MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Big Surprise for Little Card by Chrise Mericle Harper

ISBN: 9780763674854
Publisher's Synopsis:
Fall in love with a disarming picture-book hero in this quirky ode to spirit, identity, and the joy of having (or being) a library card.
In the world of cards, each one has a special job to do. Big Card keeps important papers in order. Tiny Card can be exchanged for a prize in an arcade. Round Card hangs out in a glamorous boutique. But is any card as lucky as Little Card? He’s going to school to become a birthday card — in other words, to sing, play games, eat cake, and be happy all day long. But wait! On the day he’s supposed to take his talents into the world, Long Card tells him there’s been a mix-up and they need to trade jobs. How can Little Card bring his exuberance into a library, a quiet place of books and rules and hushing? Offbeat and utterly endearing, this tale of a little guy who gives it all he’s got is complete with a sweet twist and a surprise ending.

MrsK's Review:
Books about books are such a sweet delight. A book about a Library card is a promising read, who wouldn't want to read about a library card's joy of ownership?

There are so many cards available for so many... postcards, tiny cards, greeting cards, and reading cards. Each card is unique and every type of card has its purpose. Meet Little Card. Full of possibilities. Little Card is full of joy, exploration, and a love of singing:
"Read a story that's new...
Pick the right one for you-----.
It fills you with won--der;
that's the ma--gic books do." 
After a quick misunderstanding, Little Card receives its true destination. A young girl named Alex. Together they explore the many activities offered at the library... the "rainbow" of books... the surprises... and the joy of discovery.

Such a delightful introduction into the possibilities within the open doors of a library,
Delightfully fun...
Perfect "hook" for the value of Libraries...
Wonderful design of the promises a little card can deliver!  
Meet the Author:
Charise Mericle Harper  I write and illustrate books for children.
I live near New York City with my two children, two pets and one husband.
I like to make things - except lunches for school.
I do not like to make those.
 Charise Harper

Meet the Illustrator: Anna Raff
AnnaRaff-bySymonChow1   Anna’s illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ask, and Kiwi Magazine, among others; on TV with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," and MTV’s "Woodie Awards." In 2010, she created Ornithoblogical, a blog of bird-related imagery.

Before her career as an illustrator, Anna was a designer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and several children’s book publishers in New York City. She is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts Illustration Summer Residency Program, has an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, a BA from Connecticut College, and lives in New York City, where there are reportedly four rats per human resident.

Visit Anna's Blog
"I received this book for free for this review."
Candlewick Press

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

ISBN: 9780718033156
Publisher's Synopsis:
She never wanted to marry. He hopes to make amends for past wrongs. Can love find a way to heal both of their hearts?
Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry. All of her other Amish friends could court and marry—she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire. But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister. With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice: she must marry. And not just any man—the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away.
Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable. And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner. When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can’t let her down—even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life.
Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn’t the same boy who once betrayed her. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family—and herself.

MrsK's Review:
 "As she plodded along the road, 
the summer sun pressed down on her sweat-soaked body.
Her dress clung to her back,
and heat radiated from the asphalt beneath her tennis shoes.
She couldn't get home fast enough and into the cool building
that housed Schrock Grocery and Tools."

With God's grace, Sadie survives a devastating encounter with the Troyer brothers. She has known them since she was little, after all their father is the Bishop of Birch Creek. Yet on this summer day, Sadie will vow to let Sol or Aden be near her again. Until that day, six years later, when everything in her life must change.

Sadie's strength is found in her honor. She is a hard worker, she is resourceful, she is loyal and kind. Her love is harbored deep within her soul. Her challenge will be tapping into the overflow of love from those she can trust. Trusting others can be a shattering experience, Sadie must find a path into the blessings of love. Her path will begin with the needs of survival for her sisters and for her self. Her heart will be renewed by a choice in which Sadie will learn that love is a gentle gift.

Aden is a man whom thanks God for small favors. Although he has always admired and appreciated Sadie, his shame has kept him from "striking out" on his own. That is until that moment in the Schrock Grocery and Tool store. That decisive moment of Sadie's need when he had to right the past. His love will be the refreshing gift that will lead Sadie beyond what life has dealt her.

"As Abigail walked away, Sadie leaned against the wall and closed her eyes.
'Make a way for her, Lord... Please, make a way for all of us."
Sadie's sister Abigail will be the one who will help their little sister, Joanna, heal from the devastating accident. While Sadie steps into the role of provider, store keeper, finance manager, and bride. 

Together, Sadie and Aden will discover truths, strengths, weaknesses, deceptions, and faith. Together they have an opportunity to discover a precious gift of hope in a love that will last a life time.    

Sometimes a quiet read is the most deserving moments of gentleness,
Gently Moving
Meet the Author:
Kathleen Fuller I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and currently live in Geneva, Ohio. I've been married to James for 22 wonderful years (really, they have been wonderful!) We have three terrific children, three dogs, and have raised cattle, pigs, and chickens at various times over the years. We would have gone into the goat business, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I started writing in 2000, and published my first short story a year later. Since then I have authored several short stories, novellas, novels, and have done a lot of freelance non-fiction work. I have also worked as an editor. I have a Masters degree in Special Education, emphasis on teaching the blind and visually impaired, and a Bachelors in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. I have taught all age groups ranging from age 4 to age 21. A few of my favorite things: my relationship with Christ, chocolate (of course!), autumn, a satisfying book, good friends, a sense of humor, people who don't take themselves seriously, haunting melodies, NFL football, and did I mention chocolate?
"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review"
Thomas Nelson

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller

Title: Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits, Author: Donalyn Miller
ISBN: 9780470900307
Publisher's Synopsis:
In Reading in the Wild, reading expert Donalyn Miller continues the conversation that began in her bestselling book, The Book Whisperer. While The Book Whisperer revealed the secrets of getting students to love reading, Reading in the Wild, written with reading teacher Susan Kelley, describes how to truly instill lifelong "wild" reading habits in our students.
Based, in part, on survey responses from adult readers as well as students, Reading in the Wild offers solid advice and strategies on how to develop, encourage, and assess five key reading habits that cultivate a lifelong love of reading. Also included are strategies, lesson plans, management tools, and comprehensive lists of recommended books. Copublished with Editorial Projects in Education, publisher of Education Week and Teacher magazine, Reading in the Wild is packed with ideas for helping students build capacity for a lifetime of "wild" reading.

MrsK's Review:
Do not attempt to read this book without hi-lighters, sticky-notes, a pen, and dedication.
Last year, as a staff, we decided to read three books that could inspire us as we searched for a new reading and language-arts curriculum. What began with Reading Magic by Mem Fox, lead us into Donalyn's first book entitled The Book Whisperer. Inspired doesn't quite catch the true meaning or level of excitement that began bubbling forth and into our classrooms.

Once summer arrived, I eagerly continued my journey with Reading in the Wild. During those lazy evenings I would curl up with an iced tea and "browse" through the book. If you are an educator, I'm sure you realize that "browsing" would not last long. Frustrated beyond belief with all of the insightful renovations firing off in my mind, I gave in and "set my learning stage" fully equipped with every note-taking tool I would need. I was now prepared to embark on a journey with a designated goal of "tweaking" next year's learning environment. What I unearthed was a quest of such magnitude that I needed to embrace this "re-molding," slow my pacing, and accept the collaborative mentoring from every page of Donalyn's leadership (one of the best educational investments of my career).

Within these pages, you will find reading ideas, techniques, and tools that will provide the "perfect" setting for our students to be set free "to read." As mature readers we read for various reasons. We are always on the "watch" for new discoveries. We search garage sales, book stores, library shelves, online book reviews and lists. If we are truthful... we probably have stacks of books awaiting our attention. We know how to use the power of a book to teach or explain the "how-to" for any situation we encounter whether it be cooking, automotive repairs, quilting, home make-overs, or searching for an address. Rarely are we asked to take a quiz about what we just read. Outside of a classroom, when was the last time you had to fill in a packet about the book you enjoyed? Was it an art project that lead you to a good read or was it a discussion about a character, a story line, the next book in a series?

"Wild reading is: readers who incorporate reading into their personal identities
to the degree that it weaves into their lives along with
everything else that interests them." 

"What are the habits of a lifelong reader?" If you agree that lifelong readers are those who: dedicate time to reading; self-select reading materials; share books and insights with other readers; have reading plans beyond their current book; and show preferences for genres-authors-topics... then... as an educator you are lead into taking a "critical look" at your own teaching practices (lesson designs, classroom management strategies, formative assessments, etc.). "What instructional components exist in your classroom that will support students as they develop lifelong reading habits?"

So many insights...
  • Community Conversations: mini-lessons with modeling, discussions, student practice and reflection
  • Conferring Points: individualized support, assessment debriefing, student evidence, skills and tools
  • Keeping track of your Reading Life: student documentation, reader's notebooks, reflections, targets and goals
  • Classroom non-negotiables: in class silent reading, genre selection, writing topics, shared book recommendations, book reviews, reader communities, consistent lesson routines, and so much more
  • What Readers Look Like: they "snatch a few minutes of reading time between appointments, while waiting, or before falling asleep, have a book for reading emergencies where ever you go
  • Binge Reading: "There's something satisfying about falling into a book and walking with the characters until the journey ends." Burning through a book, staying up late, or grabbing the book during extra minutes.
  • Reading Itinerary: as they read you confer
  • Class Schedule: What does it look like/ What has more impact? The rule of thirds.
  • Student-Selected Choices: Which titles are keepers? Surveys, lists, book review blogs, author websites, reader networking, book clubs, and random choices
  • Preview-Share-Discuss: read-alouds, book buzz promotions, abandoning titles, book selection, selection reflections, evidence tracking, and classroom library standards
  • Classroom Climate: "A community of readers and writers." Bottom line=acquisition of literacy skills, clarity of purpose, reading culture, close reading=mindful reading, strategic and knowledgeable readers, Epicenter readers, resident experts
  • Teaching Style: goals, inquiry, conferencing functions, clarity of purpose, gathering evidence
  • Reading Plans: life-long habits, targets-goals-tracking, challenges, genre gaps, reading preferences, reading habits
  • Appendix: forms, lists, assessments, Genre titles
"Every book begins and ends with other people."
Organized, inspiring, and over-flowing with tested-examples... Take the time to invest in this journey...
Every student will benefit...
 Inspiring... A must read, share, discuss, and put into place within our classrooms!
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

Meet the Author:
D_Miller_Headshot  Donalyn Miller has taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade language arts and social studies in the Fort Worth, TX area and was a finalist for 2010 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. In her popular book, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn reflects on her journey to become a reading teacher and describes how she inspires and motivates her middle school students to read 40 or more books a year. In her latest book, Reading in the Wild, Donalyn collects responses from 900 adult readers and uses this information to teach lifelong reading habits to her students.


#titletalk is an hour-long Twitter chat moderated by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp on the last Sunday of every month beginning at  8 PM EST. The first half hour is spent on a literacy education topic; the second half hour is spent recommending titles. The second half is what has earned #titletalk the unofficial title of  “the most expensive thirty minutes” on Twitter.
Archives of all of the #titletalk chats can be found at


Donalyn Miller – along with Colby Sharp and Cindy Minnich – created the Nerdy Book Club website in December 2011 as the online home of the Nerdy Book Club Awards. It quickly grew to include daily posts that shared and promoted a love of reading – especially a love of reading books for children and young adults.
You can read all of the posts and see the winners of the Nerdy Book Club Awards at
NPC Logo

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Freedom's Price by Michaela MacColl

ISBN: 9781620916247
Publisher's Synopsis:
Eliza Scott isn’t quite a slave, but she’s not free either. She’s not a prisoner, but her family lives in a jail. Eliza, who attends a secret floating school on the Mississippi River because it’s illegal for her to read, says she understands how dangerous her situation is—but her parents know she’s not afraid enough. When a devastating cholera epidemic strikes the city, Eliza discovers she will have to be clever and resourceful to escape a slave catcher and the worst fire in St. Louis’ history. Will Eliza be willing to pay the price of freedom? Freedom’s Price is the second book in the Hidden Histories series, which examines little known moments in American history. Based on actual events and people, the book is extensively researched and includes an author’s note and bibliography.

Guest Post:
The Hidden History series is meant to tell the stories of kids on the fringes, viewing history in the making through their eyes.  “Rory’s Promise” was about a penniless orphan from New York City sent to a remote mining town in Arizona in 1904.  Freedom’s Price is about Eliza Scott, a black girl, daughter of the famous Dred Scott, and what she’ll risk for her freedom. 

The next book is about about a Lipan Apache girl sent to the Carlisle Indian Boarding School to “assimilate.”  With each of these books I face the challenge of finding an authentic voice for my main characters. The more diverse my characters become, the harder this is to do!

I’ve written a series of literary mysteries for Chronicle Books – Emily Dickinson solving a murder based on a poem. Louisa May Alcott investigating a crime connected with her work with fugitive slaves. It was pretty easy to find their voices. These women left their writing behind – not just their literary output but also their letters and journals. And their friends and family wrote about them too. With Louisa May Alcott I also had the gift of Jo March – a lovable and engaging character she based on herself!

But how am I to find Eliza Scott’s voice? Her parents were illiterate. They spoke to the press exactly once.  Eliza never did. Although she could read, she didn’t leave behind any letters or journals. Instead I rely on my research and imagination. The non-fiction adult book “Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery’s Frontier” by Lea Vandervelde  was invaluable. The author faced the same problem so she mined all the information about what life was like and then accessed other narratives to weave together a plausible story about Harriet. Some of the people in Eliza’s life did leave a record behind, such as the preacher who stands up to the fugitive slave catcher and helps Eliza get an education.  I also used a narrative by a literate slave called “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself,” by Harriet Ann Jacobs. Jacobs lived at approximately the same time as Eliza and I loved her thoughtful way of expressing her outrage about the unfairness of her life’s struggles. And then I do what I always do when I’m writing about family relationships – I fall back on my own experience raising two daughters. I had no trouble at all writing a devastating fight between Eliza – who is trying to spread her wings even though it’s risky – and her mother – who is only trying to protect her.  So research + imagination = the secret sauce to finding voices in the past.

Thanks for having me visit. I’d love for your readers to visit my website.

MrsK's Review:
What Librarian doesn't like Historical Fiction? Many of us began our journeys with a book that allowed us to enter the past when we were young readers. Do you remember discovering life in a sod house with Laura from the Little House series? Did you discover great adventures with the American Girl series? Have you stepped into the diaries of those who experienced history in the Dear America series?

I fell for the Hidden Histories even before I opened Rory's Promise. There is something wonderful when you discover someones journey. Their strengths and weaknesses. Their hopes and fears. What they believed in and what they lived through. It must be the seed of hope that connects our journey to those who lived before us.

"Eliza Hates Lanndry
With a long stick, Eliza traced each letter carefully
into the muddy bank  of the mighty Mississippi River...
Eliza wants more."
What was she thinking? Being educated was not allowed. Staying free wasn't an option, even if you had papers. Anyone, anywhere, could turn you over to a slaver. For Eliza "freedom" meant being protected by her parents, a sponsor, a lawyer, and living at a jail while her family waited for their day in court. She had to stay close to her family and not draw attention to herself. Yet, being eleven meant that she had dreams "of boarding a steamboat and traveling far away." She longed for the day that she could "...make a life for herself that didn't involve laundry."

Sent to locate some fat drippings for soap, Eliza meets Wilson. Wilson has been free since the day he was born. He was raised on the river and he joined up on a boat because the cook promised that he could learn everything he needed to know, including how to be a pastry chef. Wilson believed that "dirty work" was a "fair trade for a dream." Together they will discover each other's strengths as their journey towards their "dreams" leads them beyond the safety of being born free.

Miss Charlotte is a sponsor who can provide the courts with proof that Eliza's family are not slaves, she hires out work for them and will do what she can as they wait for the courts decision. When she offers Eliza a job looking after Miss Sofia, Eliza believes she can look after herself. She would be away from her ma's protection. She would be free from doing laundry. She would be staying in Miss Charlotte's big house and not the jail. Of course Miss Charlotte's son would have already gone to California, so she didn't need to worry about his threats.

On the day that the crowd gathered at the jail, Eliza is faced with the reality of what can happen to any one's freedom. As her friend is put in the jail, Eliza discovers that Lucy is now a fugitive who ran from the slave block. She witnesses the fear of the Cholera sickness. And she faces the torment of the courts shutting down until the sickness is gone. For Eliza freedom is "snatched" away.

 "Ma might hate her for it, but Eliza wasn't going to make the same choice as Ma and Pa. 
She wouldn't just sit and wait for the courts."
Eliza is determined to make her own choices. What she isn't prepared for is a town filled with death. Desperate actions of those wanting money. Decisions that will lead her beyond safety and onto a ship destined for a slave auction far from home. Eliza will need to face her inner self, her inner strength. What can't Eliza do?
"We can't go ashore. We can't cross. We can't stay...
Eliza spotted a familiar ship...
It was like a prayer...
...the Freedom School!"

Eliza is a character that is full of freedom. Her dreams for a better life is her driving force. She is bright, quick thinking, and gifted with a talent overflowing with compassion. Her story is a beautiful introduction into the history of slavery. Her voice resonates the truth about freedom. Her choices provides the pacing for the story line and the reality of facing evil intentions head on with prayer. The friendship with Wilson provides the hope along the path that Eliza chose. And the quietly stated  "promise" is the thread that is seamlessly woven throughout Eliza's story as it is woven throughout our nation's history and the "price" of freedom.

A beautiful story of promise for independent readers,

An amazing journey into our past.
Historical fiction at its best... A must add to all school library shelves!
 Hidden Histories Series:
Rory's Promise: click to read the review
Meet the Authors:
about_michaelamaccoll_photo  Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University earning degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. She has written about a teenaged Queen Victoria (Prisoners in the Palace, Chronicle 2010) and Beryl Markham’s childhood (Promise the Night, Chronicle 2011). She is writing a literary mystery series for teens featuring so far a young Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (2013) and the Bronte sisters in Always Emily (2014).  She has recently begun a new series with Boyd’s Mill/Highlights called Hidden Histories about odd events in America’s past. The first entry in the series is Rory’s Promise and will be published in September 2014. She frequently visits high schools and has taught at the Graduate Institute in Bethel, CT.   She lives in Westport CT with her husband, two teenaged daughters and three extremely large cats.
unnamed2   Rosemary Nichols
I come by my love of history legitimately. On my father’s side of my family, my ancestors came to the “New World” in the middle of the 17th century. They came, respectively, to a small village in Quebec (Nicolet) and a Tidewater plantation in Virginia. My Canadian great-great grandfather migrated across the United States to California in the 1850s with his orphaned children, after surviving an exciting shipwreck off the coast of Baja California on his initial visit to California. His son, my great-grandfather, came to Arizona in 1873. The Nichols ancestors migrated from Tidewater Virginia to the Blue Ridge to Tennessee to Arkansas to Texas and finally in the 1870s to Tempe in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona.
My mother’s mother and father were part of a great migration in the early 20th century from Europe to the United States. They came in 1915 from Norway, moving through Ellis Island to Wisconsin to Idaho and then to Tacoma, Washington. My father was training as part of his service in the Navy during World War II and met my mother at Sand Point, Idaho. They married when the war ended and moved to Arizona. 
 I am co-authoring a two book series for Calkins Creek, a Boyds Mills Press imprint. The series is called “Hidden History”. The first book in the series, “Rory’s Promise”, was published in September 2014. The second book, “Freedom’s Price”, is about Dred Scott’s daughters in 1849 in St. Louis. 1849 was a terrible year for St. Louis. It had a cholera epidemic and a major fire just as Dred Scott’s family was seeking their freedom from slavery.
In addition, as a solo author I am just finishing the first book in a series on how the Civil War affects an upstate New York family. In this first book, members of the family are stolen into slavery in New Orleans in the days just before the Civil War begins. The book concerns the family’s efforts to rescue their relatives.
I am also doing the research on the destruction of the culture of the Plains Indians in the 1860s and 1870s, culminating in the Battle at the Little Big Horn. I intend also to cover the early days of the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pa.

 "I received this book for free for this review"

Martha Stewart's Appetizers

Martha Stewart's Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors d'Oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails
ISBN: 9780307954626
Publisher's Synopsis:
Snacks, Starters, Small Plates, Stylish Bites, and Sips

Hors d’oeuvres made modern: Today’s style of entertaining calls for fuss-free party foods that are easy to make and just as delicious as ever. With more than 200 recipes for tasty pre-dinner bites, substantial small plates, special-occasion finger foods, and quick snacks to enjoy with drinks, Martha Stewart’s Appetizers is the new go-to guide for any type of get-together. 
"Now we are pleased to bring to you a new collection of recipes
that reflects the new "casualness" we are all
witnessing in home entertaining,
a welcome relaxed approach to the serving of pre-dinner snacks,
appetite enhancers, and small plates, 
accompanied by an interesting panoply of festive, flavorful cocktails
that are easy to make and fun to serve." 
MrsK's Review:
Yum to the fullest! Within these pages you will discover a "bounty" of suggestions, simply delectable recipes, photos, hosting hints, and a feeling of success... an energy that inspires you to begin opening your home to festive evenings with friends and family.

Beginning with the "Golden Rules" for hosting a party, you are provided great tips and strategies for welcoming your company into your home.

Snacks: Quick snacking is always a favorite touch from the moment your guests arrive, through out the gathering, and well into your cleanup. These appetizers will be a welcomed "nibble":
  • Frico and Broiled Feta (pg.14): a "light" chip with dip that will be snacked quickly with much delight and conversation
  • Mini Cheese Biscuits (pg.22): perfect for a small gathering, a gaming event, or a quiet movie night
  • Edamame with Chile Salt (pg.26): warm and spicy "healthy" snacking (serve with the roasted spiced chickpeas pg.27) 
  • Salsas (pg.31): simple and quick "on-the-spot" goodness (share a variety with olive spreads pg.43 and Guacamole pg.64) 
Starters: Munching bites that entice any guest while your meal is filling your home with savory smells of goodness:
  • Winter Crudities with Buttermilk Dip (pg.54): refreshingly crisp igniting any palate 
  • Croquettes (pg.67): warm  fried Yukon Gold nuggets
  • Grilled Brie with Tomato Jam (pg79): grill a baguette, slice it and tantalize every guest with warm cheese and tomato jam
  • Fried Sweet-Potato Ravioli (pg.87): comfort food for a winter's gathering 
Small Plates: Finger foods like sliders are a delight in any gathering. Quick and easy "stuffers" that will fill any guest with a hearty and hefty satisfaction:
  • Sliders (pgs.112-115): not just beef bites... consider Greek Lamb or Salmon or left over Turkey sliders... yum!
  • Tortilla Espanola (pg.129): a baked omelet with zucchini... Yukon Gold potatoes and Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese and sauce
  • Hand Pies (pgs.158-161): warm sausage and apple... chicken and kale... or Manchego cheese and cauliflower
Stylish Bites: new tasty "twists" to any favorite canape:
  • Deviled Eggs (pg178-181): spicing up the eggs with tomato-pimiento, dill, wasabi, garlic or even horseradish
  • Cucumber and Endive Salad Bites (pg186): Endive leaves or cucumber rounds topped with "flavorful" salad droplets
  • Pureed Vegetable Soups (pgs.218-221): served cold or hot these purees are satisfying yum (served with chicken-salad tartlets pg.223 is a delight for any book club)
  • Cherry Tomato BLTs (pg.225): perfect summer bites, just pop in your mouth and enjoy a burst of summer goodness 
Cocktails (pgs.234-241): Yes please! Tumblers, Highballs, stemmed, or punches for any gathering

Are your taste buds tingling? So well organized. Filled with ingredients that are easily purchased. Not hard-on-your finances. And, perfected-user-friendly recipes that will inspire an every day cook. This book can be savored for years to come. It has the quality of a generational prize that will be cherished by those who love having their home filled with friends, family, special moments, good food, and unique gatherings of love.

An excellent gift for all occasions and holidays, don't resist purchasing this for yourself...
A must own for every hostess... every book club... every cook!
 The Official Martha Stewart Blog - The Martha Blog
 Click the above link to her blog...
Meet the Author:
fpo Martha Stewart is the author of dozens of bestselling books on cooking, entertaining, homekeeping, gardening, weddings, and decorating. She is the host of The Martha Stewart Show, the Emmy-winning daily syndicated television program, and founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which publishes several magazines, including Martha Stewart Living; produces Martha Stewart Living Radio; and provides a wealth of ideas and information on her website.
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
Blogging For Books

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert

ISBN: 9780529102379
Publisher's Synopsis:
Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.
As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.
Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.
But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.
Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.
"Let go!"
She held on for dear life. The metal edge bit into her fingers.
Her frantic feet searched for a foothold in the air.
The dragon swayed dangerously from side to side."
MrsK's Review:
Gretl's journey begins in Southern Poland in 1944. Gretl and her sister Elza have been dropped off of a train in the midst of a war. With the touch of coldness shivering within, these girls must find a way to an uncle in Switzerland. For Gretl, the journey will not be easy or safe. All she knows is that she is tired, her sister is sick, and...
"The branches and leaves closed in around her, almost like Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Maybe she could sleep for a hundred years as well."

Found by a farmer, Gretl and Elza are taken to his home. Alone and afraid, Gretl discovers that her journey will now be decided by a young man who is trying to save his country.

 "The coded message said the troop train will pass here just before daybreak...
We must plant the bombs under the bridge before then."
Jakob's journey begins at the bridge. What he discovers will lead him beyond his family, his country, and his loyalties. Once Jakob gets to the farm, he is forced into an additional assignment. "A cold hand closed around his heart...," Gretl will be his young charge. How will he ever get her to Switzerland?

As their days together began forming a pattern to life, Gretl discovers a hunger for education and God. Her days at the convent were filled with discoveries. Her evenings were filled with Jakob and the promise that one day they would find her uncle. For Jakob, Warsaw was becoming dangerous. The Home Army was beginning to collaborate with the Red Army and Jakob knew that he would not be able to look after Gretl any longer. 
"Poland was under Communist rule,
the population was hungry.
Germany was in ruins,
its people faced starvation..." 
Jakob learns about the Afrikaner desire to take orphans who were "pure Aryan" bloodlines into Africa for adoption. Would it be a land of milk and honey for Gretl? He knew that the South African government was "staunchly" opposed to Communism, she would be safe with a family that would look after her and give her a new beginning.

"He felt his resolve begin to crumble...
She gave him a brave smile...
She turned and went up the two steps, her back straight.
She opened the big door..."
For Gretl, 1948 would be the beginning of a new journey...a new life. For Jakob a piece of his heart would be forever lost. As Gretl is awaiting the men who will come for the orphans, she has been entrusted with the secrecy of her past, of her heritage, of her faith. Now she must embrace her future and find a new life with a new family. From the orphange, through the station at Hannover, across the sea into South Africa... Gretl learns to read Afrikaans books, she experiences the nightmares of fire, and she learns the uncertainty of  beginning a life with people who are different than yourself.

Yet, on the day she meets her new parents. Gretl becomes Grietjie. She is no longer an orphan. She has a strong daddy, a loving mother, an older brother, and a very sweet Grandpa John. As Grietjie grows up, she is loved beyond measure. By 1956 she has become Grietjie Neethling.

By 1956, Jakob has become a man fleeing Poland. He has left Poland, his family, his career, everything... except for a "yellowed newspaper cutting of a small girl with a broad smile and ribbon in her hair." 

This story is a "righteous" read. The characters have an inner depth with so many dimensions, a depth in which the story is given life of its own. The interwoven historical facts are presented as seeds of  a "reality" that have been scattered from the teachings within our classrooms. The hope and the goodness of Gretl's journey touches a chord within your spirit. Her innocence and determination ignites the whispering of a promise yet to be fulfilled.

Beautifully crafted, this novel will become a treasured tale to be shared beyond your shelves,
A "righteous" read in which hope is promised.
Outstanding book club choice.
Perfect educational choice for any Holocaust discussion.

Meet the Author:
   Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years. This experience has stood her in good stead when it comes to doing extensive research for her historical novels. She writes with empathy and a deep insight into personal relationships. She and her husband live in Bloemfontein.
"I received this book for free from The Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Reason For My Hope by Billy Graham

Billy Graham
ISBN: 9780529105448
Publisher's Synopsis:
The saving message of the Gospel is the heartbeat of this preacher and evangelist. Millions around the world have heard Billy Graham proclaim this unchanging truth. He has never forgotten the transformation of his own life, when he first said yes to God’s gift of salvation, and he has witnessed multitudes turn their hearts to the God of Hope.
 "Hope is a Gift.
Have you ever taken hold of such a prize that leads you out of uncertainty into profound assurance?
When it arrives, despair departs.
An old Scottish proverb says,
'Were it not for hope, the heart would break.'
What is your heart's condition?"
MrsK's Review:
Did you watch this special? Did you discover a new truth? When the opportunity for me to review the book, well I knew that our Lord was asking me to journey deeper into my relationship with Him.

This man's voice resonates deep within. Just his name brings back all of those moments in front of our television. A gathering "snuggled together" listening to what inspiration might feed us for the next few moments... the next few months... the next season. In the introduction, Billy Graham, reminds us that you can "glimpse the glow of hope" simply by lighting a match and burning a candle:
"You will discover that the whisper of its flame brings life to a room,
making the candle useful.
Is your flame alive and making a difference in the world?"

Have I been "nourishing" my soul enough that a flame burns within? Can others see the "glow of hope" in my actions or with my words? If "Hope pierces the darkness," if  "Hope brings comfort," then what am I showing all of you? 

Rescued for Something: What would your story be? With a series of short testimonies about survival from circumstances, physical defeats, or mental anguish there is a "Hope" that comes from being saved.
"For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption."
Psalm 130:7

Hope. What are you searching for? What are you needing? Have you done all that you could do, yet still feel empty or unfulfilled? Is the way of this world spiraling to a point that you can't decipher what is truth? If so... there is hope!   
 "His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
great is His faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23
Beautifully written, this book will help your spirit soar, 
"The message of this book is my hope for you.
And my prayer is that you will be filled with the dividends of joy and peace
in believing that you can be rescued from all that hinders,
bringing you into a 'Living Hope of Salvation."
Billy Graham
May 2013

 *To read my in depth review, chapter by chapter... click here.
Meet the Author:

“My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ." 

Billy Graham, world-renowned author, preacher, and evangelist, has delivered the Gospel message to more people face-to-face than anyone in history and has ministered on every continent of the world in more than 185 countries. Millions have read his inspirational classics, including Angels, Peace with God, The Holy Spirit, Hope for the Troubled Heart, How to Be Born Again, The Journey, Nearing Home, and The Reason For My Hope.

 My Hope Videos


 Thomas Nelson

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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