Wednesday, April 30, 2014

lisa bloom, or veronica mars.

I try to make it a habit to not get too invested in the news. It's depressing, scary, and honestly kind of offensive. I don't typically share my opinion about politics, big murder trials, or even the Clipper's owner's racism because EVERYBODY has an opinion and the ones who share them are usually single-minded. So I'm going to keep quiet and objectively review the expose on Trayvon Martin's murder and George Zimmerman's trial by Lisa Bloom titled Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Trial and Why We Continue to Repeat It.

I know you all have your own opinions regarding the outcome of the Zimmerman murder trial. Some of you agree with the verdict of not guilty, some of you think it was a major upset. Whatever your personal opinion is, I would still consider Bloom's research a proper read for you if you are the type of person who enjoys diving into the nitty gritty of murder trials, courtrooms, jury interviews, etc. OR if you are a Veronica Mars fan as the first half of the book lays out the errors made by the state in proscuting George Zimmerman, and there were a lot.

The second half of Suspicion Nation goes over how Americans have arrived at this place in history. Covering the many reasons why blacks are racially profiled and the racial bias we all hold in some shape or form, even though we don't want to. And yes, Bloom herself delivers a bias review of the case because it's obvious who's side she's one, but the girl has done her homework. So don't hate.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

if you include robberies and hand grenades light reading...

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg's second installment of their Fox and O'Hare series, The Chase was one of my Spring Break reads. As you can see, I would read while manfriend napped. We had a pretty good thing going there in Puerto Rico.

FBI Special Agent, Kate O'Hare and professional conman, Nick Fox work together to catch the world's most wanted criminals. Ironically, Fox is in the Top 10 Most Wanted club himself, but that's beside the point. In this story, the two are out to catch former White House chief of staff, Carter Grove who has a stolen rare artifact that the Smithsonian needs to give back to the Chinese, because nobody wants to piss off the Chinese. When Nick and Kate (and their silly assembly of sidekicks) get inside Grove's mansion down in Florida, they discover a secret room that leads them to the stolen booty. In that room they also find the largest stolen mini art museum off record, and Fox just can't leave it alone. Together, with the gang, and along with Kate's dad for backup, they pull off one of the most ridiculously amazing con/robberies in the history of Canada and America. My only issue is that I would like the obvious sexual tension between Kate and Nick to lead to actual sex. That would be nice.

Monday, April 28, 2014

when the odds are stacked against you.

Karen Lynch's Good Cop, Bad Daughter: Memoirs of an Unlikely Police Officer was one of my Spring Break reads, and when you drag a book with you through 12 hours of travel to Rincon, Puerto Rico, you make sure it's worth it. Judging by previous reviews I knew it would be, and it was.

This memoir was definitely a change from my normal easy breezy beach reads that I usually bring on vacation. But I'm not complaining, strong women fighting adversity is totally up my alley, and Lynch is an excellent writer. She became one of San Francisco's first female police officers, and made something meaningful out of her life despite being raised by a crazy bipolar mother who traveled her all over the place. No father to be found and a really sad childhood sets the scene for her story that is truly inspirational and proves that even when the odds are stacked against you, you can get the help you need to change your destiny. With the help of one of her nutty mother's boyfriend's, who wasn't creepy at all (thank God), Lynch graduated from a highly rated academic high school and then went on to graduate college, be the first woman to graduate from her police academy, and have a successful career on the force.

A little shout out to Karen Lynch for kicking ass!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

how the other side of the mic lives.

Gerry House is a top rated radio host, a writer of songs, bits, television scripts, and now books with his collection of antics titled Country Music Broke My Brain where he shares exclusive stories from behind the mic that will leave you in tears, from laughing so hard. I love myself a good radio personality as I wanted to be one when I grew up for the longest time (I still do), and House writes how he talks which is super hilarious. He shares never aired conversations with some of country music's biggest stars (including Brad Paisley who I love) and many of his own personal stories, which are funnier than I thought possible.

I assumed this would be very much the book of inside jokes that I wouldn't get, but even if you aren't a Nashville native or a country music fan, you will be able to appreciate House's comedy writing. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

for the brain geeks.

As a follow up to her The Human Body Book, Rita Carter has come out with The Human Brain Book. If you read the first one, you know that Carter has a knack for covering more material than her peers subsequently answering more reader's questions as well. 

The Human Brain Book is broken up into several chapters beginning with general information about the brain and body. Carter then goes into the anatomy of the brain, moving on to a discussion on the senses and how the brain interacts with the environment. Carter covers the more abstract topics such as memory, thinking, and consciousness, which is my favorite section. And the last few chapters go into detail on the possible development and diseases of the brain. In a nutshell. 

Carter does an excellent job introducing readers to neuroscience. Derek Shepard would be proud. Genius's should keep in mind that this is very much an introduction. As for the rest of you, this book is a wonderful overview, easy to understand, with great illustrations, and will be added to my classroom library to spice things up a bit. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spider-Man, Wolverine, X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, the gangs all here!

My kids at school literally fight over Matt Forbeck's Marvel Encyclopedia in study hall. It's like cat nip and so incredibly well done, filled with background stories on all of their favorite characters (1,200 profiles all together) and some amazing artwork. This edition is fully updated and necessary for any marvel comic book fan's library because honestly, nothing currently compares. It's exactly what your superhero obsessed kid (or man child) is looking for, and more.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

for the serious snowboarders and skiers.

Since the weather is finally breaking in WNY and spring is here, I thought now would be the perfect time to review Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes - Washington by Martin Volken, naturally. Back in the day, backcountry skiing was all there was, and it wasn't viewed as a sport nor did it include fancy hotels, chair lifts, and bearskin rugs.

In this guide, Volken presents some of the fantastic ski touring, backcountry snowboarding, and ski mountaineering that Washington has to offer, if that is your sort of thing. He includes information on routes in National Parks and Washington State Lands, and also takes time to educate and equip readers with useful tips, like where to park, what to pack, and when to poop. After reading, you will feel confident enough to venture out on your own and complete your tour safely. Emergency exits are included.

Monday, April 21, 2014

every parent can relate.

Parents lose their children when they become teenagers. They begin to drive themselves places, would rather spend their time hanging out with friends, kids simply need parents less and less as they grow. In Lisa Scottoline's latest thrilling page turner, Keep Quiet, Jake Whitmore is going through what every parent goes through at some point, and he's trying to win his teenager back. Jake's attempt to bond with his sixteen year old son, Ryan turns tragic when a devastating car accident with Ryan at the wheel kills a young girl. Jake, who like any parent would do anything to protect his child, makes an impulsive decision to save his son's future. This leads to a sort of domino affect throughout the rest of the story showing us how important one decision can be, especially if you make the wrong one.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

at 86, MHC has still got it!

Mary Higgins Clark novels are ALWAYS something to look forward to, and her latest thriller, I've Got You Under My Skin is no exception.

Reality television producer, Laurie Moran has an idea to create a reality series that opens cold cases anywhere from twenty to thirty years old. Her plan is to get the point of view of the people who were closest to the victim. The whole premise of this series hits close to home with Laurie because her own husband was brutally murdered five years ago, and the only lead they have is that he has blue eyes and is planning on coming back to kill her and her son, Timmy. Timmy was only three years old when his father was shot and killed, and he is the only one who saw the killers face.

Timmy's now eight, and off to summer camp while his mom launches "Under Suspicion". The first episode is about the murder of Betsy Bonner Powell at her daughters graduation party. Her husband, Robert who has never remarried is still searching for his wife's killer, suspecting it was someone who attended the party. As close friends and family recreate the scene for other's viewing pleasure, Laurie doesn't realize that she is being stalked by Mr. Blue Eyes while she works. And MHC does what she does best, keeps the tension mounting and creates the kind of suspense that will keep you up at night. Get it girl!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

couples bible study.

My fiance and I have been attending premarital mentoring classes about once a month, which is mandatory through the church we are marrying at in July. We are actually getting a lot of out the experience. We meet with a couple who have been married for 30 years, and we talk about all of those things you should discuss before you get married. They also give us advice, and it's nice to bring up some of our issues and get other people's perspectives.

Uncommon Marriage Bible Study by Tony and Lauren Dungy is a 5-week guide that I have perused, but I plan on really getting into it with my guy after our mentoring is complete. This couples Bible study explores Scripture and how it relates to the good, the bad, and the ugly in relationships today. After reading through the pages myself, I noticed that it would actually work really well in a small group discussion, if that is your thing. This marriage resource does have similar advice and Scriptures used in other relationship-based Bible studies that some of you may be familiar with, Chapman, Townsend, etc. but as someone who hasn't read any other books on the topic of marriage and relationships other than The 5 Love Languages (which I totally recommend as well), I found these cute Dungy's and the way they share their personal experiences that are relatable to real life and Scripture, very helpful. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

get excited about strength training.

Everybody knows that if you really want to lose weight and see your body change FAST, then you need to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. Especially the girls. I've been adding two days a week of heavier weight training myself to prepare for my special day that is less than three months away. I also consistently take classes at my gym that incorporate circuits with weights and cardio. It's hard for me to explain because I'm not all scholarly when it comes to exercise science, so I'll let Nick Tumminello take it from here.

The basis of Strength Training for Fat Loss by Nick Tumminello is metabolic strength training which he explains thoroughly in chapters 4-6 using his three C's: Strength Training Circuits, Strength Training Complexes, and Strength Training Combinations. In these three chapters, Tumminello not only clearly states what each concept means, he also includes the exercises involved using common gym equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, stability balls, resistance bands and cables. These practices are high intensity, and who doesn't like doing cardio and strength training at once? They use your entire body, so no more wasting your time working one muscle group at a time. Tumminello's circuits are a great way to spice up your routine, get you motivated, and see fat loss results FAST.

Monday, April 14, 2014

some lessons are learned the hard way.

Prison Baby is a revised and substantially expanded version of Deborah Jiang Stein's self-published memoir, Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus. Deborah was adopted as a baby by a Jewish couple, and had a pretty normal childhood despite the fact that her parents were white and she was a bit Asian. I feel like all adopted kids have a certain amount of issues with abandonment and insecurities, but Deborah's story is one I have never heard before. She came from a cocaine addict who gave birth to her in prison. Deborah actually spent the first year of her life behind bars. She discovered this on accident while snooping around her parent's things when she was twelve, and the walls came crashing down around her.

From that point on, Deborah dealt with the shame of her biological mother and her shame of being a racial mix of what she didn't actually know, in the worst possible ways. To put it politely, she became mentally unstable. She turned to drugs, and drug smuggling. Three cocaine-filled balloons stuck up her lady bits kind of smuggling. She refused to confront her problems, and she hit rock bottom before attempting to find her birth family and pull her life together.

Deborah's story is one that has and will help many women deal with mental illness and dark pasts. She currently speaks at women correctional facilities, and if this turns even just one life around, Deborah should be so proud of the woman she has become.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

sister anselm is back!

J. A. Jance is back with her latest installment of the Ali Reynold's Series titled Moving Target. I have only taken the time to review one other novel from this series (Left for Dead, 2012), but that doesn't mean I don't love them all, I do. But between Jance and Evanovich, I just can't keep up.

In Moving Target, Ali decides to travel to England with her 80-something longtime family friend/employee, Leland Brook who has been estranged from his own family for decades because on account of he's gay. Ali should be back in Texas planning her wedding to her fiancé, B. but seeing as that's super stressful, she'd rather be in England with Leland's crazy family. In England they are told that Leland's father's death was actually a murder, and the case is still open, and pretty fricken cold, but that doesn't stop them from diving right in to crack the case.

Back in Texas, B is following the story of Lance Tucker, a teenager super gifted computer hacker and who was literally lit on fire in the detention center where he was doing his time for hacking into his school's computer system. It was B’s testimony that put Lance in the facility, and with this attack, he feels he needs to get to the bottom of why someone would attempt to murder a kid over a computer program.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

a novel set in all of my favorite places.

London socialite by marriage, Grace Munroe just doesn't fit in her life filled with glamorous parties and a loveless marriage. So when she was sent a letter claiming that she inherited property in Paris from a complete stranger named Eva d'Orsey, Grace jumped at the chance travel to France and straighten things out.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro is set in 1955 with Grace's journey to find out the truth behind her strange inheritance. The author uses flashbacks to introduce us to Eva and her life in New York, Monte Carlo, Paris and London beginning in the 1920's. So we learn about Eva as Grace uncovers her secrets and figures out how an old perfume shop in Paris has the power to change her life. Beautifully writing by Tessaro, I was totally engaged throughout.

"we shouldn't judge too harshly, in the end, the sins of others."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

street kids, romance and murder - all in a day's work for YA author.

Brown women always die by drowning, and always on a Saturday. Which is why Vivienne Brown nicknamed her daughter Friday, and why she kept them wandering around the desert outback. But even so, she couldn't escape an early grave.

Once Lillian "Friday" Brown's mother died from cancer, the seventeen year old keeps on moving, because that's what she's always known. Her mother and her have been moving from town to town since Friday can remember. Now alone, she meets a street kid name Silence who leads Friday to her little family of squatters. Kids like her, all so different from each other, with their own ways of getting by, each with their own story to tell.

Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield is a young adult coming-of-age story that is packed with emotion while still surprisingly, upbeat.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

be the change.

The word somatics comes from the Greek root soma, which means “the living body in its wholeness.” Somatic coaching is a unique coaching style that brings the body forward as an advocate in creating a place for change and transformation. Accredited somatic coach Richard Strozzi-Heckler has been teaching and inspiring leaders from all areas for decades using his methods and Zen-like qualities. Accredited author as well, Strozzi-Heckler has created a resource for the rest of us titled The Art of Somatic Coaching: Embodying Skillful Action, Wisdom, and Compassion, which is an excellent resource for teachers, parents, therapists, coaches, bosses, anyone who is in the position to help others live a more meaningful existence. He calls it a book about "waking up" in a world full of violence, disasters and poverty, and responding with skillful, wise, and compassionate action. If you'd like your mind and body to become one, I suggest you jump on the somatic bandwagon.

Monday, April 7, 2014

shattering some myths.

African Americans have always had a sort of attachment to firearms. I understand that this may sound racist to you at this specific moment, but just wait until you read the book I'm reviewing, you'll realize that my statement was super scholarly.

In his well-researched book, Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms, law professor and author Nicholas Johnson shows us the importance and cost of self defense as he takes us back in time, chronicling the use of arms by Black people throughout US history, especially in the South.

Black people and guns have been getting a bad rap for decades. Johnson documents, time after, time how enslaved Africans and fugitive Africans would fight their way to freedom with guns. How they had an underground market to buy, and or steal these guns. How these guns and their willingness to use them allowed many enslaved Africans to get to Free States. The history of the fight against slavery and the civil rights struggle has been modified and right of self-defense, political violence has been minimized. We live in a time where everyone can agree that enslaving people was completely disgusting and wrong, so did it take Professor Johnson to really open our eyes to the Black perspective in history as well as today? Johnson doesn't condone street violence in Black communities, he gives a compelling argument for the right to own arms by law abiding citizens.

Friday, April 4, 2014

excuse me? tame my alpha WHAT?

So I'm kind of a bitch. I like to have things done a certain way. My way, the perfect way. Apparently that's frowned upon in this society. For those of you, like me, who have a little bit of an attitude problem on occasion, maybe it's time for you to learn how to tame your alpha bitch. Maybe. Hey, I'm not telling you what to do.

Woman have come a long way since the barefoot and pregnant days. Rebecca Grado and Christy Whitman wrote Taming Your Alpha Bitch: How to Be Fierce AND Feminine (and Get Everything You Want!) to help us not ruin the progress. The book is filled with "bitch tips" which include tips on how to handle controlling friends, competitive partners, forceful alpha moms, drama queens and any other type of person that you may have in your life. You don't want to go around pissing people off all the time, or you'll never get what you want. You need to handle your relationships with care, at work, at home, and with acquaintances, friends, and family. Time to let your Beyonce shine through your Sasha Fierce.

Time to start rubbing people the RIGHT way. And that wasn't meant to be dirty, bitches.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

90 extra minutes a day. just for you.

I'm with you on that one John, really. That's why I read What To Do When There's Too Much To Do by Laura Stack. It helped a lot. At one point or another, we have all complained that there are not enough hours in a day. Stack helps us use those precious hours wisely. Here is some of her advice mixed with a few of my own personal tid-bits, of course:

When you need to use the computer as a research tool. Research effectively. Oh, and don't get distracted on Pinterest two hours when you just needed to look up your bank's customer service phone number.

Learn how to say no and make it stick. You do not owe anybody anything. Well, maybe your offspring, and your significant other, and your mother. But that's it. Don't make empty promises to those high on your priority list or those at the bottom. Just say no. And you don't need to apologize or explain yourself. The NO is good enough.

When making a "to do" list, define importance carefully. Don't put stupid things on there just to avoid the important things you really don't want to do. Don't procrastinate, especially if it's an important (high value) thing on your list. Just put your big girl panties on and get it done.

AND you're welcome.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I've told you guys how obsessed I am with the Dollanganger series by V. C. Andrews. I reviewed the first two installments last month, and have finished the series in full. The third book was narrated by Cathy's sons Bart and Jory, which was all fine and everything, but I prefer Cathy. The fourth was narrated by a past-middle aged Cathy, the family all being back in Foxworth Hall. It was heartbreaking, and fabulous all at the same time.

The point of my review today is to tell you about the prequel to the series titled Garden of Shadows which is narrated by the grandmother, Olivia Foxworth. Yes, the horrible grandmother who did all those terrible things to the children like lock them away in one room for three years, beat and starve them. This prequel tells of Olivia's life. How she grew up, and tells of when she met Malcom. She shares her hopes and dreams to find love, even though she thought she was going to become an old spinster, as no one paid much interest in her because she was too tall and too plain. Malcom came into her life when she was twenty-four, called her an "attractive woman" who had the business background that he wanted in a wife, and poof, they were married. It wasn't romantic at all, which left Olivia who was very naïve at the beginning, pretty let down. But she got used to life at Foxworth Hall, and the awful Malcom Foxworth as her husband. The story goes on to tell of their marriage, children (Mal and Joel), and also tells of Malcom's father Garland, his young bride Alicia, and their son born a year after Joel, Christopher. I don't want to go into major detail of Cathy's mother, Corrine's birth, because it's a ginormous spoiler, but it was so strange learning about Olivia AFTER we know how creepy she was to Corrine and Christopher's children. If I had read this novel first, I would have had an entirely different perspective of Olivia and her cruelness. But I guess that's the affect V. C. Andrews wanted to have on readers. She wanted us to hate her while reading the series, and then see her side of things after everything was said and done. Just makes me respect this author all the more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

just wrap your loom and start.

Woven Scarves: 26 Inspired Designs for the Rigid Heddle Loom by Jane Patrick and Stephanie Flynn Sokolov is a VERY thorough guide to weaving scarves, probably because one of the authors is a teacher. Each scarf design has excellent instructions, and the sidebars have great information and pictures to assist you as you go. Now, this book is perfect for beginners, but let me tell you what you veterans can get out of this deal. Number one, this book goes beyond the plain weave, and secondly it shares fabric samples of each scarf and pictures so that you know how it's going to lay on the wearer/it makes shopping for fabric super easy. These 26 examples will no doubt inspire your own designs, because we all know you want to be able to do your own thing if needed. Both brand new and experienced weavers will not be able to wait to try them all out!