Archive for December 9th, 2015


Hark – A Christmas Collection by Justin Bog

(Excerpt from Goodreads) A beautifully written collection of short stories from critically acclaimed Pacific Northwest writer Justin Bog, Hark—A Christmas Collection explores the range of emotions surrounding the holidays. From melancholy to madness, loss and despair to hope and forgiveness, these six tales shimmer with feelings, some we’d rather stuff away, that Christmas can evoke.

Within Hark—A Christmas Collection, a retired police officer faces another Christmas Eve while bitter recollections haunt his every turn, a lonely businesswoman plans to seduce Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, a widow grows anxious searching for a misplaced present she intended to send to her ungrateful sister, a woman can’t keep the images of her past—these ghosts—from haunting the life she chooses to live; while attending a Christmas party in Sun Valley, Idaho, a bookstore clerk and his partner are taught a lesson most un-holidaylike, and, in the final story, a couple portrays Mr. & Mrs. Claus in their small island town holiday festivities and face a grim diagnosis together.

Set in colorful locations around the United States, from Anacortes, Washington, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Sun Valley, Idaho, each tale focuses on people who struggle to make good choices, learn lessons, and maybe even find peace during the holiday season.

A bonus story, Poseidon Eyes, from Booktrope’s upcoming reissue of Sandcastle and Other Stories—The Complete Edition, is included.


My Review

5 stars

This is a collection of six stories revolving around Christmas. But the part I loved is the variety of emotions that is brought into each one. Most people think of Christmas and think of wonderful family gatherings, parties, and presents. This is not true for everyone and this collection of stories shows that really well. This is a great collection that has a police officer reliving a turning point in his life, how adults can affect children, and a Christmas party full of tension.

I won’t say they are dark stories but they have more realistic when compared to other traditional Christmas stories. All of the characters will draw you into their stories and will leave you smiling or with a tear in your eye depending on which one you read.

This is a great collection that I think everyone should read, even if it’s just to remind them that not everyone has a sparkly and super happy Christmas.

To purchase Hark – A Christmas Collection, or for more information, make sure to visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Justin Bog’s website.


I received Hark – A Christmas Collection for free from Sage’s Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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Ditching the Drive-thru:

After an exhausting day at work, hitting the drive-thru or nuking a pre-fab meal is all too often the go-to decision for feeding a family. Cooking a meal from scratch using fresh ingredients can seem beyond the average person’s time, energy, or financial means. But with mounting evidence pointing to processed food and our industrial food system as the culprits behind many of our nation’s health problems—including obesity, diabetes, and cancer—it’s now more important than ever to be fully informed about what goes on your family’s dinner plates.

If you’re ready to take control of your food choices but don’t know the difference between grass-fed versus grain-fed, pastured versus free-range, or organic versus sustainable, read this book to discover:

  • How to create your own thirty-month plan to convert your family from junk food to real food, without a revolt!
  • Recipes and advice on planning and prepping meals so you can make homecooked a habit for your family
  • Instructions for getting the most out of produce using techniques such as lacto-fermentation, dehydrating, and canning
  • Introduction to the world of farm-direct sales, including tips on locating local farms, seeing through marketing buzzwords, and shopping with CSAs Ditching the Drive-Thru exposes the insidious hold the commercial food industry has taken over the fast-paced lives of the average American and the danger these processed foods and diet plans pose to our health, environment, and emotional wellbeing.

Learn how to break free from the grind and return to a simpler relationship with food from farmers, not factories, and home-cooked meals that are created in your kitchen, not on a conveyor belt.

Buy the book:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

J. Natalie Winch

J. Natalie Winch lives in southern New Jersey, not far from where she grew up, with her husband, two children, and dogs. When she isn’t mothering, teaching, grading, or making lesson plans, Natalie runs the Hebrew School at her synagogue, coaches soccer, teaches lacto-fermentation classes, writes the occasional entry for her blog Food Empowerment (tradsnotfads.com), and fights the dust bunnies that threaten to take over her family room.

Connect with the author:   Website


My Review

5 stars

I grew up as a poor farmer. We didn’t have a lot of money so we learned to grow our own vegetables and some fruit. We had our own animals or supplemented in one way or another. My mother canned, froze, and did whatever she could to preserve the hard work done to get that food. Because of that we did get some frozen prepared meals and such from the grocery store but we rarely ate out or had fast food.

Fast forward to today and I admit that I hit the drive thru was too often. I have a busy schedule and don’t have a lot of time to actually cook my meals. I do have good intentions that lead me to not wanting to eat what I have made when at work or ending up having lots of spoiled food and money being thrown away.

I really like what Natalie has to say in Ditching the Drive-Thru. This book goes into everything. From how the food industry controls us and in a sense poisons us with all the crap they put in the “convenient” food that we all eat. Although there is a little more planning when you start making your own meals you will benefit so much better in the end. Yes, you may have to take the extra step of canning or buying another freezer, but realistically you have to ask yourself if your health and that of your loved ones worth these extra steps? And really, once you get into a habit it’s not that much of an extra step.

This book is a great inspiration to start cooking yourself. Get away from the processed foods, quit feeding you and your loved ones chemicals and crap. You will start seeing how you feel better, lose weight, don’t get sick as often and so many other things. The food industry has truly blinded us and made us a slave to fast food, eating out, and pre-packaged garbage.

Ditching the Drive-Thru doesn’t just give you that information, it also give you a starting point to get going on your own. This has inspired me to go clean out my chest freezer, my dehydrator, and sharpen back up on my canning skills. All I can say is Thank You Natalie.

If you want to get healthier and feel better this book is a great start. You will learn about the food industry and get pointers on how to transition to making your own meals. You will also learn some recipes and helpful hints to guide you.

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I received Ditch the Drive-Thru for free from iRead Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Win 1 of 20 copies of Ditching the Drive-thru

1 $30 Amazon gift card (open to USA & Canada)


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