Tuesday, December 21, 2010

southern cookin'

I love southern cooking. I was lucky enough to live in South Carolina for half a year, and got to experience A LOT (about 10lbs worth) of amazing food. The seafood is just amazing, don't even get me started on crab legs and grouper fingers, we will be here all day. 

The Complete Southern Cookbook by Tammy Algood is an absolute godsend. As I mentioned a few months ago, I have been self-teaching myself how to cook, and these "down-home" recipes are a great asset to my collection. This cookbook has every southern delicacy you could possibly think of, and the format is great. It is separated into alphabetical sections based on the main ingredient, for example: bacon, beans, beef, beets, etc. I started off small, and cannot wait to try all of the recipes that have caught my eye. To prove to you that the best things in life are in fact free, I will type out the recipe for the most delicious sausage gravy you have ever tasted in your life.


¼ pound ground pork sausage, hot or mild
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 ¼ cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Reduce the heat to low and reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the skillet. Add the butter, stirring until it melts. Add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Gradually add the milk and increase the heat to medium. Stir constantly until thick and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved sausage, salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Serve warm, makes three cups.

You're welcome.

you cannot get more real than this.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a close relationship with their grandmother, I am one of the lucky ones. I am extremely close with my maternal grandmother, who is very close with my mother, and since I am also very close with my mother, we are a bit of a clique. BFF's if you will.

(my grandmother, Alice)

Author Adriana Trigiani is also one of the lucky ones, the luckiest kind. She had the opportunity to have a relationship with both of her grandmothers. She was fortunate enough to have them both on earth until she was in her thirties, and in her first non-fiction book, Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers, we are given the opportunity to get to know these two extraordinary women.

You will get the chance to meet the grandmothers, Lucy and Viola and see how they helped shape this author into the woman she is today. Trigiani took their lessons to heart, and applied them in her own life. Lucy and Viola were so honest and real, it's easy to see that they loved as much as they were loved. The knowledge and values of these women, along with Trigiani's renowned storytelling and wit, can be appreciated by everyone.

Monday, December 13, 2010

sweet stories about very special cats.

My love for animals is a bit irrational. In movies, I cry more when a pet dies than a human. Don't even get me started on Where the Red Fern Grows. I am aware that I am not normal. For those of you who are like me, and even you toned down versions, you will absolutely love, love, LOVE the stories in Dewey's Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions by Vicki Myron.

I for one am a cat person. I like dogs and all, but cats are SO easy. I am all for easy when it comes to easing myself into parenthood. Meet my first born son, Alfonso Plato Horton. 

Now back to Dewey, whose story is much more interesting than Alfonso's. Dewey became a library cat in 1988. As a kitten he was shoved into the book return slot of the Spencer Public Library, and after winning over the librarians, he won over the entire town. Dewey was a friend to all who came into this library. The children who were stuck there until close waiting for their parents to get out of work, had Dewey. He was a comfort to the jobless and the lonely.

Author Vicki Myron wrote a book about Dewey back in 2008. Many readers wrote to Vicki telling her how Dewey impacted their lives, and also shared stories of their own feline friends. Dewey's Nine Lives incorporates these stories and also shares more stories of Dewey, the cat who managed to wrap an Iowa town around his paws. 

there are non-gross, interesting facts in here too, really!

I never thought a book titled Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar would be so incredibly brilliant. David Haviland, I don't know you, or why you create books like this and Why Dogs Eat Poop, but you are clearly smarter than your maturity level. 

Just like his previous collection of useless facts, this new installment of gross maladies definitely makes you stop and think. Was Hitler addicted to crystal meth? Did a large breasted girl inspire the invention of the stethoscope? On a more serious note, why do boxers drink their own urine? 

These are the hard hitting questions that you have clearly been searching for the answers to. Search no longer, this book comes out December, 30th. The publisher of this book sent me TWO give-a-way copies, so if you'd like a chance to win a copy of this masterpiece BEFORE it even hits the shelves, e-mail your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

for the magical creature lover.

This has been a big year for mythical creatures. Vampires and werewolves have taken over our movie theaters through the Twilight Saga. Dragons, demons and ghosts are frequent visitors in the world of Harry Potter. Monsters are everywhere, so why not learn more about their legends?

Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves and Other Magical Creatures by Christopher Dell, sure covers a lot of bases, eh? This book is filled with information on these various creatures, and many more. Every culture in the world has their own legends of monsters. We have the Loch Ness Monster, the Chinese have Oriental Dragons, and the Greeks have their beasts. This extremely creative bestiary includes hundreds of pictures and also a background look into these monsters and their stories - where they came from, what they ate, etc. 

It is the perfect gift for the monster obsessed child, or bizarre adult in your life. You know you have one. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

the untold story of joey ramone.

I Slept With Joey Ramone, is certainly a title that grabs your attention, but it is not what it seems at first glance. No, this is not the memoir of a groupie, nor is it the story of a woman scorned. Look closer and you will see that it is A Punk Rock Family Memoir written by Joey Ramone's brother Mickey Leigh along with Legs McNeil. This is the true story of what it was like being the brother of everyone's favorite Ramone. 

From childhood to Joey's tragic death of lymphoma, Mickey takes us on a journey and shows us how four guys turned themselves into The Ramones - changed the music world - and allowed a ridiculous feud to end what the world thought was iconic. 

Joey Ramone's story has never been so thoughtfully and deeply told than by his brother. 

crime, drugs and paranoia.

I am seriously behind on my review of Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. This book came out in August of LAST YEAR. Oops. The reason why I decided to review it, even though it is not exactly a new release, is because it was really, really good. Since it is old, you can probably buy it for cheap, silver lining.  

Doc Sportello is an extremely likable main character, probably because he's a detective who's solving crimes while stoned all over southern California during the psychedelic early 70's. He hears from an old girlfriend who asks him to investigate the disappearance of an unscrupulous businessman whose bodyguard has turned up dead. Doc's investigations take him on a harrowing ride through various dark corners of the surf scene, often due to the machinations of a police officer called Bigfoot, with whom Doc has an uneasy relationship. After some crazy plot twists and even crazier women, Doc seems on the verge of uncovering a vast underworld conspiracy known as the Golden Fang.

Inherent Vice has everything you could possibly want in a detective thriller - drugs, sex, paranoia, pop culture, zombies, politics, more drugs - the works. And it wouldn't be a real detective novel without a quick jaunt to Vegas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

hil duff.

I've loved Hilary Duff since her Lizzie McGuire days on the Disney channel. Though I do love her, the thought of her writing a novel made me a bit, curious. Elixir is for young adults, which fits her persona well, but I was still just a little skeptical. 

Seventeen-year-old Clea Raymond's father disappeared a year ago. Though there was a funeral once the search ended, she cannot shake the feeling that he is still alive. They found no body, and Clea cannot seem to give up hope. Clea's mother, a prominent Washington DC politician, is rarely home, and burries her grief in her work. After a holiday trip to Europe with her best friend Rayna, Clea discovers something odd about her vacation photographs. There is a man in almost every picture, a man she does not know. From the start of the vacation to the end, the same man appears in her shots. Clea has no idea what's going on, but Ben, who is a great friend to her, and her family, seems to think that her father would be able to explain it. They go on a quest to find him, and discover something completely unimaginable, the elixir of life.

After reading through Elixir in a few days, my opinion? For a first time novel, she only lost me a few times. At the beginning, and when the story started to really get interesting, there were a few times when I was thinking, WTF is going on!? All in all, I thought it was a nice piece of completely unrealistic fiction. Interesting plot and characters, but if there is not going to be a sequel, then the ending kind of sucked.

For a chance to win a copy of this book SIGNED BY HILARY DUFF, e-mail your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

depressingly beautiful. if there is such a thing.

Per Petterson is a phenomenal writer, that is obvious. I have been hearing that his latest book, I Curse the River of Time, lacks a little "oomph," and in some aspects I agree. I do however think that it is worth the read. If you have certain expectations of this book, you will be disappointed. This is not supposed to be a happy story, it is supposed to be emotional and sad. If you don't expect to be uplifted by Petterson's message, then you will enjoy this book. 

The narrator, 37-year-old Arvid's mother is dying and his wife is asking for a divorce. He is a childish man whose world is falling apart. Arvid is not a character you will love. His mother travels to a second home at water's edge to live out her final days and die among her fond memories. Arvid follows her for a number of reasons.

Though the story line is mildly depressing, Petterson's descriptions in this book are beautiful. If writing could have a physical feature, his would be gorgeous.

non-economists, don't be scared.

I was not a huge fan of economics in high school, and I gotta say - that has not changed. I find that this subject can be rather confusing and boring. Freefrall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy by Jospeh E. Stiglitz does not give you all of the answers, but it is a great introduction for those of us who are unfamiliar with our country's economy. 

Stiglitz writes in a simple, straightforward, JARGON-FREE language. Everyone has their opinions on what our country can do to turn our economy around, and Stiglitz is no exception. The difference is, he actually makes sense. Stiglitz beleives that there is too much short-term thinking driving our decision makers, and nothing is being done to fix our major problems. Can't disagree with that, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, where is Robin Hood when we need him?

Don't even get me started on unemployment, Stiglitz touches on this issue among many others. It's not a bad read at all, I actually kind of enjoyed it.

the c word.

No one enjoys talking about cancer. It's not the ideal topic at the dinner table, or while you are out for drinks with your friends. Cancer is scary, and it's everywhere. Even if you have not experienced it first hand, you know someone who has. Someone who beat it and someone who did not. You may not be best buds, but you know them in some way. 

The Emperor of All Maladies is a biography of cancer written by renowned oncologist, Siddhartha Mukherjee. It is basically a research book on cancer, that flows like a story. We get to meet his patients, whom Mukherjee captures beautifully, and it does get very personal at times. Cancer is all consuming, and you can see the fear and pain that comes with it. 

Many of you have been there, but for those who have not, here's your chance to see what it's really like to experience such a heartbreaking disease. This book is clear and understandable, and it may help you relate to your friends or family members who have been through the journey. 

exploring anger.

With the holiday season comes beautiful decorations and joy, but this time of year also brings with it some drama, family drama, relationship drama, you name it. The reason why you may choose one book over another, is whether it is relatable to you or not. Especially when it comes to memoirs, you want to read about someone that you can realistically see. Fury, a memoir by Koren Zailckas, touches on the anger that may not be foreign in your own life. 

If you liked Smash, Zailcka's first memoir, then you will absolutely LOVE Fury. Fury begins with a break-up, what grown person cannot relate to that? It's a pretty awful break-up, and it can be painful to read. The story really gets interesting when she brings in her extremely dysfunctional family. She has never been able to express her anger in a healthy way because of the way she was raised. Koren was never taught to express her feelings. She was to simply bottle them up, and we all know that repressed anger can easily lead to an explosion of fury. There is a love story included, for you romantics. You will not be disappointed. 

It's Zailcka's storytelling that puts Fury at the top of any Book Club's reading list.

*To win a copy of this memoir, e-mail your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

at home with bill bryson.

Bill Bryson has created a book unlike anything I have ever read in At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Some of you might think that a book about a person's home is simply boring, I agree. Somehow Bryson turned this book about every day things, into a bestseller. It's really incredible. 

Bryson was a little ahead of the game in the sense that his house happens to be a Victorian parsonage in England. Makes things a bit more interesting right from the get go. What he is trying to show us is that all history ends up in the home. We study history in school and for personal reasons, yet we do not study where this history comes from, the people who lived it and how they did so. Bryson wanders around his house incorporating historical facts. You see his humor as well as his ability to create something like a bathroom and turn it into a remarkable history lesson.

Believe it or not, it's actually quite entertaining. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

not exactly book related....

One of my friends introduced me to this fabulous photo editing website! 
AHHH, I am obsessed. 
Some of the features cost money, but some are FREE. 

The polaroid frame is free and it's like the best one! 


Friday, November 19, 2010

say goodbye to the ladies of vows.

Let me just start by saying that I HATE when a series I love has to end. I know endings are a part of life,  but I feel that Norah Roberts could have turned her Bride Quartet series from four books into, well, more. I just finished the final book, Happy Ever After, and I am sad to say goodbye to such a funny, honest and ballsy group of friends.  

I have reviewed the previous three titles in the series, Vision in White, Bed of Roses and Savor the Moment, and was very excited to read about our fourth and final female, Parker Brown. You get to know the other girls in each book, even if that particular story is not based around them. I have been dying to hear Parker's story since book one.

Parker is the glue that holds Vows together. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Vows is the wedding planning company Parker and her three friends, Mac, Emma and Laurel, own. It is very successful in their small Connecticut town, but the difference is not only is Parker planning weddings for clients, but also her three best friends.

Malcolm is not a stranger to the series. He has been involved with this group of friends in some way since the first installment. He is a rough around the edges, car mechanic, not exactly Parker Brown, of the wealthy Connecticut Browns, type. They've had some sexual tension for a while, and its Parker's turn to try out her hand at love. Taking a chance worked out well for the other three, but will Parker be so lucky?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

greg heffley = funny. all of the time.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is absolutely hysterical. I adore Jeff Kinney and his portrayal of Greg Heffley and his pre-teen angst. As a substitute teacher, I know for a fact that middle school aged kids enjoy reading this series. I know this because they tell me, and whenever there is a book fair at the school, all the Wimpy Kid books are gone by the end of the first day. 

In the latest installment of the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Greg goes through a lot of changes. In school, they are starting to show him all of the "you and your body are growing up" videos, which freaks him out on so many levels. Everyone is trying to talk to him about his new responsibilities, and his future. Although he does enjoy the boy/girl party aspect of growing up, he wouldn't mind if everyone just chilled out a bit.

Greg and Rowley are on the outs, which is not abnormal. This book goes deeper into Greg's relationship with his family, and the other kids at school. It's funny, mildly sarcastic, and shows the real, and ugly truths of growing up in junior high school. My favorite part? When Greg's mom hired a maid and forced everyone to clean the house BEFORE the maid came over so she didn't think they lived in a pigsty. Oh, and when Greg's mom bought snacks for the maid, and wouldn't let anyone else eat them. Oh ohhhh, and when the maid got fired for inviting all of the other maids in the neighborhood to come over and watch soap operas in the middle of the day.

Good stuff, Jeff Kinney, good stuff.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a great tribute to our fallen stars.

There have been numbers of musical geniuses and beloved artists who have died too young. A well-known example: The Forever 27 bunch, including Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimmy Hendrix, all died at the age of twenty-seven. It's sad to see such talent leave this world, especially when it could have been prevented. These four icons, along with the memories of many others live on through records, CD's, music television and books like, Thomas H. Green's Rock Shrines: Where the Myths Begin and the Stars Become Legends. 

In Rock Shrines, Green does not only show us the shrines of those who lived and breathed rock 'n roll. Included are a variety of genres, like John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Tupac. Each of the book's nearly two hundred individual entries is illustrated with beautiful photographs of both the stars and the shrines, along with a brief, but usually very complete composite of the artists' work and impact in both life and death. The photography is unreal and the memorabilia included is unlike anything you have ever seen before. 

Yes, some of these musicians did become even more famous after death, but what a shame it must be to have missed it.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, e-mail your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com

Paying my respects to Jim Morrison at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

relationships between humans and animals.

I am really weird about animals. I can enjoy meat as food when I don't think about it too much, but as soon as my jungle of a mind starts going, the thoughts are hard to digest. I was the little girl who saw a bird with a broken wing on the side of the road and would take it home to Daddy to fix - and if it was a lost cause, I would cry for a week. Yet there is this other side of me that can scarf down a cheeseburger like no other.

What makes any society have feelings for one animal and not another? I am not talking about just Americans, but people around the world as well. Why is an animal a pet in one country, yet dinner in another? Hal Herzog has given us some answers in his latest book, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard To Think Straight About Animals. 

This book way more serious than I would have thought. For example, Herzog considers the various theories of animal rights, from an absolutist vision where choosing between saving a baby or a hamster in a fire is equivalent, to considering an animal's ability to suffer, its level of cognition or cuteness factor to decide whether one can kill or eat an animal. Also, Herzog sees the hypocrisy of trying to make cockfighting a felony while permitting wholesale torture for food production - though he disagrees with both. There are less intense issues discussed as well, like why a certain breed of dog becomes more popular than another?

Such an interesting book is a must to add to your collection. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

my disney world dining recommendations.

Prime Time 50's Cafe in Hollywood Studios - very authentic, good fried chicken, waiters and waitresses play the part, and if you do not eat your greens you will be sent to the kitchen to see Ma! (I am not kidding)

Tony's in Magic Kingdom - delicious spaghetti and great desserts - Ladies and Tramps are welcome.

Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom - BEST cinnamon rolls you will ever taste and amazing egg and cheese croissants . Mmmm

I want to go back!

when you wish upon a star...

When planning a trip to Walt Disney World, (or anywhere else for that matter) nothing compares to the Unofficial Guide series. In the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011 Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa cover all of the magical bases.

I was just in Orlando visiting Disney World back in January of this year. I love that place more than anywhere else in the world, (and I have been to a lot of places). The Unofficial Guide gives you information on Accommodations with details on all of Disney's fabulous resorts. There is a section designed specifically for families with kids of any age.

Ahh, Disney Dining - one of my favorite sections of this guide book. Disney has the best dining plans, and this book is filled with restaurant profiles. This section is incredibly detailed with reservation information, dress codes, cost, and the type of cuisine served.

Also included are in depth descriptions of parks and attractions. Whether you are a frequent visitor, or it's your first time, this Disney guide book is your best option because it is updated for 2011!

Monday, October 4, 2010

new nicholas sparks.

Nicholas Sparks scares the crap out of me whenever I read his books. He does not mess around, he WILL kill off your favorite character, it's been done before. You can understand my anxiety while reading his latest, Safe Haven, about a woman who ran away from an awful past, and falls in love with an amazing man (and widower) along with his two young children. Hello? Nicholas Sparks waits for characters to find love and then RIPS it away from them. It's what he's known for.

You can tell from the beginning that there is something off about Katie. She moved to the small town of Southport, North Carolina, alone. She is young, pretty and quiet, and in a small town secrets are not secrets for very long. Her past is revealed pretty easily to Alex. Southport is his late wife, Carly's hometown, they planned to raise their children here, and when she passed away a few years earlier, he couldn't bare to move away. He owns the general store in town and watches Katie pretty closely for weeks until he realizes that she is obviously in hiding. Just by her mannerisms, and his experience as a detective in the military he can tell that she is keeping a very dark secret.

Katie does let Alex into her life, she trusts him with her secret and her heart, but what happens when her past meets her present and endangers her and everyone she loves? Will Sparks live up to his reputation and end their story before it even really begins? I had to bite my nails and wait it out, and so do you friends.

summer may be over, but grilling is not.

Today I am presenting you with two AMAZING cookbooks (you're welcome.) I have recently started teaching myself how to cook, so I've been obsessed with cookbooks as of late.

The Big Green Egg Cookbook: Celebrating the World's Best Smoker & Grill was put together by a fantastic team - foreword by Ed Fisher, recipes by Sara Levy, text by Lisa Mayer and Photographs (love!) by Mark O'Tyson. Together, they created the biggest (and best) cookbook you've seen this year, by far. I must be honest, these recipes are a bit above my palate level, considering my favorite food is grilled cheese. Just because they are a bit fancier than I'm used, doesn't make them any more difficult to make, (okay, maybe a little because let's be serious, grilled cheese is pretty easy). The main course (meat) section is ginormous, filled with recipes from beef & lamb to chicken and seafood. Appetizers, baked goods, and of course the "egghead" recipes. The EGG is apparently a ceramic cooking dish that will make your meat moister than cooking on the grill. To use this book, you do not need this cooker, but it is highly recommended to achieve maximum results. You can cook every one of these hundreds of recipes in an EGG, that's pretty amazing in itself.

On to more traditional grilling. Steak with Friends: At Home, with Rick Tramonto, obviously written by Rick Tramonto is not solely steak oriented. Tramonto begins with appetizers as well, cold and hot - convenient eh? He covers soups, sandwiches, lobster pot pie, vegetables and others sides along with an entire steak (and many other meat) section, including the glazes. Yum. He gives the basics, like how to tell if your steak is done, to those of us who are just embarking on this cooking journey. He includes a lot of sauces, which is fabulous for a condiment lover like myself, and he does not forget about dessert! Highly recommended, the recipes are not difficult or overly detailed. You beginners will not get migraines while trying to figure out how to make a three course meal out of this book.

Either cookbook will give you recipes to impress your friends and family. I suggest both because they are completely different and will give you A LOT of different recipes to cook up your favorite meat and sides.

***To win a copy of either of these books, e-mail your name, address and the book title to jenileerose@yahoo.com!

Monday, September 20, 2010

female spy? about time.

I love it when real historical events and people are used in fiction novels! Yes, sometimes it does mess with my sense of reality, but it's fun.

Rose Melikan's third edition to the popular Mary Finch series, The Mistaken Wife is set in Paris, France circa 1797. Mary, our beloved main character and British spy goes undercover in then, enemy territory. She is used to risking her life for her country, but she is still hesitant to take on such a dangerous assignment. Mary is playing the part of an American's wife, she quickly discovers that her "husband" and partner in this assignment is not what he appears.

With the French chasing a deadly new weapon and an old nemesis threatening to unmask her as a spy, Mary soon finds herself in more danger than she could have imagined. Whether it be courage, or simply luck what will it take for our heroine to come out of this a winner, or even alive?

**To win a copy of this book e-mail your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com!

mildly scary look into our future.

I have never really gotten into climatology. I use weather.com as my ultimate weather resource and never paid much mind to anything else. Enter, The Weather of the Future by climatologist Heidi Cullen who somehow made the subject of climate change extremely interesting (and terrifying).

Science has always bored me to tears, but Cullen explained CLEARLY the relationship of the earth's natural greenhouse gasses, including water vapor, methane, and the pivotal role of carbon dioxide, as the geo-historic regulator gas, which has directly effected the planet's temperature (I feel smarter by the way). I have known for a while now that we suck. We continue to release these gasses through the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas - which is terrible for our planet.

Cullen does direct the blame towards society, because we are at fault. For some reason, our human nature can only care about the bad things that happen presently, rather than what the future has in store. It's like we don't believe it, until we see it, apparently none of us believe in Santa Clause either. Yes, Cullen made this book entertaining enough to attract someone as uninterested in science as I am, but what am I going to do about this? What are We going to do?

extremely useful and effective.

Bartering is not something I have perfected. My experience is limited, but I can honestly tell you that I am terrible at it. While in Paris, I was in a market place where artists were selling their work. I was told by an American tourist that it's easy to barter down 10 to 15 euros, so I gave it a try. I made my rounds and decided on two different paintings that I liked, I was basically going to take the one that was the best price. As I am going between this woman and man trying to get them to barter down to my asking price, I clearly started to offend them. The man literally walked away from me! I mean, last time I checked I am supposed to ask a price, he says no, tell him I am going over to the woman who will meet my price, wait for a response, then walk away. No, he walked away, (extremely mad) from me.

So I went back over to the lady, and whined until she gave me what I wanted. Typical American.

The Art of Barter by Karen Hoffman and Shera Dalin, is a book to teach you how to trade for almost anything. That might be where I went wrong, I didn't have anything more than money to trade? Kidding, I am well aware of where I went wrong in that particular barter. Regardless, I am pretty sure I am never allowed back to Paris.

Hoffman and Dalin designed this book for those of you who are short on cash, for personal reasons - like an upcoming wedding, professional reasons - like you are starting your own business. They even offer tips on how to use your skills to help your favorite charity or non-profit. I like where these ladies heads are at. They are teaching us to use our skills and trade them for the skills of others.

In a sense, it is kind of like what I am doing here, this book was sent to me for free, and in a trade I write this book review. Get it? Pretty cool, right? The book is a necessity because of all the tips, you should probably take notes as you go. Once you have finished, go out there and use your skills to get what you need, no money allowed.

light on the vampire, heavy on the thrill.

The world's most popular vampires have been taking a little "breather" from the media circuit as of late, so now is the perfect time to test the waters with a new vampire hero. Christopher Farnsworth gives us a different take on the undead in Blood Oath.

The story is based around Nathaniel Cade, a vampire pardoned for vampirism by President Andrew Johnson, yes folks what we have here are vampires AND nationalism. As part of his pardon (or blood oath) Cade is supposed to loyally serve each president of the United States. The presidents have come and gone, and our vampire Cade remains the same, of course. It's nice to see a vampire surrounded by humans, rather than the alternative, which we know so well from the Twilight saga.

Cade is the President's tool against enemies not of this world. Cade may be our hero, but you have to remember that there is more supernatural in the world than just him. Right now, that enemy is the current incarnation of a man known to most of the world as Dr. Frankenstein. He is working for terrorists in the Middle East (kind of wish to be done with terrorists, in the Middle East but it works for such a political book). Cade and his team (you will meet the other characters very vividly) work together to take on this monstrosity.

If you think you are sick of vampire novels, think again. This is absolutely not a vampire novel. It is a policitical thriller, with all the twists, turns and mystery that you love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

are you lonely?

The fact of the matter is, you can be lonely with people all around you. Having no emotional connection to the people in your life will cause you to feel alone, regardless of how many Facebook friends you have, or texts you get a day. In Emily White's memoir, Lonely, she explores her own loneliness as well as others - which may help trigger what is causing your own.

Emily confessed to us that she was chronically lonely, and had been for most of her adult life. She hid her disorder from her family and friends for years. She handled her days well, focusing on her career as a lawyer. But when it came time to clock out of lawyer mode and going home, she found herself in her apartment alone on most nights and weekends.

It's not like Emily is a social misfit, she is an independent woman, with a great job - supporting herself. She has a family and friends who love her. Any other woman would be envious of her success. What you might not realize is, loneliness is more than depression, it's a feeling of disconnection from the people in your life. Emily was sick of feeling this way, so she set out on a mission - to find out what was wrong with her. She used her resources to complete her research and interviewed men and women just like her.

You'd be surprised how many people suffer from chronic loneliness - you may be surprised to find out that you do yourself. Lonely is for those of you who have ever felt lonely, even just a little bit.

heavy on the characters and the drama. we'll take it.

I would like to start out by saying, I DID enjoy reading Fragile by Lisa Unger. Now, let me be real here for a moment. You can have a fabulous idea for a book, a great setting and a great conflict, but you can mess with it a bit by including too many MAIN characters. Even if every character is beautifully created and connected, with a perfect place in the story - having eleven of them is too much.

We have Maggie and Jones, husband and wife and their son Ricky. Ricky's dating Cheyenne who is the daughter of Melody whom Jones has a past with (not what you think). Then we have Elizabeth, Maggie's mother who is the former principal of Hallows High - where all three parents had attended. Now enter Marshall, crazy teenager from a bad home. His dad Travis just got out of jail, is a terrible guy that you will undoubtedly hate and also shares the same past with Jones and Melody. Maggie is a therapist and has been helping Marshall through his issues. Marshall's grandfather is the former chief of police - Jones is a head detective, and Travis had his badge taken away for having one too many DUI's. They are all connected because they have all known each other for years, now their children are all connected for the same reason. There are even more key characters that I haven't included. A bit much, eh?

Now on to our story....Cheyenne has a fight with Melody and goes missing. The adults remember a time when they were in high school when a girl got into a fight with her mother and went missing. That girl, Sarah wound up dead. Everyone's all freaked out - the teenagers especially. Surprisingly it's the parents and grandparents that are keeping all of the secrets. When people start getting shot, that's when the secrets start slipping out.

It's a good story line, not as predictable as you might think - which is fun because GOOD mysteries should keep you guessing until the very end. Nicely done Unger, nicely done.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

lets just pretend it never happened.

I read The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson while traveling on a train to NYC for labor day weekend. Between the way there, and back, I flew right through it. My boyfriend was sitting next to me and he asked me how the book was. I told him how much I was enjoying it, and then he (probably because he was bored) acted interested in what it was about.

"Well....I mean, it's interesting, but it's not like good in the way, that I want my life to be that way or anything, I mean, the main character had an affair and had a hard time getting over him, but the husband took her back, and okay I am explaining this really wrong. I just like the characters okay? The characters are interesting." Nice Jenilee, excellent explanation. NOT.

It seems whenever I am reading a book and my man-cub asks me what it's about, it always has to do with an affair, and I am always like, this book is SOOO good. And he's like um, okay? It's not like I want to have an affair, I just like the drama of it. I don't like reading about people getting hurt, but wild, passionate, WRONG sex - I don't mind living in that world for a little while.

The Stuff That Never Happened, is a story about an about-to-turn fifty housewife/children's book illustrator named Annabelle. Her and her husband, Grant got married when she was only twenty, after only knowing each other for a short period of time. They moved to New York City where Grant had a teaching job at Columbia waiting for him. It took a while for Annabelle to grow accustomed to being married to Grant. The book goes back and forth between the present time, and the time when the two first got married, and the troubles that followed. Annabelle's affair with a man that Grant really looked up to, someone the couple LIVED with. Yes, Annabelle and Grant lived with Jeremiah and Carly, a thirty-something couple with twin toddlers. Annabelle and Jeremiah fell in love, and had an ongoing affair for over a year.

We know that Grant and Annabelle end up together, so what happens? And what happens when Annabelle goes back to New York to care for her bedridden pregnant daughter, Sophie? Does the past relive itself?

I'm not telling.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

the real life good stuff eatery.

Last month, I was lucky enough to visit the actual Good Stuff Eatery restaurant in Washington D.C.. (I reviewed the Good Stuff Cookbook a few months ago). I've gotta say, it was a little different from what I expected. For one, it's counter-service. There is not a whole lot of seating, because the place is always packed - and for good reason, the food is amazing! I seriously waited an hour to stand in line, order my food, then get my food - the line was out the door.

Just the marshmallow shake alone made it worth it, friends.


I have been waiting for a book like this to come out. What the Yuck?! is a fabulous title, first of all. Secondly - I love how doctor/author Roshini Raj, MD (with Lisa Lombardi) answers all of the questions we are too afraid to ask our doctors, our friends and especially our mothers.

This little "doctor-help" wonder is hilarious, and far better than getting all of your sexual advice off the pages of Cosmo. What the Yuck?! is not solely based on sexual questions, Dr. Raj also covers fashion, first dates, that time of the month, and a lot of other bases. Here's a little taste (no pun, haha): semen is about 7 calories per serving - marijuana takes about 1-2 days to leave your system, but 5 weeks if you smoke a bowl habitually (don't act like you've never been worried) - and public toilet seats are not going to give you an STD, freaks. Having sex WILL help you live longer and healthier, so withhold something else from your husband/lover/boyfriend when they need to be punished. There is so much more included in these 16 chapters than I can give you here.

Thank you Dr. Raj for taking all of the women of the world's freakiest fears and strangest questions about every aspect of their bodies and compiling them into one book. Read and learn ladies, read and learn.

Monday, August 30, 2010


A crime novel involving NO vampires and NO werewolves? How can this be? Believe it or not, this is a GOOD thing. I promise. Take a little breather from the undead and give The Wolves of Fairmount Park by Dennis Tafoya a whirl. (Yes, the title mentions wolves, but it's not what you think - it's better).

Two teenage boys outside of a dope house. A drive-by shooting leaves one dead and one comatose. Tragic? You bet, especially since neither boy is the drug user or dealer type. Of course there was a chain of events that lead these two boys to their awful fate. The big question is why? Why were two middle-class white boys on the wrong side of the tracks? And why would someone shoot them? The answers are sought by two diametrically opposed characters: Danny Ramirez, a young star detective in the Violent Crimes unit, and Orlando Kevin Donovan, a junkie and uncle of the boy in a coma, who lives just blocks away from the crime scene.

Tafoya unfolds this story is such a way that it is dark yet sweet. Lives are taken, and others are changed forever. The Wolves of Farimount Park will be the best mystery you read this year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

is fame really that fabulous?

If you enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada you will absolutely LOVE Lauren Weisberger's latest novel, Last Night at Chateau Marmont.

I love our married couple main characters Brooke and Julian. There story is not unlike many others. New York City, musician Julian trying to break into the music industry in the big bad city. Brooke, trying to be supportive of her husbands dreams financially and emotionally. It's not hard to relate to even if their dreams are different than yours. Dreams are dreams.

Everything changes when Julian lands a record deal and before they know it, the seemingly normal New York City couple are thrown into a world of celebrities and fame. It happens so fast, that it takes Brooke a while to look over the fame, and into a life that is not what she expected. Fame comes with consequences. Now it is Julian that she sees when she reads her guilty pleasure tabloids. Will this new found fame ruin her marriage like so many other famous couples? (I am still not over Brad and Jen, fyi).

Monday, August 23, 2010

light and funny.

Ladies! Forget the fast approaching fall months ahead and hold on to summer by continuing to read summer novels. Yes, it will still get colder outside, but you can just pretend it's not by picking up a copy of The Summer We Read Gatsby and living vicariously through author Danielle Ganek's fabulous characters.

Half-sisters Cassie and Pecksland (aka Peck) have very little in common and they don't know each other very well as adults. Their lives are slammed together by their dead Aunt Lydia who left them a cottage, named Fools House in Southampton. The girls couldn't be more different; Peck an extrovert, a wannabee actress who thinks the world is her stage. Cassie, the sensible, responsible sister, who is wanting to quickly get Fools House sold and get on with her life. But, there beloved Aunt Lydia was a devotee of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (thus the title), and she instilled that same love in her nieces. The book, and all their aunt loved about it, is the source of Peck and Cassie's greatest memories of their aunt and the cottage.

Throughout the summer, the girls live together in Fools House, finding love, finding mystery, and ultimately finding the importance of being sisters. With long-lost loves, an unwelcome house guest, over aggressive real estate agents, and posh Hampton parties, the sisters find enough adventure to keep you intrigued throughout.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

magic venom.

I enjoy when an author brings certain characters from one book to the next. Joan Brady does this with ex-con character, David Marion in her newest thriller, Venom. Many of you will recognize him from her book, Bleedout.

In Venom, David must disappear after an explosive encounter with a hit man. David's efforts to discover who is trying to kill him eventually leads him back into the arms of Helen Freyl, friend and lover.

Wealthy Springfield, Illinois resident physicist Helen Freyl owns a farm in Caton, Alabama. On her farm is a special honeybee hive that produces a type of honey, which can heal people. Helen accepts a fellowship working for the Follaton Medical Foundation in London, where she joins a team on the verge of developing a cure for radiation poisoning.

Helen has thought all of this time that David was dead, and has been grieving the loss of him. She finds him again after realizing that her life is in serious danger because of her medical venom. Together they fight for their lives against a background of corruption and industrial espionage. You will learn how far one will go with their greed, when a venom which should be used to save lives, only causes tragedy.

eat, pray, love.

So I read Eat Pray Love as fast as I could because I had a date to see the movie with my mother. I don't work well under pressure, so of course I didn't finish it in time. I made it through Italy and India, but was in the dark when it came to Indonesia while watching the movie. I kind of liked it like that though because then I finished up the book when I came home - and was extremely happy with both.

Author Liz Gilbert went on a journey to find pleasure, God, and a way to balance the two in her life. She went to Italy, India and Indonesia through the course of a year to find this balance. Italy was her search for pleasure, which she found in the language and the food. India was her search for God, which she found in an Ashram with the help of her guru, and other lovable characters. Indonesia was her search to find balance between pleasure and religion; a way to have them both equally in her life.

Liz was very detailed while writing about her journey. There was a history lesson through every place she visited, which a lot of you will enjoy. She very open about her personal life. I laughed out loud and cringed equally. It was extremely spiritual, I chose to use that word because being spiritual isn't scary. It's not filled with pressure to believe a certain way. It is a book that shows you to be open to all kinds of prayer, so that you can choose how you will talk to God (whichever God you prefer).

We all need to find balance in our crazy lives - Eat Pray Love is a true story that may help you find the right balance in yours.