Book Review

{Children’s} Book Review: An Easter Prayer By Amy Parker- 5 Stars

 

An Easter Prayer is a cute touch and feel springy, Easter themed children’s book. There is soft, fluffy bunny fur, a smooth, silky chicks egg, and velvety flower petals to touch and feel.

Its colorful pages, different textures, simple sentences, and sturdy binding make this book great for little ones. This book is sweet and springy, and shows many fun things that we associate with Easter, but the true meaning of Easter is included in the text as well. This board book will be a great addition to my son’s Easter basket!

Thank you to Book Look Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review

Book Review: I Know You by Annabel Kantaria- 5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:

You trust her. 

You shouldn’t. 

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

Wow! As someone who is very active on social media, especially Instagram, this was exceptionally creepy!

Taylor, a California native, has moved with her husband back to his hometown of Croydon, England, and is struggling to make friends. She has always lived her life through social media-constantly uploading little snippets of her life, be it where she goes for her honeymoon, for dinner, even her new baby’s crib and clothes. Sounds like most of us, right? When she joins a walking group in her neighborhood, she’s so lonely, homesick, and desperate for interaction she tries to get one of the girls, Anna, to like her, instantly. Slowly, Anna warms up to her, but Simon, also seemingly desperate for friendship, is constantly around Taylor and he gives Anna the creeps. Slowly, Anna and Taylor become best friends, as they have a lot in common-they’re both pregnant, their husbands both work out of town frequently, they both used to be airline cabin crew, and they’re both lonely and looking for friendship. Anna also shares a lot of her life online, especially Instagram, and Taylor is delighted when some of the hashtags Anna posts are about #newfriends! She clings to this, and it really hurts when Anna reschedules their plans, which is frequently.

Aside from the walking group, Taylor also joins a book club where she meets Caroline and Sarah. There are a lot of characters to keep up with but they are all well developed and it’s hard to pinpoint if one of them is the sadistic stalker that readers come across in some alternating chapters. If you’ve followed my blog for awhile now, it’s no secret I love to read thrillers! This one was especially relatable due to the contemporary time period where everyone puts everything online. I had an inkling of who the stalker would end up being but the final reveal was definitely not what I imagined! Make sure to pick this one up if you’re in the mood for a great twisty thriller!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and this has not influenced my review.

 

 

family, Life, Mom Life, recipes

Easy Instant Pot Recipe: Pot Roast

I love pot roast, especially when I can make it fast and easy in my instant pot! I adapted this recipe slightly from one I found on Youtube.

I used a pork half butt roast because it is substantially cheaper than beef, but this will work with either. This recipe will last us a couple days for leftovers at dinner and lunch so it’s very cost effective!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup pepperoncini juice

Pepperoncinis- as many or as little as you prefer 

1 packet brown gravy (my husband has a gluten allergy so I used this  GF version but you can use the regular if gluten isn’t a problem!)

1 packet dry ranch dressing mix

Pot Roast

1/2 stick butter

Any veggies you would like

First I added the beef broth to the pot, then I added my roast. Next, add the pepperoncini juice and sprinkle the brown gravy mix and ranch dressing mix right on top of the roast. Then I added 6 pepperoncinis and lastly the butter.


I used the manual function for 60 minutes, let it depressurize naturally for 15 minutes, then I added some baby carrots to the pot. After I added the carrots I once again did the manual function for 20 minutes, then let it depressurize for 5 minutes. I removed the meat and carrots and added a little bit of corn starch to the remaining liquid in the pot on the saute function to make gravy. I served it with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans. This was a delicious and filling meal that is easy and inexpensive!

Book Review

Book Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris- 4 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

I’ve become a huge fan of B.A. Paris in the past few months and I think this is my favorite of hers! Twelve years after the love of his life Layla disappears, Finn has moved on. He’s dating Ellen, who Layla’s sister, actually- and is very successful in his job, but not a day passes that he doesn’t wonder about Layla. Layla and Ellen are complete opposites- Layla is wild and outgoing, Ellen is more placid and reserved. Finn loves them both, but who does his heart belong to more?

When objects start turning up and emails begin pouring in, he has to face the truth that maybe Layla has come back. But why would Layla wait so long to reach out if she was alive all this time? Could it be so simple that she’s ready to come back to Finn, or is something more sinister at play here?

The ending was WILD and all of the clues that stacked up to the penultimate moment were shocking! It’s clever, creepy, and gripping to the point I could NOT put it down! Another one I highly recommend if you love thrillers.

Book Review

Book Review: The Date by Louise Jensen- 4 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Something bad has happened to Alison Taylor. 

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. 

By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her… 

At the persistence of her friends, Ali signs up for an online dating site, and immediately hits it off with Ewan. Yet the next morning she wakes up with injuries and no memory of what happened the night before but the most frightening thing is she doesn’t recognize her own face in the mirror, and when her brother comes by, she doesn’t know him either.

After several tests in the hospital, doctors diagnose her with Prosopagnosia, or face blindness. She can’t recognize her own face, her family, and definitely not the faces of strangers. She’s convinced her date, Ewan, hurt her, and sets out to find him once she receives threatening messages and ominous gifts on her doorstep. But how will she ever find him if she can’t remember what he looked like, nor discern who anyone is now that she’s suffered this injury?

While reading I felt this nagging in my brain that the villain was this particular person, and I definitely had them pegged, but had no idea why they were doing what they were doing until the end-and it was a crazy reveal!

Louise Jensen’s books always keep me glued to the page and on the edge of my seat! It’s almost like I can’t read them fast enough; I’ve just GOT to know what happens next! Pick this one up if you’re in the mood for a fast paced thriller!

I received a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review

Book Review: The Gown by Jennifer Robson- 5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

This was a lovely, lovely novel. I almost didn’t want it to end!

Miriam Dassin and Ann Hughes became friends when Miriam emigrated from France after the war to work as an embroider for Norman Hartnell, where Ann also worked. Together the two created beautiful, intricate designs on clothing, most notably, the wedding gown for then Princess Elizabeth, who we know today as the Queen! Back in 1947 the two single women spent their days working and chatting, with an occasional evening out with friends or gentlemen callers. Not long after the gown is completed and the royal wedding has taken place, Ann leaves England to join her sister-in-law in Canada, cutting off all ties with Miriam and her love for embroidery, to create a new life, never to look back on her days in England.

In 2016, Heather Mackenzie is struggling with the death of her nan, Ann. When Heather’s mother finds a box of embroideries with only Heather’s name written on top, she makes it her mission to uncover more about her grandmother’s quiet and mysterious past. Traveling from Canada to England with only her nan’s photos and embroideries, not knowing much else about Ann’s time in Britain, Heather has an chance meeting with Miriam and begins to see a the side of her grandmother that she never shared with her family.

A novel of love, loss, feminine strength and determination, The Gown captured my heart instantly. I loved the friendship Miriam and Ann shared and the message of resilience of two strong women bound to take on whatever life throws at them. I highly recommend this novel, and I would go so far as to say it has been my most favorite book I’ve read so far this year!

Book Review

Book Review: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones- 4 Stars

From Goodreads: A deliciously disturbing, compulsively readable debut domestic suspense–prepare to meet The Other Woman: there’s nothing she won’t do to keep you away from her son …

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.

This debut novel from Sandie Jones was crazy! Emily is dating Adam and everything is great except for her relationship with his mother, Pammie. She is constantly throwing barbed comments around at Emily, and is ridiculously obsessive over Adam. Her husband is dead so all she has are her sons, and some times they seem a little too close for comfort.

When Emily and Adam get engaged, things go from bad to worse. The Other Woman will have you questioning everyone’s motives and sanity. Adam can’t see how Pammie is trying to manipulate Emily and tear her and Adam apart. Emily begins to really wonder if she is the problem, as Pammie seems so sweet in everyone else’s eyes.

The ending was insane and definitely shocked me! This was a fast paced, mess with your mind thriller that I definitely recommend, and I can’t wait to read more from this author!

Book Review

Book Review: The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister- 4 Stars

Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

This was a jewel of a book! I enjoy reading books that have to do with magical realism but I’ve usually only read those that pertain to food/taste, whereas The Scent Keeper is all about smells. Have you ever smelled something that brought  back memories of a particular time in your life, or wished you could bottle up a special scent and keep it forever?

Emmaline has lived on a remote island with only her father since she was a baby. They live off the land, foraging for food, but occasionally what Emmaline knows as “the mermaids” will leave special gifts for them.

When something terrible happens, she begins to question everything she has ever known when thrust into a brand new life. Learning how to survive public school, bullies, and trying to figure out where she came from lends to a wonderful, beautifully written coming of age novel with a sprinkle of magic.

This book was heartbreaking but not heavy enough that you couldn’t enjoy it. It’s one of those refreshing reads you can just sit down with and breeze through. I loved every bit of this story except for the abrupt ending. It is a unique and imaginative story, and I am looking forward to checking out more titles by this author!

I received an ARC via NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review. The Scent Keeper will be published on May 21st, 2019!

 

Add it on Goodreads!
Pre-Order it on Amazon!

 

 

Book Review

Book Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris- 3.5 Stars

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Cass feels like she’s going to go crazy with guilt. After leaving a woman in her car on the side of the road in a storm, finding out she’s dead the next day, finding out she had lunch with this same woman (Jane) recently, it’s all too much. On top of that, she’s still reeling from the death of her mother, who shockingly was wealthy, and Cass had no clue. Her mother had dementia, and Cass just knows she’s losing her mind as well. She forgets everything, and even does things she has no memory of doing. Cass starts getting silent phone calls not long after this incident with the murdered woman. Is it all connected? Is she just so stressed from this woman’s death that she cannot cope? Is she struggling with early onset dementia, or is something else at play here? Between talking to her husband, her best friend Rachel, and Jane’s husband, Cass tries to understand what is going on, but she might be running out of time…

Like the first book by Paris, Behind Closed Doors, this novel kept me hooked and eager to find out the truth. The ending shocker fell a little flat for me and I would have liked to see the plot go in a different direction, but I still enjoyed the story just the same.

I’ve just picked up her latest book, Bring Me Back, to read next and I can’t wait to dive in.

Have you read any from this author? What did you think? Share with me in the comments!

Find it on Goodreads!

Uncategorized

Free Book Alert! Sugar and Ice by Aven Ellis

Josephine Rossi has recovered from a broken heart, but has vowed that she’s all about the desserts now as a recipe tester for Bake It! Magazine. Cheesecake never breaks your heart. Unless it cracks on the top, but still, it tastes amazing if you bake it just right. She knows what to do in the kitchen as far as making luscious desserts. Men? Apparently she’s not so good at figuring them out, so she refuses to bother. Josephine knows it is safer to stay in the kitchen than to take another chance with her heart.

Denver Mountain Lions forward Cade Callahan is passionate about hockey, but is also about finding love. He thought he had it once, but a disastrous romance last holiday season has him keeping his heart in check. While he’s fearless on the ice, he’s guarded with his heart. Cade is determined history won’t repeat itself again. He won’t let his guard down until he’s certain he’s met The One.

However, Cupid’s arrow might just strike when these two least expect it. When an oven goes out, and a cheesecake for testing has to be baked, and Cade just happens to live in the same building with a working oven…Well, things other than cheesecake might just heat up in the kitchen. Can these two passionate people learn to trust their hearts again? Can love override fear for Josephine and Cade? And will they find the combination of sugar and ice is the sweetest one of all? 

One of my favorite authors, Aven Ellis, has a free book on Amazon today! Sugar and Ice, book one of the Rinkside in the Rockies series, is a hockey romance that is oh-so-sweet and will be the perfect book for Valentine’s Day reading!

This couple will steam up both the kitchen and the ice rink! I love JoJo and Cade, and I think you will too if you enjoy fun, contemporary romances!

Click here for my review!
Click here to get it on Amazon!