Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review of Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread and Wine is a celebrations of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It's about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It's about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.
I approached this book from a different angle. Instead of me reading it by myself, the small community of gals I'm in read this book together. It's not only a book to read, but a book to experience together: in the kitchen. After several chapters, a recipe was given, so every week, we took a couple of the recipes, whipped them up in the kitchen then ate together around the table with a glass of wine (sometimes it was white, sometimes red, and one time green). Through good conversation about out thoughts on the book, we ate and journeyed together.

Group reviews about the book were along the same threads. My personal review of the book would echo my friends'. I like the short chapters. Each being a snap shot into a season of Shauna's life. I liked how the recipes meant something to her. They had a past, a memory, a meaning. I liked her honesty of hardships of how her journey of life has been. I liked her recipe choices.

On the flip side of the coin, it was a bit difficult to find a flow. Maybe I wasn't supposed to, or there wasn't one to be found, but not knowing her personally and finding it difficult to relate, every chapter I was wondering where in the context of her life this chapter happened. She writes beautifully, so it was capturing to read, but the overall flow was hard for me to follow.

Along the flow part, some of the recipes were hard to follow. For example, the Green Well's Michigan Harvest Salad directions for the maple vinaigrette didn't follow the order of the items listed. I had to jump back and forth between the two to make sure I was putting things in the correct order.

Some of the recipes we as a group created together were:
     Goat Cheese Biscuits
     Basic Risotto (I think this was one of our fav's)
     Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce
     The Green Well's Michigan Harvest Salad
     Mango Chicken Curry (we swapped mango's with pineapples)
     Mini Mac and Cheese

We are not yet finished with trying the recipes, but with the enjoyment we each had with the above, we know they are going to be fantastic.

Overall, a good book of reading about the life of someone and seeing how her faith, friends and food are all an integral part of her journey that she is on.

Available April 2013.

Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life--friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.

Zondervan sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions are expressed as my own.

Review of Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager -- a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy's skin.
Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable ... and making herself impossible for him to forget.

Putting the romantic slant aside, this was an overall good book. Rivaling candy companies trying to stay in business. One's future depends on it and the other's pocket depends on ousting the competition. Side stories run along the lines of formed friendships, healing past wounds and learning how to be humble and put pride aside. With unexpected turns along the way, the book keeps you hooked up until the end.

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review. Opinions expressed are my own.

Review of The Deposit Slip by Todd M. Johnson

Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper -- a deposit slip -- with an unbelievable amount on it. only the  bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton.  
When Jared wearied of the shady ethics of his big law firm and went out on his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big loss has pushed him to the brink, and it's all he can do to scrape by. He's not sure if Erin's case is worth the risk, but if the money is real, all his problems could vanish. When digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats, both Jared and Erin must decide the cost they're willing to pay to discover the truth.

A fantastic read that had me up until the wee hours of the morning wondering how in the world this book would end. Not a fru-fru-white-puffy-all-sparkly-sunshine book by any means. And that's what I loved about it. Good meat and potatoes story that has substance and depth to it. The flow was smooth and I had to slow down during the lawyer jargon as it was foreign to me, but all in all, a fantastic book. Those that like solid mystery/suspense books, this is for you!

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. The opinions above are my own.

Review of Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich

   When principal ballerina Sasha Davis suffers a career-ending injury at age thirty-eight, she leaves her Boston-based dance company and retreats to the home of her youth in Minnesota. But Sasha’s injuries limit her as much as her mother’s recent death haunts her. Concluding she can’t recover alone, Sasha reluctantly hires a temporary live-in aide.
    Enter the ├╝bercapable Evelyn Burt. As large-boned as Sasha is delicate, Evelyn is her employer’s opposite in every way. Small town to Sasha’s urban chic, outgoing to Sasha’s iciness, and undaunted where Sasha is hopeless, nineteen-year-old Evelyn is newly engaged and sees the world as one big, shiny opportunity. 
    Evelyn soon discovers Sasha needs to heal more than bones. Slowly, as the wounds begin to mend and the tables tilt, the two women form an unlikely alliance and discover the astounding power of even the smallest act done in the name of love.

Charlene Ann Baumbich delivers a heart warming, charming story about a unique bond that develops over pain, tears, laughter, encouraging and helping others. A good example and reminder of how true friendships can be formed and stand the stormy trials of life. Also how the young can learn from those older than them, and how the  "old" can learn from years younger. 

A light read that makes one feel good when the last page is turned and completed.

WaterBrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own.