Book Review: Zeus the Mighty

Zeus the Mighty by Crispin Boyer
Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas
by Crispin Boyer

4 out of 5 stars

Zeus is a hamster who rules the kingdom of the pet store along with the other Olympian gods, Athena the cat, Demeter the cricket, Ares the dog, and Poseidon the puffer fish. These animals have mystic powers and find artifacts that help them in their adventures. When Poseidon questions Zeus’ ability to rule, Zeus goes on a quest to find the Golden Fleas (Fleece) to prove that he is worthy to be king of the gods.

I loved this funny book! The animals all have vivid personalities, and I loved their hilarious dialogue. It’s so clever how Greek mythology is woven into the pet store setting. Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Aromatherapy for Self-Care

Aromatherapy for Self-Care by Sarah Swanberg
Aromatherapy for Self-Care
by Sarah Swanberg

4 out of 5 stars

This book begins with general advice about self-care, and the role that aromatherapy can play in your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. There is a chapter about the types of essential oils and carrier oils, as well as lists of recommended materials and tools. I especially appreciated the section on how and where on the body to apply oils using acupressure points.

There is a list of Top Ten Essential Oils and their uses, substitutes, and how best to blend them with other oils. There is also a lengthy chart with many other essential oils and their healing properties.

The following chapters have recipes for essential oil blends to be inhaled or applied topically to the body.

Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Minimalism Room by Room

Minimalism Room by Room by Elizabeth Enright Phillips
Minimalism Room by Room: A Customized Plan to Declutter Your Home and Simplify Your Life
by Elizabeth Enright Phillips

2 out of 5 stars

This book guides the reader through the decluttering journey with chapters for each room. The writing style is excellent with practical advice on how to make decisions for keeping or tossing your possessions. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the way it encourages the reader to examine their emotions about their home and possessions. The book provides affirmations and inspirational advice to fuel your motivation and create a new way of living.

It was odd to me that Bathrooms were lumped together with the Entryways in the same chapter. What do Bathrooms have in common with an Entryway? It made no sense to have those two areas together and made for a very confusing chapter. And the Laundry Room is included in the chapter with the Master Bedroom. The information is poorly organized. Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Moving Through Grief

Moving Through Grief by Gretchen Kubacky  PsyD
Moving Through Grief: Proven Techniques for Finding Your Way After Any Loss
by Gretchen Kubacky PsyD

4 out of 5 stars

This book gives practical and realistic ways to deal with grief by accepting your feelings instead of pushing them away. I immediately felt confidence in the author’s voice, because the ideas in this book ring true and show a lot of common sense. I admire how the chapters are organized in a progression of healing that leads the reader into deeper living with healthy emotions.

Beginning with basic self-care and reconnecting with relationships in your life, this book addresses defining your core values that keep you anchored through tough times, and gently moves the reader into reassessing the “story” they tell themselves about their life. I really loved the chapters about the “observer self” and how we can remain detached from untrue thoughts that threaten to disconnect us from the reality of our grief. Continue reading

Cookbook Review: Pastry for Beginners

Pastry for Beginners Cookbook by Sharon Glascoe
Pastry for Beginners Cookbook: Step-by-Step Recipes for Sweet and Savory Treats
by Sharon Glascoe

4 out of 5 stars 

This cookbook begins with instructions for ingredients like yeast and tips on what equipment is needed in the kitchen. Each chapter focuses on recipes for different types of pastry dough, pies, tarts, puff pastries, yeast dough, and choux dough. Each recipe has special tips for making sure that your baking comes out perfectly each time, or how to repair mistakes. With variations on a master dough recipe, there are dozens of possibilities for flavors and decorations.

The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with instructions for prep time, rising time, and baking time.
I do wish that there were more photographs to show the finished recipe products, but the recipes all sound delicious. Raspberry tarts, pretzels, cinnamon rolls, strawberry danish, pecan sticky buns, and of course apple pie are some of the ones that I really want to try for myself! Continue reading

Cookbook Review: Cake Decorating for Beginners

Cake Decorating for Beginners by Rose Atwater
Cake Decorating for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide to Decorating Like a Pro
by Rose Atwater
5 out of 5 stars

This book begins with basic tools and equipment that are needed for cake decorating, separated by must-have equipment and nice-to-have tools. There are also instructions on using food coloring, sprinkles, fruit, candy, and other decorative items on cakes.

There is an entire section just on baking and prepping the cake, with some basic cake recipes for common cake flavors. Then there are a few recipes for buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, and whipped cream frosting. The instructions on how to frost a cake are clear with photos showing each step, and tips on getting the frosting to spread evenly and smoothly. Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Healthy Family Cookbook

The Healthy Family Cookbook by Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CDE
The Healthy Family Cookbook: 100 Fast and Easy Recipes for the Whole Family
by Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CDE

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

With simple and quick recipes that the whole family will love, this cookbook makes it easy to eat healthy meals every day! There are simple recipes that have only 5 ingredients, quick recipes with only 15 minutes of prep time, and recipes to cook in one pot.

This book begins with some “Time-Saving Tips” and “Tips for Raising Adventurous Eaters” to get your children involved in choosing and preparing healthy meals, and gives many family-friendly recipes that are simple enough for kids to help with the cooking. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: The Adventures of Moose and Mr. Brown

The Adventures of Moose and Mr Brown by Sir Paul Smith
The Adventures of Moose and Mr Brown
by Sir Paul Smith,  Sam Usher (Illustrations)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

When Moose loses his twin brother at the airport, Mr. Brown decides to help him search for his brother. But Moose’s brother must have gotten on a plane somewhere and could be lost anywhere in the world! Mr. Brown gives Moose a job travelling around the world, designing clothing for animals in need.

Moose and Mr. Brown search in Japan, where they design a tail for a flying squirrel. They search in New York, where they design a hat for a bald eagle. They search in Africa (lion pajamas), China (panda eyeglasses), India (cobra bib), and in Australia (kangaroo dungarees).
Finally they arrive in Paris for the big fashion show, and Moose’s last chance to find his twin brother. Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Everyday Bread Baking

Everyday Bread Baking by Jenny Prior
Everyday Bread Baking: From Simple Sandwich Loaves to Celebratory Holiday Breads
by Jenny Prior,  Thomas J. Story (Photographer)

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This cookbook gives step-by-step instructions for making delicious bread, pretzels, doughnuts, and rolls. There is a special section entirely for holiday sweet breads and desserts.

The introduction gives a lot of information about terminology used in bread baking, like “fermentation, leaven, proofing, and yeast”. It also includes general instructions on kneading the dough, checking the temperature, mixing and measuring, different types of flour, and using “starter” dough. There is a list of types of equipment needed, and a troubleshooting section if something goes wrong.

With step-by-step photos and careful instructions, it’s almost impossible to make a mistake. And there are substitutions suggested in the recipe if you don’t have the right ingredients or starter dough. I really appreciate that there are so many photographs showing each stage of the recipe as the dough rises, then is kneaded, and finally baked. Continue reading