Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reviews: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

A gorgeously written first novel
about the evocative lessons
that food can teach about life.
-back cover

Lillian grew up in a home without a father and without a mother's attention. Cooking held a fascination for her from a very young age and she took over that duty at home by the time she was eight. She sensed it and experienced it in ways that others did not. It intrigued her and it sustained her in an empty home. Now she is a famous chef who owns a restaurant and has been teaching cooking classes for seven years. Every Monday night, eight very different people join her for lessons. She reveals to them that she doesn't use recipes or have a list of essential ingredients. She creates using her senses. Each student will learn what they need to know, what is important for them to know. They will be transformed in her kitchen through aromas, textures and flavors.

Each chapter reveals the background of a different student. The reader gets to know them and discover what led them to take a cooking class. Their reasons are as varied as they are. A widower is grieving his loss, a young waitress lacks confidence and a woman is experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. They all are learning from Lillian. As their lessons progress they come to understand the whole experience. They delight in the colors and textures, savor the aromas and flavors, and are transformed in their personal lives in ways they never imagined.

I wasn't sure if I would like a book about food and cooking but it only took one page for me to fall under it's spell. Erica Bauermeister creates beauty with her words. The imagery is vivid and sensual. I could feel her creations and how she connects the whole experience with other aspects of life. In the first paragraph she describes Lillian as;
a watcher from the shore of her mother's ocean.
And at the end of the first chapter she supplies this description of a simple apple;
"It feels like fall", she commented, and bit into it. The sharp, sweet sound of the crunch filled the air like a sudden burst of applause and Lillian laughed at the noise.
So simple, so beautiful. I recommend this book to everyone. Enjoy.

Thank you to Shelf Awareness and Putnam for providing an advance copy of this book.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins



(Join the fun here!)

1. I'm a Taurus, I'm left-handed, I love to draw.

2. Why do I have so many good books to read and not enough time to read them?

3. How does this Twitter stuff work, anyway?

4. Every morning, I put slippers on my cold feet.

5. I consider myself lucky because of my amazing family and terrific friends.

6. One day we’ll see a cure for cancer.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with all of my kids, tomorrow my plans include cleaning closets (ugh!) and Sunday, I want to visit with my brothers!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Teens and Towels

My kids take a lot of showers. A lot. Yes they are teenagers so that is to be expected. They all go to school, play sports and have jobs. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they are clean but they use so many towels! When they were babies we bathed them and had cute little baby towels that were embroidered with their names and duckies and bunnies. They had hoods to dry their silky little baby heads. When they were dry we hung the towel up until the next bath. We were drying off a clean baby after all.

When they were small kids they were so much dirtier and so much harder to get into the tub. We had to drag them in and then drag them out. Once they were in they had a grand old time and didn't want to leave. They still used the cutesy towels and we still hung them up to dry.

Somewhere in the tween years this all changed, as I knew it would. Hey, I was a teenager once too. They suddenly couldn't get enough time to shower and primp. They started using more hair product than I did. Again, I was very grateful for the cleanliness but I swear they took longer than girls. The towels started following them to their rooms, sometimes never to return. We think they may have gone to the land of the missing sock from the dryer and the disappearing plastic plates and cups. When they did make the journey back they were always on the floor somewhere. Now, I do vacuum really I do, but with three kids and three dogs I just didn't want to be drying my clean self off with those furry towels. Into the hamper they went. And the towels weren't so cute anymore. In fact they were all starting to get down right ratty. Those wedding gifts can only last so long you know.

They are all teens now and one is even 20 (gulp!) They still have the same habits and my husband and I have to make a dash for the bathroom door whenever we see it open. Sometimes we make it sometimes we don't. Sometimes the towels get hung up to dry, sometimes they don't. They are better about it but consider what I am comparing that to. So I wash a lot of towels. With all of the showers it's usually a load every day, but I'm home and I can do laundry. I don't mind. We've even bought a few new towels along the way, the bigger the better. We don't have the bath sheets though. Ooh la la! Sometimes they cost more than real sheets. I can't see paying that much for something that's going to end up on the floor shortly after use. We seem to have picked up a few beach towels along the way too and they really like those. I don't recognize them or know where they came from. My kids insist it's no big deal and they won't be missed. In fact they were encouraged to take them from wherever they came from. Ha! Not by any of the moms I know. They need those beach towels for their own kids to throw on the floor!

So my kids are usually very clean and non-stinky. I can't say the same for their rooms though. Yuck. But that's another story. And if that's the worse thing my kids decide to do I will sing from the roof tops and maybe even do two loads of laundry every day. I really, really have great kids. They just use a lot of towels. A lot.

Mailbox Monday

~ February 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday
is hosted by Marica at The Printed Page.

Tuesday 2/17
- The Valentine Edition by Robin Shope came from a contest at Write By Faith. Thank you Donna!
- Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen came from Stacy's Bookblog. Thank you Stacy!

Thursday 2/19
- Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven by Susan Jane Gillman came from Miriam at Hatchette. Thank you Miriam!

Friday 2/20
- The Ranger's Apprentice #6 by John Flanagan from Nocturnal Reviews. Thank you Mandy!
-The Sinner's Guide To Confession by Phyllis Schieber from Savy, Verse & Wit. Thank you Serena!

And I hang my head in shame because I loaded up on books from my library again. I have plenty to read but I found some good stuff! And I'm sure I'll do it again this week! Apparently I'm not too ashamed.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Review: I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith

Both this diary and the story of
my life are dedicated to Mud:
a great listener.
- from the diary of Lorelei Lee Connelly

I meant to add this review a long time ago but obviously didn't get it done. Since I just posted a story about losing my pet dog this is the perfect place for it.

Lorelei Connelly is eleven years old and plans to some day be famous. After she is given a writing assignment for her 6th grade English class she decides to keep a journal about her life. This will ensure that future biographers will have the correct information when they write about her rise to fame. Lorelei decides to address here journal to Mud, her beloved pet cat and best friend who has recently died. This book is in diary format and has lighthearted and humorous details about the life of a middle schooler. She tells Mud about her best friend, the school bully, bickering with her two brothers and trying out for the school play. At the beginning of most entries she includes fun extras like her daily horoscope, word of the day and a cute cartoon cat.

But life begins to change when her parents' marriage is in jeopardy. Their constant arguing leads to a separation. Her writing becomes more introspective and mature. Instead of being a carefree adolescent, Lorelei is forced to confront adult issues. She bonds with her two brothers and they learn to help each other. Through it all she pours her heart out to Mud, revealing her hopes for the future and her fears for the present.

Although this is a Young Adult book written for the 8-12 age group it's enjoyable for adults as well. Yeardly Smith is best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson from the animated hit The Simpsons but is obviously also a talented author. Her first person account of a young person's daily life is authentic and believable. I recommend this to everyone.

Thank you to Shelf Awareness for an ARC of this book.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

I can't keep my days straight this week! I almost posted this yesterday on Thursday and then I almost forgot to post it today on Friday! I finally got it here. I'll have to start now to get ready for next week.



(Join the fun at Friday Fill-Ins.)

1. Give me sunshine and I'll be happy.

. Whenever my family is together we can get through anything.

3. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish, I wish tonight.

4. My husband's homemade Baked Ziti was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world we must take care of it!

6. Other than this one, Pudgy Penguin's Perusals is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to snuggling on the couch with a book, tomorrow my plans include watching my nephew's hockey game and Sunday, I want to sleep late!

Your Blog Is Fabulous Award

Bev at Merry Weather received this award from J. Kaye's Book Blog and was kind enough to pass this on to me and 4 other newbie bloggers. I'm passing this on to 5 blogs that are fairly new to me.

Your Blog is Fabulous Award goes to:
1) Writer's Block Review
2) Library Girl Reads
3) Stacy's Bookblog
4) Debbie's World
5) Shhh I'm Reading

Congratulations! Feel free to pass this on to other blogs that you think are fabulous!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Writing Contest

Marley & Me Finalist 1: My Girl Jenny

In January, The Friendly Book Nook had a fun contest for a couple of Marley and Me books. We were asked to write a story about a favorite pet. I didn't win but I was one of five finalists and it was lots of fun! I miss my dog but it was nice to remember what a great friend she was.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Among our many, many pets over the years, Jenny was the dog who touched my heart the most with her devotion. We got her when she was one and we had her for 13 more years. As with most of our animals, she was with a family who couldn’t keep her anymore. We took her sight unseen and when they arrived we saw a beautiful, long-haired, pure white, German Shepherd climb out of their car. She was so pretty and so large! We fell in love instantly. Even our cocker spaniel Boo accepted her. She was so gentle to our young children and to our smaller dog. All of them climbed on her and used her for a pillow. She attached to me immediately and became my girl. She followed me everywhere, wagging her tail. Every night she waited for me to go upstairs and slept on the floor next to my bed.

It seemed so sudden when she began to slow down. Her soft hair became more brittle, she started to lose teeth and her eyesight began to fade. She became more skittish and was afraid of loud noises and thunderstorms. Perhaps the hardest ailment was when her back legs began to weaken from arthritis. She still insisted on coming upstairs with me every night even when I knew it caused her pain. Eventually I tried to make her a bed in my son’s room on the first floor. She wouldn’t have to climb and she would still be close to someone at night. She refused and continued to follow me. Before too long it became so bad that she could only do the stairs one at a time. That wasn’t easy for her, especially with the bend in our staircase. I followed behind with my hand on her back so she wouldn’t slide backwards. She made it every time still wagging her tail. While it was hard going up it wasn’t easy coming down either. After the curve, her size and momentum would make her speed down the last 8 steps. Fearing an injury, I would walk backward down the stairs in front of her with my hands on her soft chest. After she made the turn I would use my weight to hold her back and slow her down. Together we made it down every morning.

When she developed a large tumor we knew it was bad. Knowing this was probably our last trip I had my kids and my husband say goodbye. I took her to the animal hospital and we sat in the waiting room, me petting her head and she wagging her tail. The vet told me that it was probably cancer and it was likely that she had more tumors. He could do tests and surgery but she was old. He didn’t recommend it and I didn’t want it. I told him that I knew it was time. He left the room so I could say goodbye. I wasn’t allowed to be with her at the end. I sat on the floor and hugged her close, rubbing her ears. I told her I loved her and would miss her terribly. I thanked her for coming to us and joining our family and I apologized to her for not being with her when she left. When the vet returned he let me say more good-byes and then he slipped off her collar and put on his leash. I hugged her again and I cried. As he took her away she was wagging her tail.

We have three dogs now - a cocker spaniel, golden retriever and chocolate lab. We adore them all and spoil them rotten. Allie and Cassie are young and Boo is now old. He is losing his sight and can’t hear well. He follows me everywhere and waits for me at night. He sleeps by my side of the bed. He doesn’t have a tail but he wags that little stump. Although I dread what is coming that’s part of the package. As much as it hurts it’s worth the love and everything good that we gain. I will always have a pet and they will always have me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday ~ February 16, 2009

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. This is my first listing and I did get some goodies. I have plenty to read but I love to see those envelopes and boxes arrive!

Monday 2/9 - Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas came from a contest at Booking Mama. Thank you!

Tuesday 2/10 - People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks from a contest at Debbie's World. Thank you!
- The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari from a contest at A Novel Menagerie. Thank you! (This was a great week for contests!)
- Five books from the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn. These are for a book blog tour in March sponsored by Hatchette.

Of course I picked up one or two (or three) books from the library too. It would be rude to leave with nothing!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Review: The Family Bones by Kimberly Raiser

A New Home,

A Loving Family,

A Dark Secret...

A family recently inherited family property in a small town in Pennsylvania. Steven's grandparents had owned the land and lived in the main house but had passed away. He hadn't been there for many, many years and didn't have the best memories from his visits there. Childhood tales of ghosts haunting the property and seeking revenge all came back to him when he took his family there for a visit. The Weavers had been so excited to know that they would be leaving the city to live in the country where they would have plenty of space to play. But will they be able to live there? As they begin to explore they discover secret passageways and hidden rooms. The truth begins to unfold and long buried secrets begin to surface. But some secrets must be kept at any costs, including the lives of anyone involved.

This is a fairly short Sci-Fi Thriller at 182 pages. I enjoyed the intrigue and the mystery behind this story. The secrets were revealed a little at a time and of course that left me wanting more. But other elements, such as the storyline, sometimes changed too quickly for me and were confusing. When there was an abrupt change, especially in the direction of the story or setting, I would lose track of what was going on. The characters evolved quickly. Although I would have liked just a bit more explanation the story did mandate quick changes. I did enjoy the Weaver family, especially the children, 8 year old Charlie and his younger sister Sara. They were sweet and loving but they were also strong and determined to be helpful in the face of adversity. There were other interesting characters as well. Although they didn't pay as big a role as the Weaver family it would have been interesting to know a bit more background and development for them. There is no graphic violence in this story and it would be suitable for young adults. I will be interested to read what comes next from this author.

Thank you to Kimberly Raiser for sending me an advanced copy of this book.

Think the eyes are creepy?
This is the
2nd Edition Cover

Be Mine?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins


ffi we go!

1. It seems like spring will never get here.

2. Put the seat down when you're done, please? (I live with all men!)

3. If I thought you needed my help I'd be there in an instant!

4. Your smile is what I think of most when I think of you.

5. To me, Valentine's Day means candy! (and love of course)

6.My family and friends give me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a belated birthday dinner for my hubby tomorrow my plans include watching cartoons in my jammies and Sunday, I want to do a little "spring" cleaning and a lot of reading!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good Luck!

Seasons in Western NY State

I love taking photos in the fall, especially around our house. After another large snowfall this winter I decided to try to take some photos of the same scenes from Autumn. I hope I can remember to do it in the Spring and Summer too. It's so beautiful here and I would love to have a comparison for a whole year. These are the most recent photos. It's hard to believe they are the same place, isn't it?

The hills...

the road...

the porch.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In the news today - Unstable economy impacts HarperCollins

I was sad to see the news on my homepage today.
This is just a section of an article of yet another closing.

HarperCollins lays off employees, closes division

NEW YORK (AP) -- The wave of book publishing cuts has now reached HarperCollins.

The publisher of such authors as Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, Oprah Winfrey favorite David Wroblewski and Newbery prize winner Neil Gaiman has closed and dispersed the Collins division, which specializes in nonfiction books, and laid off a "small percentage" of employees.

"Over the last several months, the unstable economy has had a significant impact on businesses and consumer spending," HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray wrote in a company memo sent Tuesday. "Our industry is not immune to these market forces, and there is increasing pressure on us, along with our retail and wholesale partners, to adjust."

Also departing is Lisa Gallagher publisher of the William Morrow division, where best sellers have included Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book," John Grogan's "Marlay & Me" and Dennis Lehane's "Mystic River."

A once-"recession proof" industry is no longer as Random House Inc., Simon & Schuster and MacMillan are among the many publishers who have reported layoffs in the past two months.

The rest of the article by the AP can be found here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Review: Multiple Bles8ings by Jon & Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson

Surviving to Thriving

Twins and Sextuplets.

I picked this up from the library as soon as I heard the family had written a book. I enjoy watching the Gosselins on Jon and Kate Plus Eight on TLC. Their twins are 8 and the sextuplets are 4. A camera crew started following the family in a few, one hour specials when the babies were less then a year old. The specials worked out so well that they now have a half-hour show on every week. There are no scripts and they film and show their good and bad moments. It even feels a bit uncomfortable at times when the kids are having tantrums or the parents are bickering. But they are average moments that are magnified in an unaverage family. I can't imagine having a film crew at my house when our "small" family of 5 is arguing! Not a chance! The Gosselins always make up and they obviously share an intense love for God and their entire family. Jon and Kate have said that they had always been curious about others themselves and now they want people to know what living with multiples is like. They do protect some private parts of their life but they are honest about what they share.

The story told in the book describes how Jon and Kate were unable to conceive children on their own so they began fertility treatments. They were eventually blessed with twin daughters and later hoped to add one more to finish their family
. After settling into their first house in central Pennsylvania they started treatments again. When they found out that Kate was pregnant they were overjoyed but they became overwhelmed at their first ultrasound appointment. As the doctor continued to count babies Kate began to sob and Jon fell to his knees. That day seven babies were counted. The more babies there are the greater the risk is to them and to the mother. It is a life threatening condition. They relied on their strong faith and the excellent doctors at Hershey Medical Center to guide them on their amazing journey.

Kate tells the story from her viewpoint and includes her thoughts and feelings during this stressful time. She emphasizes that not everyone agrees with their choices or their techniques but their first priority as parents is their children. She makes no apologies for how they handles things such as her intolerance for germs and dirt being brought into their home with fragile infants. She is also a very organized mother and with all of the children and all of the helpers they rely heavily on the structure. Jon and Kate also stress that they are very grateful for all of the help they have received since the births of the sextuplets and that they couldn't have done it on their own. They never looked for handouts but they knew that they could not always provide what was the best for their children so when help was offered they accepted it. Shifts of volunteers helped around the clock when the babies first came home from the hospital. Times were especially tough when Jon lost his job and they were living off their savings. Things have improved dramatically for them now and they give back to others, including charity for children's cancer research. Beautiful and humorous family photos are included throughout the book,
from their wedding day up to current time .

Whether you've heard of the Gosselins or not this is a touching story about one couple's hopes and dreams and what they did to accomplish them. And then what they did to survive them. I enjoyed reading more of their background and some behind the scenes information. I was impressed with their strength, their honesty and their faith. I was also impressed with the medical technology and the kind hearts of the people that belong to those brains.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

Thursday, February 5, 2009

1. Please don't tell I still have on my flannel jammie pants.

2. Can you wake up on time in the morning?

3. The color yellow makes me want to smile!

4. I have a craving for ice cream.

5. If my life had a pause button, I'd pause it on my kids, who are growing up too fast.

6. Eyes are the most interesting things to draw.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing with hubby, tomorrow my plans include visiting my brother and Sunday, I want to nap and read!

Book Giveaway!

is having a giveaway for 5 copies of The Italian Lover by Robert Hellenga. The contest ends 2/10 and there are some very creative ways to get extra entries. So hurry over for your chance to win a copy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Review: The Agency by Ally O'Brien

Meet Tess Drake.
She has everything she needs.
Now it's time to get what she wants...

We've had lots of discussions on book covers at different book clubs. When I was looking for the book cover to use for my review both of these came up. The second cover with the blue background is what was on my advance release copy. When I looked for it on other sites this is the one that also came up. I'm not sure what the other cover is being used for. Is it for the finished copy? I'll have to find out. There is nothing at all wrong with the first one but in my opinion it doesn't suit this book. At all. Not even close. The main character is a sexy agent in her mid-thirties in the "glamorous yet cut-throat" entertainment industry. She works at an international entertainment agency based in London. Now I ask you, which cover best conveys that message?

Tess Harper has worked for Bardwell International for 10 years and has made multimillion dollar deals. She is very good at what she does, in work and in bed. And she has been in some beds she shouldn't have been in. It's a fast pace with high stakes and Tess has made some enemies. Some of them are trying to move her out of the industry and when the senior partner of the agency dies a mysterious and dramatic death someone decides that Tess should take the fall. Cosima Tate is now the partner in charge and she would love to see it happen. Tess has been planning to start her own agency. She thought this could be the time to go for it but will she get the chance? Will she have any clients left to take with her?

There's plenty of twists and turns in this back biting, yet humorous story of one woman's ambitions. In her world betrayal can sometimes get you farther than loyalty. Tess has done both.

So I ask you again, which cover do you think is best for this book?

Thank you to Goodreads for my ARC of this book.