Sunday, December 7, 2014

The American Catholic Almanac - Burch & Stimpson

The American Catholic Almanac
 A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary People Who Changed the United States
by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson

They’re all Catholics who have shaped America. In this page-a-day history, 365 inspiring stories celebrate the historic contributions of American men and women shaped by their Catholic faith. From famous figures to lesser-known saints and sinners, The American Catholic Almanac tells the fascinating, funny, uplifting, and unlikely tales of Catholics’ influence on American history, culture, and politics. Spanning the scope of the Revolutionary War to Notre Dame football, this unique collection of stories highlights the transformative role of the Catholic Church in American public life over the last 400 years.

Did you know…
• The first immigrant to arrive in America via Ellis Island was a 15-year-old Irish Catholic girl?
• Al Capone’s tombstone reads “MY JESUS MERCY”?
• Andrew Jackson credited America’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans to the prayers of the Virgin Mary and the Ursuline Sisters?
• Five Franciscans died in sixteenth-century Georgia defending the Church’s teachings on marriage?
• Jack Kerouac died wanting to be known as a Catholic and not only as a beat poet?
• Catholic missionaries lived in Virginia 36 years before the English settled Jamestown?

This is a really easy, fun, interesting daily reader.  Each entry is just a page in length. Each day, you get to read a nice short, entertaining story.  I personally want to know more about a lot of the folks in the book and will eventually read more on them.  But I like that I get just a small tidbit about so many people.

For some folks, this may be the perfect amount of information on the individuals in the book.  For others, it may be too short.  For me (and hopefully a lot of you), it's a nice introduction and gives me great ideas for future reading projects.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Anything That Moves- Dana Goodyear

I read this book for my awesome book club, The Kitchen Reader, which combines two of my favorite things - reading and food.

This is such a fun, crazy book!  It is filled with wild tales of people eating everything and anything you can possibly imagine.  One of my favorites is in the very beginning of the book.  It's about a Mayan Apocalypse party that was thrown in LA.  Several courses, with beer pairings, and the kicker was that you had to taste before you found out what you were eating.  More than sixty people showed up for this dinner (if I were in the area, I would have definitely been there) and what an experience they had!  I won't spoil it for you but you should definitely check out this book.  Fun for anyone who loves food!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jesus of Nazareth - Pope Benedict XVI

Description:  In this bold, momentous work, Joseph Ratzinger--in his first book written since he became Pope--seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from recent "popular" depictions and to restore Jesus' true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the Pope shares a rich, compelling, flesh-and-blood portrait of Jesus and invites us to encounter, face-to-face, the central figure of the Christian faith.  From Jesus of Nazareth: "the great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought?  The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually first to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets, and then in the Wisdom Literature--the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth.  He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love."

This book covers so many topics:
Ch 1 Baptism of Jesus
Ch 2 Temptation of Jesus
Ch 3 Gospel of the Kingdom of God
Ch 4 Sermon on the Mount
Ch 5 The Lords Prayer
Ch 6 The Disciples
Ch 7 Message of the Parables
Ch 8 Principal Images of John's Gospel
Ch 9 Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Ch 10 Jesus Declares His Identity

This is the first book written by Pope Benedict XVI (as Pope).  It was written back in 2007.  I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get to it, but please don't wait as long as I did to pick this up!  At 365 pages, this book isn't difficult or too long to read.  It is filled with great insight and can help you deepen your love, learn to love, or rediscover your love for Jesus.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

More Info

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brûlée - Thomas Craughwell

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brûlée: How a Founding Father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America

Amazon description:  This culinary biography recounts the 1784 deal that Thomas Jefferson struck with his slaves, James Hemings. The founding father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along “for a particular purpose”— to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for James’s cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom. 

Thus began one of the strangest partnerships in United States history. As Hemings apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so the might be replicated in American agriculture. The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, Champagne, macaroni and cheese, crème brûlée, and a host of other treats. This narrative history tells the story of their remarkable adventure—and even includes a few of their favorite recipes!

I read this book as part of my book club - Kitchen Reader and I am SO glad that I did!  I really love this book.  It combines history and food - two of my favorite subjects!

This book is not just about food or just about history.  Instead it does a lovely job of combining the two into a very readable, enjoyable book.  I do think the subtitle could be misleading to some though, because while James is definitely IN the story, he is not the main character.

As someone who has to pack up and move frequently, I loved learning what he carried home when he left Paris, after living there for five years:
86 crates with kitchen utensils and equipment
wines, cheeses, olive oils, Maille mustard
seedlings of fruit trees and ornamental trees

Can I just say I LOVE his style!

I truly loved this book.  I think it would make a great gift for foodies with a love for history.  Or  maybe historians with a love of food?

Just read it already!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Angels and Saints - Scott Hahn

This is such a great book!  I love that it is an easy, quick book to read but filled with a lot of information on angels and saints.

The book is in two parts.  The first part is more of an overview and the second part is on specific saints/angels.

I love how at the end of each chapter, he includes a short piece of writing from the saint being discussed.  I also really love the cover of the book.

I think this book is a great book for anyone wanting to learn more about the saints and angels (mostly saints though).  I will warn that each chapter on the saints/angels are only 4-8 pages long, so if you want a more in depth study, you should probably look for a different book.

The saints and angels included in the book -
St Michael and the Angels
Holy Moses
St Paul
St Ignatius of Antioch
St Irenaeus of Lyons
St Jerome
St Monica
St Thomas Aquinas
St Therese of Lisieux
St Maximilian Koble

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

More Info
Author Bio

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Afro-vegan by Bryant Terry

First of all, what a beautiful book!  It is jam-packed with pictures of gorgeous recipes and ingredients.

When I was looking through cookbooks and found this one, I knew I had to have it.  It covers Africa (my current home), Brazil (my previous home), the Caribbean (never lived there but have visited it a few times), the South (my origins) and food (my passion)!!  Yes, this book was calling my name.

The author describes his book best so take a look at what he says -"Imagine if you removed the animal products from African, Caribbean, Southern, and other Afro-influence cuisines then meticulously cut, pasted, and removes the food to produce recipes with farm-fresh ingredients as their heart and soul: that is Afro-Vegan." Doesn't that make you want to run out and get a copy of this book NOW??!!

Over a hundred recipes in the book and they all look absolutely amazing.  First few on my list to try are creole-spiced plantain chips, za'atar, harissa, blackened cauliflower with plum tomato sauce, slow-braised mustard greens, savory grits with slow-cooked collard greens, and maple-glazed banana johnnycakes.  Really, I want to make everything. Right. Now.

There are stories woven in to each chapter and recipe that really make this book special.  It is so much more than a cookbook.

Music and books
As much as I love the recipes, I think the music and book recommendations for each recipe is my favorite part of the book.  What a great idea!

So really, go pick this book up now.  You'll be glad you did!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Catholicism- Robert Barron

About the book-
“What I propose to do in this book is to take you on a guided exploration of the Catholic world, but not in the manner of a docent, for I am not interested in showing you the artifacts of Catholicism as though they were dusty objets d’art in a museum of culture.  I want to function rather as a mystagogue, conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power.” –Father Robert Barron

What is Catholicism? A 2,000 living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith.

Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell – using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world. 

Paired with his documentary film series of the same title, Catholicism is an intimate journey, capturing “The Catholic Thing” in all its depth and beauty. Eclectic, unique, and inspiring, Father Barron brings the faith to life for a new generation, in a style that is both faithful to timeless truths, while simultaneously speaking in the language of contemporary life.

Includes over 100 black and white and color photos.

Based off his new series, Fr Robert Barron's new book Catholicism is very comprehensive and informative.

Chapters include:
The Revelation of God become Man
The Teachings of Jesus
The Ineffable Mystery of God
Mary, the Mother of God
Peter, Paul, and the Missionary Adventures
The Mystical Union of Christ and the Church
The Mystery of the Church's Sacrements and Worship
The Communion of Saints
Prayer and the Life of the Spirit
Last Things

He has such a way with words that really brings things to life.  I love this line "Catholicism is a matter of the body and senses as much as it is a matter of the mind and soul, precisely because the Word became flesh."

I love when he talks about a painting in pointillism style and compares God to the artist.  When viewed up close (by us) it just looks like a bunch of dots and doesn't make sense.  But when you see it from Gods view, the entire painting (His plans) becomes clear.  Fr Barron has such a great way of describing things.

It's a great book on Catholicism.  I recommend it for anyone that wants to learn more about the beautiful faith.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A History of the World in Six Glasses - Tom Standage

A history book divided by different types if drinks? Now this is my kind of book!! Beer, wine, distilled drinks, coffee, tea, and soda. What a great idea for a book! Tom might just be a new hero for me. I read this book for a food related book club that I'm part of - the Kitchen Reader.  (Awesome book club, by the way)

Over ten thousand years ago it was all about cereal grains. Not only did it nourish the people but the were paid in beer and bread. Paid. in. beer. Now, I know this is resonating with some of you! I see the sign now. Will work for beer. Actually I really did see this sign a couple weeks ago. Interested tidbit- beer was originally consumed through a straw because there was so much gunk (technical term) floating in it. 

Next we move to wine in Ancient Greece and the formal drinking parties where they discussed politics, poetry, and philosophy. Again, I know this is striking a cord with me. How about you?

Next stop on the history tour is the Age of Exploration and the discovery of distillers drinks.

The Age of Reason is next and seriously, after all that alcohol dong we all need a good cup of joe? Coffeehouse discussions brought about scientific societies, newspapers, banks, and revolutionary ideas.

Tea is next and here we learn about Britains national drink. We read about the British foreign policy, Americas independence, and tea production in India.

Last up is Americas national drink -Coke. Here we learn about America as a super power, twentieth century wars, capitalism, and the global marketplace.

This was such a fun (and informative) book to read!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Feed (Newsflesh trilogy, book 1)

I usually stick to nonfiction but every once in a while, I like a good work of fiction.  Feed definitely hit the spot!  It has zombies, politicians, bloggers, and a really good story.  I read this (over 500 page) book in just a few days.  The characters are well developed and the story is just plan fun to read!

Feed tells the story of three bloggers who are going to be following a presidential candidate around.  It happens to be post-Rising, in a world where regular humans have to avoid 'the infected', the name given to the zombies that roam the earth thanks to an infection.

Not only do you get a little taste of politics, but you also get a look at the bloggers and how they are organized in this new world - the newsies, the irwins, and the fictionals. I don't want to give away too much, but seriously, if you're looking for a good read, give this a try!

I've added the other two books to my reading list.  And you can bet the next time I'm ready to read a good work of fiction, I'll know just where to look.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

St. Peter's Bones - Thomas J Craughwell

This is a short book (only 102 pages) that contains a lot of information about the bones of St Peter- how they were lost and found and lost and found again.  I really like how the story is written - it switches between the archeological digs to the history of St Peter's life and other more modern information.  I think it if were organized differently - with all the information on the archeological dig, it might get a tad bit boring.  But with it woven together the way it is, it really works.

I enjoyed the book and learned a lot along the way.  I think it was the perfect length and contained the right amount of detail.

This is the second book I've read by Thomas Craughwell.  The first was Saints Behaving Badly, which is another great book!

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

In the Time of Butterflies - Julia Alvarez

This is a work of fiction that is based on real events and real people. It tells the story of the Mirabel sisters who grew up in the Dominican Republic during the reign of Trujillo. During the reading of this book, you will come to know and love each of these four sisters and their family.  

The book begins with the only living sister Dede but covers the life and stories of all four girls and the tragic end that comes for Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa. These three girls are known as butterflies in their country because that (Mariposa) was their code names in the underground group that planned to overthrow the government.

This is such an amazing story! I found myself thinking about these girls during the course of my days, even when I wasn't reading.   I am now going to have to search out Julia Alvarez's other books and see if they are on par with this one.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

From Scratch: Inside the Food Network - Allen Salkin

I really wanted to love this book.  It's about the Food Network and most of the Food Network stars were interviewed.  I love food.  I love the Food Network.  I love most of the shows on the Food Network.  What's not to love about this book then, right?  Unfortunately, I felt it focused way too much on the behind the scenes network/tv/money aspect and not enough on the Food Network stars or their individual shows.  I found it a little dry and boring.

 I'm sure it is a great book if you are looking for an inside look at a cable network channel.  But if you're looking for a great story about food and the food network stars, look elsewhere.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sacred Fire- Ronald Rolheiser Book review and a give away!

Thank you for participating in the book giveaway.  The contest is now closed!

How can I give my life away more purely, and more meaningfully? How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples' lives more meaningful?  These are some of the questions that Ronal Rolheiser attempts to answer in his new book Sacred Fire. You may know Ronald Rolheiser from his book The Holy Longing, which was written as a foundational book - a Spirituality 101 course. Or possibly you know him from his column in the Catholic Herald or one of his other books. Or maybe you don't know him at all.  Either way, you should read this book!  

Sacred Fire is the follow on book to The Holy Longing.  Where The Holy Longing answered the basic questions, Sacred Fire goes a little deeper.  He follows the concepts of St John of the Cross and tries to apply them to regular folks (instead of to priests).

This is a thought provoking, meditational book.  I really enjoyed it and find that it has helped me a lot.  I am sure I'll be referring back to it quite often.

I'm so excited to have an extra copy to give away!  Not only do I have a copy of Sacred Fire to give but I also have a copy of The Holy Longing!!  If you'd like to enter the drawing, just leave a comment below.  Let me know which book you are interested in winning.  You can say both!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thanks for reading!

Good links for more info
Authors Website
Authors Bio

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Three Gifts of Saint Therese of Lisieux - Patrick Ahern

Ahern writes his story along with Therese's. He speaks of his own relationship with Therese and her role in his priesthood.  He focuses on the three gifts she gave him: 1. her universal appeal, 2. her conviction, and 3. her Little Way.

My favorite line from the book describing Therese "She is many things to many people, but she is especially helpful when it comes to managing feelings, both those that make us want to take on the world and those that keep us from moving forward and render us almost useless."  That's great isn't it??  Don't you want to pick up this book and read it RIGHT now?!!

It amazes me how much faith and confidence she had at the age of fifteen!  She knew that she wanted to serve God, help save souls and be at Carmel.  I am in total of awe of her.  I haven't yet read Story of a Soul but plan to start it for Lent.  

This book is short (only 78 pages), easy to read, and conveys Aherns sense of total love for Therese.  I highly recommend reading it soon!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ten Days Without - Daniel Ryan Day

This nonfiction book is about how the author, Daniel Day, goes 10 days without certain 'necessities' to increase awareness/raise money for different organizations.

He conducts 8 different challenges where he goes 10 days without:
Shoes (to address disease)
A Coat (to address homelessness)
Media (to address distractions)
Furniture (to address global poverty)
Legs (to address our response to disabilities)
Waste (to address the environment)
Speech (to address modern day slavery)
Human touch (to address orphans, widows, prisoners, and other untouchables)

This book doesn't try to make you feel guilty about not doing anything to help.  Instead it motivates you in a very positive, loving way to want to go out and do something, anything to help NOW.

One of my favorite lines from the book is "So maybe instead of trying to change the world, we need to focus on changing someone's world."

The one thing about the book that felt out of place to me was when he went 10 days without media.  He didn't raise money for anyone in that 10 day challenge.  He minimized his use of media to spend more time with family.  While this is admirable, it didn't really follow the theme of the book.

I think the entire point of the challenges is best summed up when Day says this "It's about making a difference in the world.  Its about the sacrifice and pain that lead you to a better understanding of an important issue and what you can do about it."

If you'd like to learn more about 10 days without, visit the website here.  You can also read his blogs here.

Here is the book description from Amazon:

“Life is full of good intentions, but for too many, our good intentions never become good actions—they don’t move us forward, draw us closer to God, or make a difference in the world.
Good intentions are cans of paint that could have become amazing works of art…but never did.”
—Daniel Day, in Ten Days Without

Daniel Day could tell you all about his love for God and his desire to live as a follower of Jesus. But it took a simple but radical experiment to move from simply talking about it to actually living like it. For ten days at a time, Daniel chose to abandon a certain “necessity”—a coat, a voice, shoes, media, furniture, legs, touch—and to blog about it to raise funds and awareness for organizations that are doing amazing things to make a difference in the world. And then he invited others to join him in the experiments and spread the vision. Together they served God and others—and experienced significant personal change in the process. Ten Days Without is the story of their life-altering adventure.

Ten Days Without is a compelling story and practical guide that will equip you and your friends to break through walls of convenience and indifference, and join a movement that is confronting apathy and ignorance around the world to make an impact on people’s lives in a God-honoring way. Ten Days Without is where our good intentions end and making a difference in the world begins.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Provence, 1970 - Luke Barr

Unfortunately, I was not thrilled with this book.  It sounded like something I'd love - famous chefs/cooks gathering together for a holiday period in Provence.  But it turned out to be way to focused on how much of a snob of couple of them were. There were too many parts of the story that was high on gossip and low on cooking.  I wanted it to be  a book about chefs discussing and cooking amazing food.

Now, when it did come around to discussing food and cooking, it was awesome!  I kept getting hungry and looking up recipes!  If there was more of a focus on this stuff, I would have loved the book.

Overall, it was just not my cup of tea.

I will be trying to hunt down some of the cookbooks/memoirs discussed in this book though, so not a total loss.

Book description:  Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance.