Monday, February 23, 2015

next stop, honolulu!

I am off to Hawaii for the week! I have brought along the following books to get me through my 11 hour flight there (WHATTTT)!!!! But I am super excited to get to reading as I have been fasting on reading for pure pleasure for like a month. It's been a rough month.

Friday, February 20, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

I am SOOO excited to share a chance to win a FREE copy of Artisan Cake Company's Visual Guide to Cake Decorating with you guys today!

All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 2/23 at midnight!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

secret lovers.

When I first received the spunky pink covered Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis, I was totally thinking Thelma & Louise, not insane lesbian slices the throat of former lover once their families forbid their love. WHAT? Alexis Coe's account of this true story dated back to 1892 totally blew me away. 19-year-old Alice Mitchell planned to marry the lady of her dreams, 17-year-old Freda Ward by passing as a man. Not the worst plan I've ever heard, but once their romance was found out, they were obviously forbidden to see each other as lesbians can barely make a break for it even today. Once Alice realized that Freda was able to move on without her, she sliced her throat with her father's razor and wound up dying in an insane asylum a few years later. Totally crazy story, and Coe retells it with a ton of sources including, letters and a full account of the legal proceedings which is the most interesting part of the book if you ask me. This is without a doubt the best non-fiction I've read in months. No offense to the others, but where are your lesbian murderesses?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

old school crime novel.

I am aware that Christmas is over and has been for some time. But I haven't gotten around to reviewing Hard Case Crime's (known for their classic crime novels) very first Christmas novel! And what if you all are super into the idea of the holidays and heists in February? I wouldn't want to let you down.

It's five days before Christmas in 1951, and it's the biggest blizzard in two decades in the opening of Easy Death by Daniel Boyd which is told in multiple perspectives. The major setting is a snowbank, but that only enhanced the experience for me. There's a heist, a getaway, shots fired, suspense, and in typical classical crime fiction fashion, readers end up liking the bad guys as much as the good guys.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

friends that bead together.

Since we live in a DIY everything world at the moment, (thank you Pinterest), many of you have already started making your own jewelry. If you have not looked into Virginia Jensen's Stitching with Two-Hole Shaped Beads guidebook to better your jewel making with this classy new bead, then you need to immediately because you can make some gorgeous pieces with just a little help from Jensen's materials list and direction. And speaking of directions, hers are listed step-by-step WITH pictures (figure 1, figure 2, etc.), super easy to follow. My favorites are the cuff pieces, SO CUTE and timeless. And you should see the necklace patterns, AH! I will never buy a cheap statement necklace from Forever 21 ever again because hello? I can make one or seven.

Monday, February 16, 2015

feeling unfocused and overwhelmed at work? there's a book for that.

Living with Adult ADD is hard. Not a lot of people get it, but it really is. I'm not medicated or anything, as I believe I am mature enough to handle myself, but the struggle is real. I lose focus almost immediately whenever I do anything I'm not wholeheartedly interested in, and even then I start to fade. I don't have a lot of issues when I teach or do a photography shoot, as these things have a time limit and I can make myself focus for a certain amount of time. Just not all day. Many of you suffer from lack of focus, especially at work. I found Ned Hallowell's Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and be More Productive super helpful and I think you will, too.

There are two very important parts of this book. Part One's focus is to help readers overcome distractions at work. Electronics being a huge one. It's so much easier and fun to peruse Facebook and Pinterest than do paperwork, grading, or whatever tedious things your job entails. Part Two involves managing and maintaining your ability to focus, with strategies to help you mentally stimulate yourself, supplements you can take to help you get rid of the afternoon blahs, and mediation tips.

Friday, February 13, 2015

go to baby shower gift.

Happy Friday! I love a good play on words almost as much as I love a good cocktail book. Tim Federle has brought me both with his Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist. Perfect book d├ęcor for the nursery when the time comes? I think so. But for now it will be my go to baby shower gift for mom and dad's to be. Why? Because the nursery rhyme parodies are clever, the illustrations are funny, and the cocktail recipes are delicious. Who knew J├Ągermeister, Goldschlager, and champagne go together? I didn't know a lot of things that I do now. Thanks, Tim.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

the new cake decorating bible.

I do have a bestie who doubles as a baker/cake decorator. And honestly, she's been a life savor for many an event. She makes my little brother's birthday cake every year, whatever he wants. Last year it was Frozen themed, he turned 26, whatever. But sooner or later, she's going to get married, have her babies, and she may not have time to give us the gift of beautiful cakes for all of our special events. That's where Artisan Cake Company's Visual Guide to Cake Decorating by Elizabeth Marek comes in. I do have the prerequisite of cake decorating class at summer camp 15 years ago, so I am totally ready for this guide to take me to the next level. Marek includes delicious cake recipes that do not come out of the box, along with the basics on creating, chilling, assembling that many decorating books leave out. There are examples upon examples, and as a visual learner, I appreciated all the photographs, especially the ones of what the batter should look like. I mean, how am I supposed to know that batter has a look? Anyways, this is a cake decorating guide for everyone, there is always something new to learn, and Marek will make sure you learn it. 5+ stars.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

sometimes, miracles happen.

The beloved author who brought us Proof of Heaven is back with another beautiful novel. Proof of Angels by Mary Curran Hackett is sure to touch even the coldest of hearts. And I would know, I live in WNY.

Firefight Sean Magee has never believed in angels. Especially after he watched his nephew die after numerous medical attempts to save him from his heart defect. But once Sean himself survives a near-death experience thanks to an angel's guidance he becomes determined to right the wrongs of his past, overcome his demons and his drug and alcohol abuse. To fix his future, Sean must face his past, the people he's hurt and the love he's lost. This novel is wonderfully uplifting as we watch a man stand up and fix what's broken. You may feel for him, or he may give you the courage to fix what's broken in your own life.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of Big Nate's Greatest Hits!
All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 2/15 at midnight!

Monday, February 9, 2015

your next book club book.

“How did you get to be the woman you are today?” That is what 22-year-old, Ave asked her 85-year-old grandma, Addie Baum in my new favorite novel The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant.

Addie had a rough childhood in the early 1900's after her Jewish family unhappily immigrated from Russia to Boston. Life got better for Addie when a teacher persuaded her parents to let her go to high school when she was fifteen. Addie thrived in high school. This is where she decides she wants to go into journalism as a career. In the meantime, she is invited to join The Saturday Club, an organization for young girls and women run by The Settlement House. It is here that Addie makes lifelong friends that help and influence her for the rest of her life. Covering mostly years 1915-1931, Baum really places readers right in the novel, in the North End of Boston, watching a hardworking girl with spunk make something of herself.

Friday, February 6, 2015

put down mommy's smart phone.

I just read a cleverly funny modern day picture book (and parody) titled If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by the author of Goodnight iPad, Ann Droyd, which makes me wish I became an elementary teacher, almost. This book is PERFECT for the classroom, hello text to self connections! There are also lessons to be learned about technology, like when NOT to use it, which this generation needs to hear. Kids today are obsesssssed with technology, even the little ones get iPad's and Tablets for Christmas. What? Baby Jesus was born in a stable people, let that sink in. Anyways, no judgments here if your kid is carrying around a smart phone at the age of nine, I'm sure they bug you less. But the point of Droyd's book is: if you don't get your head out of your Candy Crush you're going to miss out on things, which is a super important message.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

DIY detox.

I'm alllll about a solid detox/cleanse, but honestly, who has the money? Not me. Except for that one time I did the 3-day Jus by Julie cleanse before my wedding and lost like 6 pounds. It was fricken amazing, but also cost me 100 bucks WITH a Groupon. Bah, I can't be doing that all the time. Enter Detox for Dummies by Caroline Shreeve. And I love a good Dummies book even more than a good detox, let me tell ya. I even have a whole category designated for them on this blog. For Dummies kicks ass by nature, and Detox is no exception.

First off, why should we detox? Well because you are probably a little regular fat or even skinny fat (they do exist, I've seen them). You eat like crap. You're stressed. You drink too much. Your body is filled with toxins. And the list goes on. Detox's are for everyone, because everyone can benefit, and you don't have to starve, or drink juice for three days, or drink lemon cayenne pepper water for a week. There are foods (and recipes) that help you detox, ones that don't, and why - which are listed throughout the chapters of this book. Moving away from the food aspect...relaxation. There is an entire chapter (9) in this book dedicated to the art of relaxation, which I mastered years ago, but people like my hubby need to sign up for Relaxation 101, immediately. Seriously. Chill. In a world filled with DIY everything, creating your own HEALTHY detox will save you money and improve your life, and Shreeve can get you started.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

travel smart.

I was only able to visit Spain for a very short period of time during my first European excursion. Barcelona for TWO days. Bah. That's just not enough time to really experience this enchanting country, with its paella, sangria, and flamenco dancing. I am lucky though, because hubs has always wanted to visit Spain, so that means there's a 80% chance I will get to go back. I don't think it will be age appropriate for me to go topless on the beach like I did the last time I visited, but I'm sure I can work something out. For now, I will just page through the fabulous Rick Steves' 2015 guide to Spain and think warm thoughts.

If you want to do things more self-guided than tour-guided, Rick Steves will make it happen. In this guidebook, he tells you what to see, why to see it, and how to get there, with extremely detailed maps that even I can read. There is even a Whirlwind Three-Week Tour of Spain highlighting the best places to visit and in what order, so you get the best bang for your buck and your time. My favorite parts? What to know before you go! Super helpful. An idea of what you should allot spending wise. AND sightseeing priorities. I like the research to be done for me, which is why I ALWAYS go Rick Steves with my travel guides. .

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

new release + giveaway!

There are many different rules when it comes to dating. One Cosmo article or scenario in a Sex and the City episode can work for one person, and not another. No man is the same, no lady is the same, so you try out many different strategies to figure out what works, what doesn't, what scares them away, etc. until you find the one. The idea of experimenting following different dating guides is what Melissa Pimentel's novel Love by the Book is all about. Twenty-eight-year-old Lauren Cunningham has moved from Maine to London to live the single girl's dream. She has decided to follow different dating guides found in a charming bookstore in South Kensington and follow the rules with different men. These books have completely different (and some dated) strategies on getting a man. One wants her to refrain from having sex with the man she's dating. One wants her to see scores of suitors, not giving her heart to just one as she will lose her draw. Once a month a new dating guide, for one year, and cheeky little Lauren writes all about her experiences, like a journal. The men are silly, her British roommate is hilarious. Even as a married lady I enjoyed this read, reminds me of my youth. However, I am sure it was written with love for all the single ladies - it's British and sexy and perfect.

Love by the Book comes out today and you have a chance to win a FREE copy. Not only will the winner receive Love by the Book, but included in the package are these adorable wine charms! Yay for free stuff.
All you have to do is email your name and this book title to: to enter!
Contest ends 2/8 at midnight!

Monday, February 2, 2015

team anonymous.

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman is a carefully researched and documented resource about the group Anonymous, and its team of notorious hackers. For over 6 years Coleman, who is an anthropologist, was immersed in the culture of Anonymous, a loosely-grouped collection of hackers whose activities range from using their hacking skills to prank to political activism to fighting injustice. This is an inside tour into the world of infamous hackers written by a legitimate source. If this is a topic you wish to explore, I assure you you will not find better.