while also trying to track down a murderer. All very different stories!

It’s been a while since I’ve read these books, so it was a little hard to get back into the worlds. This was definitely written for someone who is already in the midst of the series, since it gives very little background information on the worlds or characters. Because of that, I can’t see anyone who hasn’t read the main series at all enjoying this series. It’s purely for nostalgic value and a way to revisit old friends before they become embroiled in a war with Saint Dane.

Overall, it’s a fun, fast read. Fans of the series will enjoy this, but they’re also not at all necessary to enjoy the main series as a whole.

Book Review: Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins

Title: Gregor and the Code of Claw
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: Underland Chronicles, Book 5
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover: 412 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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Everyone in the Underland has been taking great pains to keep the new prophecy, The Prophecy of Time, from Gregor. Gregor knew from the beginning that it must say something awful, but he never imagined just how awful: The prophecy calls for the warrior’s death.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

This was a decent ending to an overall pretty good series. I feel like the later books don’t quite capture the magic of the first ones, but overall, it was a nice wrap-up that answered most of my questions without tying it into too pretty of a bow and leaving the future up to the reader’s imagination.

Code of Claw is the final battle of all the battles they’ve done in the Underland — the only problem is that the prophecy they’ve been following says that the warrior must die — which means that Gregor has to not only prepare for the end of the war, but also has to deal with the fact that everyone (including himself) believes that he will die in the war. For the most part, this creates a nice conflict where Gregor has to come to terms with his actions and his life; yes, he’s too young for that, but it leads to great character growth and helps him resolve a lot of the things that have been bothering him. It also causes some outside conflict where the leaders of the Underland are worried that he’ll run away to escape his death, so they’re keeping a close eye on him and assigning guards so that he can fight to win the war. I did like the fact that Gregor’s other sister has her time to shine in the Underland — every other one of his family members contributed in some way to the Underland’s struggle, and this time it was her turn, which was awesome. Her character also brought out some new dimensions in Ripred, which was also great to see.

The one thing that bothered me was that this novel a little too introspective. I expect the last book of a series to be exciting and dramatic (especially when there’s an ongoing war), and I didn’t get enough of that in this book, because too much time was spent on Gregor trying to figure himself out. So, I do think there could have been a better balance between the war and Gregor’s inner character growth.

Overall, however, I greatly enjoyed reading this. Some parts felt like a slog, but this is a great book that deals with the meaning of family, friendship, and love, while also touching on aspects of courage and selflessness. I would recommend it for people who love adventure books; it is most suited for early middle grade readers.

Book Review: I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It by Jess Kimball Leslie

Title: I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It
Author: Jess Kimball Leslie
Publisher: Running Press
Paperback: 240 pages
Source: NetGalley
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It is tech analyst Jess Kimball Leslie’s hilarious, frank homage to the technology that contributed so significantly to the person she is today. From accounts of the lawless chat rooms of early AOL to the perpetual high school reunions that are modern-day Facebook and Instagram, her essays paint a clear picture: That all of us have a much more twisted, meaningful, emotional relationship with the online world than we realize or let on.

Coming of age in suburban Connecticut in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Jess looked to the nascent Internet to find the tribes she couldn’t find IRL: fellow Bette Midler fans; women who seemed impossibly sure of their sexuality; people who worked with computers every day as part of their actual jobs without being ridiculed as nerds. It’s in large part because of her embrace of an online life that Jess is where she is now, happily married, with a wife, son, and dog, and making a living of analyzing Internet trends and forecasting the future of tech. She bets most people would credit technology for many of their successes, too, if they could only shed the notion that it’s as a mind-numbing drug on which we’re all overdosing.

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

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

For those of us who are part of the generation that remembers the internet suddenly being a thing in their pre-teen/teen years and embracing it wholeheartedly, I’m sure we can all relate to what Jess Kimball Leslie’s thoughts and feelings about growing up in a sudden digital age. When I saw this title, I had to read it, because I am definitely a computer geek and very proud of it. This is a collection of essays that details Leslie’s personal experiences about how her social life has been shaped by the internet while also giving some brief historical details about how the internet was back in its early days.

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Book Review: Blood Brothers by Colleen Nelson

Title: Blood Brothers
Author: Colleen Nelson
Publisher: Dundurn
Paperback: 240 pages
Source: NetGalley
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Fifteen-year-old Jakub Kaminsky is the son of Polish immigrants, a good Catholic boy, and a graffiti artist. While his father sleeps, Jakub and his best friend, Lincoln, sneak out with spray paint to make their mark as Morf and Skar.

When Jakub gets a scholarship to an elite private school, he knows it s his chance for a better life. But it means leaving Lincoln and the neighbourhood he calls home.

While Jakub s future is looking bright, Lincoln s gets shady as he is lured into his brother s gang. Jakub watches helplessly as Lincoln gets pulled deeper into the violent world of the Red Bloodz. The Red Bloodz find out Jakub knows more than he should about a murder and want him silenced for good. Lincoln has to either save his friend, or embrace life as one of the Red Bloodz.

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

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Alright so I had a tough time with this one.  On the one hand I tore through this book.  It took me about 24 hours to get through the whole thing which usually indicates to me that I really liked a book.  And to an extent I did.  However, something just felt off about this book.  After thinking about it for a while I’m still not entirely sure, but I think my issue with it is that it just does not “follow through” in any of the areas that I found interesting.  I thought that the Jakub’s graffiti story lines were really interesting and fairly well developed early on, but this was not really explored as much as I would have wanted.  Catholicism seemed to play a pretty important part of Jakub’s life, but only when convenient.  Lincoln had a really unique relationship with his family, but despite having some conflict he seemed to consistently default to the most simplistic answer (this point I will concede could be somewhat realistic).

I think that at the end of the day this book just felt a little too paint by the numbers young adult/gang story.  There were flashes of brilliance. For example, at one point Lincoln’s brother mentions that the system is set up against them unlike Jakub, but this is never explored and I can’t remember if there is even a reference to what their background is throughout the rest of the book.  That one wrinkle could have made this book infinitely more interesting.  Furthermore, this book seemed to want to have it both ways by being super realistic, but also not wanting to be too harsh.  I still cannot fully place why this book stuck in my craw so much, but it did.

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Book Review: Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job by Willo Davis Roberts

Title: Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job
Author: Willo Davis Roberts
Publisher: Aladdin
Paperback: 161 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

From the moment she set eyes on the three Foster kids, Darcy knew being their baby-sitter would be no picnic. But the pay was twice her usual rate, and the job was only for a few hours a day – surely an experienced baby-sitter like her could handle it.

But Darcy hadn’t counted on the mysterious things that started happening at the Fosters’ home after she took the job. She did everything a good baby-sitter was supposed to do: she didn’t let the stranger claiming to be from the gas company into the house and she called the police when the burglar alarm went off in the middle of the afternoon. But that wasn’t enough to prevent a baby-sitter’s worst nightmare from coming true. Now it’s up to Darcy to rescue the Foster kids – and herself – from three ruthless kidnappers.

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Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

This was a book that somehow ended up in my family’s bookshelves when I was a kid and I never got around to reading it, but the title stuck around with me, so I finally decided to request it from the library.

Overall, it was fine. It’s a children’s thriller about a young teenage girl named Darcy who baby-sits to earn herself a little extra money. She decides to take on the Foster job, even though she knows the kids are going to be bratty, but she’s getting a lot of money out of it, so why not? Right from the start, weird things start happening in the book — she and her brother seem to be followed by a black car on their way back from the Foster home to their home; and later, while walking with her friend, Darcy sees the same black car. At the same time, her friend has run away from home to escape her father’s abuse, so she tries to help her out. The main conflict of the story, though, is that Darcy and the Foster kids get kidnapped to earn a ransom and they want to figure out a way to escape from the kidnappers before they get hurt, or worse.

Basically, there’s a lot going on in this book and I’m not sure it holds up. It was written in the 80’s, and a lot of stuff is thrown out that isn’t taken very seriously. And yes, this is a thriller and not a Judy Blume book, but it’s troubling to see abuse get thrown out and not really addressed properly. It seems like the book’s message is: no, don’t talk to the proper authorities, running away is a good option sometimes, which isn’t a great message for kids. Even later, when the kidnapping is resolved, Darcy talks about it like she just had a daring adventure, calling her friend late at night to fill her in on all the “drama.” No mention of trauma? No parental check-ups? They hug her, give her an extra dessert, and let her talk on the phone. It’s all very strange.

With that said, it’s a fairly enjoyable story if you don’t think about it too much, which pretty much fits into the thriller genre overall, in my opinion. It’s nice to see Darcy realize that the kids she watches are more than burdens, so her character growth is interesting in that she starts actually caring for the kids she baby-sits rather than inwardly complain about how spoiled they are. And it’s nice to see the kids go through a change with how they treat her. This is an entertaining story, but not one I think kids today would enjoy, and not something I’d recommend as a “good read” to anyone, but it’s not bad either.

Cookbook Review: Eat What You Love – Quick and Easy Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories by Marlene Koch

Title: Eat What You Love – Quick and Easy Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories
Author: Marlene Koch
Publisher: Running Press
Hardcover: 336 pages
Source: BEA
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Great-tasting, guilt-free favorites—in a flash!
From creamy No-Bake Cherry-Topped Cheesecake to Cheesy Bacon Chicken, Deep-Dish Skillet Pizza, and 2-Minute Chocolate “Cup” Cakes for One, every speedy crave-worthy recipe in this book is low in sugar, fat, and calories—but you would NEVER know by tasting them! In Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy, New York Times bestselling author Marlene Koch proves once again why she’s called “a Magician in the Kitchen!”
Readers rave about Marlene’s amazing recipes, and in her quickest, easiest collection of recipes ever, she makes eating what you love a snap with flavor-packed favorites like:
Crispy Teriyaki Fried Chicken – 10 minutes prep and only 205 calories
Quick-Fix Quesadilla Burgers – 320 calories instead of the usual 1,420!
15-Minute Coconut Cream Candy Bar Pie – 190 calories and 70% less sugar
With more than 180 super-satisfying family-friendly recipes for every meal of the day—this cookbook is perfect for everyone, and every diet!

Plus:
Every recipe can be made in 30 minutes – or less!
Gluten-free recipes, all-natural sweetening, and cooking for two included
Gorgeous full-color photographs throughout
Nutritional information for every recipe with diabetic exchanges, carb choices, and Weight Watcher point comparisons.

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

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

I love food, so having recipes for delicious food that cuts down on calories, fats, and sugar is a huge plus for me. I like to be healthy, but not at the expense of not being able to eat the things that I love to eat. When I saw this cookbook, I knew that I had to have it.

The book starts off with information about how to live/eat with diabetes, as well as giving some easy substitutes and nutritional information. It also provides guidance for creating a meal plan, and the back has quick-and-easy meal plans already created for you from recipes from the book. I love this, because it’s more than just a cookbook, it actually teaches you about nutrition and putting together a fully balanced meal.

However, what makes a good cookbook is great recipes; the recipes in here are delicious and I love that they all offer different options for tweaking the recipe to your liking. While I don’t agree with some of the substitutions (some recipes call for artificial sweetener, which I refuse to ever use, instead of sugar), I’m able to take them and leave them as I like and still create a meal that is healthier than it would have been. My absolute favorite (low-calorie!) dishes that we’ve made from this book are the Almond Tea Cakes and the Turkey Chili.

Image of almond tea cakes
Almond Tea Cakes

If you’re looking for a comprehensive cookbook with great ideas for keeping things healthy, this is the book for you. The dishes have a good balance with how much time it takes to make them and I have yet to dislike anything we’ve made from this. Such a great collection!

Book Review: The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes

Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Leigh Himes
Publisher: Hachette
Hardcover: 384 pages
Source: BookCon
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Meet Abbey Lahey . . .

Overworked mom. Underappreciated publicist. Frazzled wife of an out-of-work landscaper. A woman desperately in need of a vacation from life–and who is about to get one, thanks to an unexpected tumble down a Nordstrom escalator.

Meet Abbey van Holt . . .

The woman whose life Abbey suddenly finds herself inhabiting when she wakes up. Married to handsome congressional candidate Alex van Holt. Living in a lavish penthouse. Wearing ball gowns and being feted by the crème of Philadelphia society. Luxuriating in the kind of fourteen-karat lifestyle she’s only read about in the pages of Town & Country.

The woman Abbey might have been . . . if she had said yes to a date with Alex van Holt all those years ago.

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

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

When I was a couple of chapters into this, if you told me I’d end up liking it, I’d laugh in your face. But, wow, what a surprise! This turned out to be an enjoyable read! Basically, it starts out with Abbey feeling stressed and disappointed by how her life is turning out. Her husband’s business is failing, she hates her job, and she’s just so TIRED. She sees a guy she once turned down for a date in a magazine and wonders what would happen if she had said yes to that date and ended up marrying him instead. Then Poof! Freaky Friday/13 Going on 30-esque magic happens, and her wish comes true — she gets to live the life of rich Abbey married to a successful husband.

I had a very strong feeling about where this would go. She’d realize that all people have problems, learn her lesson, and be grateful for her regular, ordinary life. And it was kind of like that, but the journey there was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. It wasn’t the hokey over-the-top after school special that I thought, but much more human and aware than that. Abbey goes on a self-discovery tour and realizes that while rich Abbey may seem different, they are really the same person; just different versions of each other. This book is less about learning to not take what we have for granted, but more about that who we are is a culmination of the choices we make, and we make choices ALL THE TIME. Those choices — even the small ones like what food you decide to eat for breakfast, what you snack on, or even whether or not you allow yourself to snack — are what make you the person you are and shape the life you live.

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