Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Miracle in the Middle - Book Review

The middle. It's not just a really good Jimmy Eat World song. It's a place that most of us find ourselves in from time to time. Sometimes we just get stuck, like wading through Jell-O, and it's difficult to see how close you are to the end.

If you're there right now and seeking support, then you might want to read The Miracle in the Middle by Charlotte Gambill.

This book doesn't have the ultimate answer of just HOW you get out of the middle, but it does offer advice for making the middle a little easier. Using personal experiences and Biblical stories, Gambill offers guidance and prayers to keep you focused on God, the only thing that can really get you through.

Something that really struck me was how sometimes in our middle we tend to look back on the past, as though the past was so good. But if it was so good, why did we move forward and away from it? Just keep moving forward!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kitchens of the Great Midwest - Book Review

Another great book that I picked up at Book Expo America was Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. I knew nothing about the book or the author when I went to stand in line to get an autographed copy, but as someone who is from the Midwest, I thought the title of this novel sounded interesting.

It's about a girl named Eva who is an amazing chef! But the story isn't told solely through Eva's point of view or even with Eva as the main player. It's really about how this girl grows up and affects other people in her life, including her father, her cousin, her high school boyfriend, a fellow dinner party member, her high school boyfriend's stepmom, her current boyfriend's brother, and her mom.

Trust me. I didn't see the book's full-circle ending coming, and I'm really glad that I didn't try to anticipate what was going to happen next while reading this book.

Even if you're not from the Midwest, you should read this book. It would make for an interesting book club discussion, plus there are recipes in the book! And no matter where you're from, you've got to like dessert bars!

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking and hits bookstore shelves today! I received a free autographed review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - July 27

Sorry for the lack of posts last week. We had gone out of town the previous weekend, and I usually write up and schedule all of my posts for the week over the weekend, so I didn't have a chance to do any of that. But this week I'm back! And here's our meal plan:

Sunday: rotisserie chicken, potatoes, salad

Monday: egg and cheese bagel sandwiches

Tuesday: chicken nuggets and fries

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: mac and cheese with green beans

Friday: out

Saturday: out

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lois Lane: Fallout - Book Review

Everybody knows Lois Lane as an adult reporter working alongside Clark Kent, but the new YA novel Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond introduces us to the teenage Lois Lane who is just starting to discover her talent as a news reporter.

There's major bullying going on at Lois' school, and when the principal won't step in to stop it, Lois decides to intervene on behalf of her new friends. The bullying spills from the digital world of a video game and into the real world but not in a way anyone can see. Lois must uncover what's behind the weird behavior and synced-up minds of a group of students called the Warheads before it's too late.

Superman does make an appearance, if you're wondering. He's Lois' online friend, known only to her as SmallvilleGuy. The two of them met in a chat room for people who had experienced unexplained phenomena. Lois sort of has a crush on this guy she's never seen, but aside from acting as a love interest, SmallvilleGuy also helps Lois with her investigative reporting.

I liked this book and am glad to see this side of a superhero story. Too often, men get all the good roles, but women (or teenage girls) are just as capable of saving the day! If you've got a teenage girl in your life, you might want to pick up this book for her.

Lois Lane: Fallout is published by Switch Press and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free autographed copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gluten Free Soy Sauce Marinated Pork Chops

We recently made a new dish for dinner from the June 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. This is Soy Sauce Marinated Pork Chops, and if you can't see the recipe at the link, it's probably because you have to register for a free Better Homes and Gardens account. With all the good recipes (and other stuff) on this website, it's kind of worth it to just sign up!

I kind of stayed true to the original recipe, except I used boneless pre-cut pork chops because that's what we had in our freezer. If you're making this gluten-free, be sure that your soy sauce is gluten-free. I also use a brand that doesn't have MSG. It's called San-J Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce.

This was a nice, somewhat healthy meal, although I think my husband would have preferred more pork and less salad. So that's just something to keep in mind for next time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

More London Scrapbook Pages

I've got a few more London scrapbook pages to share with you. These are from our second day in London. We started the day off with a visit to the Tower of London, which had a really nice World War I exhibit right outside.

On this layout I got to use up a lot of scraps from my stash. Originally, this was going to be a two-page layout, but it didn't fit that way in my scrapbook album, so I had to cut some pictures and turn it into just the single page.

Apparently I didn't write down the supplies I used on this layout, but the letter stickers are American Crafts Thickers and there's some Crate Paper patterned paper, too.

After the Tower of London, we toured Tower Bridge (often mistaken for London Bridge) and even got to see the bridge's original steam engines. You can see the engines on the second page of this layout.

Got a lot of good views from the top of Tower Bridge! Luckily it was a lovely morning. Supplies on this layout include Lemon Owl Weekend Trip Collection Sunny Morning, Elle's Studio Serendipity Cherish, Webster's Pages Adrienne Looman Family Traditions Twine, My Mind's Eye Collectable by Jen Allyson Decorative Buttons, and Dear Lizzy + American Crafts Thickers Treasure.

What's great about Tower of London and Tower Bridge is that both are included with the purchase of your London Pass! When you purchase the London Pass, you get entry without further payment into the Tower of London plus a 10% discount in all gift shops at the Tower. 

And for the Tower Bridge, you also get entry without further payment. I should mention some of the other things we did on the first day that have special perks with the London Pass. At M&M's World you get a 15% discount in the store. And something else that's right near the Tower Bridge is the HMS Belfast, which we saw but didn't go on, even though the London Pass gets you entry without further payment. Not bad, right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stone Rider - Book Review

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All Adam Stone wants is to make it out Blackwater and onto Sky-Base. The only way to get a ticket to Sky-Base is to win The Blackwater Trail, a multi-day byke (yes, not "bike") race where it seems that the only rule is to survive.

Imagine a Motocross race in a dystopian land and you've got David Hofmeyr's young adult science fiction novel Stone Rider.

In the story, we don't know how the Earth came to be a desert wasteland or how some people were chosen to live in Sky-Base and others were left to attempt survival back on the ground. Adam and his brother Frank are mediocre farmers, and Adam makes extra money doing other odd jobs. Adam wants to use that money to enter The Blackwater Trail, the same race that cost his brother his leg. At first, Adam doesn't have the courage to pay the entry fee, but a chance meeting with an outsider named Kane, fatal bullying from a group called the Scorpions, and Adam's love for the bike shop proprietress Sadie give Adam the incentive he needs to enter the race.

This is the first book of what will become a series, and one that I think will appeal to boys and girls. Boys will predominantly like the action, and girls will like the depth of story and hint of romance. The book is for ages 12 and up, but I think 14 and up might be a better age recommendation.

Stone Rider is published by Delacorte Press and hits bookstore shelves today! I received a free review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.