Tuesday, July 31, 2012

fairytale meets fairytale.

The Elemental Masters series written by Mercedes Lackey is known for being a bit fairytale-esque. Lackey bases each book on a popular fairytale, and puts her own fantasy twist on it. Home from the Sea is the eighth installment and based off of Tam Lin. If you are like me and have no idea who the hell Tam Lin is, I will explain. There are many different versions of the story, but I'll keep it nice and simple for you. Tam Lin is an old Scottish ballad about a young man who is the captive of the faeries, and the young woman who rescues him. As an independent woman myself, I liked where this was headed right from the beginning.

Home from the Sea is the story of Mari Prothero (our independent woman) who lives in a tiny fishing village on the coast of Wales. In her family, children are expected to marry at the age of eighteen to a predetermined suitor. Total fairytale style, just think of Jasmine. Mari has got some spunk, and she's not interested in marrying some stranger, but what she doesn't realize is that her arranged marriage is set up to protect her magical heritage.

Monday, July 30, 2012

cute, cute, cute.

I travel a lot. And when I do I pack light so that I can strap all of my belongings to my back and call it a day. It's a good thing manfriend is a chiropractor or I'd be in trouble. I'm a rather petite girl, so when I walk around with these giant backpacks busting at the seams, it looks a little silly, and potentially dangerous. Strangers have had to keep me from backwards when entering and exiting trains, planes, boats, buses, etc. I wonder how many stories I am in at random Christmas parties every year. Probably a few.

For my 2 1/2 week stay in Italy and Greece last summer.

I love novels based on travel. I am all for the true Eat, Pray, Love kind of stories, but am perfectly happy with the fictional ones like, In the Bag by Kate Klise, as well. Daisy Sprinkle and Andrew Nelson are strangers traveling abroad with their children, Coco and Webb. When the two teenagers accidentally switch luggage at baggage claim, they speak over email and develop a pretty adorable relationship while their parents attend to their work, Coco's in Paris and Webb's in Madrid. I could not wait for these two smitten teenagers to meet. It's all very flirtatious and young, which is exactly what I look for in a teeny-bopper summer read.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

praying this never happens to me.

Sometimes it freaks me out when the names of characters in a novel I am reading match real people in my life. On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves introduces Anna and T.J. In my real life Anna is one of my best friends and T.J. is my older brother. I moved passed this almost immediately because fictional Anna is thirty and fictional T.J. is sixteen. Or maybe it should have made the idea even more strange. Anyways.

T.J. is a sixteen-year-old cancer survivor who needs to catch up on missed school and is sent to a tropical island to be tutored by Chicago native, Anna who is an English teacher, like me. The two board the private plane heading to T.J.'s wealthy family's summer house in the Maldives islands packing with them their clothes and their own personal sets of baggage. While flying over the beautiful islands their plane CRASHES into the shark-infested waters. Anna and T.J. survive the crash and manage to swim to the shore of an uninhabited island.

If they were rescued right away, this wouldn't be much of a story would it? After months of being stranded their relationship changes as we can read from both Anna and T.J.'s point of view. And maybe you'll see Anna's mug shot on CNN.

Friday, July 27, 2012

here you go film buffs.

Throughout the history of film, both art and technology have been employed together to create incredible works of art that we pay a good chunk of change to see on the big screen. Creating film is a collaborative effort, it includes many artists and technicians who's work is rarely available for us to explore as we please. And then Mark Salisbury created Prometheus: The Art of the Film, and now these works are at our fingertips.

I dabbled in broadcasting during my undergrad, trying to figure out what I wanted to be. I created my own commercials for a class, went through the editing process of filming, music and voice overs. It was an incredible experience, nothing like a film, but exciting to show my artistic vision through technology.

I never saw Prometheus, I also have terrible taste in movies. I do know that Salisbury's background of this film is absolutely something that everyone should see. He takes us behind the scenes to the costume design, how the characters, vehicles and quarters were created. Basically the entire design of the film. If you've seen the movie, you know that the scenes are wild with special effects. The development is all there in the pages.

Salisbury leaves no stone unturned when walking us through every aspect by SHOWING drawings and photos rather than requiring a lot of reading.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

a stephanie plum novel, or seventeen.

It's fricken summer, and I have barely reviewed any novels. Sorry for sucking. Being a summer school teacher has tested my patience, leaving me with only enough brain capacity for short stories and plotless books.

However, there is an exception, there is always an exception. I am still sucked into the Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich. After my first review of One for the Money I have read my way through eight more from the series, and there hasn't been one that I haven't loved. I am obsessed with Steph, Morelli, Ranger and the rest of the crazy gang, and I am almost convinced that she and I were separated at birth. I have never in my life seen such amazing writing, filled with hilarious characters and Jersey attitude that is nothing like the Shore. Okay, maybe a little like the Shore. You can find me looking like a fool laughing out loud, real belly laughing, on the regular. Probably I should formally review each and every book, but who has time for that? I bought the entire set of like 17 used off Amazon for like 40 bucks. Make like Nike man and lady friends.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

fifty shades of grey, fifty ways to play.

I am sure you are all a tad surprised by my lack of opinion or commentary on the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, considering my life motto is the dirty bird gets the worm. You'll be even more surprised by my lack of enthusiasm, or maybe not. I am thinking that we can all agree on the fact that the writing was sub par. If I had to read little miss Ana say Holy shit! or Holy cow! one more time I was going to turn it into a drinking game, or murder someone, or both. The inner goddess talk and obvious schizophrenia wore me down as well. It was really too bad, I thought the concept was great.

Physically, Christian Grey reminded my friends of manfriend. They told me this, which is why I had to read it even though the book was a little too popular for my taste. Reading the first installment, Fifty Shades of Grey was pretty much like reading my diary, only I'm a better writer and I never forget to eat. Although the dirty stuff didn't make me blush like it did so many others, it still rose my blood pressure a tad, which says a lot. I have heard rumors that the writing gets better with each book, I will probably give them a go the next time I am visiting manfriend. It's easier reading about kegal balls with him close by. And I can't lie. E L James left me curious.

The people over at the Penguin Group were kind enough to send me a copy of 50 Ways to Play, which felt a little like Christmas after my disappointment in Fifty Shades. Play is your go to manual for sexual domination and submission. Authors Debra and Don Macleod (who also wrote Lube Jobs and Lip Service) give us the low down on BDSM rituals. They detail the whole spanking thing, which I thoroughly enjoy and recommend that you try if you haven't already. But remember people, spank and then caress, spank and then caress. SO important. The book also came with a bondage rope.

Read, enjoy, repeat, my friends.

For a chance to win a FREE copy email your name, address and THIS book title to:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

for those who can only dream about it.

Naples. I want to eat, pray love the shit out of Naples. I want to make love to Naples in elastic waist pants. But for now, I will merely dream of what I would do, and read Benjamin Taylor's Naples Declared.

Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay is not a story set in Naples, it is the story OF Naples from Taylor's point of view and in depth research. In this original book, we travel through sunlight and darkness around the bay. We travel through the Gothic War, the fall of the Bourbon dynasty and barbarian invasions to see how Naples survived it all.

It must get all of its strength from that pizza.

Monday, July 23, 2012

skeleton, come out the closet.

Murder in a small town that doubles as an old folk’s home where the spice of life is Monday night bingo. Hmm…okay Bryan Gruley, I’ll take your bait. I know some of you already have considering The Skeleton Box is the third book in the Starvation Lake mystery series. 

In this installment, local newspaper editor Gus Carpenter finds himself in the middle of the investigation after the serial break-ins that happen every Monday night when the town is getting their bingo fix happens at his mother’s house, and turns bloody. It’s common knowledge that small towns have the most secrets and Starvation Lake, Michigan is no exception.  This mystery isn’t what I would call “action packed” but it is filled with great characters that you can’t help but be fond of.

For a chance to win a FREE copy of this book, send your name, address and this book title to jenileerose@yahoo.com! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

do scientists eat hot fries?

Author of The Science of Skinny, Dee McCaffrey got super personal, super quickly in her new book based on NOT dieting. McCaffrey's 4'10" frame used to carry around 210 pounds until she decided to use her brain to make slim down her body. She studied chemistry in college and learned what we all have heard for years, processed foods are KILLING us. Twenty years later, she is a hundred pounds lighter and about a gazillion times happier.

The Science of Skinny is basically 400 pages of knowledge on how to improve your life. McCaffrey is a scientist, so we are talking skinny from a scientific point of view here people. She includes decades of research and studies on what foods lead to us developing diseases and illnesses. Scary.

Also included are descriptions of all of the major skinny superfoods, a two-week cleanse to get you started, and recipes designed for a lifetime of skinny AND healthy. You know, foods that WON'T kill you. McCaffrey even takes the time to defend potatoes, amen sista friend. All in all, the book made me stop and think about my own eating habits. I didn't see hot fries on her list of skinny superfoods, and I am thinking it wasn't a type-o. Drat.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

do i look fat in this?

Alright, apparently there is some sort of fat phobia going around in society today that I have not even begun to notice. I've seen it on daytime television recently, people talking about how heavy people make less money than slim people. They are viewed as lazy and inadequate, as not in control. Frack. Some days I have absolutely zero control, maybe it doesn't show on my waistline, but the crazy is still there. THE CRAZY IS STILL THERE. And I have met way more crazy skinny people than crazy fat people in life, let me tell ya. I'm annoyed.

Reading through Lesley Kinzel's Two Whole Cakes made me just plain sad. I know that was not the point, but I can't help it. This was a hard review to write because you all know that I put myself in every review. I am not a skinny girl, but I'm not fat, and the last thing I want to do is sound condescending or act like I understand what it's like to shop in the plus size section. I don't. But I do know what it is like to not love my body. That happens. And I truly felt for Lesley while reading her stories of diet failures, shopping, and being mocked. She touches on the many "fat politics" going on in our society, believing that Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign is targeting fat children specifically. Well, yeah. there would be no campaign if all the children of the world were thin. Lesley also shares her opinion on The Biggest Loser, shedding light on these coaches who are technically verbally abusing the contestants, but because they are fat, they "need" to be yelled at, so it's okay. It's really not okay.

Our society perceives fat people as weak. Apparently society has never been introduced to Lesley Kinzel. She'll empower you people, no matter what your size.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

want to feel like mother of the year?

I am not a mother. I've never really wanted to be a mother, until I met manfriend. He wants kids, I want him, and I know we'll be a team. My biggest fear is doing it all alone. Probably because my mother had to. Daddy issues over here, big time. But I'd totally let manfriend knock me up. After he buys me a diamond and a house with a really big library, and possibly a pony.

Chapter 1 of Confessions of a Scary Mom by Jill Smokler begins with real mommy confessions. My favorite being, hidden in the pantry in a box labeled "flour" is top-of-the-line chocolate and a few joints. I rarely resort to it, but it's a comfort knowing it's there. Separated at birth over here, girl. Every chapter has it's confessions. On being pregnant, giving birth, taking care of a newborn, dropping the pounds, dealing with the biggest baby of all, your baby daddy, and hating other people's kids....to name a few. The confessions made me laugh out loud and terrified me at the same time. Jill Smokler is REAL. She's got a potty mouth, her stories are painfully honest, and I have quite possibly changed my mind back to not wanting to have children.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

bathroom book alert.

I am a little offended that The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said was published before I got my two cents in. Hello? I am funny. Super funny. Facebook likes by the dozens funny. Your bad, Robert Byrne.

This book is as it sounds, filled with 2,548 numbered "witty" quotes by people who are actually funny, and others who must have let Byrne see them naked. Joke. Some of the quotes are just a little old school funny. I am sure most of these folks had no idea they were being funny at the time. For instance, Katharine Hepburn said that "Perhaps men and women should live next door to each other and just visit now and then." I mean, that sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me. Many of those quoted in Bynre's book are dead, which is kind of a downer. But he did include Demetri Martin, who is hilarious, and still breathing - "Whenever something good happens to me, I wait two weeks before telling anybody because I like to use the word fortnight."  Daniel Tosh is also quoted a few times, clearly Byrne wanted to make sure he got a few laughs from every age.

Monday, July 16, 2012

slim, calm, sexy....and live to be a million.

It turns out, that after oh, 10 years (on and off) of mildly caring about what I eat, the benefits of being thin are just not enough motivation for me to actually eat healthy every day. Yes, I know what you're thinking. It's a good thing I have such a fabulous personality. You know how certain foods are supposed to make your hair soft, your skin clear and your nails pretty? Well, my next plan is to try to eat foods with more omega whatevers and antioxidants so that I can not look like a dried up old lady in a couple of years. And MAYBE doing this will lead to a nicer bod.

I found the BEST book to help me with my new (obviously fool-proof) plan. Slim, Calm, Sexy Diet by Keri Glassman. I mean, I'd like to be slim, a little calm never hurt anyone, and sexy can always be improved upon no matter what. This is a six-week program focusing on finding the perfect balance in your life and eating 100% real foods. Glassman's research and studies focus on your mind, sleep, workout, skin, libido, metabolism and your LIFE SPAN. Hello, I'd like to live to be 120, and still be having sex regularly, thanks.

There is a weekly recipe guide. Lots of chicken, seafood, fruits and veggies. Quinoa, which I love, Greek yogurt and greens. And for you picky ones, Glassman gives you ideas on how to build a meal or a snack. She lists the slimming foods, calming foods, and sexy foods and explains the benefits of each. Not that I need an increase in my libido, but I like the idea of eating for a night of sin, and the more orgasms the better, am I right? There is also a Slim, Calm, Sexy Workout. And let's not forget why I picked up this book in the first place, the Get-Gorgeous Foods are on page 136, folks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

forgiveness found in a cottage by the sea.

To me, author Robin Jones Gunn is most famous for The Christy Miller series, which I could not put down in my early teens. I've been out of the Christian Fiction game for a while, but decided it was absolutely necessary for Gunn and I to rekindle our flame. Her latest, Cottage by the Sea is an emotional story of a woman rebuilding the relationship between her and her recently ill father. Erin drops everything in her busy Southern Californian life to travel to coastal Oregon to take care of her dad who just had a stroke. Although he cannot speak and her ugly stepmother splits under the pressure, Erin stays. She doesn't put him in a nursing home, she doesn't resent him for interrupting her life, she stays. Although it's not easy, the two of them reconnect, and even a girl with daddy issues can see the beauty in a story like this.

Setting wise, I loved this novel. Having traveled to the Oregon coast before (which is gorgeous), it made Gunn's descriptions even more vivid. And I may not have a cottage by the sea, but I do have a cottage by Ontario Lake, which is almost just as good, minus the smell. I was there for the week of the 4th of July, before the craziness of summer school began. Relaxing, kayaking, painting and running. Not a care in the world. My parent's cottage is actually in a campground called Lighthouse Christian Camp, and no, the place did not get struck by lightening when I arrived. God and I have an understanding. In all seriousness though, it's a really charming place. Everyone there always waves to each other and small children run around like no one will steal them. Pretty idyllic.

My favorite spot.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

there's always something new to learn about einstein.

Before I begin my review on Einstein's Jewish Science by Steven Gimbel, I'd like to share with you my favorite Albert Einstein quote.

As a teacher, this speaks to me.

And FYI, I am officially a REAL teacher...for the summer. I accepted a summer school teaching position which began two days ago! I pretty much just got really, really lucky. An English teacher backed out, and they had no time to really look for someone experienced, and I was just standing there, looking all hopeful and pathetic, so they chose me. I am out of my mind excited to spend my summer with a bunch hoodrats (and they are ALL hoodrats). I am going to have fun with it. If you need me, I'll just be sitting over here on cloud nine.

Back to Einstein. Apparently he was Jewish, which I was unaware of. My mother was a little embarassed when I told her that. The 'stein' was supposed to give it away, it's a good thing I'm pretty. Anyways, I've got a Jewish friend, so I am pretty fluent in Jew, my politically correctness needs some work though. The main idea of Einstein's Jewish Science is whether or not religious beliefs or backgrounds had an effect on Einstein's scientific endeavors. Gimbel has done a ton of research to make his case on Einstein and a number of other famous scientists. I have never thought of science to be "Jewish-style" or "Christian-style" probably because I was never any good at science. But I can totally see how religion would affect scientists experiments. You are what you believe in. Gimbel has a lot of interesting examples of how these scientists acquired new knowledge and the different ways that each of them went about making new discoveries.

A book like this is an acquired taste. And you should know by now if this is the kind of book you would want to read.

Monday, July 9, 2012

i am apologizing in advance for the TMI.

Let's take a moment and talk about sex. Why? Because it's fun. And if you're not having any fun then you should probably pick up a copy of The Big Fun Sexy Sex Book by Lisa Rinna and Ian Kerner, PH.D. When I received this book, I was super excited. I assumed it was going to be filled with all sorts of dirty tricks. However, it was more like a "how to" improve your sex life in your marriage. You know, for grownups who have been married for a while and sex is more of a chore than anything else. I have difficulties relating, but once in a while when I do feel a little tired, I just tell manfriend to get on top and problem solved. But you married people don't want a childless, 26-year-old's advice, so let's get back to the Sex Book.

Sex matters. SEX MATTERS. That's the first thing you need to come to terms with in your marriage. Yes, you've been married for ten-plus years, you have kids, you work fulltime, you're a prude. Whatever, SEX MATTERS. Rinna and Kerner credit their happy marriages to the kick ass sex they have, so I vote that you listen up. The pages of The Big Fun Sexy Sex Book include: What you need to do outside the bedroom to steam things up between the sheets. Why great sex is good for you. The best sexual positions for the female orgasm (PAY ATTENTION). Oral sex and hand job tips guaranteed to drive a man wild. The best toys to turn you on. They even bring up the elephant in the room, aka porn. Rinna and Kerner cover all of their bases, we are talking body part descriptions, what to eat, because if you feel healthy you feel sexy, and the other elephant in the room: erectile dysfunction.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

teaching formulaic writing.

I will never forget how difficult it was to teach an essay during my first student teaching placement in an eighth grade ELA classroom. It was like pulling teeth to get those kids to put pen to paper and write. At the end of each of the three days it took to get through the process, I asked myself, are you SURE you want to be a teacher? Yes, it was that bad. It was my first time ever teaching writing, I was super discouraged, and drank A LOT of wine after grading those essays. Since then, I am constantly on the look out for any books that can help me teach writing. I have found a lot of useful strategies in Kimberly Hill Campbell and Kristi Latimer's Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay, so I thought I'd share a few with you all. You're welcome.

Firstly, I really like the idea of requiring students to reflect on the writing process after certain assignments. The idea in the book is to assign this after a conclusion-free writing assignment is due. Another strategy includes crafting a thesis and defending it verbally, oh my god. Most of my eighth graders could not grasp the concept of a thesis. If I would have made each of them argue theirs verbally, I know they would have understood it after a little back and forth with another student. Light bulb.

Part of the problem with the writing assignment that I gave during my student teaching was that it had to be so damn structured. I hate that. I don't want my students to constantly see writing as rules, rules, rules, or as a test to pass, I want them to see writing about literature as a way to capture their thinking about literature. Stole that from the book. A lot of the ideas in this book are ones I have heard before, or have developed versions of in my own mind. The strategies are what makes it worth the cash, there are dozens, and the whole Reading like a Writer chapter is filled with useful ideas on helping students developing responses (to write down) as they read. I see new teachers (like me) getting the most out of Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay.

I don't want you all thinking that I had a bad student teaching experience. I actually loved it. And it helped me know for certain that I was on the right career path. I taught my kids a lot of really important things in those seven weeks, you know, to prepare them for life.

Roughly 70% of them got question number three correct, and then we jammed out.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"you can't change the world from the rear view mirror."

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you

-David Whyte, poet

WHOA. I seriously opened my copy of The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte, did a little intro skim like I do, and these were the first words that popped out to me. I hadn't even gotten into the numbered pages yet. We are talking a Roman numeral epiphany over here people.

Laporte has some spunk let me tell ya, and she would like to help us get to the core of our truest desires. Desires in our personal lives, desires in our careers, in our finances, in our relationships. Laporte says, "your most valuable currency is what comes most naturally to you." For once, how about we take a moment and look at ourselves, who we are, what we want, and stop trying to be someone else. Take what we have and turn it into something amazing. The Fire Starter Sessions has 16 Sessions that focus on a different type of philosophy for becoming who you really are. Who that person is, is up to you. Your life purpose is whatever you say it is. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone. We get so wrapped up in feeling what we think we are supposed to feel, that we don't allow ourselves to feel what's real.

Rant over, but I am going to leave you with this, "it's often best to do the opposite of what your fear is telling you to do." Yeah, you should probably buy the book, it's full of advice like that.

***OR for a chance to win a FREE copy, email your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

the 17 day diet.

In our society, there are always new diets popping up all around us. I typically try to review books on the ones that are the most realistic. Dr. Mike Moreno's The 17 Day Diet for instance is the least complicated one I've seen in a long while. Especially after he came out with The 17 Diet Cookbook filled with easy recipes that will help you get through your cycles easier.

Let me explain the cycles for those of you who don't know. The 17 Day Diet is a 4-cycle program designed to take weight off rapidly. The first cycle is a jump start, every diet has one. It's the strictest, and doesn't allow anything fun, unless you think eggs are fun, which I do. The second cycle is more chilled out, and you can incorporate carbs, starchy veggies again and wine here and there. By time the third cycle comes around, you should have developed some kick ass eating habits. It will be more difficult to stray because you can indulge a little more and you'll still drop the pounds. The first three cycles are 17 days each (thus The 17 Day Diet). The fourth cycle is an ongoing cycle, you follow your good eating plans during the week, go easy on yourself on the weekends and holidays. Do this, and Dr. Mike says you'll be thin the rest of your life. I mean, his face looks like it belongs on a soap opera, so I believe him.

The 17 Diet Cookbook gives you recipes for every day during every aspect of the three cycles. These recipes include a lot of fish, chicken, green tea, eggs, and approved fruits and veggies. I can see it really helping those of you who are extremely structured and need to have a very specific plan when wanting to lose weight.

***For a chance to win a FREE copy email your name, address and this book title to: jenileerose@yahoo.com!