Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal

Lifelong vegetarian and chef Chitra Agrawal takes you on an epicurean journey to her mother’s hometown of Bangalore and back to Brooklyn, where she adapts her family’s South Indian recipes for home cooks. This particular style of Indian home cooking, often called the “yoga diet,” is light and fresh, yet satisfying and rich in bold and complex flavors. Grains, legumes, fresh produce, coconut, and yogurt—along with herbs, citrus, chiles, and spices—form the cornerstone of this delectable cuisine, rooted in vegetarian customs and honed over centuries for optimum taste and nutrition.  
From the classic savory crepe dosa, filled with lemony turmeric potatoes and cilantro coconut chutney, to new creations like coconut polenta topped with spring vegetables 'upma" and homemade yogurt, the recipes in Vibrant India are simple to prepare and a true celebration of color and flavor on a plate. Chitra weaves together the historical context behind the region’s cuisine and how she brought some of these age-old traditions to life thousands of miles away in Brooklyn during the city’s exciting food renaissance. 

Relying on her experience as a culinary instructor, Chitra introduces the essential Indian cooking techniques, tips, and ingredients you’ll need to prepare a full range of recipes from quick vegetable stir frys (corn, basil, and leeks flavored with butter, cumin, and black pepper), salads (citrus red cabbage and fennel slaw with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chile), yogurt raitas (shredded beets and coconut in yogurt), and chutneys and pickles (preserved Meyer lemon in chile brine) to hearty stews (aromatic black eyed peas, lentils, and greens), coconut curries (summer squash in an herby coconut yogurt sauce), and fragrant rice dishes (lime dill rice with pistachios). Rounding out the book is an array of addictive snacks (popcorn topped with curry leaf butter), creative desserts (banana, coconut, and cardamom ice cream), and refreshing drinks (chile watermelon juice with mint). Chitra provides numerous substitutions to accommodate produce seasonality, ingredient availability, and personal tastes. The majority of recipes are gluten-free and vegan or can be easily modified to adhere to those dietary restrictions. 

Vibrant India is a fascinating cookbook, filled with gorgeous photos and awesome recipes. My mother has always loved to cook Indian foods, particularly vegetarian Indian dishes, so many of these recipes were not only familiar but also brought back great memories. There were also many intriguing recipes that I had not tried before, and I enjoyed looking through and choosing new recipes to make. The book is separated into sections: Soups, Snacks, Sweets/Drinks, Chutneys, and From Scratch (making different powders as well as Ghee). There are also sample menus and advice on how to plan meals, where to buy ingredients, and sample grocery lists. I found this cookbook to be easy to follow and even fun to read. I enjoyed Chitra's take on different recipes, and I look forward to trying more of them in the future!

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Keturah by Lisa T Bergren

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.
Although it flies against all conventions, they're determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined-and that's just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.
Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.
To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?
Keturah is the first novel in Lisa T. Bergren's new series, the Sugar Baron's Daughters. This series follows the lives of these sisters as they inherit property in the West Indies and move there to take over the management of their inheritance. This first novel is about Keturah Tomlinson, and it is filled with romance, suspense, and intrigue. The plot line is well written and easy to follow, and it pulls the reader in with descriptions of the settings and characters. I found the storyline to be enjoyable and reminded me why I love reading Lisa T. Bergren's historical novels. The characters in this novel were fairly well developed, and I look forward to getting a deeper glimpse into the sisters' personalities as the series continues to unfold. I thought Keturah had a good mix of strengths and weaknesses, and it was interesting to watch her make decisions and to figure out what was best for her life. 
Overall, I enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to the next addition to the series. I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 
About the Author:
Lisa T. Bergren has published more than 40 books with more than 3 million books sold combined. She's the author of the Christy Award-winning "Waterfall," RITA®-finalist "Firestorm," bestselling "God Gave Us You," and popular historical series like Homeward, Grand Tour, and more. She's also a recipient of the RT Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and three teen-and-older children.
Find out more about Lisa at http://lisatawnbergren.com.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma

Anna has one chance for survival-and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.

It's 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she'll do anything to keep her safe-a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.

The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma was a wonderful read that delved into the heart of WWII Prague and the individual decisions people had to make in a terrible time. I thought the plot was well written and developed at an appropriate pace. I was drawn into the time period and the city of Prague, and I could imagine the situations beautifully from the descriptions. There was a good mix of romance, suspense, danger, and betrayal, and I enjoyed seeing the story from Anna, Patricia, David, and Horst's perspectives as the story progressed. I thought the main characters were well developed, and I appreciated the conflict that both Patricia and Horst faced as they struggled to determine what was the right thing to do and then to have the courage to follow through with it. Anna and Horst were an unusual pair, and it was both convicting and interesting to watch them work through their individual and united struggles. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to reading the second book in this new series. I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 

About the Author:
Best-selling novelist Liz Tolsma is the author of several World War II novels and prairie romance novellas. She also works as a freelance editor. She lives in a semirural area of Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. Her son serves with the US Marines. All of their chidlren came to them through international adoption. Her other passions include walking, gardening, camping, and reading.
Find out more about Liz at http://www.liztolsma.com.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.
Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower's allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer.
Determined not to make the same mistakes, he's intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything-even murder-to keep the case from going to trial.
Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan is a legal thriller and is the first novel in her new Atlanta Justice series. The storyline is fairly fast-paced and interesting, but somewhat predictable at times. The plot includes instances of mystery, suspense, legal drama, and some romance. The characters are somewhat cliche and lack development at times, but as a whole work well together. I had trouble getting engaged in this novel, but I liked the overall plot and idea of the story, it just lacked depth and good character development. The thoughts and feelings of the characters were too obvious at times and did not allow the reader to figure things out on their own. For those who like legal thrillers, however, it would be an interesting read.  It was just not my favorite one that I have read recently.
I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 
Read more reviews at: http://litfusegroup.com/author/RDylan 
About the author:
Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including legal romantic suspense. Rachel has practiced law for over a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. In addition, Rachel writes the Danger in the Deep South including "Lethal Action" and "Devoted Defender," which appeals to fans of edge of your seat romantic suspense. Rachel also writes the Windy Ridge series including "Trial & Tribulations" and "Fatal Accusation." These legal thrillers with elements of spiritual warfare are great for fans who enjoy books by Peretti or Dekker. "Trial & Tribulations" was a Selah finalist in 2016. Rachel lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids-two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers.
Find out more about Rachel at http://www.racheldylan.com.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in our Common Life by Marvin Olasky

How could our world be different if Christians were recognized for not only speaking the truth, but also demonstrating mercy?
What would our lives be like if we reacted to our common culture with not just biblical facts, but also grace and compassion?
For more than 25 years, Marvin Olasky has offered this kind of viewpoint in his columns as the Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine, the leading news magazine written with a Christian perspective. In this collection of far-ranging columns, Olasky's commentary on world events and affairs, as well as his own personal interactions, encourages readers to respond with both grace and truth in every encounter.
A leading voice for standing for biblical truth in the public square, Olasky also believes Christians should incorporate the biblical virtues of humility, kindness, and mercy in all of life. His call for biblical values to include both truth and mercy makes his voice stand out in a world that often falsely divides those goals and settles for a poor imitation of the robust Christianity described in Scripture. 
World View is an excellent collection of columns written by Marvin Olasky of World Magazine. I read World Magazine regularly when I lived at my parents' house as they had a subscription, and I always had the greatest appreciation for Marvin Olasky's honesty, wit, and truth found in his columns. This book is easy to read and very thought provoking in its challenge to Christians in today's society. Olasky is very convicting in his challenges to Christians on how to act both in truth and grace when our beliefs and values are challenged and mocked by culture. This collection of columns is separated into five sections. The first is the Basics, going over living as a Christian in society and be able to set a good example in our actions and still treat others with love. The second section is about Changes, and it is a series of columns about how values and worldviews of changed in today's society and how to face that as a Christian. Section 3 is about Institutions, and it goes over different institutions, such as marriage, education, government, and politics and how Christians should respond. Section 4 is about causes, and it discusses important issues such as racial tension, immigration, and environmental issues. The last section concludes the book and draws everything together about how Christians should respond and act in today's society. Overall, I found this book to be practical, and I liked the column feel to the book. There were some minor spelling errors, but otherwise I thought it was well written.
I received this eBook from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 
Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of "World News Group," a distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College, and the author of more than twenty books, including "Compassionate Conservatism" and "The Tragedy of American Compassion." He and his wife, Susan, have four sons and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Marvin at http://stores.newgrowthpress.com.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman


To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then killed herself. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emilie and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman is the second novel in the Hidden Justice series, following Beyond Justice. The first novel follows Hayden's story, while this novel follows Emilie, her roommate. The plot of this novel was well written and contains moments of suspense, danger, reflection, and romance. The first few chapters were a little confusing because the story jumped from a few months previous to present time without much warning, but after that it was easier to follow. The narrative was primarily third person from either Emilie or Reid's point of view, but Emilie also has a stalker that has been following her since Beyond Justice, and there are a few short chapters from his perspective, without letting the reader in on who he is. I appreciated the intrigue and suspense created by this, but I was able to figure out by about halfway through the novel who the stalker was. While I could understand how Emilie had not figured it out yet since she did not have this inside information and was busy with a separate case, it did create some anxiety for me as the reader wondering when she would finally figure it out.

I liked both Reid and Emilie as main characters, and I appreciated the inside look into their thoughts and feelings, but I did wish there was a little more delving into Reid's personality in comparison to what was revealed about Emilie. And while I liked the ending of the story, I thought that the conclusion of what Emilie had been feeling and experiencing seemed flat and almost unrealistic...hopefully this will continue to be pursued as a background piece in future novels. Overall, I enjoyed the suspense in this novel, and I look to reading the rest of the Hidden Justice series.

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Small Book About A BIG Problem by Edward T. Welch

How many times today have you been irritated? Frustrated?
While you might not think about it often, if you look closely at any day most everyone can find anger in their actions and attitudes. Something spills or goes missing, we get stuck in traffic or someone cuts us off on the road, or we feel like the people we live and work with are only making our lives more difficult. And while no one wants to get angry, what happens when our irritations and frustrations rise yet again?
Anger is so common-yet it also hurts. It not only leaves a mark on us, but it also leaves a marks on others. The wounds we inflict on ourselves and others because of anger-loss of intimacy, trust, security, and enjoyment in our closest relationships-give us compelling reasons to look closely at our anger and think carefully about how to grow in peace and patience.
But if you, like many others, have just gotten irritated for the umpteenth time today, you might wonder if change is possible. Can anyone truly find peace? The answer is yes, but you will need a plan. Biblical counselor and psychologist Ed Welch invites readers to take a fifty-day journey that unpacks anger while encouraging and teaching readers to respond with patience to life's difficulties. Readers will also be introduced to Jesus, the key to any plan for change. Known as the Prince of Peace, he is the only one who can empower his people to grow in patience, peace, and wholeness.
A Small Book about a BIG Problem by Edward T. Welch is a wonderful, concise read that delves into dealing with anger and finding peace and patience. Edward Welch uses his considerable experience and knowledge about biblical counseling to create a book that his Bible centered, applicable, and easy to read. The book is a 50 day journey into what anger is, our reasons/response to both anger and to being wronged, and what the Bible has to say about these topics. I am still reading this book because I did not want to rush through the daily readings, but I have been convicted to really ponder and to think about what causes me to be angry and how I can develop more patience. In the first day, I found the statement, "But it is those wounds we inevitably inflict on other people—especially those who are most precious to us—that are reason enough to spend fifty days with anger, peace, and patience" to be extremely convicting, and it really expresses the reason to read this book. I would recommend reading just one chapter a day, take time to reflect and to respond, and then talk about it with others. I think this book would also make a great small group study! I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

Read more reviews about this book here:  http://litfusegroup.com/author/EWelch 

Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He earned a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions.
Find out more about Edward at http://stores.newgrowthpress.com.