Holiday Gift Guide 2017 — Fiction Books

I find that books are such great gifts for the holidays.  I give everyone in my immediate family a couple of new books every year to help them get through th cold winter!

Here are some amazing new books I was sent for my gift guides.  Check them out:

Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures Vol. I

Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures Vol. I is twenty-one unfinished projects from one of the twentieth century’s most popular and prolific writers, lovingly reconstructed by the author’s son

Delving deep into the creative process of an American original, the Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures project brings to light complete, unpublished novels as well as the hidden story behind the most mysterious and ambitious of his works. In this first collection, Beau L’Amour presents nearly two dozen never-before-seen drafts, using his father’s handwritten notes, journal entries, and correspondence, along with his own memories, to provide biographical context and speculate on how the pieces might have ended.

The scope of these selections celebrates L’Amour’s vision and virtuosity, including variations on the traditional Western—the first seven chapters of a powerful novel about the Cherokee Trail of Tears and a story of the American Revolution featuring a character who may be one of L’Amour’s well-known Sackett family. At the other end of the spectrum are classic adventures, such as The Golden Tapestry, set in 1960s Istanbul, as well as several uniquely different attempts at what would have been the most profoundly intimate of all of L’Amour’s novels, a saga of reincarnation that stretches from a time before time to the period of Alexander the Great, and on to Warlord-Era China.

Illustrated with rare photographs and copies of handwritten notes, this book reveals the L’Amour you have never known, his personal struggles as a writer, and the contest between mortality and a literary legacy too big for one life to contain.

Purchase at Amazon and other fine book stores.


CHIMERA: A Weregirl Novel by C. D. Bell [Chooseco Publishing] is the highly anticipated YA paranormal thriller sequel in the Weregirl Trilogy and a must-read this fall, on shelves November 1, 2017. Weregirl, the first of the trilogy, presented the origin story of Nessa Kurland, a high school junior focused on winning a college scholarship for cross-country running… until a dangerous late-night encounter with a trapped wolf in the woods renders her transformed: not just into a more competitive runner, but into a WEREGIRL learning to transform with the moon and use her powers to combat evil in her small town. In Bell’s follow-up novel, CHIMERA, Nessa is stronger and has more control over her transformations, but there’s more at stake than just the moon cycles.

Purchase at Amazon and other fine book stores.

Full Service Blonde

Here is a book that would make for the perfect gift for any book lover, Vegas goer, or murder-mystery fanatic: Full Service Blonde [out November 7, Imbrifex Books], the prequel to the successful Las Vegas comical mystery debut Getting Off on Frank Sinatra, by Megan Edwards.

Enchanted by this unlikely city locale, author Megan Edwards continues to set ‘Sin City’ as the backdrop in her prequel Full Service Blonde which follows aspiring journalist Copper Black, who meets Victoria McKimber, an outspoken prostitute at one of Nevada’s legal brothels. Victoria offers Copper the exclusive right to tell her story. Not only will the Las Vegas Light’s “calendar girl” get a byline, but maybe even a front page cover story after Victoria is shockingly murdered and Copper is thrusted into the investigation. With twists and turns revealing more into Copper Black’s background and own journey toward self-discovery, Full Service Blonde offers readers the chance to dive further into the dark side of the Southwest’s city that never sleeps.

Purchase at Amazon and other fine book stores.

Do you like to give books for gifts?


New Books To Read This Spring

The weather is getting warmer, so why not take a new book outside and get reading!

Below are four books I have recently received for review.  They are all different, for whatever mood your in.  They include a stirring novel, a new (to the US) diet book, an inspirational coloring book and a natural home-made beauty book:

LILAC GIRLS By Martha Hall Kelly — ($10.41 New Paperback, $14.14 Hardcover, $12.99 Kindle on Amazon) New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

Purchase on Amazon and at book stores

The SirtFood Diet by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten — ($15.84 Hardcover and $13.99 Kindle on Amazon) —  This is the original, official international diet bestseller used by celebrities such as Adele, heavyweight champion David Haye, and Pippa Middleton. The science-based program will help you lose seven pounds in seven days while experiencing lasting energy and enjoying the foods you love including chocolate, red wine, strawberries, and more.

Over the past few years, fasting has become a popular diet option. Studies show that fasting—whether through moderate calorie restriction every day or the more severe but less frequent intermittent fasting—can help people lose about thirteen to fourteen pounds in six months and reduce their risk of developing disease.

When we fast, our body’s energy stores activate what is known as sirtuins, or the “skinny gene,” and many positive changes ensue. Fat storage is switched off, and our body stops its normal growth processes and goes into “survival” mode. Fat burning is stimulated and the genes involved in the repair and rejuvenation of our cells are turned on—which all results to weight loss and improved resistance to disease. But if not done correctly, fasting can lead to hunger, irritability, fatigue, and loss of muscle.

Enter Sirtfoods: a newly discovered group of foods that is revolutionizing healthy eating. Ranging from chocolate and red wine to garlic and walnuts, sirtfoods are particularly rich in special nutrients that help us activate the same skinny genes in our bodies that fasting triggers. Nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten have created The Sirtfood Diet to help you effectively lose weight and improve your resistance to disease, while still giving you incredible energy and glowing health.

Purchase on Amazon and at book stores

Tingle Boots Coloring Book (Suzy Toronto Coloring) — ($7.40 USD) — If a new pair of boots makes your heart tingle and your spirit soar, dont miss this wild and wacky coloring book from bestselling artist Suzy Toronto. Her fun and distinctive illustrations will inspire you to be brave, be strong, and live a life worth coloring! Suzy’s uplifting words and delightfully zany characters encourage you to chase your dreams in the cutest pair of boots you own. Suzys rockin illustrations are perfect for coloring with markers, gel pens, crayons, colored pencils, or watercolors. Tingle Boots Coloring Book includes handy guides to coloring techniques like patterning, combinations, and shading. Guided Coloring Pages make coloring easy for beginners, with beautifully colored examples and ready-to-use color palettes. Each design is printed on one side only of archival-grade, acid-free, 200-year paper. Perforated pages detach easily for gifting or display. This book has earned the DO Magazine Artist Fair Trade Seal of Approval.

Purchase on

The Aromatherapy Beauty Guide by Danielle Sade ($16.34 USD on Amazon) — This comprehensive book provides a wealth of evidence-based information that provides a sensible and sound approach when it comes to creating your own natural product formulas. With clear and easy-to-follow directions, you’ll be able to create your own signature products that will complement a natural lifestyle as well as meeting your individual skincare needs.

The Aromatherapy Beauty Guide is broken down into easy-to-digest sections:

The Foundation
Includes information on everything from anatomy of the skin, the all important mind-body connection, the nature of skin types from dry and sensitive skin to combination and aging skin as well the art of skin care and creating your personal skin care apothecary — all without chemicals and preservatives — just the tried and true chemistry of essential oils.

The Ingredients for Great Skin Care
Information on all the raw ingredients you’ll need to get started (clays, flours and grains) as well as comprehensive information on the important role of carrier oils. Danielle discusses the essential properties of 16 carrier oils like Coconut Oil, Jojoba, and Marula Oil. Plant butters such as Shea butter as well as herbal infusions are also featured for their healing and therapeutic properties.

Essential Oils
35 essential oils are featured from Bergamot and Carrot Seed to Roman Chamomile. Discover all you need to know about essential oils including the biosynthesis of essential oils, the genus and varieties as well as a directory of the oils best suited to your personal care and needs.

Creating Your Own Personal Care Products
Over one hundred (100) formulations with easy-to-follow instructions on creating products for the face, body, bath, pregnancy and breastfeeding and personal care products for men.

Available on

Beauty And Recipe Books To Help Start The Year Off Right!

Love to read? Me too! This time of year, I especially love reading books to get ideas on healthful practices such as exercise, great recipes and beauty ideas.  There are so many wonderful ones out there!

The three below are my current favorites:

Mindful Beauty: How to Look and Feel Great in Every Season
Mindful Beauty: How to Look and Feel Great in Every Season

Mindful Beauty: How to Look and Feel Great in Every Season by Estelle Lefébure ($19.99 USD) — A life in the spotlight can make it harder still to weather the passing of time, but Estelle Lefébure—former supermodel and French wellness sensation—has discovered the secret. French women reportedly have great genes, but model Estelle Lefébure divulges how they really maintain their fantastic natural looks. Her positive outlook inspires, and she offers a simple, enjoyable path to well-being and looking fabulous forever. Easy, step-by-step natural health and beauty tips provide a holistic and mindful philosophy for every season.

In the springtime, invigorate dry skin with a DIY body scrub while toning up for outdoor activities. Go green once a week with a vegetable-stock detox. When summer comes, protect skin and hair with nourishing homemade masks. A glorious Indian summer is the perfect time to think about transformations; slow down and try out her massage techniques. Once fall settles in, focus on breathing—sip Provence-inspired infusions of sunbaked thyme to open up your airways. And then keep toasty warm all winter long, wrapped in a cozy flannel blanket or cashmere scarf. Each chapter offers tips for beauty,nutrition, and fitness activities as well as natural remedies and gluten-free recipes from top French chefs to guide you throughout the year.

Learn more at  Purchase at great book stores such as

300 Best Blender Recipes  Using Your Vitamix Spring 2017
300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix Spring 2017

300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix Spring 2017 by Robin Asbell ($24.95 USD) — If you are looking for a way to eat real, whole foods but find yourself short on time, a Vitamix® is the answer. It’s a convenient and nearly instant way to get those servings of fruits and vegetables that many of us skip, with minimal manual chopping. And grinding your own flour is incredibly easy in the Vitamix®, allowing you to mix up bread, pancakes or muffins with flour that’s at its peak of freshness, for maximum flavor and nutrition, instead of buying flours that were ground months ago.

Robin has created an extensive collection of tantalizing and innovative recipes that will help you get the most out of this exceptional appliance. You can create a wide range of delicious dishes, from nutritious breakfasts and sumptuous soups to fresh sauces, dips, spreads and the increasingly popular nut butters, not to mention desserts that will have you reaching for seconds. And no Vitamix® cookbook would be complete without a chapter on nutritious baby foods. There is even a bonus chapter on skin
treatments, scrubs, masks and lotions.

Robin also includes useful information about your appliance, from the differences among the different series to tips and techniques that demonstrate how you can turn your Vitamix® into an invaluable workhorse in your home kitchen.

Purchase at Amazon and other great stores.

The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty
The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty

The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty by Chrystle Fiedler andSunny Subramanian  ($24.95 USD) — Want to look gorgeous without Mama Earth or animals paying the price? Well, now you can, with this go-to resource for making lush, yummy beauty products from scratch in your own kitchen.

Part DIY vegan beauty how-to and part self-improvement manifesto, this book will show you how to whip up luxurious, cruelty-free (and gluten-free) makeup, skin and hair products with natural ingredients for just pennies per treatment.

The recipes are super fun and convenient and they give you complete control over what goes on your skin: only the purest ingredients with no nasty chemicals, additives or preservatives.

What are you reading right now?  Leave a comment and let me know!


Holiday Gift Guide — Cool Gifts For The Hard To Buy For Part 2!

There is still time to purchase some cool gifts for the people you love!  Below is a mix of items — a personal card gift, stylish readers and a beauty parody book:


10-card AwesomeBox for $19 (Save 25% with coupon code: HOLIDAYGIFT)– What’s included:

  • New, beautifully designed box.
  • Add pictures from Instagram, Facebook, your phone or computer.
  • Sequence your cards to tell a compelling story.
  • Add music to your card to co-create a custom playlist.

We all want to give the most meaningful gift possible, but sometimes it can be a challenge coming up with something both fresh and heart-warming. AwesomeBox is the ultimate solution to creative gift giving!

AwesomeBox allows users to build a customized box of memories, stories and photos packaged into a one-of-a-kind printed gift. Group gifts with family or friends is easy with AwesomeBox! In fact, our favorite part about the AwesomeBox experience is how easy it is to get everyone involved in the gift giving process. I love AwesomeBox for celebrating someone special for Christmas.

It’s so simple to create, and the memories last a lifetime. In three simple steps, you’ll have the perfect gift:

  1. Create private online webpage to honor your special someone.
  2. Invite friends and family to upload photos and heartfelt messages from around the world.
  3. AwesomeBox turns everything into a box of 10 to 100 colorful printed cards that they’ll pore over for years!

Create the most touching group gift that will be laughed and cried over for years! AwesomeBox is the perfect gift starting at $19 for a 10-card box.

The Lennon from
The Lennon from

The Lennon from ($15.95 USD) —  Inspired by the late, great Beatles musician who made round glasses a pop culture phenomenon, our Lennon reader is fittingly a best seller too! This full framed style has a lightweight plastic frame with a retro inspired, round shape. Available in a variety of solid or two-tone fade colors to please everyone from the musician to the teacher.

Available at

Glop: Nontoxic, Expensive Ideas that Will Make You Look Ridiculous and Feel Pretentious
Glop: Nontoxic, Expensive Ideas that Will Make You Look Ridiculous and Feel Pretentious

Glop: Nontoxic, Expensive Ideas that Will Make You Look Ridiculous and Feel Pretentious by Gabrielle Moss ($19.99 USD) — A wickedly funny, full-color, illustrated sendup of the trendy lifestyle publication GOOP.

What is Glop?

Glop is a business and a website. But Glop is also a feeling. It’s about picking the right expensive organic eye cream that will make you a tall, thin, wealthy blonde WASP who fits seamlessly into the top tiers of high society and sits next to Bono at a 42-course seitan tasting dinner held in a sex dungeon deep beneath the North Pole. Glop is about being conscious to the tiny details of our lives—what to eat, where to buy your cashmere yoga pants, which juice cleanse will remove the most mercury toxins from both your body and your cashmere yoga pants. Glop is about you.

Purchase this funny book at


Holiday Gift Guide — Fun Books That Make Great Gifts Part 2

Looking for a great book for someone who loves a fun gift? There are some cool gift books out there.  When you know what someone likes or what their sense of humor is, a book can be a really personal gift.

Below is a list of some of the books I’ll be giving this year:

Emoji Pride and Prejudice: Epic Tales in Tiny Texts
Emoji Pride and Prejudice: Epic Tales in Tiny Texts

Emoji Pride and Prejudice: Epic Tales in Tiny Texts by Jane Austin ($12.99 USD) What would happen if the characters of Pride and Prejudice could text each other? Would Elizabeth call Mr. Darcy a [poop]? Would Darcy drink and dial and accidentally reveal his true feelings [heart]? In this laugh-out-loud re-telling of Jane Austen’s famous work, you’ll get a condensed modern interpretation of the world’s greatest love story . . . all told through texts and emojis. Featuring hundreds of classic and new emojis along with a removable poster (featuring all the emojis), this is the perfect gift for the Austen lover. Available at

Flying Dogs
Flying Dogs

Flying Dogs by Julia Christe ($14.99 USD) — An expansion of the photo essay that went viral and was featured everywhere from the Guardian to the Huffington Post and Today Show, this fun and stunning photography book captures adorable dogs from a unique perspective: mid-air. This hilarious collection of photos is perfect for any animal lover. And never fear! Vets and the dogs’ owners were always on site. Available at

Pusheen Coloring Book
Pusheen Coloring Book

Pusheen Coloring Book by Claire Belton ($12.99 list price, on sale at for $11.69) — Pusheen returns in a delightful coloring book perfect for fans of I Am Pusheen the Cat. The Internet’s favorite chubby, tubby tabby is back in a purr-fectly cute coloring book featuring adorable kitty drawings that will charm cat lovers and coloring book fans everywhere! Purchase at

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017
Life Works Itself Out: (And Then You Nap)
Life Works Itself Out: (And Then You Nap)

Life Works Itself Out: (And Then You Nap) by Keiya Mizuno and Naoki Naganuma ($14.99 list price, $11.32 on sale at — Humans could learn a thing or two from cats—and Life Works Itself Out is here to relay all of kittendom’s accumulated wisdom to mankind, one loveable photo and wise aphorism at a time.

A mega-bestseller in Japan (where it has sold more than 700,000 copies), this book is filled with inspirational quotes and entertaining four-color photographs of cats that range from the heartwarming to the humorous. Whether you’re feeling down and looking for a lift, or you need some lighthearted life advice, who better to turn to than man’s TRUE best friend—the trusty feline. The purr-fect pick-me-up or gift book, Life Works Itself Out will have cat lovers pawing through its pages over and over again. Purchase at

Creative Origami & Beyond
Creative Origami & Beyond

Creative Origami & Beyond by Jenny Chan ($19.95 list price, on sale at for 15.36) — A centuries-old art form, origami has taken on new depth in today’s art world, influencing trends in fashion, interior design, exhibition art, and more. Creative Origami & Beyond takes this traditional art form to new levels, guiding readers through a dynamic exploration of numerous ways to fold paper. This inspiring, interactive project book demonstrates both traditional and contemporary origami methods – from working with unique materials and creating custom origami papers to crafting amazing works of art. A general introduction to origami and an overview of basic folding techniques sets the foundation for the book, which is divided into six engaging sections, including modular origami, giant origami, tiny origami, wet origami, and more. Each chapter, taught by an expert origami artist, features clever exercises and prompts to inspire and spark creativity, while step-by-step origami projects for creating wall art, jewelry, decorative objects, and more, help turn origami novices to pros. Includes eight pages of patterned origami paper to help get you started.

Available at, Barnes & Noble and other great book sellers

The Fireside Grown-Up Guide to the Hangover
The Fireside Grown-Up Guide to the Hangover

The Fireside Grown-Up Guide to the Hangover by by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris ($9.98) — The international publishing phenomenon and ridiculously funny new parody series that helps grown-ups learn about the world around them using large clear type, simple and easy-to-grasp words, frequent repetition, and thoughtful matching of text with pictures.

Have you been having trouble with the How, Why, and Wheres? Well fear no more. The Fireside Grown-Up Guide series understands that the world is just as confusing to a forty-year-old as it is to a four-year-old. We’re here to help and break down the most pressing and complex issues of our day into easy-to-digest pieces of information paired with vivid illustrations even a child could understand. Available at

Do you purchase books as gifts?  Have you found any great ones lately?

Holiday Gift Guide — Fun Books That Make Great Gifts!

I love cool books with activities!  I know that adult coloring books are the rage right now, but there are other great books to give this holiday season.

Below is an extreme dot to dot book, amazing paper ornaments to trim the tree with, a book to teach you how to make beautiful flowers and a self-help activity book:


Dot to Dot NYC
Dot to Dot NYC

Dot to Dot NYC ($14.95 USD) — Follow the numbers, grab your crayons and markers, and discover and decorate the capital of the world… Hidden just beyond sight in this adventurous dot to dot coloring book lie epic New York City landmarks to be revealed and completed by you, the intrepid artist. Intricate and detailed, the final results are delicate and beautiful while stunning in their complexity. Within these pages you will find yourself visiting the rides of Coney Island, the towers of the famous NYC skyline, the commute along the Staten Island Ferry, the wilderness of the Bronx Zoo, the groove of the Apollo Theater, and the art deco elegance of the Chrysler Building, among so much more!

Purchase at


Paper Holiday ($14.95 USD) — the 7th in the PaperMade series—will be an instant holiday favorite. Each of the pages has a unique design that is pre-cut, scored, and beautifully illustrated. The ornaments simply punch out and fold up into 3D shape, with easy-to-follow instructions right on the page. Each design has different shapes and colors of hooks too, to best attach to a tree, mantle, or any place that needs holiday cheer!

Purchase at

The Art of Paper Flowers by Bobby Pearce
The Art of Paper Flowers by Bobby Pearce

The Art of Paper Flowers by Bobby Pearce ($26.99 List Price $17.48 at Amazon) Paper is pretty much the least expensive craft material you’ll find. It’s also one of the most versatile. With a pile of colored sheets, a pair of scissors, and The Art of Paper Flowers, you can create gorgeous bouquets to give away or keep for yourself. For anyone who’s an avid home crafter or future home-decor online vendor, this book will get your creative juices flowering, err, flowing.

The Art of Paper Flowers makes it easy for anyone to create beautiful roses, orchids, tulips, and more–completely out of paper. There are thirty-five flowers included in the book, and each pattern is accompanied by a complete list of materials required, step-by-step instructions for creating the flower, original paper-folding techniques from the author, full-size patterns, and color photos for reference. Additionally throughout the book, there are interesting bits of trivia, myths, or folklore for each delicate flower. The book also includes a foreword by Rosie O’Donnell.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other great stores!

Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later
Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later

Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later ($15 List Price, now $10.05 at Amazon) — On the heels of his internationally successful first book, 1 Page at a Time, graphic designer and illustrator Adam J. Kurtz delivers another intimate and engaging journal for anyone who loves to explore ideas, record thoughts and feelings, and capture those fleeting but amazing moments of everyday life.

Unlike a linear journal, this book can be opened up to any page, encouraging and engaging readers time and time again through continued use. Rather than simply complete tasks and turn pages, users are encouraged to leave their mark, and if they land on the same page days or weeks later, they can review, reflect, and revise their previous response.

Feeling lonely? Pensive? Peeved? Questioning? This deceptively simple book offers perspective, hope, and a twist of existential metaphor – and is perfect to pick up again and again.

Holiday Gift Guides — Books For All Ages

Books are such fantastic gifts. I love to give them as much as I love to receive them.

Below are fun books that will make great gifts.  There is one YA fiction and two awesome food-related books:


Weregirl By C. D. Bell ($17.99, on sale for $14.99) — This cool YA novel is the perfect gift for preteens up to adults!  I’m giving it to my (will be) 13 year old for Christmas.  She loves supernatural books!  The synopsis is:

High school junior Nessa Kurland is a cross-country runner with her eyes set on one thing: a college scholarship as her one-way ticket out of dying Tether, Michigan. Talented teammate Cynthia Sinise invites Nessa on a nighttime run through Tether’s overgrown forest trails. But she speeds ahead, leaving Nessa alone to discover a trapped wolf. Nessa tries to free the animal but is badly bitten, seemingly ruining her hopes for a strong fall season with the cross-country team.

Instead, Nessa’s freakishly quick recovery is followed by improved running times. All her senses are heightened. Nessa has transformed. She has become a werewolf.

In her new state, Nessa learns there are things about Tether that powerful people want to keep hidden. Why does a Nobel Laureate work at the small-town medical clinic? Are top college athletic scouts really interested in her emerging talent? Can she trust Chayton, the motorcycle-riding guide her friends have faith in? WEREGIRL’s Nessa must navigate her junior year and true human darkness, while making peace with her new, wild nature.

C. D. Bell’s WEREGIRL is a fast-paced teen thriller set in Tether, Michigan, a town on the brink of shutdown since it was stripped of its resources by corporate polluter Dutch Chemical.

Purchase at


Our Table
Our Table
Our Table by Renee Muller ($34.99 USD Artscroll) — A tavola in Italian means “at the table.”  The table is where we gather to talk, to socialize, to catch up, and most importantly…eat! At our table is where it all comes together because it’s not just about the food, its about stopping whatever we are doing and carving out some much-needed time to nourish our souls and bodies in the company of loved ones. Food stylist and recipe columnist, Renee Muller, invites home cooks to come to the table and partake in some her family’s favorite kosher recipes in her beautiful new cookbook, Our Table.  Renee’s recipes are refreshingly simple, distinctively delicious and crafted from common ingredients and vividly presented with beautiful full color photos.
Throughout the pages of Our Table, Renee walks readers through each recipe with subtle suggestions, insights and techniques that turn good food into great food.  Recipes are arranged in chapters such as: Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Fish & Dairy, Meat, Chicken & More, Snacks & Sides, and Desserts and Breads, providing everything needed to create an easy weeknight meal or a special holiday dinner. Some of the recipes in Our Table include:
  • Buttery Chocolate Scones
  • Mushroom Barley Soup Done Right
  • Crunchy Asian Salad
  • Silan, Lemon, and Mustard Salmon
There is also a special selection of recipes with links to online video tutorials, just as if Renee was right in the kitchen cooking with you!  “Many times while writing down recipe instructions, I wished I could just invite my readers to join me in my kitchen and cook with me.  That thought led me to create a variety of videos of some of the recipes so you can view them as you want and see some of the techniques I use when cooking my recipes.”
L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants
L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants
L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants by George Geary ($45 USD Santa Monica Press) — From Trader Vic’s to Perino’s, there are stories to tell and food to talk about. Best-selling cookbook author and chef, George Geary, takes readers on a journey to where the rich and famous ate in the golden age of Hollywood in his new book, L.A.’S LEGENDARY RESTAURANTS, an illustrated history Los Angeles’ landmark eateries. The book features over 100 celebrity favorite recipes, from classic eateries such as the Musso & Frank Grill and The Brown Derby in the 1920s, to the see-and-be-seen crowds at Chasen’s, Romanoff’s, and Ciro’s in the mid-twentieth century, to the dawn of California, chef-inspired restaurants Ma Maison and Spago. L.A.’S LEGENDARY RESTAURANTS is a celebration of where Hollywood royalty ate, drank, and played.
Geary gives us an insider’s tour of Hollywood through its restaurants, sprinkling in fun facts and trivia such as Bob Hope’s favorite place to enjoy a hot fudge sundae after hosting the Academy Awards, or where a table was sawed off to accommodate a pregnant Lana Turner, to the soda fountain where composer Harold Arlen wrote “Over the Rainbow” for The Wizard of Oz.  And what book on L.A.’s restaurants would be complete without tales of ice cream sundaes at C.C. Brown’s, cafeteria-style meals at Clifton’s Cafeteria, late-night breakfasts at Ben Frank’s, or mai tais at Don the Beachcomber?
Some of the restaurants Geary has featured include: Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery, Formosa Café, Tick Tock Tea Room, Miceli’s, Coconut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, Cyrano, Chez Jay, Hamptons, L’Orangerie, Tam O’Shanter Inn, Bullock’s Wilshire Tea Room, Zebra Room at the Town House of Lafayette Park, Don the Beachcomber, Cock ‘n Bull, Hollywood Palladium, Scandia, La Scala, Trader Vic’s at the Beverly Hilton, Dan Tana’s, Le Dome, and many more.  L.A.’S LEGENDARY RESTAURANTS provides an interesting history of each restaurant profiled, from their original address and phone number to who designed it and a few of their famous recipes.  Here are just a few of the over 100 iconic recipes included in the book:
  • Crab Crepes Bengal – Trader Vic’s
  • Crabmeat Cocktail – Ciro’s
  • Cobb Salad – The Brown Derby
  • Maude Salad – Chasen’s
  • Braised Short Ribs – Musso & Frank Grill
  • Coq Au Vin – Taix French Restaurant
There are also some classic cocktail recipes such as:
  • The Zombie – Don the Beachcomber
  • Irish Coffee – Chez Jay
  • Moscow Mule – Cock ‘n Bull
Most of the locations chronicled in L.A.’S LEGENDARY RESTAURANTS no longer exist, but George Geary has brought their memories and tastes back to life with updated recipes that remind us why customers kept coming back to their favorite haunts time and again.



Try A Fresh Recipe This Spring With New Cookbooks

In a cooking rut? Cookbooks are so much fun to look through and find new recipes. I am always looking for new recipes to make for the family.

Robert Rose publishers have released great new cookbooks for the Spring.  Below are my three favorites:

200 Best Sheet Pan Meals
200 Best Sheet Pan Meals

200 Best Sheet Pan Meals by Camilla Saulsbury ($24.95 USD) —

We’re all looking for ways to make meals more convenient, and while one-pot meals are wonderful, sheet pan meals are the newest option. They allow you to cook several individual components of your meal all at once, and cleanup is an absolute breeze.

If you have a sheet pan and an oven, you’re on your way to creating an abundance of satisfying meals — not to mention desserts. The sweets you can create with a simple sheet pan are utterly sumptuous, from Chewy Coconut Trail Mix Bars to Sour Cream Vanilla Pound Cake.

200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes
200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes

200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes by Alison Lewis ($24.95 USD) — Smoothie bowls are hugely popular for good reason — they’re a perfect way to add fresh fruits, superfoods and protein to your diet. Adding a smoothie bowl to your morning routine guarantees a great start to your day, and they’re not just for breakfast — they can be enjoyed anytime you need a refreshing, filling and healthy meal or a satisfying dessert.

Whether your smoothie bowl is packed with fruit, leafy greens or nuts, or has a base of coffee or tea, you’ll be sure to find a recipe perfectly suited for you in this collection of 200 refreshing choices. Each recipe features suggested topping options for added color, texture and crunch, taking your meal to a whole new level.

Here’s just a small sample of Alison’s sumptuous smoothie bowl recipes:
• Frosty French Toast
• Kiwi Kale Bowl
• Pumpkin Ginger Bowl
• Antioxidant Smoothie Bowl

These thick, creamy and delicious smoothie bowls will undoubtedly become a welcome addition to your daily routine.

Juice Guru Transform Your Life with One Juice a Day
Juice Guru Transform Your Life with One Juice a Day

Juice Guru Transform Your Life with One Juice a Day by Steve & Julie Prussack ($24.95 USD) — Just one well-timed fresh juice a day can and will change your life. A daily juice provides boundless energy, youthful vibrancy, a slimmer figure, sharper focus and improved health, and prompts a desire to make healthier food choices in general. Juicing isn’t difficult — anyone can do it — and the results are almost immediate.

This book demystifies juicing and will help you incorporate this regimen into your daily lifestyle. In addition to the 21-day plan that will get you going on your path to lifelong health and wellness, 100 flavorful fruit and vegetable juices are featured, all bursting with nutrients that will give you the energy to get through your day, whether at home, at work or at play.

What I think:  All three of these books have healthy and delicious recipes for Spring.  I love the sheet pan book.  It’s great for quick meals for the family.  The smoothie bowls are very ingenious — nutritious and so yummy!  Plus I have been wanting to try juicing and now have the perfect book to start with!

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Cookbooks For Everyone!

Cookbooks are such a wonderful gift idea for all levels of cooks. I love getting a new cookbook or finding new recipes.  I experiment all of the time.  Ask my family — sometimes it works and sometimes not so much!

I was sent the books below for my honest review.  They include lots of great photos and have easy to follow instructions.  I even made a noodle soup from Simply Vietnamese Cooking (see below). And it was good!


Best of Bridge Home Cooking 250 Easy and Delicious Recipes Fall 2015
Best of Bridge Home Cooking 250 Easy and Delicious Recipes Fall 2015

Best of Bridge Home Cooking: 250 Easy and Delicious Recipes Fall 2015 ($29.95 USD) – The Best of Bridge is back with this collection of recipes that evoke all the goodness of home cooking — that wonderful feeling of family and comfort. If you’re looking for easy weeknight meals or entertaining ideas, look no further.

This is food that makes you feel good and tastes great, too. These soul-satisfying recipes are easy, dependable, reassuringly familiar and, above all, delicious. They will inspire you to get back in the kitchen and create some special memories around your table.

There are loads of tips to help you deal with the midweek madness of meal preparation and, as always, the dishes are made with ingredients that are easily found at your local supermarket.

Within the 250 recipes, there are dishes for every occasion and meal, whether it’s a soothing soup for lunch, one-pot dinners for those harried weeknights or delicious meatless mains.

The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi
The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi

The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi ($29.95 USD) —

Sushi isn’t tricky to make so long as you have the right utensils and some patience to get acquainted with the techniques. All it takes is practice and, in no time at all, you’ll be making sumptuous sushi that will wow your family and friends.

This incredible book will provide you with all the information you need to get started — from ingredients and equipment to fish butchery, making perfect rice, plating techniques and so much more. You’ll learn how vitally important knife selection is and the differences between Japanese and Western equivalents.

With full color throughout, 500 photographs, a user-friendly concealed Wire-O binding and hundreds of tips and techniques, this sushi book is sure to become the go-to guide for sushi and sashimi lovers, whether novice or experienced.

Ingredients certainly take center stage and here Robby Cook shares his extensive experience with fluke (hirame), octopus (tako), red snapper (tai) and many other types of fish and seafood.

Sushi, maki, sashimi, nigiri, oshizushi — it’s all here, from the California and dragon rolls we’re all familiar with to tantalizing clam and sea urchin recipes.

175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics
175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics

175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics ($24.95 US) — Using Judith’s recipes, thousands of home cooks have discovered not only how delicious and convenient food prepared in the slow cooker can be, but also how this handy appliance can be used to create an extraordinary range of dishes you might never have associated with a slow cooker.

This full-color reissue, with a new cover and all‑new trade paper binding, includes 60 new recipes, plus many of Judith’s favorites from three of her previous slow cooker cookbooks. The recipes span a wide range of meals and occasions, from everyday favorites to dishes that fit the bill for elegant entertaining, so you’re sure to find options that will satisfy and delight everyone. Vegetarian and vegan recipes are clearly identified.

Simply Vietnamese Cooking 135 Delicious Recipes
Simply Vietnamese Cooking 135 Delicious Recipes

Simply Vietnamese Cooking 135 Delicious Recipes ($19.95 USD) — Bright, delicate and satisfying, the cuisine of Vietnam is absolutely phenomenal. Sour flavors are balanced by salty ones, while sweet notes are answered by a little heat from chiles.

Nancie’s easy recipes will help you make an array of traditional dishes with widely available ingredients. You’ll find speedy stir-fries, vibrant salads and soothing soups, as well as numerous recipes for cooking meat and seafood on the grill. And all feature that wonderful balance between fresh herbs and spices (except for the sweets and drinks, of course!). You’ll soon be enjoying an array of authentic, classic recipes that really are fast enough to prepare during a busy work week.

With extensive information on ingredients, substitutions and time-saving techniques, along with suggested menus, you’ll be cooking simply sumptuous Vietnamese food in your home kitchen in no time.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Activity Books For All Ages

Even though I mostly do beauty reviews, there are so many other wonderful gifts to give!  I LOVE giving books of all kinds, so I am loving featuring great books this year.

I was sent the following fun books for my honest review — and they all are amazing!

The New York Times 'Tis the Season Crosswords
The New York Times ‘Tis the Season Crosswords

The New York Times ‘Tis the Season Crosswords ($18.99 USD) The New York Times ‘Tis the Season Crosswords is bound to make any crossword fan jolly. Edited by crossword great Will Shortz, this beautiful book offers 165 puzzles, from easy to hard. It’s the perfect crossword gift for the holiday season.

What I think:  This is a really neat book.  It has a pretty hardcover and it is spiral bound, which makes it easy to hold open and work the puzzles.  This is a fun gift for crossword lover!

From St. Martin’s Griffin

Ulysses Press Books
Ulysses Press Books

Apuglogies ($7.95 USD) — Don’t say sorry. Apuglogize. Features 20 adorable apology cards (and photos of pugs!) to tear out, give and make amends.

Emoticat Stickers ($14.95 USD) —  Say it with kitties. Features 200 peel-and-stick feline photos that can communicate all of your emotions to friends and loved ones.

Don’t Quit Your Day Dream ($12.95 USD) —  Release your creativity as you color these unfinished cards. Then, tear out your new whimsical work of art to share with friends or hang on your walls.

Cover Art ($15.95 USD) —  Showcase your love of literature. Features beautiful, hand-illustrated posters to tear out, frame and hang. Pre-sized prints fit 8”x10” frames and mattes with 5”x7” openings. Includes “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “Moby Dick,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and more.

What I think:  All of these books would make amazing gifts!  Apuglogies is the cutest little book ever!  You can write on the back of each card and then give it to someone to say sorry.  The Emoticat Stickers are adorable, I know lots of ladies and girls who would love these.  The coloring cards are perfect for the artist in your life.  I’m keeping Cover Art for myself, the posters are gorgeous!

Available at