Book Chat: Reading Plan for 2015 on Lavish Bookshelf (January Update)

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January 2015 Update

My reviewing duties have lately been cutting into the time I have to read the books I've purchased on my own. Personally, I love to read travel memoirs, but I don't get to read many of those on book tours. I've also gotten away from book reading challenges in the past few years. I liked the challenges because breaking outside my usual genres always yields surprisingly great books.

I've declared 2015 the year when I finally read 
some of those books languishing on my shelves. 

I'll still be working on book reviews and blog tours, just being more selective. 

Here's how the whole 2015 thing it's going:

Lavish Bookshelf Challenge 2015: 
Tackling the To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile - One book per week (2/52)
  1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff  (Finished January 2015)
  2. Africa Trek by Alexandre Poissin
  3. Alice Princess by Alice Princess Siwundhla
  4. Amazon Journal by Geoffrey O'Connor
  5. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog
  6. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
  7. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  8. Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw by Will Ferguson
  9. Berserk by David Mercy
  10. Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
  11. Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham
  12. Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
  13. Daisy Bates in the Desert by Julia Blackburn
  14. Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
  15. Desert Queen by Janet Wallach
  16. East Along the Equator by Helen Winternitz   (Finished January 2015)
  17. Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach
  18. Emotions by Charles Stanley
  19. Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  20. Four Corners by Kira Salak
  21. Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
  22. Great Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough 
  23. Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman
  24. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  25. In Silence by Ruth Sidransky
  26. In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon
  27. Little House in the Arctic by Kathy Slamp
  28. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  29. Measure of All Things by Ken Alder
  30. Memoirs of an English Governess in a Siamese Court by Anna Leonowens
  31. Motoring with Mohammed by Eric Hansen
  32. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
  33. No Horizon is So Far by Ann Bancroft
  34. Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
  35. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  36. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  37. Road Fever by Tim Cahill
  38. Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje (Finished January 2015)
  39. Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
  40. Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
  41. Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich
  42. Sycamore Row by John Grisham
  43. The Summons by John Grisham
  44. The Associate by John Grisham
  45. The Client by John Grisham
  46. Through a Window by Jane Goodall
  47. Too Close to the Sun by Sara Wheeler
  48. Turkish Reflections by Mary Settle
  49. Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
  50. Unheard by Josh Swiller
  51. Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
  52. Winter in Arabia by Freya Stark

Other books To Be Read this year (if I have a LOT of extra time):
  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Harry Potter Series (the entire series!) by J. K. Rowling

Book Riot's Read Harder in 2015 Challenge   
(2/24 completed)
  1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  3. collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
  4. A book published by an indie press
  5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
  6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
  7. A book that takes place in Asia -- No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
  8. A book by an author from Africa
  9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture 
  10. microhistory
  11. YA novel
  12. sci-fi novel
  13. romance novel
  14. National Book AwardMan Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
  15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
  16. An audiobook
  17. A collection of poetry
  18. A book that someone else has recommended to you
  19. A book that was originally published in another language
  20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind 
  21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure 
  22. A book published before 1850
  23. A book published this year
  24. self-improvement book -- Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp 

Aussie Author Challenge 2015   
(0/3 completed)
  • WALLABY - Reading Challenge Level
    • Read and review 3 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 1 of those authors are female, at least 1 of those authors are male, and at least 1 of those authors are new to you;
    • Fiction or non-fiction, any genre

2015 Reading Challenge from PopSugar    
(5/50 completed)

  1. Book w/ 500+ pages
  2. Classic romance
  3. Book that became a movie
  4. Book published this year (2015)
  5. Book w/ a number in the title
  6. Book written by someone under 30
  7. Book w/ nonhuman characters
  8. Funny book
  9. Book by female author -- What is Found, What is Lost by Anne Leigh Parrish 
  10. Mystery or thriller
  11. Book w/ one-word title
  12. Book of short stories
  13. Book set in a different country -- No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
  14. Nonfiction
  15. Popular author's first book
  16. Book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
  17. Book a friend recommended
  18. Pulitzer Prize-winning book
  19. Book based on true story
  20. Book at bottom of your to-read list -- East Along the Equator by Helen Winternitz
  21. Book your mom loves
  22. Book that scares you
  23. Book more than 100 years old
  24. Book based on its cover
  25. Book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
  26. A memoir -- Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
  27. Book you can finish in a day
  28. Book w/ antonyms in the title
  29. Book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
  30. Book that came out the year you were born
  31. Book w/ bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. Book from your childhood
  34. Book w/ a love triangle
  35. Book set in the future
  36. Book set in high school
  37. Book w/ color in the title -- Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley 
  38. Book that made you cry
  39. Book w/ magic
  40. Graphic novel
  41. Book by an author you've never read before
  42. Book you own but have never read
  43. Book that takes place in your hometown  
  44. Book that was originally written in different language
  45. Book set during Christmas
  46. Book written by an author with your same initials
  47. A play
  48. A banned book
  49. Book based on or turned into a TV show
  50. Book you started but never finished

Grand Total of books read in 2015:  15

FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Review: Taste of Many Mountains by Bruce Wydick

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Great quote:  "Virtually all of the coffee grown in Guatemala is arabica, a highly flavorful bean that comes from the plant coffea arabica. Arabica is also cultivated in other high-altitude regions in East Africa, Colombia, higher areas of Brazil, and the Andes. Indeed, the hard-bean arabica grown in this area is some of the most flavorful coffee in the world. Climate and elevation are nearly perfect." (Page 44)

Book summary:  "The graduate students arrived in Guatemala energized and ready to take on the world. They planned to follow the path of coffee beans from a peasant coffee-growing community in the western highlands through the chain of buyers, co-ops, exporters, and roasters, all the way to a café in San Francisco." (Book Look)

My thoughts:  Bruce Wydick is a professor of economics and international development at UC Berkely. He is not a novelist, by any stretch of the imagination. Wydick is, however, intimately knowledgeable of the global workings of the coffee trade. Taste of Many Mountains is Professor Wydick's choice for getting the word out to the most people possible about Fair Trade coffee.

Without a doubt, Taste of Many Mountains by Bruce Wydick will appeal to many more readers than any verbose esoteric economics study on the Fair Trade coffee. This novel is a fictionalized account of students and other people that Wydick has encountered in real-life during his research in rural Guatemala. 

Where the book fails is in the editing process. For starters, Wydick has created some of the flattest characters I have read in a long time. The plot was thin and easily predicted from the first pages. Likewise, the "lively cafe banter" was at times thinly disguised summaries of various research papers. This made sections of the book a BIG snore. An editor should have been able to add some life into this novel, which would have made this book much more enjoyable to read. Secondly, I had a difficult time getting past the not-so-subtle political agenda. Since Wydick's intention was to explain the economics to anyone, especially those who support Fair Trade coffee, why does the book bash liberals so much? Talk about turning off your audience before they even get to the point of the book. 

Taste of Many Mountains is worth a read for many good reasons, though. As our world becomes increasingly smaller due to technology and other advancements, books such as Taste of Many Mountains open a window to the poorest of the poor that can be found along any supply chain. 

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Facts:
  • Pages:  297
  • Year originally published: 2014
  • Author: Bruce Wydick is professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco. He has published academic articles in leading economics journals and was the lead investigator of the worldwide impact study of Compassion International's child sponsorship program.
  • You might want to know:  For more information on poverty in Guatemala, consider watching Living on One Dollar. It's a documentary that's available on Netflix. Although apparently not associated with this book in any way, the similarities are striking. 
Purchase on Amazon: The Taste of Many Mountains by Bruce Wydick 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Review: The Me Project by Kathi Lipp

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If you have been reading Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp

you will love The Me Project!

Make 2015 the Year of Finally Getting Things Done!

The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted

Has the Eeyore Syndrome got you down?   You know, the idea that nobody cares what you do?   Or perhaps you are thinking that it doesn't matter what your dreams are because they are all just far-off dreams anyway? 

Time to stop the negative chatter that clouds your thinking!    It's time to listen to those dreams and even, just perhaps, chase those dreams as if they are a calling from God.

Kathi Lipp has written a fabulous, uplifting book that motivates you to reach for the stars.    With an amazing "can do" attitude, Lipp details how to identify those dreams and how to achieve them in her new book The Me Project.

Using a positive journaling technique she calls "The 50/50 journal," Lipp outlines ways to take baby steps towards the life that God has planned for you.   Gone are all of the excuses that women typically hide behind as Lipp details chapter by chapter how you can embrace those dreams even without leaving your present responsibilities behind.

Reading The Me Project was like talking to a wise friend that isn't afraid to kick you in the backside in order to get you off the couch.   I really did enjoy this book and eagerly started my own 50/50 journal.   Lipp's idea of purposeful living really resonated with me as I quickly approach a certain birthday of a certain higher number.   Lipp's writing style is easy and breezy with some humor throughout that actually made me laugh out loud.  

"The Me Project":

Has that rush to make (and break) New Year’s resolutions already waned? According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, taking small steps every day will not only help you stay committed to your goal, but will also help you ultimately achieve that goal when obstacles come up. Author Kathi Lipp wants you and your friends to live out those dreams—and have some fun along the way.

As women, we forget the goals and dreams of our younger years. The busyness of everyday life gets in the way. To-do lists replace goals. The Me Project provides women with fun and creative ways to bring back the sense of purpose and vitality that comes with living out the plans and dreams God has planted in our hearts. Kathi Lipp’s warm tone and laugh-out-loud humor motivates women to take daily steps toward intentional goals. The end result? We get back our lives and enjoy living in the confidence of a purposeful life in spite of our chaotic schedules.

This handy guide coaches women to do one simple thing toward achieving our goals each day for three weeks. A woman experiencing the exhilaration of a rediscovered life offers more as a wife, mother, friend, volunteer, career woman.

Author Info:
Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project, serves as food writer for Nickelodeon, and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults. For more information visit her website:

Notes from the Author, Kathi Lipp:

Three Super-Simple Kick Start Living Your Dreams – in the next 15 minutes
Is there a dream that God has given you, but you are waiting until the kids are grown and you have money in the bank before you get started?  You may not be able to enroll in a month long pastry making class or take a week off of work to get started on your novel, but today you can take three little baby steps to making your dream a day-to-day reality.

1. Go Public with It - It’s a little scary to tell the world what you want to do when you grow up—but this is one little step could get you closer to living your dream than almost any other. Plus—it takes very little time and you don’t have to raid your kid’s college fund to make it happen.  When you gather up all your courage and tell your best friend, “I want to learn how to paint,” suddenly she remembers an old art book she has laying around she would love to give you, or her friend from church who teaches art classes. The people you know and love want to be a resource. Give them the privilege of being a part of making your dream happen.

2. Join an Online Group - This is one of the simplest—and cheapest—ways to start exploring your passion. Find out who else is talking about restoring antiques and listen to their conversation. Start by Googling your interest along with the term “online groups.” You will be amazed with the number of people who want to talk about the proper way to care for 1950’s lunchboxes as much as you do.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Pray  -  I remember the first time I put an offer in on a house—I wanted it more than I had wanted almost anything else in my life. While I knew that I had dozens of other people praying on my behalf, I was too scared to pray.  I didn’t want God to tell me no. I was afraid to pray until my co-worker Kim asked me (in a loving, kind way), why I didn’t believe that God wanted His best for me. Don’t be afraid to pray—as with anything amazing in my life, the path is never what I expected, but it has always been obvious that God’s hand has been on it the whole way.

Pages:  209
Year Originally Published:  2011
You might want to know:   This book could change your life
Source:   Received complimentary from KCWC in exchange for an honest review, but the opinion is all mine.

Book Review: Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart

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Great quote:  "Along the way, I followed sprouted grain flour as if it were a breadcrumb trail, leading me to pulp made from sprouted grains, to millers and bakers who had controversial perspectives on baking with whole grains and wild yeast, even back into the gluten-free world...along the way, I visited some arcane corners populated by unusual flours make from grape skins and seed or from coffee cherries...proving, once again, that bread is far from dead. Welcome to the new bread revolution!" (Page 5)

Book Summary:  "Fifty recipes and formulas that use sprouted flours, whole and ancient grains, nut and seed flours, alternative flours (such as teff and grape skin), and allergy-friendly and gluten-free approaches."  (Random House)

My thoughts:  Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart is a tough book to review. It is marketed to all bakers, even specifically mentioning beginning bakers. 

Truly, I do not doubt these recipes and I'm absolutely certain that following this book will produce wonderful breads. It is obvious that Reinhart and his cohorts are master chemists when it comes to the art of bread-making. This book, however, is an extremely advanced and sophisticated encyclopedia of bread-making knowledge, certainly not a book for a beginner.

Written inside the front cover are the words "beginning bakers will rejoice in his demystification of ingredients and methods and all will come away thrilled by bread's new frontier."  Uh, nope. Pretty fancy words there, but as a beginning baker I can assure you I was not thrilled. Mildly intrigued maybe, but definitely not thrilled. 

Book Review: What is Found, What is Lost by Anne Leigh Parrish

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Great quote:  "Freddie let it go. She didn't have the strength to defend herself further. She wanted to forget Lorraine's visit. She wanted to forget Lorraine. She never would, though, at least not in the lifetime." (Page 18)

Book summary:  "Meet Anna, Lorraine, Freddie, and Beth. Four women, who share blood and not much more, except that each is searching for something lost. Anna seeks to find her place in a new world. Lorraine looks to an all-powerful god to forget herself in. Freddie searches for herself without religion to forget her mother’s overbearing doctrine. Beth can’t find her soul in her mother’s walled off eyes.
For four generations these women have run away, run away from their own mother, their family, until Freddie sees in her daughter, Beth, the chance to break the cycle. With the support of her sister and the lingering words of a deceased husband, Freddie takes the first steps to healing herself and her relationship with her daughter, by confronting her past and her relationship with God." (Spark Point Studio)

My thoughts:  In What is Found, What is Lost, Anne Leigh Parrish focuses on faith, love and accepting oneself. 

This is the second book by Anne Leigh Parrish that I have reviewed. (Lavish Bookshelf Review of Our Love Could Light the World) Again I'm struck by the talent that Parrish holds. She is a true master of words, able to place the reader in the middle of the mundane while making it all seem new. 

Book Review: Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

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Great quote:  "She turned to look at the château, three hundred meters in the distance, and sighed despairingly. Its pale, blush-covered walls, the shutters pained a traditional light blue, and framed by tall cypress trees on either side, melted into the softness of the approaching sunset. Simply, yet elegantly designed to fit in with its rural surroundings, the house reflected perfectly the understated yet noble lineage both of them had been born from.
Emilie felt a sudden tenderness for the building. It had been orphaned, too. Recognized, but ignored in terms of its basic needs, yet maintaining an air of graceful dignity under duress - she felt an odd camaraderie with it." (Page 16)

Book summary:  "An aristocratic French family, a legendary château, and buried secrets with the power to destroy two generations torn between duty and desire." (back cover)

My thoughts:  Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley is written in two time periods:

Constance, Edouard and his blind sister Sophia, complete with a set of Nazi Officer twins are found in this book's historical fiction. Set in France at the height of World War II, their lives are forever changed through choices made and because of circumstances beyond their control. 

Emilie, the young heiress, and twin brothers Alex and Sebastian comprise the modern era of this novel. As the historical intrigue unfolds, Emilie and the brothers learn just how their lives are entwined

Book Review: Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior

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Book summary:  "The enthralling biography of the woman writer who helped end the slave trade, changed Britain’s upper classes, and taught a nation how to read." (Book Look)

My thoughts:  Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior chronicles the life of Hannah More - a post, a reformer and an abolitionist. Hannah More (1745-1833) is one of those women, nearly forgotten by history, that made an extraordinarily tremendous impact in her day. From More's very humble beginnings, she rose within the power ranks of London in the late 1700s. More counted as friends many of London's literary and political elite. Using her vast influence, More grew as a leader in the early Evangelical movement of London. Eventually More would successfully advocate for better social standards for the poor, better educational opportunities for children and for the abolition of slavery in England.

Without a doubt, Hannah More is an endlessly fascinating figure.
This book about her is not so endlessly fascinating.