Friday, May 29, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of The Dash Diet Younger You!
All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 6/5 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

you should already be mildly smart to use this.

Data science is everywhere. You are constantly getting data collected about you without even realizing it by using social media, dating websites, online shopping, etc. Data Science from Scratch: First Principals with Python by Joe Grus is a book dedicated to teaching YOU how to become a data scientist, for free. Well, for the cost of this book.

Grus begins this book with a scenario. You have been hired to lead the data science efforts for a company. It's your first day, what do you do first? Grus gives you step-by-step instructions with codes and everything. Which leads you to the rest of the book. Codes upon codes upon codes. So you can figure out for yourself how to use and understand Python for data collecting. None of this makes any sense to me, of course, why would it? I don't use words like algorithm. But if you do. This book is for you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

i didn't love it...

On Instagram a few months ago, my friend Reese Witherspoon was recommending All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr up the wazoo. So of course, I ran to the library to request it immediately. Waited a few weeks, and it finally came back in. Although I knew nothing about the book other than it was set during WWII, I was really excited because the last book Reese recommended to me (and her 324032 followers), The Girl on the Train was excellent.

Well. I cannot tell you that All the Light We Cannot See was excellent. To me, it was not a kick ass book. BUT. It since it's pretty kick ass to a lot of other people who reviewed it. I am still going to share my review. And I don't want over 500 pages to be for nothing.

It started off well. We met a young German orphan boy who is incredibly bright and would find radios that were discarded and fix them so that he and his little sister could enjoy listening to radio programs at their group home. Late at night they would hear a program in French that they grew to love. And things started looking up for Werner when he was called up to be a part of Hitler's youth soldiers, and eventually called up to work as someone who traced where radio activity was coming from so that his team to kill "terrorists".

Around the same time we met a young blind French girl who lived with her father in Paris. He worked as a locksmith for a museum, and when the war reached France, he was to take a notorious jewel and travel away with his daughter, Marie-Laure, not knowing if the jewel he possessed was the real one or one of the fakes that were made so that the real jewel didn't fall into the wrong hands. They travel to Saint-Malo to take refuge with Marie-Laure's great-uncle Etienne, who has serious PTSD from the first war, and has more bad days than good. When her father is called back to Paris, and does not return, Marie-Laure wonders if the jewel really is cursed like the stories say.

During the whole book you are waiting for these two kids to crash into each other. It just wasn't the BOOM I was hoping for.

I really liked the beginning and middle of the book. I enjoyed learning about these two children on opposite sides of a gruesome war. But the ending just killed it for me.

Monday, May 25, 2015

behind every great man...

Abraham Lincoln is in my family tree. Don't be jealous, I bet if you looked far enough back you will find someone cool in your family tree as well. But since we are basically cousins, I have a soft spot for any historical books based on Lincoln, the latest being, Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image by Joshua Zeitz.

For those of you (like me) who are not super familiar with John Hay and John George Nicolay, the first part of the book will catch you up on their lives. Their youth is written separately, they were both writers and they came to become part of Lincoln’s inner circle after his election in 1860 as his official secretaries. Honestly, this book is more about Hay and Nicolay than President Lincoln himself, which works because they were the closest people to him other than his family. They helped shaped Lincoln into the kind of president he was. The kind of president who was remembered so fondly. They were kind of like Lincoln's Olivia Pope. And continued to support his memory after his death. Zeitz created a readable and engaging bio that I found very enjoyable to read.

I was able to visit the Lincoln Monument for the very first time in DC a few weekends ago. It was extremely cool being in our nation's capital. Especially so close to Memorial Day. So much history.

Friday, May 22, 2015

let's reflect on this for a minute.

I'm not very Zen. I'm not easy going. I don't mediate. BUT. I want to be all of those things, so I read Paradise in Plain Sight by Karen Maezen Miller who is actually a Zen teacher and helps students (and readers like us) find contentment in the here and now, just like she did in the ancient Japanese garden in her backyard (even though at the time she didn't exactly have a green thumb). Miller uses her Japanese garden as a metaphor to explain Zen concepts. I can get behind this idea because the home I've created over the last two years with my husband IS my Zen place, if I had such a place. I've created a very cool and open space for myself when my husband keeps his crap in his designated rooms, and I love it. This book is about making wherever you are in life right now, your paradise, and I love that message along with the rest Miller shares, especially the message on change. Because change is SO hard for me. This was a very soothing read and helped me realize how my own fears can blind me to so much promise for myself.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

if you're looking for results, Heller's got them.

Marla Heller's The Dash Diet Younger You will transform your body, leaving you twenty years younger and twenty pounds lighter in just ten weeks. Well, I don't want to be nine years old again, and twenty pounds is a little much, but I still got A LOT out of this book, which builds on the success of Heller's popular DASH diet, it's simply designed for a younger looking inside and outside. I am in it for my mildly high blood pressure, honestly, and so far so good.

The Dash Diet Younger You includes a 14-day meal plan with breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner specified for each day. HELLO. You can do anything for 14 days. There are 75 recipes in all, and they are followed by a section on a healthier lifestyle, and on managing the aging process. Very easy to follow, and no one's asking you to do anything outrageous. Eat more plant-based foods and eliminate those sugars and processed goodies. The testimonials are super encouraging, so if you are someone looking to reverse time a bit, this diet is definitely for you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

luckiest girl....alive.

Jessica Knoll is definitely an author for the every girl. Having credentials from Cosmo AND SELF (my favorite magazine), she has a way with women, and she really proves that with her debut novel, Luckiest Girl Alive and heroine (or anti-heroine?), TifAni FaNelli.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ani has spent her twenties reinventing herself. Working toward the woman's version of the American dream. Kick ass job, check. Nice digs, check. Hot body, check. Successful and sexy fiancĂ©, check. Her life is going on perfect, but fourteen years ago something happened to this girl that she just can't shake. And apparently no one will let her as she's asked to participate in a documentary revolved around the trauma, telling her side of the story. Ani is planning a wedding, starving herself into a size negative, about to marry a man she doesn't even love, to forget a past that won't go away. Alternating between her twenty-eight and fourteen-year old selves, I wouldn't call Ani a likable character, but the more you learn about her past the more you understand her present. And everyone deserves a chance to tell their side to the story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

for a laugh, or seven.

Dave Barry has been writing humorous essays for decades, and they just keep getting better in my opinion. His latest, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty, is filled with lots of new material because there are just so many amazing things to mock these days. Barry does get crude here and there, but when you're making fun of Fifty Shades of Gray, how can you not be a little crass? I appreciate Barry's latest take on the world, and I know his fans will, too.

I do however think he saved the best for last because his last chapter, "How to Become a Professional Author" was probably the most hilarious thing I have ever read. I was LOLing all over the place.

Monday, May 18, 2015

make the time to be quiet.

Finding God Through Meditation by Daniel Burke is designed for the Catholic faith, but many of us come to a point where we yearn for the meaning of life, and want to establish a relationship with the Creator. Many of us seek quiet time, peace, and time to reflect. Add some Saints, and that is what this book is about. Burke incorporates the Saints who are masters of prayer, like St. Peter, who used meditation and contemplation regularly to engage thought, imagination, emotion and desire, and suggests that meditation helps Christians develop a deeper relationship with God.

I know that many of you aren't into the idea of mediation because it has been so overplayed in movies, and we live in a world that is so fast paced and loud. But I do think it's important to take the time to be quiet. Quiet our minds and try to listen to what our hearts are telling us.

Friday, May 15, 2015

fantasy friday.

The Elusion series is a duology of fantasy/action/sci-fi/futuristic young adult novels written by co-authors Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam and are sure to spice up your reader's library. The series is set in a futuristic Detroit (which is a lot worse than present Detroit if you can imagine), narrated by sixteen-year-old Regan who, along with the rest of the residents of this city live with acid rain falling from the sky, forcing them to wear purifiers to survive everyday life. Many wish to escape their current reality, and before his unexpected death, Regan's father made an app for that. An app that transports you to exotic places, where you can find adventure and forget your troubles. Book one of the series, Elusion, is action packed while reader's follow Regan and her attempt find out what's really going on in the virtual world that seems too good to be true, because it is.


In book two titled, Etherworld, Regan and Josh (who she befriends in book one) are stuck behind the firewall in Etherworld, and are unable to fight Elusion. I am not going to go into a lot of detail as to not spoil book one for anyone who hasn't started this series. But there is more danger in Etherworld, more betrayal, romance and more to lose.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

what day is today, today is mother's day.

I am not big on feelings, but when I really stop to think about my mom, I turn into a big puddle of mush. I love her so much I can't think about it too hard or it physically pains me. I downright SOBBED when I read A Letter to My Mom from the Letter to My Series by Lisa Erspamer. I loved it so much. I'll cry right now. It is filled with so many sweet, sweet letters from guys and dolls, some you know and some you'll want to know, to their mothers. The letters are filled with gratitude to mothers for believing in them, supporting them, encouraging them, never letting them be defeated. It's an ode to mom's who make things happen. I know it's after Mother's Day, but what a wonderful 'just because I love my mom' gift?

My mom is the QUEEN of making things happen. I would always come up with some harebrained scheme or another (still do sometimes) and she would listen and then always respond with, well what are we going to do to make this happen? I love her so much.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

welcome to new york.

I love Candace Bushnell and Sarah Dessen, even at twenty-nine, so I was super excited to discover Susane Colasanti and her City Love series which follows three teenagers, Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna, in NYC. Being able to recommend new authors to students is EVERYTHING. And any high school girl will love these realistic characters.

The first installment, City Love is not only about finding love in the big city for these three very different roommates, it's about their love for the city. Which is contagious. We follow Sadie, the dreamer, Darcy, the Cali girl, and Rosanna, the philanthropist through the city that never sleeps, experiencing all three points of view. Summer, NYC, and romance, what more could you ask for in a summer novel?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

upstate new york food crawl.

Beef on weck. Buffalo wings. Upstate New York has some of the best food around. You can't get better pizza logs anywhere else, I assure you. And don't even get me started on Dibella's subs. A Taste of Upstate New York: The People and the Stories Behind 40 Food Favorites by Chuck D'Imperio gives background on the very best food created in the upstate area and is sure to be a huge hit for yourself, your coffee table, or anyone you know who loves to eat and travel. I mean, Saratoga Springs created the potato chip. THE POTATO CHIP! We are making magic up here.

From the Syracuse salt potato to the St. Lawrence Seaway Thousand Island dressing. Learn the history behind the people and places who created this iconic food that our chicken barbecue's would be sad without.

Monday, May 11, 2015

well i didn't see that coming. or that.

I adore spring. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and I was able to enjoy yet another fabulous Lisa Scottoline novel, Every Fifteen Minutes.

Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital, Dr. Eric Parrish has always had it together more at work than at home. His marriage may have failed but his unit has just been named number two in the entire country. I mean, he may be in the middle of a huge custody battle over his daughter, but at least he's a prominent psychiatrist. Dr. Parrish still has some control over his life, that is, until seventeen-year-old Max Jakubowski walks in.

Every 15 minutes, Max needs to perform a set of rituals to help him ease his OCD and anxiety. He touches his right temple just once and says “red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple-brown-black.” After finding out that his beloved grandmother is terminally ill, his mental state has been getting much worse. Dr. Parrish offered to treat the poor kid privately. But once Max's grandmother passes, and the girl he has a crush on is found murdered, the good doctor realizes he has bit off more than he can chew in this psychological thriller filled with twists you won't see coming.

Friday, May 1, 2015

my new favorite thing.

The Sound of Music is a classic. It's timeless. So when Laurence Maslon came out with a book companion to the musical, WITH a forward from Julie Andrews herself, I broke into song immediately. And there's more.

The abundance of photographs are what make The Sound of Music Companion a fan favorite and an excellent coffee-table book, but it's the research that must have went into all the of the facts, both musical and the story behind the Trapp Family Singers, that I was most impressed with.