Monday, April 30, 2012

suspenseful romance? aren’t they all?

When twenty-three-year-old Courtney Beckham is abducted near her home…DUM DUM DUMMMMMMM. What more do I need to write? I know you suspense addicts are already salivating. Joke. I’ll keep going… Courtney is abducted because she stumbled upon some drug lord’s marijuana stash in the mountains near her house in Utah. In a desperate attempt to avoid being sexually assaulted, Courtney tells her kidnapper her name and promises him a million dollars in ransom money if he'll contact her father. I mean, that was a little ambitious, even for a rich girl, but I’ll give this one to ya Courtney, desperate times and all. When the ransom demand is sent in with a picture of a beat up Courtney, the FBI takes over. Enter agent Jason Edwards, our Romeo, who quickly realizes that this is more than just your average wrong place, wrong time, kidnapping of a rich girl.

I love Courtney’s character. She is a tough broad. Thankfully, she is not sexually assaulted in this thriller, but she is terrorized throughout, and is still determined to not only survive, but figure out who is behind her capture. One slip of co-kidnapper’s wrist, and she sees the bosses name on the caller ID, (which is the title of the book, Caller I.D. by Rachelle J. Christensen), and it’s a name she recognizes.

I’m pretty much suspicious of everyone. But that’s normal.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

down to earth cooking.

It all started with a blog (I hope to one day become famous and can say that), Ree Drummond has been around since starting the website in 2006, entertaining us with her stories about life as a country girl living on a ranch with her family in Oklahoma and helping us fill our recipe books. She came out with her first cookbook in 2009 and her cooking show on the Food Network premiered last fall. She has a memoir out, a children’s book and her second cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier hit the shelves in March. I repeat: it all started with a blog.

Ree is a busy lady, but not too busy to continue using her easy to follow photographic instructions, which as a visual learner, I LOVE.  The cookbook pretty much consists of equal parts breakfast, lunch, party food, sweets, and canning. Soup has fewer recipes than most, and supper has the most. It is good old fashioned home cooking, including Mac ‘n Cheese, Sloppy Joes, Burgers and French Toast.  This chick really knows her stuff, and she’s extremely likeable. Hm, maybe I should be nicer on here so you all like me better? Nah.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

to tap or not to tap.

I'm not one for manuals, I am more of a learn as I go kind of chick. But sometimes even I have to break down and pick one up. Lucky for me, Peter Meyers wrote a book much cooler than any old manual for the Kindle Fire. He even titled it, Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual, so there's no way you can miss it. It's basically filled with tips that SHOULD have been included in the box when I bought it.

There are two types of people in this world, those who are tech savvy and those who are not. Most of us are the latter, especially since we have been holding out on buying fancy things such as Kindles because we didn't want to lose the little girl in us. Or maybe that's just me. What did I find most important about this manual? Well, since you asked, I immediately wanted to figure out how Netflix worked on my Kindle. Yes, Netflix has a Fire-friendly app, which is free to download and pretty self explanatory if you are used to Netflix on your computer. This manual can also get you all situated with transferring any pictures you want to your Kindle, and help you manage your music. A lot of different apps are plugged throughout, my personal favorite being the "Song of the Day" app. My A.D.D. and I LOVE listening to different types of music, and this app is perfect - a new song pops up everyday. The best part of this resource is that Meyers gives you different "methods" of doing things. Ultimately you can choose what you feel the most comfortable with. And who can complain about comfort? I mean, other than my grandmother.

***For a chance to WIN a copy of this book email your name, address and this book title to:!

Friday, April 27, 2012

it's okay to be butch.

I grew up with all brothers, and I thank God daily for never sending me a sister. I have girl friends and everything, I am not some crazy person, I just know that having a sister would be an absolute disaster. The competitiveness of it all is just too much pressure, the sister would wind up dead, I'd be blamed, it would be all over the news, and that's all really unnecessary if you ask me. God knew better. Now a sister-in-law...that's an entirely different story. I am getting one next month, and I think we'll get along just fine. It helps that she's a great cook. It also helps that she made the family bacon cupcakes from The Butch Bakery Cookbook by David Arrick for my brother's birthday.

You heard me. I said BACON cupcakes. This cookbook is all about baking cupcakes with such ingredients. Bacon, beer, kind of baked goods let me tell ya. I brought some Jameson chocolate home from Ireland for the manfriend and it was a dream. Arrick has us putting Jack Daniel's in the frosting, and it is so creamy and delicious that I just might Google him right now to see if he's married. There are more than thirty different recipes to try. I am looking to get this new sister-in-law friend of mine to whip up a batch of the Rum and Coke cupcakes next time.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

meet my part time lover, photography.

Ever since I lived in Myrtle Beach and worked as a beachfront family portrait photographer for a few months, I have considered myself a professional photographer. Even though I had no previous training other than a black and white photography class in junior college. I took photographs, I was paid, I am a professional. End of story.

Like most of you, I like to photograph the special events in my life. Birthdays, vacations, and especially concerts. You don't go to a concert all hyped up with your camera and your flask hidden in your bra if you don't REALLY like band or artist, am I right? Okay, now how many of your pictures turn out flawlessly? Zero. Because concert venues are dark and the lights are all flashy, and it's smoky sometimes, yadda, yadda, yadda. WELL, J. Dennis Thomas is a professional photographer that is here to tell us how to take fabulous pictures at live concerts with his book, Concert and Live Music Photography.

So if you'd like your pictures to turn out like...



You...well, you kind of have to pay up for the good seats. But hey, you might as well spend a couple more bucks on the book so you can get the money shot. Just look at that lighting, AH, love.

This is one of my not so terrible live concert shots...the venue was a very dark bar so I tried to brighten it up, looks terrible from where Thomas stands, but I still like the shot. These guys are part of the band, The Felice Brothers. You should check them out, they are a bit folky but very enjoyable. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

making every other kid at the lunch table jelly.

I have seen a few pictures on Pinterest of kid's school lunches that include themes and cute cut out sandwiches, is that real life? Do mom's really think to themselves, hmm, I am going to spend an obscene amount of time turning my child's lunch into a goddamn circus?

An example for you....


(Cute), but REALLLLLY???

I know a lot of you want to be the circus mom's and I understand the need to spice up your kid's lunch. You can only consume (and make) so many PB&J's before you get super bored. If you want to be supermom, are stuck in a lunch box rut, or have an extremely picky eater, Kate McMillian and Sarah Putman Clegg have the recipe book for you. The Lunch Box: Packed with Fun, Healthy Meals that Keep them Smiling is exactly that, a recipe book that compiles a bunch of varied lunches that kids will love. These ladies have a realistic introduction to their book, that answers my earlier questions. No, most parents do not have the time and energy to pack a new, exciting lunch for their children each day. McMillian and Clegg sure do make it easier for those of you who would like to try, AND they explain what each aspect of the lunch will do for your child. What will fuel them, engage them, and the easiest way to transport and eat everything they bring to school.

Monday, April 23, 2012

the new "it" grain.

Quinoa is becoming a real crowd pleaser. The tiny edible seeds pack a ton of protein, fiber and iron. It is gluten-free and when cooked properly, does not suck. The problem is, no one knows what to do with quinoa, and rightfully so. Enter food lovers (and writers) Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser, they can assist you on your quinoa journey with their new cookbook, Quinoa Cuisine.

First, they explain what quinoa is, where it comes from, and what it does for your body (which is A LOT). Then they jump right into the recipes that help you incorporate quinoa into every meal, even dessert. The most intriguing? Chicken Potpie with Quinoa Biscuit Crust. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? I never thought of making quinoa into a crust, fricken brilliant I tell ya. Listen, I'm no health expert. All I know is that I want to drop a few pounds before I meet up with my old (slutty) friend, Miss Bikini. I want to feel fuller, longer and these recipes will help.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

love cinnamon rolls, not so fond of murder...

A mystery novel filled with recipes? A MYSTERY NOVEL FILLED WITH RECIPES? As you may be able to tell, bestselling author Joanne Fluke has created a series of mystery novels filled with recipes and her latest installment of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series, Cinnamon Roll Murder follows suit. Tasted it, loved it, but do think that the final installment should be next for the sake of the storyline. It has been a great series, and fifteen books is quite an accomplishment, let's not be selfish.

I am happy to report that this story is in sync with the rest of the series. It has quite the opening number as Hannah swerves out of the way to avoid a nasty winter accident on the highway. Her co-pilot and younger sister, Michelle notices an overturned bus in the median and they both rush to help. On the bus we meet the band, The Cinnamon Roll Six, and find their bus driver dead in his seat. As Hannah solves the mystery, we get acquainted with all of our favorite characters. And fans of the series will enjoy their fifteenth consecutive sugar high.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

a little mini lesson for all of the unsavvy web people out there.

Webbots, Spiders and Screen Scrapers: A Guide to Developing Internet Agents with PHP/CURL, sweet baby jesus, just the title of this book makes my head hurt. And what in the hell are webbots, spiders and screen scrapers?

Just a general gist of what I've gathered from this Internet guide filled with things I've never heard of: Webbots can basically run your life. They can be programed to keep you updated on specific current events that interest you, and you can also program it to ignore certain Internet articles. For instance, I would never again care to see an article about a mother who murdered her children. A webbot can handle that for me. There are a million other things a webbot can be programed to do, but you will have to see for yourself, I do have a life. Moving on... A "spider" is a software program that travels the Web, locating and indexing websites for search engines. So when you type "book review blogs" into Google, supposedly this "spider" character would be the reason my blog showed up. Screen scrapers appear to be the type of programs that help hackers steal information from your computers. This book is basically dedicated to helping your computer programs help you. Author Michael Schrenk can explain it all far better than I can.

Friday, April 20, 2012

it's almost that time again...

Spring is here in WNY, and the weather is getting brighter and warmer every day. Okay, I take that back. It was 70 yesterday and I woke up to 46 degrees this morning, but whatever. We're used to it and I can tell that summer is just around the corner, and that means only one thing. BARBECUING! Which leads me to my next review...

Wicked Good Barbecue is a bit of a ballsy title, but considering the authors won the biggest, baddest BBQ competition in the world...they have a right. Andy Husbands and Chris Hart won countless ribbons for their BBQ recipes, but their biggest accomplishment was winning the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue, and yes, they are from Boston. With the help of some friends (Andrea Pyenson and Steven Raichlen), these two badass barbecuers compiled their most fabulous recipes, including the Jack Daniel's. Hey, thanks boys.

This barbecue cookbook is filled with amazing barbecue recipes, but you have got to check out the sides. Their cornbread, lobster chowder, and cheesy grilled corn dishes will make you question every "favorite" birthday meal your mama's ever made you in your life. And I haven't even gotten to the meat loaf. Yes, I do consider meatloaf a side, don't judge me.

Here's a taste:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"i know it will help you and your family" - jennifer lopez.

As you all know, I don't have children. I don't even know what I would do with them if they ever came about. Considering a lot of you out there DO have children (bless your hearts), I like to be selfless and do you the occasional solid, and review helpful books for parents (and caregivers). I hear it's quite the journey, so y'all need all the help you can get.
Author Erica Reid is the one you should be thanking after you read her parent-oriented self-help book titled, The Thriving Child: Parenting Successfully Through Allergies, Asthma, and Other Common Challenges. Did I just hear a sigh of relief from the new parents? Jennifer Lopez (yes, THE J-LO) has a foreword at the beginning of the book, talking about how fabulous Reid is and how practical the Thriving Child actually is. I mean, it speaks for itself with chapters that include (but are not limited to), how to keep your kids healthy, how to help them thrive at school, and how to nurture them in every way possible, but a plug from Jenny from the block always helps. Reid's tips on nutrition, medicine and education will save the day, and she even closes with easy recipes that every kid will love. Yes, even your devil child. The Thriving Child comes out on May 8th!

Erica and Jennifer, just a couple of moms trying to get by. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

i am ahead of the game for once.

I know a lot of girls (even some of my friends) who love Bethenny Frankel. They read all of her books, DVR her reality show, and probably even watched her on that god awful Skating with the Stars competition. I have no beef with her, she IS behind Skinnygirl Sangria after all. However, she's not my favorite reality television star. Says the girl who has Coco in her top three. Bethenny kind of rubbed me the wrong way with her Naturally Thin book. I love it when a skinny girl tells me what she does to be "naturally" thin, NOT. But anyways, I wanted to give her another chance...

(this helped)

That being said, no one is paying me to tell you that I enjoyed her novel, skinnydipping. Loving the lowercase title, I love typing in all lower cases, I just don't do it on here because I am trying to be professional, obviously. I DID really like it, it kind of reminded me of Bethenny (in a good way), which fans will love. You can absolutely "hear" her voice behind the storytelling. I have to admit that she is mildly funny, and the heroine, Faith has a lot of funny in her also. It's a story about a girl who's life fell apart in one place, and she picked it up again in another by starting her own business and giving her loud mouth a try on a reality television show (sound familiar?). It's a fun read, and who doesn't need a little more pajama pants reading fun in their lives? skinnydipping hits the shelves May 1st!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

my airport book.

I finally finished my airport book! Those of you who pay attention know that my "airport book" is the bestseller that I pick up at the airport whenever I go on a trip, which is often. My Ireland airport book was Jane Evanovich's One for the Money, the first installment of her Stephanie Plum Novels which she began writing in the 90's. Loved the book, love that Katherine Heigel plays Stephanie Plum in the movie (which I have yet to see), and extremely excited to have another series to dive into this summer.

When I started the book, I didn't know ahead of time when it was set, and I don't believe it was mentioned specifically (correct me if I'm wrong), but the lack of cell phones and the frequent mention of spandex shorts made me think that it was in the 90's. I haven't read a book that was set in the 90's since I had gobs of big league chew and a slush puppie in hand, in the actual 90's. I gotta tell ya, I loved it.

Stephanie Plum lives in Trenton, New Jersey, and there is a ton of Jersey attitude throughout the pages, which I surprisingly enjoyed. Way better than reality television's version of these natives. Stephanie is recently unemployed and strapped for cash, (sounds familiar). She hooks up with her cousin Vinnie's (doesn't everyone have a cousin Vinnie?) bail bonding company. You know, when people who are out on bail miss their court dates, and the bounty hunters bring them in for a percentage of the bond? Well, Stephanie's first job, against every one's better judgement, is to bring in the one and only Joe Morelli, who shot a man and skipped out on a very high bail. She knew Morelli growing up, in more ways than two, and the majority of the story is about how much trouble Stephanie gets into trying to find him because she has absolutely no idea what she's doing.

This book was not as easy breezy as I thought it was going to be. It was actually pretty violent and scary at times. Is it possible to be scary AND funny? I love Stephanie Plum's character, and she's way cuter than Dog the Bounty Hunter and Youngblood.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

i rarely do posts that don't involve reading but...

I have been in Queens for spring break visiting my manfriend. A substitute teacher's spring break is not nearly as glamorous, but it was fun to have this time off to hang with my squeeze. The weather has been improving every day here in the big apple, and we have been taking every advantage of it.

Yesterday was a beautiful 70 degrees in Manhattan, and we spent the day rollerblading, laying out in Sheep's Meadow (one of the many places in Central Park where people set up camp on a beautiful day), and kissing. Heavy on the laying out and the kissing. It was one of those perfect Saturdays.

My guy is always teasing me, telling me how the locals can always tell that I'm not from here because I talk to everyone who crosses my path. That happened a lot while rollerblading through Central Park, especially since I didn't know how to stop properly.

 There were no casualties because of my commentary. You're welcome NYC.

 If you're lucky, cool people who play instruments will sit close by and entertain you while you're laying out being lazy.

Getting sun burned... 

who is behind the big names in music, literally.

I have noticed lately that background singers and musicians are being recognized pretty regularly on all of these competitive television shows. I am having a brain fart and the only example I can think of right now is on Dancing with the Stars. They ALWAYS introduce their band and singers and I love it when shows like DWTS and popular artists at concerts do that. Those vocal chords, lips and fingers should not go unnoticed. I started thinking about all the band members and background musicians of the world, and figure they have got to have the best stories. Cruising around with famous artists, meeting A-list celebrities, and getting copious amounts of men (or women or both, I'm not here to judge) in bed. These are just my assumptions.

Jerry Scheff was a bassist for Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan AND the Doors, and he wrote an autobiography telling us all about it. Way Down: Playing Bass with Elvis, Dylan, the Doors and More, hello, coolest autobio ever. Unlike me, Scheff did not write this book with his mind in the gutter. He wrote solely about his life in the music business, including tales from tours, private jets, and studio sessions with some of the most amazing musical geniuses of....well, not my time, but maybe your time. I may be a baby, but I can appreciate the music that Jeff Scheff helped create.

And let's not forgot my meet and greet with Jim Morrison (from the Doors, for those of you who live under a rock). Best I could do since he had to up and die at twenty-seven.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

IRELAND! hey! i've been there.

City of Bohane by Kevin Barry is set forty years in the future in (you guessed it) the city of Bohane located on the west coast of Ireland, which is why I wanted to read it, because as I brag about daily, I recently toured Ireland. And yes, I will use a fictional story to keep talking about my trip.

Bohane used to be this great city, but fell apart as social order broke down and the running of commercial and social life were under the direction of Logan Hartnett, the leader of the strongest gang. Once Hartnett's old nemesis is rumored to be back in town, the fun really begins. The book is basically one big power struggle, with quirky characters and a dialect that includes Irish slang which may be a little confusing at first, but if you survived The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, you can survive anything. It's definitely different, and I really believe that those of you who are a little more adventurous in your reading lives are going to appreciate it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

what do you want to do before you die?

I have never created a formal bucket list. I simply decided around the age of twenty-two that I was going to start doing cool shit. I'm sure graduating from college had a lot to do with this life choice, and most of you can relate to that. The Buried Life was a television show on MTV several years ago. I don't know for sure if it's still on, as there are not enough hours in a day for a luxury like television...but basically four boys made a bucket list and completed said bucket list while driving around the country. During each episode, as they would check something off their list, they would help a stranger check something off of their bucket list also. The "bucket list" was basically compiled by all four boys, Jonnie Penn, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn and Ben Nemtin that included 100 mutual lifelong dreams. Number 19 on their list was to write a bestselling book...which brings us to, What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? that was released a few weeks ago.

Basically, the book includes 150 real life people, their dreams and original illustrations and short stories of said people and dreams. This is not a book with a lot of words, but the pictures are creative and they say a lot. It gave me a few ideas to add to my "doing cool shit" list, the best one being, "before I die I want to be a voice in a Disney movie." I NEED to do this.  And for the record, I'd consider this collection to be more of a coffee table/bathroom read, one of my top five favorite genres.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

the final installment of the hunger games. SPOILERS for first two books!

It has come to an end. I have officially finished The Hunger Games trilogy, and it left me feeling...a little pissed off at Suzanne Collins actually. There were no loose ends that needed tying up after I finished Mockingjay, Collins covered all her bases. Most of you will even consider the ending to be a happy one, but I can't seem to get over the loss of certain characters that I really enjoyed. I'm not going to spill it, but I will say that some of these characters we met right at the beginning of book one, throughout book two, and even got to know a bit in book three. I'm sad. Loved the series, but still sad. Probably because my cat (Alfonso) recently died. I'm feeling a little emotional lately. And, I wish this was me being funny. Okay, I am still a little funny.

Mockingjay picks up right where Catching Fire leaves off. Katniss, Beetee and Finnick are snatched up from the arena by the head gamemaker Plutarch, Haymitch and the rebels of District 13, the district that was supposedly in ruin, but people were just living underground, making nuclear weapons and normal stuff like that. District 12 was blown to pieces, leaving hundreds dead and its residents, (including Prim and their mother, and of course Gale and his family, but not including Peeta's family), seeking refuge in District 13. The rebels couldn't save all six of the tributes from the arena so Peeta, Johanna, Enobaria, along with Annie, Finnick's nutcase girlfriend were captured by the Capitol and tortured for information. Over in District 13 there is a (lady) president, who is pretty much in charge of this rebel upheaval of the Capitol, and she wants Katniss to be the face of the rebellion. Katniss becomes the "mockingjay" and her face and actions are broadcast throughout Panem. Fueling fire to the rebels, keeping them fighting for their freedom from the Capitol and the awful President Snow. As you can probably imagine, this turns into a bloodbath. See for yourself. Oh, and I dare you not to cry.

There was a Book Fair at school before spring break, and the kids were freaking out because if you bought the trilogy set of books, you got this free mockingjay pin. Even kids that owned the books already, were buying the box set because apparently these pins are being sold on eBay for like 30 bucks. I'm just glad to hear that so many of my students are reading, annnnnd I kind of want one of these pins also.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

native americans and their side of the story.

Native American reservations have always fascinated me. I mean, outside police have no jurisdiction there, right? Do they have their own government and law enforcement? Do they have their own schools or do they send their kids to public schools? Can I work there even though I am extremely Polish? And don't even get me started on the casinos. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS! Well, HAD so many questions, until I read Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer.

The book centers on the life and history of the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota which fits since this reservation and its citizens are what Treuer knows best. However, his discussions of Indian history and matters of treaties, court cases and the like as they pertain to his tribe and reservation are relevant to other tribes, considering U.S. Indian policy affects all tribes under its single rulings.

I don't know about you, but I had my assumptions about Indian reservations. For example, I can't keep thoughts of Pocahontas(because I'm five), and living off the land out of my brain when anyone even mentions them. I never pictured poverty, but there is so much of it. The memoir did not answer every ridiculous question I have on the subject, but it did give me insight into some history that has been ignored.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

umm…apparently nora roberts has an alter-ego that no one cared to tell me about.

Whoa, I am WAY behind.  The In Death series by J.D. Robb is actually Nora Roberts???!  Who would have thought? Some of what I’ve read by Roberts has had an air of suspense, but it’s mostly full of love and fluff, and when in the mood, I crave that stuff. Come to find out the futuristic Celebrity in Death novel and the 33 previous installments of the series are all her. Nora Roberts, your Kick Ass Book Reviews street credibility has gone up about eleven notches. You’re welcome. 

I have read the In Death series sporadically, which works for me. But if you are just hearing about it, I would start with book one and continue on through. I mean, why not have a 34-book series to read? Especially when it’s a good one. And what else are you going to do this summer?

Celebrity in Death is quieter than previous novels, chilling really, in a good way. Set in New York City year 2060, Lieutenant Eve Dallas continues to be the star, and all of the favorites from previous books in the series are there as well. The Icove Agenda was Nadine Furst's book that sky rocketed to the bestseller list, Eve had lived it, and now she is standing on the set watching an actress play out the lines she, herself spoke when finding young Dr. Icove dead in his home office. In celebration of the upcoming film the main cast and crew, along with Eve, Roarke, Peabody, McNabb and the Mira’s are enjoying a nice dinner party when actress K.T. Harris is found dead in the rooftop pool where the party is being held. There are a ton of suspects, and Eve is already on the case. Well, Nadine Furst’s lucky day, she’s getting a sequel dropped right into her hands.

Monday, April 9, 2012

a born quitter.

I was one of those kids who wanted to try everything. Soccer, piano, softball, dance, gymnastics, clarinet, track…the list goes on. I would last a few years in each activity, and then slowly become less and less interested. I don’t know if I am just indecisive or simply a quitter, but I would just sign up for the next thing. Some activities lasted longer than others, like soccer, dance and softball, probably because they were the things I was best at, but I never really excelled in one thing because I only made it to the beginner or intermediate level of everything I tried. Hmm… I am getting off track as usual, talking about myself, but I am starting to wonder. Should we encourage our children to try every activity or try to limit them to only a few so that they actually have the chance to excel at something?

I do have a point, I promise. The Girl Scouts made it to my list of activities when I was around 8. I lasted about five badges and maybe two years? I am all for girl power and girls learning how to do productive things, but there were a ton of meetings and other activities and way too many cookies to sell. Since there’s no such thing as a lazy Girl Scout I had to take my leave. What took my mind back to my brief experience as a Girl Scout was receiving a copy of Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts by Stacy A. Cordery.And there we have it, my point. Juliette Gordon Low, known as Daisy started the Girl Guides (the female equivalent to the Boy Scouts) in 1911 in England and quickly brought the Girl Scouts to her hometown of Savannah in 1912. Last month was the Girl Scouts’ centennial and this is actually the first full-scale biography of its founder. It is a well-researched narrative, following a very strong female role model from birth to death, and all that she accomplished (once she got rid of her man) in between.
(circa WWI.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

a dream of a dream job.

Okay, this book review isn't Easter related at all, but I still want to say: Happy Easter to the Jesus lovers and Happy Passover to the not Jesus lovers... Now, back to me. As you all know, I am not exactly in my dream job at the moment. I enjoy the flexibility and variation involved in substitute teaching. But I want my OWN classroom, with my OWN students. I want to prove myself to myself, my students, my peers, and the stupid state of New York. I mean, I didn’t pay fifty-grand to go to grad school for nothing. I am wannabe teacher girl, hear me roar. Meow. 

Now that the economy is crap, I am sure that you all are feeling my pain over here. Not that you want to teach thirteen-year-old prepubescent crazies proper grammar like I do, but you want to do what moves you or at the very least, what you have your degree in.  A little advice? Take a look at I Got My Dream Job And So Can You: 7 Steps to Creating Your Ideal Career After College by Pete Leibman, he’s got tons. And it is definitely not advice for only the fresh faced twenty-two year olds right out of college. No matter what your age, if you are not currently in your dream job, this book is worth a look. Leibman breaks the job search into six steps, and he does not sugar coat the hard work that goes into finding the one that you love, but he offers the encouragement some of you so desperately need to take that first step.

In my opinion Leibman’s most important step of finding your dream job is Step 5: Look. Once you have a clear destination, seek out experts to ask for directions. Begin NETWORKING with people you know and uncover “hidden” contacts. Guys! Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, are not just for looks. USE THEM to meet people in your dream field. If these people are on social networking websites it is because they want to meet people like you! Now go get ‘em tiger.Well read the rest of the book and then go get ‘em tiger! RAWR.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

i will take a good memoir over a good meal, any day. okay that’s a lie.

I have noticed that memoirs written by middle aged women tend to come with certain messages, or warnings really. Many of them, you should read before you get married. You should read if you are going through a divorce. You should read before you sign up for because dating websites can actually set you up with possible rapists. You should read if you are or have gone through a medical crisis. I mean, most memoirs cover one of these unfortunate topics. Margaret Overton, with her series of extremely bad luck, touches on them all in Good in a Crisis: A Memoir.

You may think that such tragedies would be the making for a very sad life story, not with Overton behind the pen. We are talking the messiest misadventures, and she is actually quite hilarious about most of it. She’s honest, intelligent (well, she IS a doctor), and her journey is worth reading about, even if it’s just to remind you to appreciate the life that you have and the love that you share it with. The manfriend is getting an extra big smooch after this one.

Friday, April 6, 2012

this book title speaks to me.

Love Me or Else. You may find these words threatening; I find them rather romantic, no? Oh that’s right it’s creepy when a woman gets so jealous of the woman she thinks the boy she likes has a thing for, and shoots her dead. Forgive me. 
Love Me or Else: The True Story of a Devoted Pastor, a Fatal Jealousy , and the Murder than Rocked a Small Town by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff, is a mouthful of a title, and this is a mouthful of a run on sentence, but there’s just so much juicy stuff, I’d hate to leave anything out in one breath. This is the TRUE story of Mary Jane Fonder, who became obsessed with the (supposedly) handsome pastor of her church, Gregory Shreaves, so obsessed that she committed murder. First she took the time to throw herself at him, making it super awkward THEN decided murder would be best. Her crazy ass mind convinced her crazy ass self that Pastor Shreaves was interested in a young member of the church, Rhonda Smith. When Rhonda was volunteering at the church, she was shot to death. Apparently Mary Jane left a trail of crazy behind her because it was easily discovered that she was the culprit. The story is filled with a lot of details about the trial, not much on the back story of these people, which I would have preferred, but it is still excellent. 
Can I just say… how insane is all of this? And it happened in Pennsylvania? Nothing ever happens in Pennsylvania. Actually, I have no idea what happens in Pennsylvania because I don’t watch the news. But it seems very amish, and boring.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

spring break reading list, anyone?

Ello lads and ladies! I love reading books set in the UK. The characters just sound so damn proper, even when they’re being crude, and I can imagine their accents so easily. It’s much more fun having recently returned from across the pond. I fell in love about seven times a day with my ears alone.

How It All Began by the very popular, Penelope Lively, is filled with characters that you cannot help but care about, adorable accent or not. I am sure you have all heard about the “butterfly effect” or have at least seen the disturbing Ashton Kutcher film. The butterfly effect is the main concept of this novel. One seemingly insignificant event (such as the flapping of a butterfly's wings) can ultimately set off a chain reaction that influences a bunch of people’s lives. The elderly and very independent Charlotte Rainsford is mugged in London, and is forced to stay with her daughter, Rose. Rose is then unable to attend a business trip, which leads Marion to attend in her place. This leads to an interception of a text message that outs her affair with a married man. And the ripple just continues…

This is not deep literature mind you, but it has good writing, great characters and an interesting storyline.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

charming desserts and pastries cookbook.

Unfortunately I was only able to visit Austria for a day on my way to Venice last year, but fortunately I was able to visit Austria for a day on my way to Venice last year. Glass half...both. Don't mind the sweatpants, this was taken on New Years Day, aka Hangover Day.

We can learn a lot from the Europeans. Important things like how to stay skinny, how to work less and take siestas in the middle of the day, and my personal favorite, how to make a dessert. Austrian Desserts and Pastries: 108 Classic Recipes by Dietmar Fercher and Andrea Karrer is filled with strudels, chocolates, parfaits, tortes, sauces, souffles...basically all things sweet and yummy for you to make in your own kitchen. Really get into it or impress your Austrian dinner guests with Schaumrollen and Palatschinken, you know Austrian puff pastries filled with vanilla meringue and crepes. I mean, who doesn't entertain Austrian dinner guests at least twice in their lives?

Really though, the book has very clear and straightforward recipes. My next mission is to tackle the souffle. I've always wanted to attempt to make something as high maintenance as my girlfriends. Ha, just kidding girls, sort of.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the life, not death, of thomas ince.

Okay. Thomas Ince is way before my time. Considering he died in 1924, he's way before my grandma's time. So for those of you who are not ninety years old, here's a short run down. Progressing from actor to director and screenwriter, Ince revolutionized the motion picture industry through developing the role of the producer. In addition to building the first major Hollywood studio facility, dubbed "Inceville," he was responsible for more than 800 films. Back then there was only silent cinema. Actors running around on film without sound. In this biography, author Brian Taves explores Ince's impact on Hollywood's production system, the Western, his creation of the first American movies starring Asian performers, and his cinematic exploration of the status of women in society. And no wonder the book is titled Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer.

We are all well aware that gossip surrounds Hollywood deaths. It is the one Hollywood constant, especially after Hedi Klum and Seal broke up, going on for decades and still happens today. Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger... My point: Thomas Ince was like the first big Hollywood death gossip in the 1920's. That may be all that he is remembered for, until now. Taves wrote this biography to show the life and career of Ince, not to focus on his suspicious death. It's a great bio for you film buffs out there.

Monday, April 2, 2012

educational but reads like a novel, fact.

Vincent J. Pitts did an excellent job chronicling the life of Henri IV, or Henri the Great as the people fondly called him, in Henri IV of France: His Reign and Age.

Henri was not even remotely welcomed as heir at the beginning. He was forced to renounce his Protestant faith to take his place as king on the Catholic throne, and he really had to prove himself to the people of France. He was king from 1589 to 1610, when he was assassinated. During his reign Henri regulated state finance, promoted agriculture, drain swamps to create productive crop lands, undertook many public works, and encouraged education. He renewed Paris as a great city, and everybody loved him. Well, everyone but Francois Ravaillac, the douche bag who killed him. This historical biography is very informative without being dull.

I for one like his stance. His body language is saying, "you know, I may be wearing ruffles and posing in a feminine fashion, but I'm still here to party and save your country from debt and despair."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

spy turned stay at home mom. normal.

I had no idea what an "expat" was when I received a copy of The Expats: A Novel by Chris Pavone, so I did what any good English teacher would do, I looked it up. An expat is a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country. Pretty much describes every character in this book.

Kate and Dexter Moore are a married couple who basically know nothing real and true about each other. Basically like any other marriage you've heard of. For 15 years, Kate has led a secret life. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her computer geek husband, and her two young children. They have no idea that she is a Central Intelligence Agent. As the years pass and her children grow, Kate decides it would be in every one's best interest to leave her job, and it is perfect timing because Dexter is offered a new job in Luxembourg. So the Moore's make the move to Europe. Now Kate has all the time in the world to notice that her husbands job, working at a bank, seems a bit suspicious. He has long hours, and is becomes very evasive. Kate's spy self cannot help but come out and uncover what is really going on.

Espionage...cocktails...intrigue....the makings for a tasty and twisty thriller if you ask me, even though you didn't ask me.