Thursday, July 31, 2014

grandma mazur has a bucket list.

The second book I read on my honeymoon was Top Secret Twenty One of the Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich. Not quite as romantic as Nora Roberts seeing as Steph's still a bounty hunter chasing random bail jumpers with her partner, Lula who is a large dark complected former ho who dresses in spandex. But hey, Ranger always gets my juices flowing.

Anyways, Stephanie's life hasn't changed much since the previous installment. I do kind of wish that Janet would get a move on with the love triangle between her, Ranger and Morelli. I mean, who's it gonna be? For real? Moving on to the story. The skip that Stephanie has to deal with this time around is Jimmy Poletti, who was jailed for selling both cars and young girls out of his car dealership. Little guy Randy Briggs asks Stephanie for help because Jimmy allegedly bombed his apartment and car, so she let's him stay with her even though he's impossibly annoying because she's hoping Jimmy will catch his scent and come after him. Meanwhile all of Jimmy's friends are turning up shot dead, and no one exactly knows who's to blame, or who's next.

Stephanie still works for Ranger on the side, helping him with the jobs that require boobs, all while trying not to take his clothes off. When Rangeman is almost taken down by a deadly gas that I forgot the name of, both Ranger and Stephanie figure out it's a blast from Ranger's past out to get him. The guy is still pretty upset about the time Ranger took one of his eyeballs out. That turns into something that I'll just let you read about yourself. The good news is Lula is dating a 300 pound skipee and Grandma Mazur got to see Ranger naked in Atlantic City.

I love this series.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

i'd like a shot of the red drink.

Since I waited until the respectable age of twenty-eight to get hitched and my new hubby is 6 years older than me, the discussion of when to being trying for kids has already started (waiting until next year, if you were wondering). In my opinion, it's never too early to start training for parenthood, so when I receive books like The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan, I take notes and laugh a lot. First of all, you should check out the Honest Toddler Facebook page, because it's pretty enjoyable. I don't laugh about it as much as an actual parent would because let's be honest, I don't get it yet, not really. I've never been pooped on. Back to the book...

It is a collaborative book on parenting, written from a child's point of view in mind, basically telling you how to live up to their expectations. Toddlers are perpetually misunderstood creatures, and The Honest Toddler is here to clear up the communication barrier between parent and child. There are a couple of pretty amazing old school ideas running around through this book. Like how to leave your kid alone so they can be themselves, and how to understand their behavior, rather than freak out about it. Going grocery shopping? Leave your kid at home! No matter how good natured they are, they do not want to go to the store with you and not be able to pull everything off the shelves. Get a fricken babysitter, for everyone's sake.

At first, I didn't know for sure if I agreed with every strategy in this book, as I am the most stubborn person alive and will have a hard time giving in to my crazy offspring who will probably be exactly like me, or that one daughter of the Teresa New Jersey Housewives lady. But then I got to thinking that this book makes the parent look much less crazy than any other parenting book I've ever read. So there's that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

i want to be justine montgomery when i grow up.

While scowering the ridiculously over priced airport convenient stores for my obligatory airport mass paperback (it's my favorite tradition), I was SOOOO excited to discover that the third installment of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy was available in tiny copy! I loved the first two books but lost touch with the series, I blame Stephanie Plum and Cathy Dollanganger for taking over my life. But anyways, The Perfect Hope was THE PERFECT book to read on my honeymoon. Super romantic and adorable, and an excellent finish to the trilogy. The first two books covered the budding relationships of Claire and Beckett and Avery and Owen, which leaves the third Montgomery brother Ryder, and the last of the bestie threesome, Hope to fall for each other even though they are total opposites. Ryder is super rough around the edges, musky, sexy, moody, doesn't like to talk about his feelings. Hope is the classiest broad ever, organized, sweet, former beauty queen. Hope is the manager of the inn, and Lizzy, our inn ghost plays matchmaker again, pushing these two together just as she did to the other couples.

The Perfect Hope is a wonderful continuation of The Last Boyfriend, the small town of BoonsBoro is expanding with Avery's new restaurant and tap house, also a bakery and gym are being built in town, keeping the Montgomery boys very busy, but not busy enough for Ryder and Hope to stop the urge strike up a casual sex relationship that turns into something so much more. Hope also finds more information on Lizzy's past, and what's keeping her in the inn, who is she waiting for?

Monday, July 28, 2014

get ready to be moved.

Lilly and Dennis Klepp sold everything they owned and moved to Sudan, Africa to give themselves to the poor. Mama Lilly wrote a journal along the way and titled it, Adventures Under the Mango Tree, A Story of Hope in War-Torn Sudan and what an adventure it was reading this inspiring story about two people who gave up their own comfort to serve others, and are still doing so today. Since 2001, the Klepp’s have opened two orphanages, a school, and a hospital, serving more than 500 children and thousands of families through their ministry of the Gospel, along with health care and education. Keep in mind, this is a war-torn country and the civil war didn't end until 2005 so bombs, land mines, even death were all a packaged deal with their big move. The Klepp's asked God what they should do to help and He sent them to Africa. Are you brave enough to ask God how you can help the world?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

our trip to the moon.

I have a great excuse for my disappearing act this past week and a half. I was on my honeymoon! And it was glorious. I read two amazing books on my trip and will be reviewing them this week. Here is a little taste of my 7 days in paradise, also known as Secrets Maroma Beach Resort in Cancun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

society it is a changing.

The Next America by Paul Taylor is a quantitatively based book on demography and sociology in America today vs. the past. It applies a generational lens to explore the many ways America is changing. Taylor pays particularly close attention to our two outsize generations, the Baby Boomers (fifty and sixty-something's) and the Millennials (twenty-something's) by examining how the generations relate to one another not only as citizens, voters, and interest groups, but as parents, children, and caregivers. (I may have stolen some wording from the preface, but it was just so good).

We are living in a world where people are living longer, having less children, and developing entirely new family structures than in the past. What does this mean for future generations and our economy? With the help of Pew Research Center's archive of public opinion surveys, Taylor covers that, too. Don't be turned off by the statistics, numbers and graphs, I'd still consider this informational read kick ass.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

they tried to make me go to rehab...

The abuse of drugs in this country is just plain sad. I mean, Whitney! Amy! Philip Seymour Hoffman! It's a damn shame. In The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, addiction specialist Dr. Lance Dodes exposes the deeply flawed science of 12-step programs including true stories from the doc's thirty-five years of practice. And you couldn't have written this BEFORE Whitney jumped ship? Jeesh. The horrific part is that these 12-step programs, AA, NA, etc. are the ONLY court mandated options for most addicts who wind up in the system. Dr. Dodes takes his research and case studies and proves how useless these programs are. That's fricken scary. What can we do to really save our addicts? Honestly, I don't believe that Dodes has all of the answers (no offense, doc) but I do think he did an excellent job proving what is without a doubt wrong with these rehab programs (other than the people getting rich off them), which brings us closer to figuring out what needs to be done to save the seemingly unsavable.

Monday, July 14, 2014

NYC restaurant style cooking.

Marc Forgione is one of the Iron Chefs competing on Food Network's Iron Chef America and owner of restaurant Marc Forgione in New York City. Chef Forgione came out with his very first cookbook tilted (shockingly) Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant which is filled with 170 recipes including his signature favorites. Along with the recipes are beautiful photographs and his personal story of how he came to be one of America's Top Chefs.

Reasons why YOU should buy this book:
  1. Chef Forgione shares the best notes and guidelines I've ever seen in a cookbook. They are super helpful and will ensure the perfect dish.
  2. The signature Chili Lobster recipe.
  3. The step-by-step instructions on how to debone a whole fish (with pictures).
  4. The recipes aren't too intimidating and will be super impressive to dinner guests.
  5. His story and writing which is inspiring and hospitable, just like him.

Friday, July 11, 2014

jennifer's way.

I LOVE Jennifer Esposito. I was super sad when she left Blue Bloods, I just loved her sass. Anyways, she recently came out with a book telling her story about living with celiac disease titled Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease - What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again.

Jennifer grew up with chronic health issues and dealing with uneducated doctors who couldn't seem to help her get healthy. Once she was diagnosed with celiac disease, she decided to get educated so that she could help herself and others. What a babe. Since there is no cure for this disease, Jennifer had to change her lifestyle. She went gluten-free and has even opened a gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, allergy-friendly, organic bakery in NYC for her fellow man. Her book has already helped so many of the 1 in 133 American's who suffer from this disease so that they don't have to go through what Jennifer went through alone. She gives suggestions on recipes, books, and blogs that she uses. Jennifer's message of empowerment and advocating for your own needs will benefit anyone going through this struggle.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

let's get virtual, virtual.

I am the queen of outsourcing in every day life. I am a delegator. At Christmas time when I have my family over for Christmas Eve dinner, when I throw my baby brother's annual birthday pool party. I was superwoman delegator during my wedding or I never would have survived it. No, I don't own my own business, but I am fully aware of how important outsourcing is so that you have more time to do what you want to do, which is why I know readers will get a lot out of Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business by Chris C. Ducker.

New entrepreneurs are a one-man (or woman) show. They do everything, they get exhausted, miserable, and lots of times, they fail. Ducker has a much better plan that will give small business owners a much happier and less stressful ending. Hire a virtual staff, build yourself a virtual team. No, they are not a bunch of robots, but they are much cheaper than people who come to the office every day. Ducker gives you everything you need to know about finding, hiring, training, managing, and building your virtual team. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it's a hell of a lot better than wearing every hat in the company, burning yourself out, and your spouse leaving you because you're too wrapped up in work.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

the real saving private ryan.

The 70th anniversary of the allied invasion of Europe aka the longest day ever was June 6th, so I thought I'd get in the game and review The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach by John C. McManus, today. This book focuses on the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) and the crazy slaughter at Omaha Beach. McManus does an excellent job capturing the horrors of war, I still have a stomachache. But it was super exciting to read about the overview of the plan, the level of detail and logistics, the training that went into making this one day successful, and also how close the German's came to derailing the allies plan altogether. Phew. Even those of you who are super nerdy history buffs will learn some new information on what this invasion accomplished and some of the lessons learned that day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

and what a story to tell.

Normally I dive head first into a Jodi Picoult book and I don't come up for air until the last page. The Storyteller was a little bit different. Not necessarily in a bad way, it just took me longer to figure out where Picoult was taking me. She begins the novel with a girl named Ania who lived in a village that seemed very much in the past. Then she moves on to Sage, a baker who attends a grief share class because she's lost both of her parents, and is having a really difficult time getting over her mother's death which happened three years ago. Sage has some major issues with her appearance, scars on her face that she tries to hide by being a night shift baker and growing her bangs over her face. She meets Jossef, a seemingly gentle old man who also attends the class, and they become friends. The friendship comes to a bit of a halt when Jossef tells Sage that he was a Nazi. Like, a sent people to the gas chambers kind of Nazi during WWII. Next, Jossef asks Sage to kill him. Her family is Jewish, and Jossef thought he could get some peace from her forgiveness and an assisted suicide type of deal. Sage runs off to the FBI Nazi hunters and then Picoult gets to the real story. Sage has a grandmother named Minka who is a survivor. She was actually in Auschwitz, and horrible things happened to her and her family. It's Minka's story (and Ania's, too) that made this a worthwhile read, as Minka IS the storyteller.

Monday, July 7, 2014

all the married ladies, all the married ladies.

I know everyone says this, but my wedding really was the BEST DAY EVER. The weather was sunny, breezy and PERFECT. The food was good, the DJ was amazing, and Rich split his pants during his first drop down on the dance floor. The cops showed up and everything. Total blowout. And the photo booth pictures just won't stop being funny.

Friday, July 4, 2014

wedding bells and fireworks.

Soooo, I'm getting married TOMORROW. That's weird to say, but it's true. Manfriend is finally making an honest woman out of me! That being said, I'll be a bit busy from here on out. I am on the last twenty pages of Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller, so I'll be back to talk about that on Monday. Have a safe and fun 4th of July weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

kick ass giveaway.

Win a FREE copy of Beast!
Contest Rules:
1. Follow this blog :)
2. E-mail your name and this book title to: to enter!
3. Contest ends 7/7

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

make your ideas a reality.

My mom and grandma LOVE Shark Tank. They literally order some of the products they see on the show. Silly girls. I'm not really into that type of reality show, or reality shows in general unless it's House Hunters, but I did appreciate Shark Tank's Lori Greiner's Invent It, Sell It, Bank It! almost as much as the ladies did. In this book, which I would consider a self-help, Greiner shares her own entrepreneurial experience in such a way, it is obvious that she wants readers to be successful.

Advice and specific topics in the book include:

Research Your Market
How to Get Funding
The Truth About Patents
Manufacturing and Packaging
Beyond Brick and Mortar
Marketing That Really Works
Expand and Diversify
If you're already knee deep in your own entrepreneurial start up, some of this info may be repetitive to you. But I do believe that Greiner offers some real gems of advice, I mean, she's the one who is walking around all successful. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

chicken soup for crying your eyes out.

I devoured Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul (the original) when I was in middle school. The stories inside would make me laugh, make me cry, and make me think. Which didn't happen a lot back then. Needless to say I'm a huge fan of the series. I love the concept of writing coming from all walks of life, who share something pretty huge in common. Their age, religion, occupation, health issues. Which leads me to my next review of a new Chicken Soup installment, Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Living with Alzheimer's and Other Dementias by Amy Newmark and Angela Timashenka Geiger. My grandfather had dementia and died two and a half years ago. My grandmother still cries, and I still miss him. This was an extremely comforting collection of stories written by family members and other care givers dealing with a disease that steals their loved ones from them, mentally and then physically. If you are one of those people who have lost someone you love to Alzheimer's or Dementia, you will cry your eyes out, let me tell you. It will stir up your own fond memories. For example, the first story took me back to the last time I saw my grandparents dance. Grandpa was in pretty bad shape, sitting down in a chair that had wheels on the bottom, and grandma was up on her feet swaying their hands back and forth. And when I think of that moment, the tears just come. Not necessarily because I'm sad, but because they got to have that last dance. And that is what this book is all about.