Category Archives: Book Reviews

Review: Magic Realized

magic realized

Magic Realized And Other Poems on the Human Spirit By Louis Alan Swartz. Illustrated by Diane Woods

My Review:

3 out of 5 stars

Swartz writes poems that aren’t too difficult to understand and his writings are typically uplifting– celebrating the wonders of life and the intricacies of the human spirit. Magic Realized has illustrations throughout the book that add aesthetic beauty to the poems.

Swartz does the reader a disservice by providing definitions of certain words after every poem. The definitions are distracting and unnecessary. He reasons that words have different meanings depending on the context they are used and therefore feels the need to clarify definitions for certain words. Shouldn’t a reader be able to deduce the definition of a word based on the context of the writing where the word is placed? Swartz doesn’t think so, and therefore must think very little of the intelligence of his audience (which I assume is an adult audience, since these are certainly not children’s poems). Furthermore, when I come across a word that I don’t understand, I typically reach for a dictionary in my library, or the dictionary app on my phone, or I Google the word.

Wouldn’t it be silly if every author followed Swartz’s path and added definitions of words they think might be too “hard” for their reader to understand? What a debacle!

I received Magic Realized for an honest review.


Book Review: Book of Broken Hearts

ya contemporary romance novel book of broken hearts sarah ocklerTitle: The Book of Broken Hearts

Author: Sarah Ockler

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Description from Amazon: 

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

My Review: The Book of Broken Hearts had the potential for being a great read, considering its plotline that’s about a boy who’s off limits (but oh-so-irresistible).

Though this book was cute and comedic at times, the story was predictable and the romance between Jude and Emilio didn’t have me swooning (I want to swoon). Furthermore, the familial complications that come with caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s set the stage for some touch-your-heart-moments that were totally…forced.

Star Rating: I give it a 3 out of 5 stars




Book Review: First Comes Love

first comes loveBook Review: First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Genre: Chick Lit

My Review: Fist Comes Love would make a great book club read because there are several controversial themes within the book that would make for great discussion.

For example, Josie lives with her best friend–a male–which sometimes creates conflict with the men she dates. Additionally, Josie wants more than anything to be a mother and can’t decide if she should go through a sperm bank or use the sperm of a donor she knows.

Josie also has a secret from her past that she knows will hurt the ones she loves if she shares it. Is it better to keep secrets to withhold hurting someone?

Josie’s sister, Meredith, is in a loveless marriage and is torn between staying together for the child or divorcing. Is it better to stay together for the children?

First Comes Love was an enjoyable, though-provoking read.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars 2




Review: Orphan Train and Blueberry Pancakes and Butter Syrup Recipe

orphan train christina baker kline novel book review blog recipe

Book Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

and My Blueberry Pancake and Butter Syrup Recipe

Genre: Historical fiction

Description from Amazon: Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

My Review: 4 out of 5 Stars. I had never before heard about the period in American history when orphans were sent on trains, lined up on platforms, and plucked away by complete strangers. Orphan Train tells the story of 2 very different orphans from 2 different time periods. However, as the story progresses, you begin to see the similarities between these 2 girls who have lost their families.

I really enjoyed this book and getting a glimpse into what it might have been like for an orphan in the early 1900s and even today. I will definitely be recommending this to my book club!

Food Quote from Book: “I think she’d prefer pancakes. Do you think she’d like blueberry pancakes?”

“Who doesn’t like blueberry pancakes?”

Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • Fresh Blueberries

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients until smooth. Poor onto hot griddle in 1/4 c measurements. Sprinkle with blueberries. Flip. Server with syrup and more blueberries.

Butter Syrup Recipe (You’ll never want to buy syrup again! and this recipe is so easy!)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • dash salt

Melt whipping cream, butter, and sugar over med heat. Stir until mixture comes to barely a boil. Wisk in vanilla, baking soda, and dash of salt. Remove from heat. Serve over pancakes or waffles.



The Whistling Season and Pork Stroganoff

adult book review blog recipe pork fiction novel

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

and Pork Stroganoff

My Review:  Oliver Milliron is a widower of three sons who hires a housekeeper from a newspaper ad. She brings along her brother, Morris Morgan, whom happens to be the most delightful character as he takes over the teaching duties in the one-room schoolhouse. There isn’t a lot of drama in this book–the story is mostly focused on the intertwining relationships and the hardships of living on a farm in the Midwest in the early 1900s and the trials of  running a one-room schoolhouse. I enjoyed Ivan Doig’s style of writing and I even laughed out loud in some parts (receiving funny looks from my husband) but the book is slow at times. Overall a charming realistic fiction read.

4 out of 5 star read

Quote from The Whistling Season:  Father dug into his meal with vigor. “…this is excellent Pork Stroganoff, by the way.” …for once we were eating civilized food.

Pork Stroganoff Recipe

  • 5 pork chops cubed
  • 2 Tbls oils
  • 8 oz container muchrooms sliced
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3/4 C Sour cream
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • parsley
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • rice or noodles

Brown pork chops in oil and remove from pan. Add mushrooms and onion and simmer for a few minutes. return pork chops, add water and spices. Cover and simmer for 15 min. Add sour cream and heat until warm. Sprinkles with parsley and serve over rice or noodles.

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and a Turkey Sandwich

young adult novel book review blog romance

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

and My Bomb Turkey Sandwich recipe

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Love at first sight is possible because I experienced it myself.When I was 16 years old I was at a house party, sitting alone, lamenting the fact that my best friend was making-out with a guy she just met in the upstairs bedroom and nobody (no boy) was paying attention to me. Eventually, a brown-haired, cute (but wasted) guy (21 yrs. old) came up to me, introduced himself, “Hi, my name’s Dan,” and asked me if I wanted to go into his friend’s room to “talk”. I knew he didn’t have any intentions of talking so I turned him down with a polite, “no thank you,” and that was the end of that conversation. About a month later, I was at a different house party with a different friend and I saw Dan’s tall figure across the room. I wondered if he saw me if he would remember me from the month before. He had an angry disposition about him but I kind of just watched him for a while and then I just had the thought, “I think that’s my future husband.” It wasn’t just a thought, though. It was a feeling that permeated through me. He never saw me and we never spoke that night.

About a year and a half later, I was in the passenger seat of my best friend’s car. We were waiting for people to arrive at the meeting place (a friend’s house) before caravanning to the desert for a bonfire party. Two guys approached my friend’s car and the  tall, dark-haired one asked if he and his friend could ride in our car to the desert. He said to me, “get out and sit next to my friend in the back and I’ll sit up front. Boy girl, boy girl.” I popped out of the car and sat in the back seat, the shorter guy sliding in next to me. During the drive, I completely ignored the boy sitting next to me–all my attention was focused on the cute guy sitting next to my best friend. I was intrigued by the way he was engaging in conversation with her. He was completely focused on her, asking her every question under the sky and acting genuinely interested in the answers she gave him. I remember thinking, “This is just the kind of guy I have imagined myself marrying.”  I thought I recognized him but I couldn’t quite figure out who he was. After the bonfire party, a group of people went to someone’s house to hang out. We were all sitting in the family room. I chose a spot next to one of Dan’s friends and struck up a conversation with him. Dan would tell me later, that it was when I was sitting next to his friend on the couch, that he watched me jealously from across the room and knew then that I was his future wife.

We didn’t talk. He didn’t get my phone number either. 2 months later, I ran into him at the bowling alley. His first words to me were, “Molly Mason, where have you been the past two months, I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” I was surprised because I didn’t even think he knew my name.

We sat down and had our first real conversation. It was electric. I knew I would marry this person, have his children, grow old with him.He got my phone number. He never called.

A month later, we ran into each other in the Salt Lake City Airport. We were taking the same flight home to Phoenix. We didn’t sit next to each other though because I was traveling with family and he was traveling home with friends after a snowboarding trip.

At the time, Dan had a girlfriend, but later I would find out that he pointed me out to his friend (I was sitting a few rows up), and said, “That’s the girl I’ve been talking to you about. That’s the girl I’m going to marry.”

Maybe a month later we ran into each other at the bowling alley again (I don’t know why Dan was always at the bowling alley (he never bowled. he would just sit around with friends). I  had a reason to be there. I was taking a bowling correspondence course because my mom made me drop out of High school mid-way through the first semester of my senior year. By the time 2nd semester came I desperately wanted to graduate high school. I convinced my mom to let me go back to school.I had to take 10 classes that year to graduate. Bowling was one of those classes). Anyway, he finally got my phone number again (he lost the first one) and he called me that Saturday at 10 a.m., waking me up, telling me he was going to see an 11 o’clock movie and would I come with him? I did and we were pretty much attached from then on, marrying a year later.

 My Review: What girl hasn’t had the fantasy of meeting and falling for a guy on an airplane ride? This is a quick, fun, romantic read that is the fulfillment of every girl’s airplane romance fantasies.

It is uncanny how much I personally related to Hadley and Oliver. I related to Hadley because she is struggling with the  fact that her father has left her mother to start a new life with another woman–something my father did. And Oliver, because he is dealing with the death of a loved one whom he didn’t have a very solid relationship with–a trial that I’ve also faced.

All in all, this read was enjoyable and I loved that I could cozy up and finish in one sitting.

4 out of 5 Stars!

Food quote from Book: “She dissects her dinner with all the care of a biology experiment.”

Molly’s Bomb Turkey Sandwich Recipe

  • Bread (Obvi)
  • Turkey (don’t be lazy. Get the fresh sliced Turkey from the supermarket Deli)
  • Havarti cheese
  • avacado
  • Bacon
  • Purple onion
  • sprouts
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • cucumber
  • salt and pepper
  • mayo (yes, Mayo. Hadley, from Stat. Prob. of Love @ 1st Sight would be appalled)

Suffer Love & Bbq Chicken Pizza

pizza food blog book reviw new adult blake

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

and Bbq Chicken Pizza

Description from Amazon:

Sam Bennett falls for Hadley St. Clair before he knows her last name. When Sam finds out she is that St. Clair, daughter of the man who destroyed Sam’s family, he has a choice: follow his heart or tell the truth about the scandal that links their families. Funny and passionate, Suffer Love is a story about first love, family dysfunction, and the fickle hand of fate.

My Review

Suffer Love is a New Adult book full of angst and a nail-biting love story. I can’t say too much without giving away the plot but Sam and Hadley are falling hard for each other when Sam learns Hadley’s father is the reason his family is destroyed. I couldn’t put it down!
4 out of 5 stars
Quote from Suffer Love: “She bites into the pizza.  A long, gooey string of cheese extends out from her beautiful mouth, which I am definitely not staring at.”
Molly’s Bbq Chicken Pizza Recipe:
Pre-made crust (I like Boboli)
Tomato or basil pesto
Mozzarella cheese
Cheddar cheese
Grilled chicken
BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays)
Top crust with ingredients in order and drizzle with Bbq sauce.  Cook on grill or oven according to package (don’t use a cookie sheet for a crisper crust)