Wednesday, February 27, 2013

withheld affection is what she has come to think of as love.

The Girl Below by Bianca Zander begins with protagonist Suki Piper's returned to London after a decade long escape to New Zealand. She has come back to her old neighborhood where she lived prior to her mother’s death from cancer. A place full of memories, some hinting at mysterious goings-on that Suki has struggled for years to piece together and understand.

The novel continues on in a series of flashbacks, taking the reader from the present to the past and back again. Suki's first person narrative carries the reader into her early childhood memories, the time in New Zealand, along with the strange memories that have been haunting her. In the present, she falls into the lives of her old neighbors, which brings vividly back memories from her childhood. Suki constantly sinks (in both the present and past sequences) into an apathy induced often by drugs. Her story is rather depressing, honestly. However, a young woman being forced to confront such a painful past has its inspiring sides as well.

***For a chance to win a FREE copy of The Girl Below, follow this blog and then email your name, address and this book title to:!

Monday, February 25, 2013

oohhhh i wanna dance with somebody.

I grew up listening to Whitney Houston. I was vaguely aware that she was also an actress, but I was more interested in the movie soundtracks, than the actual movies she was in. She sang unlike any other, and I will always appreciate that, no matter what her personal life consisted of.

(terrible movie, amazing soundtrack)

At the end of January, Whitney's mother, Cissy Houston came out with a sort of autobiography about her daughter's life and untimely death titled, Remembering Whitney. Throughout the book Cissy refers to Whitney as "Nippy" which was a little distracting honestly, but many of you will find the nickname endearing. I did enjoy Cissy's voice as she told the story of her own life before she was finally blessed with the little baby girl she had been hoping for. She tells of Whitney's birth to adulthood from the point of view of a proud mother. However, Cissy's voice went from proud to sad pretty quickly when the 2000's hit and Whitney's life started spiralling downhill. As a curious person, I would have liked to read more about Whitney's actual death, Cissy is rather vague about it, only letting us in on when her son called to tell her Whitney had been found dead. She did however share her pain and guilt of being Whitney's mother. Showing us that the only person who can truly save you, is yourself. And may she rest in peace.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

a mysterious and magical place.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is among the most imaginative books I have read as of late. The primary characters or players are the mysterious master magicians, Prospero and Alexander, and their young students, Celia and Marco. While The Night Circus follows several characters who are involved with this circus that shows up unannounced in the middle of the night, the story centers around the young Celia and Marco, two magicians pitted against each other by their masters in a challenge of sorts. The two are star-crossed lovers who basically grow up in this competition, unaware that there can only be one illusionist left standing between them.

The Cirque des Reves, or "the Circus of Dreams" is a gloriously imaginative creation and a dream-like experience to both readers and characters. The cast of characters surrounding Le Cirque des RĂªves is as unique as the circus itself. They range from architects, clock makers and illusionists, to dreamers, ballerinas, and contortionists. Morgenstern creates a bit of a grownup fairytale that sucked this "grownup" right in.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

legos sure have changed since i was little.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am some sort of closet Lego connoisseur and that I devote my life to Lego projects. Let's get real. The reason why I ask for copies of manuals like Make: Lego and Arduino Projects by John Baichtal, Matthew Beckler and Adam Wolf is because I want my nerdy boy students to think I'm cool. Which they do, by the way. And I say nerdy with love.

When I brought Make: Lego and Arduino Projects into school to show and tell, the boys were pretty pumped about it. Since I know nothing about any of this stuff, I got some help from them with writing this review. They thought the guide was really easy to follow, but that didn't surprise me since they are all pretty book smart. What I got from the whole experience is that you need Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 and the Arduino program to create any of the projects in this manual. My kiddos got a little bored with all of the introductions and would have preferred more step-by-step instructions/pictures for actual projects included.

Be prepared to shell out some extra bucks to complete any of the projects. This manual should be viewed strictly as a resource AFTER you have purchased the shields.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

the trouble with charlie is that charlie is dead.

Weeks after her husband of ten years moved out, Elle Brooks finds him dead on her couch. That's right folks, Elle comes home from a night on the town with her girlfriends to discover her estranged husband, Charlie stabbed to death. Elle doesn't think she killed him, but honestly, she doesn't know for certain as she has some short-term amnesia issues. This doesn't go over extremely well with the police and they consider her a primary suspect in the murder.

Elle decides to take matters into her own hands and do some background research on Charlie, in hopes to prove her innocence. The more she learns about her late husband's very recent past, the more dangerous her present becomes. Turns out Charlie was a first class cheater, and also had a lot of shady connections that Elle can't really explain until they start coming after her.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a SIGNED copy of this novel, simply follow this blog AND send your name, address, and this book title to:!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

strange for me, not for steampunk.

A Red Sun Also Rises is the newest book from Mark Hodder, best known for his Victorian Steampunk trilogy starting with The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack. In Rises, we read a novel based on a journal from a 19th century priest, written with his authentic voice and viewpoint. Aiden Fleischer is our priest, who ironically refers to himself as a man without faith. Aiden, along with his humpbacked sidekick Clarissa Stark, embark on a missionary expedition to the far side of the world. Stationed on a remote Pacific island, the two find themselves under a strange sky on a strange planet, facing strange creatures with a strange society and even stranger ecology. The inhabitants of this alien world of Ptallaya find the two human visitors quite fascinating; however, this adventure takes a turn for the worse as a giant red sun rises along with the dominance of the Blood Gods.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

new movie, old book.

A few years back I read and reviewed Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, which also happens to be the release date of the movie, I thought I'd re-share my review on the novel.


Enjoy love birds. I can't wait to drag manfriend to see this flick once the air is a little less mushy gushy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

cheesy heaven in your mouth.

I go through a lot of healthy eating cookbooks to review on here because I'd like to consider myself a relatively healthy kind of a gal. Healthy in the sense that I run three miles BEFORE I go to the Chinese buffet. I believe in a balanced lifestyle, where there's sweat, and mashed patatoes, and cocktails. Bringing me to my next review: Mac & Cheese, Please! by Laura Werlin.

Mac & Cheese, Please!: 50 Super Cheesy Recipes

I do feel the need to eat healthy during the week, but on the weekends I like to indulge a little here and there. I'm really not a mac & cheese kind of girl honestly, so it's a little weird to hear me gush over a collection of 50 mac & cheese recipes. They are just sooooo good, and they take like 10 stes or less. My favorite recipes (so far) include, the fried mac & cheese squares, I mean, what's not to love about squared pieces of heaven. You bake them, not deep fry, so I'm thinking they are almost healthy. You're all going to platz over the chicken, pesto, and provolone mac & cheese. Werlin gives you a recipe to make your pesto, but also encourages you lazy people to go out and buy it. SO many flavors, every recipe is like a party in your mouth. Speaking of parties, if you want to be the most popular person there, I recommend bringing a big 'ol pan of mac & cheese. You can thank me later.

Monday, February 11, 2013

pretty AND smart.

I would LOVE to be paid to write essays about my life. That is my ultimate dream job. I would also love to be as deep and thought provoking as Siri Hustvedt, but hey, at least I'm funny, and I don't believe people can be both.

Living, Thinking, Looking is Hustvedt's latest essay collection. For those of you who don't know, Hustvedt is an internationally acclaimed and bestselling novelist who is super intelligent and well-respected in the literary world. Some say that readers might be challenged to keep up with her flexible, energetic mind, however they are unlikely to ever grow bored of her writing. Most of you will even feel a bit smarter after you're finished. Her collection is divided into three sections: the essays in Living draw directly from her life, where we learn a lot about her; those in Thinking explore memory, emotion, and the imagination; and those in Looking are about visual art. Her essays mix art, literature, neuropsychology and neuropsychonalisis, plus her life as a writer, daughter, sister, wife and mother.

Friday, February 8, 2013

too good to be plant based cookbook.

Chef Lindsay S. Nixon has added a third cookbook to her Happy Herbivore series. Happy Herbivore Abroad is yet another collection of cheap and easy to make vegan recipes that every meatless lady and gent should have on hand as a resource in their own kitchen as well as when they are on the go.

Nixon has travelled to many of the same places I have. In HHA, she shares photographs and recipes from Germany, Cuba, France, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, India, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Japan, Switzerland, Africa, Austria, the USA (of course), among others. As a fan of anything European inspired, it was a really cute way of setting up the collection of recipes.  The recipes are not gourmet by any means. They are stress-free and good for your bod. Win, win. My favorite so far is the goulash.

I’m a big fan of Nixon, and have reviewed her other Happy Herbivore collections. She has a great message, encourages people to make healthy choices, and shares how you don't have to spend a lot of money to make delicious, healthy food.
P.S. I still love bacon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

complex but not too complex to follow.

In John Harvey’s latest crime novel, Good Bait, there are two main storylines following two different cases. The first is the murder of a 17-year-old boy who was found in a frozen pond, assigned to DCI Karen Shields and the Homicide & Serious Crime team. The second drops on DI Trevor Cordon hundreds of miles away when a troubled woman he knew is killed under the wheels of an oncoming train. Karen Shields is a London homicide Detective Chief Inspector, while DI Trevor Cordon is a veteran cop in Panzance. Both cases are connected to the world of criminal gangs and those they exploit, and both are basically added to the list of an already heavy caseload of unsolved murders.

As usual, John Harvey does an amazing job creating intriguing protagonists. Shields is an all-business thirty-something Jamaican female, Cordon is a fifty-something white veteran cop waiting on retirement. The two are as different as night and day, literally. Yet, their storylines blend naturally because the two cases have more of a connection than anyone realizes.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a copy of this novel, simply follow this blog AND send your name, address, and this book title to:!

Monday, February 4, 2013

advertising contest.

Something to consider...

In celebration of the publication of the new novel Truth in Advertising by John Kenney, Touchstone Books invites you to design an advertisement for the book! Entries will be judged by a panel of advertising industry experts and the winning design will win a cash prize of $5,000. We encourage applicants of all backgrounds to participate, including (but not limited to) those with experience in graphic design, advertising, and marketing.

To learn more about the contest and to submit an entry, visit:

Additional details:
• Submissions can be in jpeg, mov, or gif format.
• Submissions must be in English.
• Submissions must be an original advertisement for TRUTH IN ADVERTISING by John 
   Kenney and include the book title and author name.
• You may submit up to three (3) entries. Submissions must be different and not substantially similar.
• Participation open only to legal residents of the fifty United States or the District of
   Columbia who are 18 years or older as of date of entry.
• Submissions are due by February 28, 2013.

And here’s just a taste of what people are saying about Truth in Advertising:
• “We’re sold on Kenney’s trenchant, quick-witted debut. A-” —Entertainment Weekly
• “A lively debut that has ‘movie deal’ written all over it.” —People
• “It’s the stuff of Jonathan Tropper novels and Judd Apatow films and every Zooey Deschanel fantasy.”
•  “Balances the droll with the hopeful and the glib with the heartfelt.” –The Daily Beast

Please direct all questions to

Saturday, February 2, 2013

waiting for a sign? this may be it.

You all know that I'm mildly vulgar, and I'm not super into organized religion. However, I DO believe in Jesus, we simply have an understanding between the two of us. That being said, I think that all of you Jesus lovers and acquaintances can benefit form Clare De Graaf's The 10 Second Rule: Following Jesus Made Simple.

Whether you believe in God, or some other higher power, I think that we can all agree that we have a calling in life. Something, somewhere, drives us into certain directions. We can spend a lot of energy fighting it, and continue to do our own thing, or we can give in to whatever we are meant to do. De Graaf's tiny book packs a punch. He offers first hand advice on listening to the voice of God, obeying (I hate that word, let's just call it "agreeing with") His decisions, and trusting in Him to take you where you are supposed to go.

The main idea is to be a good person: do things for those who don't deserve it, LOVE those who are the most difficult to love. At the end of the day, being a good person has nothing to do with your religion, it has to do with the greater good, and God knows, we could all use some more good in our country.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a copy of this book, simply follow this blog AND send your name, address, and this book title to:!