Blog Break: New Baby Edition!

By the time this post appears, I’ll be at the hospital, hopefully having had a completely uneventful c-section.

I’ll be taking the next two weeks off from the blog – not just from posting, but also from responding to comments or anything else related to the site.

One exception is that, depending on my energy / how easy it seems to be, I may pop on here to share a picture of the new baby, but I’m not making any firm promises.

Otherwise, I’m attempting to see if doing as little as possible besides sleeping, eating, and feeding the baby results in an easier recovery for me than last time. I think I overdid it before, attempting too much too soon.

And if things weren’t completely uneventful, or if recovery is rougher than I’m expecting, well the blog break may be extended as needed.

See you back here hopefully September first!

Recent Cookbook Reads – Twitterature-Style

recent cookbook reads, twitterature-style

It’s been a good couple of months as far as reading cookbooks goes, even if my timing on two of them wasn’t the best.
My Paris KitchenMy Paris Kitchen: Recipes and StoriesMy Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz by David Lebovitz
I’ve loved his other books, both his memoir (The Sweet Life in ParisThe Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz) and cookbooks (especially The Perfect ScoopThe Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz and Ready for DessertReady for Dessert: My Best Recipes by David Lebovitz), and his latest bridges the gap between the two formats. It’s still clearly a cookbook, but it is filled with stories about his experiences in Paris since moving there a decade ago. I had to return it to the library before I was able to try any of the recipes, but there were lots that sounded (and looked) delicious.

Barefoot Contessa FoolproofBarefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can TrustBarefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten by Ina Garten
Beautiful photographs, and lots of suggestions for menus (not just individual dishes) and tips that work for entertaining. She likes seafood a lot more than I do, and some of her other ingredients aren’t ones that I buy because of their cost, but I still found several recipes I’d like to try.

Cooking with LoveCooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs YouCooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko by Carla Hall
If you’re familiar with her at all, the personality that came through on Top Chef shines throughout her first cookbook. She may be a chef with the ability to design and execute complicated dishes, but the focus here is on comfort food, and everything seemed very do-able for a home cook without extensive experience. I loved the tips she includes on some of the recipes for how to turn them into a fancier presentation if you’re wanting to use them for entertaining.

Fresh from the FarmFresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and StoriesFresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories by Susie Middleton by Susie Middleton
Gorgeous photographs and some tempting-sounding recipes for late spring/early summer, high summer, and late summer/early fall dishes, but the formatting and organization was terrible. The stories that flow throughout the text are appealing, but laid out in these small sidebars that carry over page after page. It’s very strange, and makes for a very disjointed reading experience. It also makes the recipes themselves sometimes not fit on a page as well, and results in lots of additional flipping back and forth.

Fresh from the Vegan Slow CookerFresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson by Robin Robertson
One of the ones that my timing was bad – the weather is too warm for me to want most of the soups, stews, chilis, and casseroles where slow cooking shines. However, that’s not the fault of the book, and I may check it out again once fall arrives. I tried the chili potato gratin recipe (subbing lentils for the seitan according to her suggestion) and thought it was really tasty. I’d happily make it again, especially as it was just as good reheated the next day. My husband even liked it. We did use real cheese on it though, as we’re not actually vegan. :)

Pies and Tarts with Heart
Pies and Tarts with HeartPies and Tarts with Heart: Expert Pie-Building Techniques for 60+ Sweet and Savory Vegan Pies by Dynise Balcavage by Dynise Balcavage
The other one where my timing was poor, but it also wasn’t the best fit, so I doubt I’ll try it again. Although pies may be popular in the summer for most people, I generally try to avoid turning my oven on once temperatures approach 90, so I wasn’t trying any of them right now. Since I’m not vegan, pie crust with butter isn’t an issue for me, and that’s one of the benefits of this book – no butter in the crust, or other dairy products in the pies themselves (or meat products in the savory pies). However, if you are vegan or trying to cut down on dairy or meat products, there were lots of ideas in here that sounded tasty.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing GoodBurnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn

Most of my books come from the library and I often end up reading popular new titles long after they’ve been released. And then there are a handful of times when I’m offered a review book and I get to read it in advance and share a review the day the book releases. Today is one of those days. :)

Sometimes I wonder if when I gush about a book if it seems unbelievable. Especially when I’m gushing over a book I was sent to review – does it seem like I’m only doing that because I was sent the book? In support of my feelings towards about this book I’ll point out my raves over her previous books The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. Clearly, I like her writing.

As much as I liked the other books, I just might like this one more. I adored the focus on her family, and how she wove together the family stories and multiple generations. I felt like I knew them all, and found myself wishing I really did.

It’s somewhat of a food memoir, but not as focused on that as some food memoirs can be. Each chapter ends with a recipe for a dish that’s been mentioned in the chapter at least in passing, but the emphasis is not on the food, but on the family.

I don’t remember there being much humor in her previous books, but there were several times while reading this one that I found myself laughing at a description or comment. There were also times where the stories had me getting teary.

Highly recommended. I loved it.

Publisher’s Description:
A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry

In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection to home. It is the story of her midwestern childhood, its memorable home cooks, and the delicious recipes she grew up with. Flinn shares tales of her parents’ pizza parlor in San Francisco, where they sold Uncle Clarence’s popular oven-fried chicken, as well as recipes for the vats of chili made by her former army cook Grandpa Charles, fluffy Swedish pancakes from Grandma Inez, and cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts. Through these dishes, Flinn came to understand how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be a form of communication. Brimming with warmth and wit, this book is sure to appeal to Flinn’s many fans as well as readers of Marcus Samuelsson, Ruth Reichl, and Julie Powell.

Book Details

Title: Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family
Author: Kathleen Flinn
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I was given an advance copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Women Heroes of World War I

Women Heroes of World War IWomen Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and MedicsWomen Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics (Women of Action) by Kathryn Atwood by Kathryn Atwood

Earlier this year I wrote about the book Women Heroes of World War II, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was very excited to learn that Atwood had another book coming out soon, focusing on World War I. The only thing I like better than finding a great book is discovering more great books by the same author, and I expected that I’d enjoy the new book just as much.

And I did. The format is similar – there are brief chapters about each woman, giving the outlines of their story and providing additional sources if you want to discover more. There is also an excellent overview beginning the book, and each section includes its own introductory material (sections are arranged thematically: spies and resisters, medical personnel, journalists, and soldiers). I was only familiar with one of the women featured, and had never even heard of the Russian Women’s Battalion of Death, so I learned a lot from the book.

Highly recommended if you’re at all interested in World War I, women’s history, or biographies. It would also make for an excellent homeschooling resource (or traditional schooling supplement) for students covering this time period.

Publisher’s Description:
A commemoration of brave yet largely forgotten women who served in the First World War

In time for the 2014 centennial of the start of the Great War, this book brings to life the brave and often surprising exploits of 16 fascinating women from around the world who served their countries at a time when most of them didn’t even have the right to vote. Readers meet 17-year-old Frenchwoman Emilienne Moreau, who assisted the Allies as a guide and set up a first-aid post in her home to attend to the wounded; Russian peasant Maria Bochkareva, who joined the Imperial Russian Army by securing the personal permission of Tsar Nicholas II, was twice wounded in battle and decorated for bravery, and created and led the all-women combat unit the “Women’s Battalion of Death” on the eastern front; and American journalist Madeleine Zabriskie Doty, who risked her life to travel twice to Germany during the war in order to report back the truth, whatever the cost.

These and other suspense-filled stories of brave girls and women are told through the use of engaging narrative, dialogue, direct quotes, and document and diary excerpts to lend authenticity and immediacy. Introductory material opens each section to provide solid historical context, and each profile includes informative sidebars and “Learn More” lists of relevant books and websites, making this a fabulous resource for students, teachers, parents, libraries, and homeschoolers.

Book Details

Title: Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics (Women of Action)Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics (Women of Action) by Kathryn Atwood
Author: Kathryn Atwood
Category: Nonfiction / History / Biography
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I was offered a review copy of the book, but actually read a library copy instead. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages

Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy MarriagesThe Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big DifferenceThe Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference by Shaunti Feldhahn by Shaunti Feldhahn

LOVED this book – it’s filled with practical points that often go against the marriage tips you find other places. Feldhahn details how she comes up with her results through the surveys she conducts, so it’s not just a matter of what she thinks – she’s done lots of research to back up her claims.

Each chapter contains anecdotes showing how some of the points work out in real marriages, which is also helpful. I also especially liked how she focuses on things you can do yourself – so it’s not a matter of waiting for your spouse to do something or respond in some way. You only control yourself and your own actions, and here are things YOU can do that may end up improving your marriage.

Highly recommended for anyone who is married, or preparing for marriage. Very practical, and encouraging. [Read more...]

New on My Bookcase (vol. 24)

library haul 24A really small library haul this trip because I know my reading time will be very limited. But I couldn’t resist grabbing a few new items, since I had to make a visit anyway to return some other books and get fresh reading material for the kids.

Nonfiction

Letter from New YorkLetter from New York/BBC Woman's Hour Broadcasts by Helene Hanff by Helene Hanff
Love her books 84, Charing Cross Road and Apple of My Eye so I’m hoping to like this one as much.

Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book storeShelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store by Suzanne Strempek Shea by Suzanne Strempek Shea
A memoir about a year working in a bookstore? Of course I want to read it.

Kids’ Books

Five Children and ItFive Children and It (Dover Children's Evergreen Classics) by E. Nesbit by E. Nesbit
Couldn’t resist trying it after Catherine’s comments about it.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Ready for a Mid-Year Break (and a bit about our current routine)

Homeschooling Kindergarten First Quarter UpdateJust in time for most people to go back to school (it starts next week here!), we’re looking at a break from schooling. It’s almost baby time!

I have tentative plans to do one more week of school, just to keep us occupied next week. We’ll see what actually happens however. Friday my parents arrive to help out, and that’s when the break will definitely start. After they leave, my inlaws will hopefully be here to occupy G & H and let me finish recovering. While G will probably be happy to show off his developing reading skills to anyone who will listen, I think that will be the extent of anything school-related while we have guests. Either right at the end of their visit, or right after they leave, my brother-in-law and a friend return to hopefully finish replacing our windows.

Once all of that is over, I have no idea when we’ll get back to what we’ve been doing, but I somewhat suspect it won’t be all that long. The kids seem to be thriving with the daily structure it provides us, and I may be desperate to get back to that sort of a routine!

Or, we may just go with lots of reading aloud on the couch for awhile, and figure any and everything else can pick back up whenever I’m more recovered. That’s the biggest advantage to me from both it only being Kindergarten, so I’m not worried about meeting a certain number of education days for the state (K is completely optional in Indiana), and also for having started it early.

Our Current Routine

I’m curious to see how our routine changes now. So far, a typical “school” day (not all weekdays are school days – appointments and other events are regular occurrences right now) begins around 9, with G starting off with handwriting. I’m usually finishing up a cup of tea, and getting H settled with a coloring book or something else she can do at the dining room table. After handwriting is over, we’ll keep going with other table work: math or DEL books or reading. Mix it all in with some cutting practice or maze and dot-to-dot books, then we’ll head to the couch with our big tote bag.

The tote bag includes all the books for our week’s read alouds. One of the best things I’ve done is get the kids used to taking turns picking what we read. I go first, then G, then H, and then we start over with another pick for me. I always start with the Bible story book, and then sometimes G picks one of his school books, and sometimes he picks one of our books or a library book. It’s totally up to him! H is unpredictable too – some days she wants one of G’s school books, but she’s just as likely to grab a favorite board book. We’ll read on the couch until my voice gives out, it’s lunch time, or it’s time for taekwondo. My picks are almost always the Sonlight books, but occasionally I’ll go with something else, especially if the kids have been picking those already!

Afternoons are quiet time (not the most successful around here; we’re working on it) and play time. Sometimes we read more, especially if we didn’t do a whole lot of that in the morning. On Fridays if the kids have cooperated all week / done what they were supposed to I try and do something fun – like meet a friend at the nearby splash park! Fridays are also our science project day, and if I have the energy, arts & crafts. That hasn’t happened all that often lately, but I do hope to get back to it eventually. :)

Looking ahead

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where we’re going with all of this, and what I’ll want to use with the kids as they get older. While I’ve loved Sonlight so far, I do have some concerns with it when I think about using it in years to come. And then I remind myself that right now, it’s working well, and it’s manageable for me. In this season of life, ease of use counts for a LOT, so I’m going ahead and making plans to continue with Sonlight Core A for what will be G’s 1st grade curriculum. It’s already ordered and everything – waiting on a bookshelf in my closet/office. Looking it over, I think it’ll be another good fit for us, and as for what we’ll do for 2nd grade? Well I have plenty of time to consider that.

Not sure if I’ll have a homeschooling post next month or not – as there may not have been much at all in the way of homeschooling between now and then. :)

If We Could Have Coffee

If We Could Have CoffeeIf We Could Have Coffee … 30 Days of Heart-to-Heart EncouragementIf We Could Have Coffee... (Ebook Shorts): 30 Days of Heart-to-Heart Encouragement by Holley Gerth by Holley Gerth

I’m kind of the wrong person to review devotionals – so much of the time they just seem too insubstantial to me. I want a lot more depth than they generally provide.

That’s really my only complaint with this ebook. The daily entries are all written to be encouraging and comforting, but they’re not my style or what I look for in a devotional.

I do think they’d be great if you’re looking for something with a very warm and supportive feel, and are in a season of life where anything too demanding is not going to work well (perhaps I should have saved this book for immediately post-partum!)

Not really recommended – it reads like it should have been a free ebook for signing up for a newsletter or something similar. However, it is only $1.99 for a Kindle download, so if you’re looking for encouragement in bite-sized pieces, it might be a good fit.

Publisher’s Description:
How are you today, friend? I wish I could ask you that question face-to-face. I’d listen long and hard to your answer. And there are some things I’d want to share with you too. So until we get to have that conversation, I’m sending these words in my place.

Because if we could have coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . you’re loved
. . . you don’t have to try so hard
. . . you’re not alone
. . . you’re part of a plan
. . . your God won’t ever give up on you
. . . and so much more

So think of these words as little love notes for your life. Love notes that started in the heart of God and just happen to be delivered by me to you.

This ebook full of encouraging notes from bestselling author Holley Gerth is the perfect companion to Holley’s book “You’re Going to Be Okay.”

Book Details

Title: If We Could Have Coffee… : 30 Days of Heart-to-Heart EncouragementIf We Could Have Coffee... (Ebook Shorts): 30 Days of Heart-to-Heart Encouragement by Holley Gerth
Author: Holley Gerth
Category: Nonfiction / Devotional
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Eternal Nazi

The Eternal NaziThe Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert HeimThe Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet

Ever hear about a book and think “yes! I’d like to read that!” and then you actually obtain the book and can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm for actually reading it? (Or maybe I’m alone in that?)

Yeah, that was totally the case with this book. I’ve read a lot about the Holocaust, and generally find accounts relating to it to be fascinating – and yes, I realize that sounds somewhat creepy to say. This time though, the book languished in my (electronic) review pile for ages until I finally got motivated to clean out all those books waiting on me and began making a concerted effort to get through them all (that effort is still in progress, but I have made progress!)

Was it worth finally trying? Should I have not neglected it for so long? Yes and yes. The writing is solid and does a good job of relating events that spanned decades and involved numerous characters.

Spoiler alert! Highlight the area below if you don’t mind being spoiled as to some events from the end of the book -

The book itself felt somewhat anticlimactic because they never really did find Heim – they found out about his death, but never located his body or had any other sort of big satisfying finale. Some loose threads also were left dangling, like what did happen with the money from that apartment building? Did his daughter get any of it?

Weaknesses for the book include that it’s trying to cover so much material, stretching over decades and involving dozens of people – it’s a lot, and it’s hard to keep it from getting bogged down a bit. How the book does tackle so many themes also works against it a bit – it’s not just about Heim, or those who searched for him, or his family, or the politics behind war crimes trials, etc, etc, etc.

This isn’t a must-read book, but if you’re interested in accounts about the prosecution of Nazi crimes and especially how the approach to justice changed over the decades it may be worth giving a try.

Publisher’s Description:
From the New York Times reporters who first uncovered S.S. officer Aribert Heim’s secret life in Egypt comes the never-before-told story of the most hunted Nazi war criminal in the world.

Dr. Aribert Heim worked at the Mauthausen concentration camp for only a few months in 1941 but left a devastating mark. According to the testimony of survivors, Heim euthanized patients with injections of gasoline into their hearts. He performed surgeries on otherwise healthy people. Some recalled prisoners’ skulls set out on his desk to display perfect sets of teeth. Yet in the chaos of the postwar period, Heim was able to slip away from his dark past and establish himself as a reputable doctor and family man in the resort town of Baden-Baden. His story might have ended there, but for certain rare Germans who were unwilling to let Nazi war criminals go unpunished, among them a police investigator named Alfred Aedtner. After Heim fled on a tip that he was about to be arrested, Aedtner turned finding him into an overriding obsession. His quest took him across Europe and across decades, and into a close alliance with legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. The hunt for Heim became a powerful symbol of Germany’s evolving attitude toward the sins of its past, which finally crested in a desire to see justice done at almost any cost.

As late as 2009, the mystery of Heim’s disappearance remained unsolved. Now, in The Eternal Nazi, Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet reveal for the first time how Aribert Heim evaded capture–living in a working-class neighborhood of Cairo, praying in Arabic, beloved by an adopted Muslim family–while inspiring a manhunt that outlived him by many years. It is a brilliant feat of historical detection that illuminates a nation’s dramatic reckoning with the crimes of the Holocaust.

Book Details

Title: The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert HeimThe Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet
Author: Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet
Category: Nonfiction / History
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I was sent an electronic copy of the book to review, but had some technology issues and ended up reading a library copy instead. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Surviving the Death of a Sibling

Surviving the Death of a SiblingSurviving the Death of a Sibling: Living Through Grief When An Adult Brother of Sister DiesSurviving the Death of a Sibling: Living Through Grief When An Adult Brother of Sister Dies by T.J. Wray by T.J. Wray

This is a hard one to write about. It was even harder to read – it took me forever to get through it, as I was only able to read a little bit at a time. It was such a helpful book though – there really isn’t a lot out there about losing a sibling as an adult.

There were many concepts and expressions that were so exactly how I felt that it was both wonderful and horrible knowing how universal my experience was in many ways.

The weakest part of the book was the discussion of religion and faith as it relates to grief, but that’s probably hard to do in what’s geared toward more of a general book about the topic. If you’re really wanting that aspect, another book will be a better bet for you.

While I hope I never have to suggest this book to anyone, it really is worth reading if the circumstances arise. It might also be worth skimming if someone close to you (a spouse, friend, coworker, extended family member) loses a sibling, and you’re wondering what you could do to help. If nothing else it gives a list of ideas of things not to do or say! [Read more...]