Thursday, April 30, 2015

Introducing... The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

Special Agent John Kaiser stood at the window of the FBI's "tactical room" in the Hampton Hotel and stared at the lights of Natchez twinkling high over the dark tide of the Mississippi. After struggling silently with his convictions for more than an hour, he had decided to use the authority granted him under the Patriot Act to take a step that under any other circumstances would have been a violation of the Constitution-- the unauthorized invasion of computers belonging to a public newspaper. He had not done this lightly, and Kaiser knew that his wife-- an award-winning journalist and combat photographer-- would condemn him if she ever learned what he'd done. But by his lights, the deteriorating situation demanded that he cross the Rubicon. And so he'd quietly risen from bed and, without disturbing his wife, slipped down the hall to where two FBI technicians sat behind computers connected by secure satellite to a high-speed data link in Washington.

-- The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dewey's Read-a-thon 2015, Hour 24: End of Event Meme

Well, we've reached the end. This year was an epic fail for me. I made it to Hour 19, which would have been fine. However the big failure is I HARDLY GOT ANY READING DONE!
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Well, it's always the hour that I give in! This time that was Hour 19.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I'm not the person to ask. The one I'm reading is very engaging, but also very long, and I don't recommend 800 page books for the read-a-thon!
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I have no advice to offer.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Everything.
  5. How many books did you read? Zero!
  6. What were the names of the books you read? I worked on The Bone Tree by Greg Iles
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? See #6
  8. Which did you enjoy least? n/a
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? n/a
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'll always be a reader. I've been doing the read-a-thons for six years now!

Here's hoping for more success next time!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24-Hr Read-a-thon, Hour 12: Mid-Event Survey

Here is my mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now? Same thing I'll be reading a week from now-- The Bone Tree by Greg Iles
2. How many books have you read so far? 0
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
See #1
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Today has been nothing but interruptions. I've just given in to them. No need to stress over it!
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How little I've been able to read!

Dewey's 24-Hr Read-a-thon, Hour 8: Book Spine Poetry

Ticket To Anywhere is hosting the 8 Hour mini-challenge. It's the always enjoyable "Book Spine Poetry" challenge. Unfortunately I'm so far behind on my reading that I just couldn't afford to spend much time working on this one this time. So just quickly perusing my TBR shelves, this is what I came up with:

Beautiful creatures
Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Oryx and Crake
We are not ourselves

I know. Pretty lame.

Dewey's 24-Hr Read-a-thon, Hour 7: Treasure Hunt

Boghuden is hosting a challenge for 7th hour, challenging readers to post a picture of books with three items on their covers: (1) A Tree, (2) Snow, and (3) a Weapon. Here are my three books:

The Bone Tree is the book I'm reading right now for the read-a-thon. The Terror and Escaping Home are both on my TBR shelves.

Well, back to it! I took time out to meet a friend for lunch, so I have gotten wayyyyy behind on my reading!

Dewey's 24-Hr Read-a-thon, Hour 2: Classic Words of Wisdom

A Literary Odyssey is hosting a challenge for Hour 2 of the read-a-thon. She is asking readers to share their favorite "Classic Words of Wisdom", and what it means to them. Mine is a pretty familiar quote from Hamlet:

This has always just stood as a reminder to me that I should not be overly concerned with what others think of me, and to follow my own heart and stand by what I believe in.

What about you? Do you have any "Classic Words of Wisdom" that you live by?

Dewey's 24-Hr Read-a-thon, Hour 0: Opening Meme

Well, it's that time once again! Time for me to try and focus on reading, which can be really hard for someone so unfocused! I slept in late this morning, so I'm getting a late start. However here is my opening meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Southwest Florida
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The one huge monster I'm working on, which is The Bone Tree by Greg Iles.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Guacamole and chips
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! My name is Heather, and I've been book-blogging for six years. My first read-a-thon was six years ago (April 18, 2009)! I'm an avid animal lover, and caretaker of two dogs, three cats, a lovebird and fish. I'm Sales Director at a software company.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? My mindset these days it to just do what I want. If I want to read, read. If I want to sleep, sleep. If I want to walk the dogs, do that. The goal is to just get in a lot more reading than usual, but I won't make it 24 hours. I'm no spring chicken anymore!

And now to get to it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

QUICK REVIEW: Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown


A perfect and irresistible idea: A cookbook filled with delicious, healthful recipes created for everyone on a tight budget—and a cookbook with a strong charitable component: With every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, a second copy will be given to a person or family in need.

While studying food policy as a master’s candidate at NYU, Leanne Brown asked a simple yet critical question: How well can a person eat on the $4 a day given by SNAP, the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program informally known as food stamps? The answer is surprisingly well: Broiled Tilapia with Lime, Spicy Pulled Pork, Green Chile and Cheddar Quesadillas, Vegetable Jambalaya, Beet and Chickpea Salad—even desserts like Coconut Chocolate Cookies and Peach Coffee Cake. In addition to creating nutritious recipes that maximize every ingredient and use economical cooking methods, Ms. Brown gives tips on shopping; on creating pantry basics; on mastering certain staples—pizza dough, flour tortillas—and saucy extras that make everything taste better, like spice oil and tzatziki; and how to make fundamentally smart, healthful food choices.

The idea for Good and Cheap is already proving itself. The author launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish and fund the buy one/give one model. Hundreds of thousands of viewers watched her video and donated $145,000, and national media are paying attention. Even high-profile chefs and food writers have taken note—like Mark Bittman, who retweeted the link to the campaign; Francis Lam, who called it “Terrific!”; and Michael Pollan, who cited it as a “cool kickstarter.” In the same way that TOMS turned inexpensive, stylish shoes into a larger do-good movement, Good and Cheap is poised to become a cookbook that every food lover with a conscience will embrace.

Paperback, 208 pages
Expected publication: July 14th 2015 by Workman Publishing Company (first published September 1st 2014)
ISBN 0761184996 (ISBN13: 9780761184997)

My Thoughts

Author Leanne Brown wrote the first copy of this book for her master's degree in food studies. The idea behind it has not been to fill her pockets with money, but to get the book into the hands of the people who need it the most-- those who are trying to live on $4 a day via a SNAP program (aka "food stamps"). She asserted that you could eat well on little money.

This book offers suggestions for how to use cheap, affordable ingredients in a healthy and flavorful way.

My final word: I think this is a great concept. The book doesn't work great for me, because I don't eat meat and I think most of the recipes really need meat to make them good. So while they are "good and cheap", they aren't really vegetarian or pescatarian-friendly. So while I applaud the effort and concept, and the principles that drives the author to provide the book free to people who cannot afford it, the book doesn't really work for me personally.

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pure Food: Eat Clean with Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipes by Veronica Bosgraaf


Bring more whole, real ingredients into your kitchen and replace processed foods with the 120 plant-based recipes in Pure Food.

A busy mother of three who was frustrated with trying to find healthy, organic snacks for her kids, Veronica Bosgraaf decided to make one herself, the Pure Bar. Now nationally available and widely beloved, the bar kick started a nutrition overhaul in Veronica’s home. Clean foods and a new, simple way of cooking and eating replaced anything overly processed and loaded with sugar. 

Organized by month to take advantage of seasonal produce, Pure Food shares Veronica’s easy vegetarian recipes, many of which are vegan and gluten-free, too.

   • January: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Winter Garlic and Vegetable Stew, Chocolate Rice Pudding
   • April: Asparagus with Turmeric-Spiced Almonds, Egg Noodles with Wild Mushrooms and Spring Greens, Roasted Cauliflower with Quinoa and Cashews
   • July: Watermelon Mint Salad, Grilled Garlic and Summer Squash Skewers with Chimichurri, The Perfect Veggie Burger
   • November: Caramelized Pear Muffins, Parsnip and Thyme Cream Soup, Wild Rice and Pecan Stuffing

With 18 color photographs and tips for "cleaning" your kitchen and lifestyle—from drying your own herbs to getting rid of chemical cleaners—Pure Food shows the simple steps you can take to make your cooking and living more healthful.

Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Clarkson Potter
ISBN 0804137951 (ISBN13: 9780804137959)

About the Author
from the back cover

Veronica Bosgraaf is the founder of the Pure Bar of organic, all-natural, gluten-free fruit and nut bars and fruit snacks. Passionate about making it easier to eat real foods, Veronica is dedicated to sharing her journey, questioning food culture, and providing ideas and choices that help families live a healthier lifestyle. She lives in Michigan with her husband and three children.

Learn more at

My Thoughts

This book is all about fresh eating, and it is simple and to the point. The author herself states in the introduction:
Pure Food is not a "fancy" cookbook. It's an approachable guide to help you quit fast, frozen, processed foods and get back into the kitchen.
Her straightforward introduction is followed by a pantry section, outlining the tenets of eating fresh and buying local, and the healthy basics for stocking your pantry. This book calls for things like maple syrup, brown rice flour, coconut oil, almond milk, and other important staples. (I don't think all of the unusual flours like buckwheat and millet are necessary, but are good gluten-free options or have other special attributes, and I think most recipes can easily have a different flour substituted.)

The book is then organized by month, where ingredients are showcased when they are at their peak. This helps you to eat seasonally-- something I am always striving for, and failing miserably. This book helps you succeed in that area.

I've had the Almond Butter and Cacao Nib Smoothie two days in a row now (and still lost weight!) A tasty blend of almond milk, almond butter, frozen banana, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil and cacao nibs, this smoothie is high in healthy fats and fiber, and a good source of potassium, calcium and iron, and no cholesterol! And very tasty to boot!

And last night I also made some healthy scalloped potatoes from the cookbook. This simple dish has potatoes, peppers onion, garlic and herbs, but no cream, butter or cheese. The "sauce" is simply created by adding a little water and letting it simmer, causing the starch from the potatoes to create a little thickened scant sauce. I did my best to figure out the calories per serving, and I think it lies somewhere in the range of 90.

My final word: A great effort, and a good way for me to pick up some healthy, wholesome, seasonal eating habits. I wish it had more photos to entice me, but overall I like this cookbook!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble
Random House

My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through the publisher and Blogging for BOoks, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ON MY RADAR (4/1/15 edition): Books that have hit my radar

Here are some books that have recently hit my radar and set off my alarm bells...

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

Thieving Forest by Martha Conway

On a humid morning in 1806, seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner watches helplessly from behind a tree while a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna rashly decides to pursue them herself. What follows is a young woman's quest to save her sisters and the parallel story of her sisters' new lives.

Over the next five months, Susanna tans hides in a Moravian missionary village; escapes down a river with a young native girl; discovers an eccentric white woman raising chickens in the middle of the Great Black Swamp; and becomes a servant in a Wyandot village longhouse. The man who loves her, Seth Spendlove, is in pursuit after he realizes that his father was involved in the kidnapping. Part Potawatomi himself but living a white man’s life, Seth unwittingly sets off on his own quest to reclaim his birthright. He allies himself with a Potawatomi named Koman, one of the band of men who originally abducted the Quiner sisters, but who now wishes to make his own retribution. Together they canoe through the Black Swamp and into enemy territory looking for Susanna, and while they travel Koman teaches Seth about their shared heritage.

Fast-paced and richly detailed, Thieving Forest explores the transformation of all five sisters as the Quiners contend with starvation, slavery, betrayal, and love. It paints a fascinating new picture of pioneer life among Native American communities, while telling a gripping tale of survival.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons.

When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, discovers the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost.

After Peggy's return to civilization, her mother begins to learn the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.