Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Genuine Fraud gets 4.5 Stars {mystery, thriller, ya lit}

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart is her latest YA/Young Adult/Teen read reminds me of We Were Liars, another Lockhart book as a mystery and a thriller.  Check full review on the blog for content, If it is a clean read. Alohamora Open a Book Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I like E. Lockhart's books.  I'm a sucker for contemporary fiction, and if you add a mystery aspect to it I am sold.  I loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and thoroughly enjoyed We Were Liars.  

Lockhart's latest book, Genuine Fraud, was published last fall, and I'm a fan.  I give Genuine Fraud 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book review. 

I thought the layout of the story, told backwards, hence the story starting at chapter 19, was interesting, fun, and is what made it a mystery.  Sure, this was probably the most confusing story layout I've read.  The book started on chapter 19, next came 17, and then it was down from there.  Chapter 18 finally appeared at the end of the book which told you what happened.  This layout definitely made the book unpredictable, and kept you, as the reader, involved in the story.  Overall, the layout was confusing, but it worked really well with this story.  

I thought the main characters Imogen and Jule especially showed a lot of depth.  However, the reason the story didn't get the coveted 5 star rating is b/c I didn't care for any of the characters.  I know, I don't have to like the characters and Lockhart wrote Jule that way for a reason.  However, for ME to LOVE the book and give it 5 stars liking the characters is definitely a big deal. What about you?  Does it matter if you care for the characters at all?   

Genuine Fraud reminded me more of We Were Liars than The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  Both stories are mysteries and have a definite shock/surprise factor at the end.   Personally though, if you liked Lockhart books then you should definitely give Genuine Fraud a checkout... then tell me what you thought. 

Happy Young Adult/Teen Mystery/Thriller reading!


Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: 14 - 18 year olds, 9th grade and up.

Clean Read: No, there is murder, alcohol, sexual assault, and language
Worth a Check Out: Yes
Buy It or Not: Not for a personal library
Read Aloud: No. 

Lesson Ideas: Mental illness. Sexual Assault. Story layout- in reverse order. 


Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Minute Homemade Hot Chocolate {instant pot, dairy free, paleo}

Instant Pot Hot Chocolate- gluten free, vegan, dairy free, paleo, easy to make and ready in 5 minutes. Simple, fast, quick, and delicious homemade hot chocolate drink. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I thoroughly enjoy my Instant Pot.  I'm not one of those that use my IP every day, but I use it a couple times a week.  I still think it was a great purchase; especially b/c of how it cooks eggs perfectly. 

I absolutely adore Hot Chocolate.  It is one of my favorite drinks, and it always brings fond memories or hot cocoa at my Grandpa's Ranch.  We always had Swiss Miss up there, and it wasn't until a couple of years ago I realized I could, and probably should, make my own.  Well, Hot Chocolate in the Instant Pot makes the job incredibly fast, easy, and oh so delicious.  

This recipe can easily be adjusted for a dairy free diet.  It can also work for vegans and paleo diets as well.  I've enjoyed this drink paleo style, but I actually prefer the milk version.  


However, no matter which version you make this 5 Minute Homemade Hot Chocolate it is fast and delicious.  Enjoy! 

5 Minute Instant Pot Hot Chocolate
Recipe: Alohamora adapted from Paleo Cooking
Active Time: 2 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 3 cups

Ingredients: 
3 c. milk (dairy, almond, coconut, etc.) 
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp sugar (granulated or coconut palm)
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Optional Toppings: cinnamon, nutmeg, whipped cream (heavy or coconut whipped cream), marshmallows

Directions: 

  1. Combine the 4 ingredients in an Instant Pot stainless steel bowl. 
  2. Stir to combine everything and secure the Instant Pot's lid, and secure the valve into the "sealed" position.  
  3. Set the Instant Pot to Manual and change the time to 5 minutes. 
  4. When the time is down, quick release the valve and open it when able. 
  5. Either stir to combine everything, or place an immersion blender in the pot to blend the ingredients together. 
  6. Serve the hot chocolate drink warm, or keep the warming button on.
  7. Top the mugs with any desired toppings. 
  8. Store leftovers in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
  9. Enjoy! 

Happy Delicious and Quick Homemade Hot Cocoa Eating! 



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lighter than My Shadow gets 3.5 Stars {ya lit, graphic novel}

Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green is a teen, young adult memoir graphic novel.  Intense quick read about anorexia, mental illness, depression, sexual abuse, sexual assault, tough, sad, recovery. Sponsored. Book review. 3.5 out of 5 Stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green is a young adult/teen memoir in graphic novel format.  This fast/quick read is perfect for reluctant readers, and anyone that has struggled with an eating disorder and/or sexual abuse.  

This book is heavy and talks about many tough subjects including the pain, frustration, and recovery from those subjects.  However, this tough heavy book is quite well done.  Overall, Lighter than My Shadow felt real and raw; it was hard to read at times, but it was also enlightening and encouraging. 

Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green is a teen, young adult memoir graphic novel.  Intense quick read about anorexia, mental illness, depression, sexual abuse, sexual assault, tough, sad, recovery. Sponsored. Book review. 3.5 out of 5 Stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Lighter than My Shadow gets 3.5 out of 5 stars in my book review.  I think the artistic vision is great, and telling this story in graphic novel format was a great choice.  However, I sometimes found myself confused with the pictures and what exactly was going on.  This book is definitely not clean as there are drawings of Katie naked and drawings of the sexual abuse.   

I will say that this book is not one I am going to own, and I don't think it is one most people are going to buy.  However, there is a definite place for it in a school or public library collection.  Lighter than My Shadow has value, and it should be accessible for all those that need it.  Anyone looking for a help and hope with anorexia, eating disorder, recovery, and sexual abuse should definitely pick this book up.  It's a beautiful and valuable book; though, it is definitely not a book for everyone. 

  
Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green is a teen, young adult memoir graphic novel.  Intense quick read about anorexia, mental illness, depression, sexual abuse, sexual assault, tough, sad, recovery. Sponsored. Book review. 3.5 out of 5 Stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/


Happy reading even if it is an incredibly difficult subject. 


Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Best For: 14 years old and up, 9th grade and up. 

Clean Read: No. Not clean at all, though in context with this tough subject.
Worth a Check Out: No, unless you want a great perspective on mental illness, eating disorder, and sexual assault.
Buy It or Not: No.
Read Aloud: No.
Lesson Ideas: Anorexia, eating disorder, mental illness, depression, sexual assault, sexual abuse, recovery, perspective. 



I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own.



Monday, January 8, 2018

Egg Roll in a Bowl {low carb, paleo, whole30, gluten free}

Egg Roll in a Bowl, a healthy low carb dinner that meets Paleo and Whole30 requirements.  Diet friendly. and Easily gluten free. Recipe. Dinner. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I've recently been trying to have low-carb dinners since I started to use The Transform App for nutrition and workouts lately.   It's been a handy program that lays out carb cycling, and I think the workouts are great as well.  Now, I do pay for the app; I'm not sponsored by them.  Just sharing what I'm using.  

I tell you about the app, b/c I've been needing more low-carb dinners in my repertoire, and that's where the Egg Roll in a Bowl comes into play.  


We all, husband kids and myself, are big fans of this recipe.  Enjoy! 


Egg Roll in a Bowl
Recipe: Alohamora adapted from PeaceLoveandLowCarb 
Active Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients: 
1 Tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp ground ginger
dash of salt/pepper
1/2 Tbsp Sriracha
1 (16oz) bag coleslaw
1 c. shredded carrots
3 Tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos*
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Toppings: green onions, sesame seed, Sriracha

*make sure gluten free, if needed

Directions: 

  1. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add garlic and onion to the pan and saute until onions are translucent. 
  3. Add the pork, ginger, salt, pepper, and Sriracha to the pan.  Saute everything until the pork is cooked through. 
  4. Add the coleslaw, carrots, soy sauce, and rice vinegar to the pan and saute it until the coleslaw is tender.  
  5. Before serving add any toppings you desire. 
  6. Enjoy! 
  7. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Happy Healthy Low Carb Eating! 


Do you have any Low-Carb healthy dinner recipes you love?  Please share.  I'm always looking for more options. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

My Favorite Books of 2017 {Picture Books, Middle Grade Lit, YA Lit, Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction}


My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com


I read or listened to a lot of books in 2017.  I'm super behind on writing reviews for them, but I wrote a review on all of these books here on my blog, Instagram @alohamroaopenabook, or my Goodreads Megan-Alohamora Open a Book.

Of all the books I read to this year, these 15 are my favorite.  What are some of your favorite books you read in 2017?  

My 15 Favorite Books of 2017

Picture Books
My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Inspiring. Educational. An all around fantastic book. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

This Caldecott Honor book has gorgeous pictures, and a beautifully educational book. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Such a sweet story story about friendship and giving. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

This is one of my absolute favorite books to read aloud, and my very favorite version of this story. 

Middle Grade Fiction
My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Fantastic book!  This quick read provides a valuable new perspective on the experiences of refugees. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

This Newbery Medal winner writes a beautiful and magical story. 

Young Adult
My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

I love all three March books.  These non-fiction graphic novels about the civil rights movement are so well done.  

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

The follow-up book to the Flawed series is fast paced and a great addition to this dystopian series. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Fast paced mystery like novel with a strong female character.  Basically, a really fun read. 

Adult Fiction
My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

This mystery may be my favorite James Patterson book.  Well paced story leaves you guessing until the end. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

I'm not sure if I can say this is my favorite Moriarty book, but I did love it.  I also loved that the story was unpredictable. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Picoult did it again.  She wrote a great book about a controversial yet relatable topic. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

This historical fiction is fantastic.  It's heart warming, emotional, and powerful. A definite favorite this year. 

Non-Fiction
My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Amazing!  Definitely listen to this one (Chip and Joanna read it).  This book is inspiring, hilarious, and 100% enjoyable. 

My favorite books of 2017 include picture books, middle grade fiction, YA- Teen reeds, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  The books are mysteries to contemporary; historical fictions and memoirs.  These books are great audiobooks, and they make great read alouds. teachers, kids, teens, toddlers, fun books, funny. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

If you love sports, athletic shoes, or own your own business then you should definitely give this book a read.  Excellent book! 

These are my favorites. Do we have any in common, or do you have some to add to my TBR list? 

Happy Fantastic Book Reading in 2018!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Spanish and English Words gets 3.5 Stars {concept, picture}

My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words by Sophie Fatus a dual language non-fiction book to browse. Perfect for dual language classrooms or kids to learn spanish. Book review gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I always wanted my children to be bilingual.  I was extremely interested in them attending a dual language classroom; but it didn't work out.  However, I do love having this book in our personal collection.  My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words by Sophie Fatus is a fun language concept book.  

My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words by Sophie Fatus a dual language non-fiction book to browse. Perfect for dual language classrooms or kids to learn spanish. Book review gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

In this Spanish and English Words book, I think the illustrations are cute, but not necessarily amazing.  I love the various settings on each page b/c it allows the reader to get a wide variety of Spanish vocabulary words.  I feel the story that is trying to be told is okay.  At times the story is a little confusing.  This is a good book, and that's why it earned 3.5 out of 5 stars in my book review. 

My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words by Sophie Fatus a dual language non-fiction book to browse. Perfect for dual language classrooms or kids to learn spanish. Book review gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I had to of course include the library page :) and the animals are fun too.  

If you are looking for a Spanish/English dual language book to learn vocabulary words then definitely check this one out.  
  
My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words by Sophie Fatus a dual language non-fiction book to browse. Perfect for dual language classrooms or kids to learn spanish. Book review gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Happy Spanish/English Words Book Reading!

My Big Barefoot Book of Spanish and English Words by Sophie Fatus

Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Best For: 6 years old and up, 1st grade and up. 

Clean Read: Yes
Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: No.
Read Aloud: No.
Lesson Ideas: Spanish/English Dual Language classroom.

I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Chocolate Coconut Bites {no bake, vegan, healthy, gluten, egg, and dairy free}

Chocolate Coconut Bites rolled in almonds or macadamia nuts. No bake. Delicious. Vegan. Healthy treat. Easy to make.  So Yummy! Recipe. Gluten Free. Dairy Free. Egg Free. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook www.alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

Happy New Year!  My family has new goals.  I have new goals.  It's a new year, so I guess a new blog post is necessary. ;)  Actually, one of my goals is to post 3 times a week.  I want to go back to blogging more book reviews, more book lists, and share the many recipes I have been wanting to share with you for months now.  

Life has been busy, but isn't that the story of everyone's lives.  The past few months I have been working on a new business.  Right before Christmas I officially launched Meg's Cookie Crate.   My new business is a cookie business.  You order the cookies and I mail them anywhere in the USA.  It's actually really fun making and sending the cookies, but starting the business was far more time consuming than I thought it'd be.  

I truly credit the cookie business idea to my grandpa and a coworker.  My grandpa died in March, but for the previous 6 years or so I would send him cookies once a month or so in the mail.  My grandpa would give me good critique on the cookies including their taste, softness, and how they traveled.  Not only did my cookies make my grandpa happy (he loves chocolate and always have 1 cookie with lunch), but it helped keep him from getting too thin.  After my grandma's death my grandpa became quite thin.  It was at that point the cookie boxes, that even his postman came to know, began being sent.  In the many boxes I mailed him I was able to perfect the art of mailing cookies and keeping them fresh.
   
After I had many people comment on how they wish I'd mail them cookies it was my coworker who finally gave that final push to give this cookie crate business a try.  Now, you can easily order online from 14 different cookies (gluten free and egg free options as well) pick when and where I mail them, and you can even include a little message if sending it to someone.  

This new small business is busy, but it is still fun.  

That whole story was a long way of me telling you, I've slacked off the past few months with my blog.  However, I'm back and I have new goals that I can run my small business and not neglect my blog.  


To start off the year, I always feel like a somewhat healthy recipe is needed.  These no bake gluten free, egg free, dairy free, protein packed vegan chocolate coconut bites definitely fit that healthier recipe.  Enjoy!  

Chocolate Coconut Bites
Recipe: Alohamora adapted from my friend Liesl 
Active Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Servings: 1.5 - 2 dozen small bites (2 tsp)

Ingredients: 
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. cocoa, unsweetened
1/4 c. chocolate protein powder*
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 c. chopped nuts, almond or macadamia

*Choose a plant based protein powder for a vegan bite. 

Directions: 

  1. In a medium bowl combine the first 5 ingredients.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. 
  3. Chop the nuts and place aside.  I love both almonds and macadamia nuts.
  4. Use a small cookie scoop, or a spoon, to make 2 tsp sized balls.  
  5. Roll the balls in the already chopped nuts. 
  6. Store the bites in a sealed container and store them in the fridge.
  7. Remove a bite as you desire to eat and enjoy them.  The bites will not become solid frozen. 
  8. Enjoy! 

Happy Healthy Treat Eating!