Friday, February 27, 2015

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb is a best selling guide which has been newly and completely revised.  This book will give the reader step by step in how to plan, create and maintain a small garden.  This small garden could be large pots or containers on the patio or in the window of your house or as large as 10' by 10'.  Ms Newcomb tells how the reader can obtain as much as 200 pounds of vegetables from a 5' by 5' garden if it is properly prepared and maintained.  She includes information from picking your spot to harvesting your produce.  This book can be easily used and understood by the beginning gardener but the experienced gardener also  will easily pick up enough tips on improving their own gardening to make reading this book worth their time and energy.  The original book was written 40 years ago at a time when this information was new.  Now the author includes more information on choosing from the varieties of heirloom vegetables and using the organic tips which are easy and simple.  Gardening can be expensive but this author tells several ways of doing for instance composting the cheapest and easiest way or using products which are one the market or even easier just buying compost in a bag from the nursery.  She tells how to have a simple patio garden if the reader lives in the city to how the rural gardener can plan their 100 square foot garden.  She uses the companion methods of planting vegetables with other vegetables, herbs, or flowers to improve production and lessen the work effort on the gardener.  She even includes a list of seed sources for mail order purchase which would come in handy for the novice or someone wishing to go organic or just include vegetables more in line with their own location.
I am an experienced gardener and I enjoyed this book.  I had a large garden when the children were young but now plant just a small garden and this book is just the ticket for a person like me.  I had been attempting to closely plant my vegetables to decrease my garden size but this book explains to me what I have been doing wrong.  I am so glad that I now have this easy to read manual on small gardens and how to plan them.  I would recommend reading this book for anyone who is planning a small garden this year.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

An Amish Cradle by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipstn, Kathleeen Fuller and Vannetta Chapman

An Amish Cradle by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kathleeen Fuller and Vannetta Chapman is a group of Amish novels with each author writing one each.    Each novel tells of a pregnancy or birth which brings new difficulties to living with God's will.  In the first one Ruth Anne and her young husband have just had their new baby boy.  They love him with all their being but something is going on with the midwife and Ruth Anne's mother.  Something that they are not telling her.  The neighbors and her family visits and some act normally but some she realizes she catches worried looks from others.  What is wrong with her baby?  The first time that she hears Down syndrome she doesn't know exactly what that means.  Does it just mean that he will learn to walk different with his different toes?  Will he just look different with his different looking eyes?  And why doesn't he want to nurse?  And what is wrong with Levi her beloved spouse?  Why does he act so stricken about their son having Down syndrome?  Can he not love a son that looks different?  Why did he suddenly go back to work when he his time off all arranged?  And why will he not talk to her anymore?  Then it seems that every time she takes her son to the doctor there is a new problem--his heart, his eyes, his hearing.   Ruth Anne starts going to a support group for parents raising Down syndrome children and finds answers to some of her problems but more than that she finds comfort from them and ways of dealing with her and the baby's problems.  But Levi still won't treat her as before--she misses the old Levi who loved and held her when she had problems and listened to her.  This story is how Levi and Ruth Anne learn to live with God's will and find God's blessing in their life.
Carolyn is learning to trust  her new husband and quit comparing him to others.  When Carolyn was a 16 year old she had trusted her boyfriend and after she became pregnant he had left her to her own devises.  Carolyn had raised her son on her own with only a small amount of help from her family.  She and her family remained close, she of course lived with them to begin with and later moved into her own home when she decided that it was time.  She later found love with a man who was worthy of her love, married him and became in due time pregnant but found that she had trouble trusting that he would stand by not only herself but her son.  She had difficulty with when Joshua said that he loved Benjamin when he adopted him that he really would love him as he loved his natural children.  Carolyn learns in this story to accept her family's love and support and not to lean so heavily on her own efforts to solve all of life's problems.
Ellie became blind in a terrible accident but she had learned to live with her blindness and accept it.  Her mother on the other hand still treated her as if she were a child.  Why can she not see that Ellie though she needs help with her new twin girls but that is not much more than anyone would need who were trying to raise twins.  Why does her mother worry over every little thing? After the birth of the girls her mother just moved in and wouldn't let Ellie hardly touch the babies let alone care for them as a mother should.  And who is this Rachel that she keeps calling baby Julia?  Ellie knows that she must set boundaries with her mother but she is dreading it.  This novel tells how Ellie and her husband, Chris deal with the stresses of new twin babies and also learn to set boundaries with Ellie's mother.
The 4th novel finds 42 year old Etta pregnant after thinking that she never would be again.  She and her husband, Mose have 6 children who are mostly if not completely raised and who could ever forget the baby girl who died 7 years ago after being born too early.  This story is about how Etta and Mose learn to accept God's will of having another child while at the same time dealing with loosing the farm  that they have always lived in due to financial reasons.
I loved every one of these novels and just wished that they were longer so that I could enjoy them longer.  I read this book in about 2 days because they were so good.  If you are a lover of Amish novels you will love these stories.  These stories can be read by girls and women of any age and enjoyed by all.
I received this book from Booksneeze for this review.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Against the Grain by Nancy Cain

Against the Grain by Nancy Cain is a gluten-free cookbook like no other.  Nancy started cooking gluten free when her son was diagnosed with celiac disease.  She started out by buying the gluten free mixes and like me found them rubbery and tasteless.  She started making her own recipes from the family favorites that her family  already loved.  She didn't use xanthan or guar gums that most mixes use in them.  She also didn't use any mystery chemical additives.  There are more than 200 recipes and most of them include pictures of the finished product.  This is a cookbook not just focusing on breads but also includes casseroles, desserts, cakes, pies, ect.  It is stated that this cookbook includes only ingredients which are natural and found in you cabinet or easily purchased at your local grocery store. 
I loved this book and what I like the most is not so much the recipes but that she includes the science behind what works and why.  Ms. Cain writes of all this science evidence in an easy to read format that anyone could understand.  The reader of this review may not think that this is important until you want to adapt your own family favorites.  By including the science the reader can easily transform those formerly uneatable items into delicious adaptations that can be eaten and most of all enjoyed by everyone in the family and isn't that what every family cook wants to do?  Make just one meal for the whole family instead of making special foods for that one lone person.  Who wants to be singled out anyway eating tasteless food when everyone else is eating the good?
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Beekeeper's Son by Kelly Irvin

The Beekeeper's Son by Kelly Irvin is what I hope is the beginning of a long series called the Amish of Bee County.  In this installment the Lantz family is moving from their beloved recently sold farm in Tennessee to a place in south Texas  where it is hot and dry but they would not even have  home to call their own.  They would be living with other families until their mother could decide when to remarry.  Deborah couldn't figure out why her mother was in such a hurry since she was still grieving the loss of her father and she knew that her mother, Abigail was also.  Their Amish faith dictated that widows were encouraged to remarry as soon as possible but no one could expect her to marry without love, could they?  Abigail had courted Stephen before their father and had chosen their father over Stephen and felt great guilt over the fact that Stephen had never married and had moved from his family upon Abigail's marriage.  As soon as the family arrives, Stephen starts to take over and wants to manage the family's life as if they were already married and of course that rubs the 5 children who range in age from 19 year old Deborah down to little Hazel the wrong way.  Deborah has left her own love interest, Aaron in Tennessee and as soon as her mother marries plans to return to him.  Deborah faithfully writes to both her best friend Josie and her fiancĂ©, Aaron.   Josie writes back but for whatever reason she waits and waits for Aaron to write her and he does not.  Deborah though she continues to hate the weather and Stephen she starts developing interest in her uncle and his family especially Fannie her cousin who is closest to her in age.  She watches her mother who seems to bristle as the takeover attitude in Stephen and is growing closer to the more carefree and caring attitude of her neighbor, Mordecai the beekeeper.  Mordecai is a widower of 12 years and was left with his own 2 children to raise.  Mordecai's wife was killed in a terrible car accident that left son, Phineas with facial scars that disfigured his face horribly.  Phineas as a young adult had learned over the years to accept that others found him terrifying and had become used to the loneliness.  Deborah finds Phineas fascinating and easily overlooks the scars but cannot fathom why he is so disagreeable to her.  Phineas is also drawn to Deborah but is scared to declare his interest in fear that she will reject him as everyone else has done.  What will happen next?  Will Abigail fall for Mordecai or will she follow expectations and marry Stephen?  Will Phineas and Deborah ever get past their insecurities and develop at least a friendship?

I loved this book and hope that this series is a good selling one so I can read more.  It is well written and the author writes in a way that easily holds the interest of the reader.  Any age girl or woman could read and enjoy this book and I hope that they do.
I received this book from Booksneeze for this review.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement is a novel about living in Guerrero, Mexico as a girl.  Ladydi is a girl coming of age in a mountain village where no girl is safe from the Mexican drug cartel.  Ladydi's alcoholic mother has done the best she can without a husband to raise her daughter to be strong, safe and smart.  In fact if a girl child is born the mother turned it into a boy and Ladydi's mother was no diffeent.  She dressed the baby like a boy and treated the baby just like a boy right until the little boy started to grow breasts then the mom would turn the girl into an ugly girl.  She would blacken her teeth and make scars on them with charcoal.  The big black Escalades with their tinted windows and luxury BMWs would drive into the poorest little village in all of Mexico and the girls all disappeared into little holes their mothers had dug for them to hide in until the men drove away sometimes with a girl who had not made it into the hole in time.  Everyone in the village still talked about Paula--the most beautiful girl in the world.  A tan BMW had snuck into town and not a dog had barked.  Paula's mother had all kinds of dogs to bark a warning for her but this time the big nasty men had shot all her dogs.  Paula was taken and they had not heard from her again that is until one day her came Paula walking down the road back into her mother's arms.  Paula was never the same. Ladydi wants better and she knows that her father lives in Florida working but he has quit sending her mother money.  Ladydi's friend Maria is the only person she knows who has a brother, a real brother not just a girl dressed like a boy.  Maria's father is Ladydi's father.  Ladydi cannot understand how her father could quit sending money for her family but the illegitimate family he still supports.  Why? Why did all the men leave and go to the United States and send money for awhile but soon made new families in the states.   Ladydi can't help it she still loves Maria, she looks just like her dad.  Maria's brother offers her a way out.  She can work for a rich family he says but does he take her to the rich family?  Not first oh no first he goes to a shack where he kills someone.  Ladydi sees the blood on his fancy pants.  What happens then?  Life goes from bad to worse.  Read this heart stopping book to find out.

I enjoyed reading this book on life trying to avoid being taken advantage by the drug cartel.  It tells of life just trying to make it in the mountains of Mexico where drug lords are king.  Where the only education offered to children is from the teachers who must do a year of charity and so they teach in the village.  Some cared some didn't.  The women raise the girls in the village do the best they can. Sometimes they make mistakes but it is done with love.  This book however should be read with the idea that this is a mature theme and not for the young.  The reader should be of high school age or older.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.