The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka (A book review)

skinnytasteI enjoy good food and my increasing waistline shows it.  Because of these two facts, I am often on the lookout for new recipes for meals that both taste good and are relatively healthy. Gina Homolka started her blog, Skinnytaste, to provide those types of recipes. Many of her recipes can be found in her new book, The Skinnytaste Cookbook.

In The Skinnytaste Cookbook, Gina covers the basics of cooking healthy and what to have (and not have) in your refrigerator and pantry. Much of it you probably know but, like me, probably ignore and gravitate to the less healthy choices. The bulk of the book is the recipes. All of the typical recipe categories are found in the book and in each category you will find a variety of food types, from Italian to Mexican and most things in between.

What I found unique about this book when compared to other cookbooks for healthy eating is that the recipes have ingredients that most people already have in their kitchen and, if not, can actually afford. I am often annoyed with “healthy eating” books that assume everyone has a grocery budget that allows for hundreds of dollars to be forked out for unpronounceable foods that you will never use. Gina not only makes the recipes affordable, but offers tips on how to freeze and store the foods for later use and shares how you can make a recipe and use elements of it in other recipes. This helps to stretch your budget and makes planning meals easier.

But is the food any good? That’s the big question, isn’t it? I made the “So-Addicted Chicken Enchiladas” just last night and they were really good. Only 2 remained for leftovers. I served them with my favorite Spanish Rice recipe (I won’t share that here since it’s not a Skinnytaste recipe).  Apart from the great recipes, the book itself is well put together, a hardback packed with beautiful pictures.

With Christmas just around the corner, this book would make a great gift for the person that loves to cook. Or  just get one for yourself and begin Skinnytaste cooking and eating.

(I received this book from Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review)

Playing Saint by Zachary Bartels (A Book Review)

SaintParker Saint is megachurch pastor that is growing in popularity. He is know for his feel-good sermons. When accused of assaulting a woman on a plane, Parker is forced into helping a detective in a serial killer case involving the occult in order to make the charges go away. Parker is the “expert consultant” on the case because of his theological training. What the police do not know is that Parker Saint’s faith is a “positive thinking-speak the truth into being” faith. His knowledge of God and spiritual truth isn’t even skin deep. In the midst of the investigation, Parker is accosted by three priests from the Vatican that are seeking a lost religious artifact and believe he may have knowledge of where it can be found.

Playing Saint is a novel from pastor Zachary Bartels. This novel is an impressive debut and contains characters that are well developed. The plotline is solid and full of twists that have the reader wanting more. Fans of crime novels will enjoy taking part as the investigation unfolds and the characters transform in the process. Readers will experience with the characters the consequences of being disingenuous and the importance of staying rooted in the truth.

I recommend this book for anyone that enjoys suspenseful and crime fiction, especially stories told with spiritual themes. I look forward to reading more from Zachary Bartels. Playing Saint is worth the read!

I received this book from BookLookbloggers.com in exchange for an honest review.

Wild Tales by Graham Nash (A Book Review)

wild talesAlthough I didn’t enter the world until 1965, I have been influenced by and have enjoyed many hours of listening to the great music that came out of the sixties and the years that followed. Graham Nash was in the middle of that vibrant, and often turbulent, music scene. In his book Wild Tales (title borrowed from his 1972 album with the same name), Nash chronicles his life and rock and roll journey.  Born in 1942, Nash grew up in Salford, England, a poor community near Manchester. He fell in love with music early on, along with his best friend Allan Clarke, and the two of them eventually formed a band together, The Hollies.  The Hollies became a great success, but Nash’s desire for more eventually led him away from The Hollies to America to join his new friend and musical partner, David Crosby (a guy he had met through another friend, Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas). Crosby had been in The Byrds. Nash and Crosby were joined by Stephen Stills (from the band Buffalo Springfield) to form Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The unique harmonies of the trio immediately connected with the listening public and CSN established their place in musical history.  Later they were joined by Neil Young, a guitarist and songwriter that Stills had played with in Buffalo Springfield, to become Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. CSNY continued the success.  Over the next 30 plus years, the relationships between these four men were filled with chaos and conflict, but held together by their love and respect for the music. Each worked together on projects, but also worked separately on solo work.

Wild Tales is an enjoyable read, taking you deep into the life of a rock and roll icon. As Nash tells his story, other rock and roll characters are woven in and out of tapestry, providing more than just history. The reader sees the people behind the music and the excitement that came with it, but Nash doesn’t try to hide the ugliness that can come from a life of excess. I found Nash’s accounting of his friendship with David Crosby was both moving and heartbreaking at the same time as he stayed committed to his friend, even as his friend was destroying himself and his life with drug addiction. The downside to this book was that at several points Nash repeated himself, telling the same information again. Also, Nash jumped back and forth in time on occasion, making it difficult to  keep up with chronology. Other than that, the book was well written.

Wild Tales is recommended for music fans, but more specifically anyone who loves the music of the sixties and early seventies.

I received Wild Tales from Bloggingforbooks.org in exchange for an honest review.

Journey to Jesus With Muslims

muslimWe live in a country with people from a variety of cultures from around the world. Because of this, many of us will at some point cross paths with someone of Muslim faith.  As a Christian, how will I build meaningful relationships with them that will make sharing Jesus possible? This can be difficult if I know little to nothing about Muslims and their beliefs and values. Journey to Jesus With Muslims is a valuable tool that will assist in making relationship-building with Muslims less strained and burdensome.

Journey to Jesus With Muslims is a 6-session DVD curriculum designed to educate about Muslims and provide real ways for Christians to make connection with Muslims, moving us toward relationships that allow us to point them to Christ in a respectful, understanding, and loving way.

The curriculum is designed to work best as a small group study and has three primary components: teaching informative videos, dramatic video episodes, and participant handouts.  The teaching videos cover topics like the distinction of the types of Muslims and what they believe, and common Muslim objections to Christianity and the points of agreement in the two faiths. The dramatic videos depict three types of relationships to show how conversations can transpire. The handouts contain a wealth of information on a variety of topics, touching on the areas that can cause the most conflict and break down relationship building.

This curriculum is a well done and will help Christians in connecting with Muslims. Even if you are never in a position to connect with and build a relationship with a Muslim, the information found in the Journey to Jesus With Muslims will help you understand Muslims as you process what you see or read in the media. I recommend this because it will educate you and help you discern the truth in what you are told.

This curriculum was provided to me in exchange for an honest review by the Tyndale Blog Network.