Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson

Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine BrysonFrancine Bryson is a national pie champion and a former finalist on The American Baking Competition. She’s written two cookbooks, “Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen” and her recent publication, “Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen” which is my most recent review. As my family contemplates a move a little further South in a couple of years, I thought it would be fun to dip my toe into the Southern culinary cuisine.

I spent a sold two weeks deciding which recipe I would try for this review and landed on “The Best Fried Chicken You’ll Ever Eat”. My husband is eager for any excuse to use his deep fryer so this had to be the one.

(Note to cookbook publishers:  Please, please, please make your cookbooks spiral bound so they’ll lay flat!) 

Bryson has a whole slew of recipes and a lot of them are fried, require large amounts of butter or bacon drippings. This is not the cookbook to go to if you’re looking to eat healthier. Her recipes clearly written with helpful notes but in spite of this, “The Best Fried Chicken You’ll Ever Eat” was…not.  It was decent but didn’t live up to its name. Most of the main dishes struck me as pedestrian and didn’t stand out for me as anything especially noteworthy which was a disappointment.  But I suspect her bread and dessert recipes are where Bryson really shines. I’ve dog-earred several of her rolls and bread recipes to bake this Fall, like Peach Bread or Lemonade Rolls.

Bottom line: I’d check out Bryson’s first cookbook, “Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen” instead.

I received a complimentary copy of Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen in exchange for a book review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

Audible Now Has Book Sharing

ONEBOOK_DESKTOP_LP_4_28_WHITE_LEARNMOREOne of the best parts of physical books is the ability to share that book with friends. Digital books publishers have attempted to both encourage and limit digital sharing. Amazon allows publishers to choose whether to participate in sharing or not, about 1/3 of Amazon books are ‘lendable’.

Now Audible has started allowing their audiobooks to be shared. The method is more about trying to get new Audible listeners than really facilitating sharing, but the program is worth paying attention to.  The program was in beta as Audible OneBook, but is now simply Send your Book. Either in the Audible App or through the browser, you can share one book with any person. Each person must register with Audible to receive a free book. And each person can only receive one free book. But the giver may share their books with as many different people as they want.

Note: Receiving a Send This Book audiobook and registering with Audible is basically the same as a free trial book. If you look around, you can usually find two free book trial. So this is not necessarily a great deal. (Terms and Conditions

If you are actually interested in becoming an Audible Member, these are better deals. If you just want to get a free audiobook, use a throw away email address, not your main one.

Three month (three book) free trial is you are an Amazon Prime Member

Two free audiobook trial (if you are not an Amazon Prime Member)


The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel FaberSummary: A missionary to aliens has marriage problems.

The concept of The Book of Strange New Things is so simple that it really did not catch my attention when I first heard about it. But it was recommended several times by different people and when it was on sale for $1.99 (and it still is right now), I decided to pick it up. (Vikki Huisman reviewed it for when it first came out.)

The story is simple, Peter, pastor with a history of drug abuse and alcoholism prior to becoming a Christian is hired to go to the planet Oasis to minister to the aliens there. A lot has been made of this being a genre defying novel, but I did not think that it was widely outside of either Literary Fiction or Science Fiction and fans of both should consider it part of the genre they prefer most.

The main story of the book is really about the marriage of Peter on Oasis and his wife, Bea, back in England. They can communicate, but only via email like plain text. And then, only when he is at the main human complex and not when he is living with the aliens. The physical distance matters. But the experiential difference matters more. For Peter, he is absorbed in his work and the transition from the alien settlement to the human settlement is always a cultural shock. Add to that the increasing desperation of Bea, and Peter emotionally hides.

2 More Free Audiobooks From Audiobook Sync

Every year Audiobooksync gives away 2 books a week over the summer to encourage teen reading. I have been out of town, so there is only two more days on this set of books (new set on May 27).

This Boy's Life by Tobias WolffThis Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff Narrated by Oliver Wyman

10 hrs and 3 mins, 80% of 268 reviews are 4 or 5 star at Amazon

First published in 1989, this scarifying memoir has become a classic of the genre, as notable for its artful structure and finely wrought prose as for the events it describes. The book essentially launched the memoir craze that has been going strong ever since. It was made into a movie in 1993.

The story is pretty grim: teen-aged Wolff moves with his divorced mother from Florida to Utah to Washington State to escape her violent boyfriend. When she remarries, Wolff finds himself in a bitter battle of wills with his abusive stepfather, a contest in which the two prove to be more evenly matched than might have been supposed.

Deception, disguise, and illusion are the weapons the young man learns to employ as he grows up, not bad training for a writer-to-be. Somber though this tale of family strife is, it is also darkly funny and so artistically satisfying that listeners come away exhilarated.

100 SIDEWAYS MILES by Andrew Smith100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith Narrated by Kirby Heyborne

7 hours, 82% of 73 reviews are 4 or 5 stars at Amazon

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s best-selling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly insane but definitely excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved. Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken.

Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned – and learn how to write their own destiny.

Prayer by Richard Foster (Read Again)

I am reposting this 2014 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $1.99.

Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home

Takeaway: If you are serious about learning about prayer and have not read this book yet, you need to.

I have read this book at least once previously (and I think twice.) It would not be the first book I recommend to someone that want to start out learning about prayer.  But it is one of the more important modern books on prayer.

Prayer is one of those topics in Christianity that is hard to write about. It is something learned best by doing and by being mentored by others. Surrounding yourself with people that pray is much better than surrounding yourself with books on prayer.

That being said, when you have spent time learning to pray with others, it is good to spend some time reading about the why and how of prayer. No book will fully explain that, of course. But Richard Foster does a very good job showing the different ways that prayer occurs within the Christian faith.  Few modern authors are as widely read and as fluent in different streams of Christianity as Richard Foster. That is both helpful, and the primary reason I would not suggest this to someone that is new to prayer. There is just too much here for someone that does not have a good grounding and idea about what type of pray-er they are.

Amazon Deal of the Day Books


Amazon has 19 books on sale for the Deal of the Day today. Five of them has reviewed.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter $2.99 ( Review)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth: Book #3 of Divergent trilogy $2.99 ( Review)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler $2.99 ( Review)

Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis $1.99 ( Review)

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Arley  $2.99 ( Review)

The rest of the books include The Giving Tree, Orphan Train, The English Spy and more by Ben Carson and Bernard Cornwall and more.

The Comedians by Graham Greene

The Comedians by Graham GreeneTakeaway: Sometimes the best thing we can do in the face of tragedy is continue to face life.

I picked up The Comedians when it was on sale at Audible because it was by Graham Greene and I really liked The End of the Affair. I started reading it because Shusaku Endo was frequently compared to Graham Greene (and Greene’s endorsement of Silence is one of the more famous endorsement lines–“Endo, to my mind, is one of the finest living novelists”).

It was really my desire to understand Endo, more than my enjoyment of the book that kept me listening to the audiobook. The reader was intentionally dry. That matched the content, but did not enhance the listening. The book started and ended well, but there was some meandering in the middle that makes sense in the larger context of the books but I got a bored for a good 100 pages.

It really was not until about 1/3 of the way through the book that Greene references the reason for the title. In a public conversation with a woman that Brown (the main character) is having an affair with, he suggests that they are all really comedians. He is using an older meaning of comedian, the idea that Greek actors held different masks. But also (not mentioned, but I think understood) that Greek Comedies were usually poking fun at the powerful of the age. It is not really satire. But there is some hint of that idea.

The book opens with Brown, Smith and Jones all on a boat headed toward Haiti. Brown owns a hotel in Haiti during the oppressive government of Papa Doc Duvalier. Jones is an unknown, but suspected from fairly early on of being a con man. Smith (and his wife) are from the United States. He was a very minor presidential candidate that is a proponent of vegetarianism as a way of life and a method toward world wide peace.

Next Two Free Audiobooks from Audiobook Sync

Every year Audiobooksync gives away 2 books a week over the summer to encourage teen reading. This morning is the start of the second week and two new books have been released.

DIVINE COLLISION: AN AFRICAN BOY, AN AMERICAN LAWYER, AND THEIR REMARKABLE BATTLE FOR FREEDOMDivine Collision: An African Boy, An American Lawyer and their Remarkable Battle for Freedom by Jim Gash
9 hr, 40 Mins – average 4.7 Stars based on 18 reviews at Audible

Jim Gash’s comfortable life as a Los Angeles lawyer and law professor nearly ensured that he and Henry, a Ugandan boy languishing in prison for two murders he didn’t commit, would never meet. Henry was losing hope and prayed for a sign from God. Halfway around the world, Jim listened to best-selling author of Love Does, Bob Goff, encourage lawyers to use their legal training to help imprisoned children in Africa. Jim felt an irresistible urge to respond to this call. Little did Henry know, his prayer had been answered.

Divine Collision tells the firsthand, true story of how Jim and Henry, separated not only by an ocean and thousands of miles but also by differing cultures and life experiences, inspired justice reform for an entire country. Divine Collision is a fast-paced thriller and will keep you listening, wanting to know what happens next for Henry and Jim.

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda SalisburyThe Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

9 hrs and 3 mins. Average of 4.1 stars based on 377 reviews

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. Although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner.

Goddess-embodied Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.

Then a new guard arrives–a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies–a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Amazon Kindle Oasis Reviews are Out

screenshot_54The Amazon Kindle Oasis officially was released today. However, if you did not pre-order it, you will have to wait until June because they are back ordered.

Virtually every review (and I read seven of them today) is the same. This is the best Kindle, and probably the best e-reader available. It is lighter and thinner than the last kindle. But that is true of all new kindle releases.

All reviews also say this is very hard to justify given the fact that you can buy a brand new Paperwhite  Kindle for just over 1/3 of the price, or a refurbished Paperwhite for less than 1/3 of the price.

The best line I read was from a review on The Verge, “This is the kindle you will want, even if it is not the kindle you should buy.”  Pretty much everyone agrees that the odd design feels good to read on. And most comment about how it is nice to have actual page turn buttons back. Most have not tested the full range of the battery yet because it is brand new. And almost all of them suggested that it should have been waterproof (which is my main complaint.)
Reviews: Wired Review, CNET Review, The Verge, Engadget, TechRadar, ArsTecnica, PC Mag, DigitalTrends

Free Audiobook – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

51OU2Og6sDL._AA300_Each month Audible and Amazon give away a free classic audiobook/Kindle book.

This month the book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen narrated by Rosamund Pike.

To get the free audiobook, you must purchase the Kindle edition free and then add on the free audiobook. There are a number of kindle editions, only one of which is free.  But you can purchase one of the paid kindle editions and still get the free audiobook.  There are a ton of different editions in the audible store and a number of them have whisper sync discounts. So if you want a different edition, there are several for $0.99 to $4.99. I listened to a different edition and reviewed it a couple years ago.
Note: There have been other editions offered for free in the past. You do not need to have or use a kindle to get the free audiobook. You just have to “purchase” the free kindle edition to get access to the free audiobook.