Monday, August 31, 2015

nanananananana batman!

The kids at summer school went gaga over BradyGames' latest collectable, Batman: Arkham Knight Collector's Edition when I brought it in for them to browse. Not being a gamer myself, I didn't know what all of the fuss was about. I mean, the pictures are phenomenal, but I would rather watch all ten seasons of Friends over and over again than play a video game. According to my kids (who I don't miss, but I kind of do miss), this book is ideal for a couple of reasons. It's a guide that guides you, and guides you well. It walks you through side missions and whatnot. And you won't be able to solve the riddles without it, unless you actually are Batman. It's hardcover, making it super durable, which boys like. You also get a free digital e-code. From the mouths of summer school slackers? It's a win.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I wish I was half as funny and clever as Quentin Jacobson and his band of band geeks in John Green's latest book to movie, Paper Towns. I literally laughed out loud at the dialog and shenanigans between this not so popular senior and his faithful friends. Quentin grew up next to Margo Roth Spiegelman in the super touristy area surrounding Orlando Florida. He pretty much loved her from day one, and although they grew apart after the age of ten, (Margo being beautiful and popular), she always made sure her own group of friends didn't both Quentin's. Life was moving along pretty normally as senior year was coming to a close, when one night Margo appeared at Ben's window, face painted black for a night of debauchery. She had a plan. He had his mom's van. And they spent the evening seeking revenge on those who have harmed them and those who have failed them. Quentin was super excited to go to school the next day, to see how his night may have changed his days. But Margo never shows. She has run off again, as she has done many times before, and left him clues. Him. Quentin Jacobson. He can hardly believe it, and then he can't think of anything else.

This novel is super relatable for teens. Showing them that people aren't who they seem to be. And pedestals should never exist because they make an ass out of everyone. And how you can't ever really know someone. You just know your version of them. And how running out on your graduation to go find the supposed love of your life is probably not the best idea, but it will make a kick ass story.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

if you want to major in gambling.

I will never forget my first time in a Vegas casino. I walked right up to an employee and said with confidence, "can you please tell me where the Russian roulette table is?" And I was not kidding. I honestly thought that roulette was called, Russian roulette. He gave me the strangest look and responded, "we don't do that here". Needless to say I was super confused until I explained the encounter to my girlfriends and they took away my right to be anywhere by myself except for our hotel room. That was my first brush with real gambling, other than the horse races in my small town where I would bet $2 to place. Maybe it was fate that I received Mark Bollman's Basic Gambling Mathematics: The Numbers Behind The Neon when I did, just in time for labor day at the racetrack.

The whole idea of Bollman's book is to explain to readers the mathematics involved in analyzing games of chance such as casino games, horse racing, and lotteries. It is very much a textbook that focuses on probability and statistics, not necessarily how to win regularly at your gambling drug of choice. I don't imagine readers becoming the next Rain Man by reading this book, but it's definitely interesting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

white girl wasted.

My early twenties self can mildly relate to Sarah Hepola's memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. Relate in the sense that I also had an evil twin I needed to apologize for some morning-afters. And sometimes I didn't really know how I ended up in sleeping bags on the floors of houses with no furniture where people were only speaking in Australian accents around me. But we can save my stories for another day. Sarah here was living every addicts dream. Coping with booze, and not remembering to think about a thing that troubled her. Not her parents abandonment, not her insecurities about school or work. But when rock bottom hit her hard, she decided to quit drinking and actually feel something, which of course, led to its own share of demons. A lot of people are not going to get it. They won't be able to relate to this woman or her story. And on the other hand, many young women struggling through their own insecurities and unhealthy relationships with alcohol will learn something from this author's honesty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

a lot of funny.

You're Making Me Hate You by Corey Taylor attracted me instantly because I pretty much hate everyone. I like about three people, and tolerate everyone else. I know this is mostly my own fault because I have no patience for anyone else's lives but my own, but I do think people are partially to blame. You're Making Me Hate You is pretty much a rant. And sometimes I am in the mood to just roast everyone, so I get Taylor's purpose. Did you bring your toddler to a restaurant after 7pm? I hate you. And children at the grocery store? Oh my god I definitely hate you. I literally wanted to SMACK (but I didn't) the kids at school when "YOLO" was a thing. And none of this is my fault, or Taylor's. We are just trying to live our lives, yes, the only one we have. One of my favorite parts of the book is Chapter 10 when Taylor blows up his own spot. Because no one is perfect, not even the two of us. His rant on fashion was a little over my head because I just don't look at people long enough to process what they are wearing. Because again, I pretty much hate everyone, but the whole book is super entertaining.

Monday, August 24, 2015

waiting for plum.

When I'm feeling impatient and feigning for the next Stephanie Plum novel (which rumor has it is soon??), I snag one of the "between-the-numbers" novels so I can get my fix. This time I went to the library and grabbed Plum Spooky. I don't even know what order they go in, but they are super easy to follow since they all involve the handsome, not quite all the way human, Diesel who pops up out of nowhere to follow some paranormal criminal and helps himself to Stephanie's bed with her in it. This time around Stephanie has a big ticket FTA to hunt, and he's mixed up with a real bad guy who happens to be Diesel's cousin. Stephanie has a way of tackling a problem and kicking it in the nuts, which I always enjoy. And Janet Evanovich can make me literally LOL over a monkey flipping someone off. A dozen or so times and I seriously laughed every time. As far as inbetweeners go, this was a good read.

Friday, August 21, 2015

authentic mexican.

I LOVE Mexican food. I could literally write songs about enchiladas and quesadillas. Although I create very Americanized versions of the famous dishes, I have learned how to be a bit more Mexican about it after reading, Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City's Streets, Markets & Fondas by journalist Lesley Tellez. Who wouldn't want to become fluent in Mexican cooking? By sharing the spices, chiles, and easy to make salsas (love the taco stand style) and tortillas, that's what this recipe book is alllll about. Every recipe is fresh and easy to follow, the narratives are incredibly interesting, and the photographs are gorgeous.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

did we just become best friends?

Bill Kreutzmann from the Grateful Dead would absolutely have been my spirit animal had I been a hippie in the 60's (I'm still not positive I wasn't in a former life). I did get to know him pretty deeply in his recent memoir (audiobook) titled, Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead where he shares intimate details and personal anecdotes from his time on the road. I never imagined that a member of such an iconic band would be this chatty, or honestly, remember much of his experience, but Kreutzmann shares a lot of insight from his time drumming over two thousand concerts, and bandmate Jerry Garcia. Lots of sex, lots of drugs, and lots of rock and roll. All the makings of a kick ass memoir.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

kiss kiss bang bang.

When I was in middle school, I LIVED off of being dared to kiss a boy at a party. What a rush. Nothing romantic about it, but when you're 14, who needs romance? Anna Staniszewski's I'm With Cupid from her new Switched at First Kiss series begins with a dare and a kiss that is much more complicated than anything I had to deal with. You see, Lena and Marcus aren't your average eighth graders, they have supernatural powers, and kissing caused them to not only swap spit, but swap powers with each other.

Staniszewski's take on the actual myths of Cupid and the Grim Reaper was super clever. Lena is a reaper (yes, a collector of dead souls) and Marcus the dreamer, is a cupid. They are polar opposites, and by switching their powers, they are almost killing and accidently love zapping lots of inappropriate people. This novel is thrilling enough for your middle school boys, and romantic enough for the girls.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

beach bag read.

Post The Goldfinch, I desperately needed something light and airy to read, and A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax was the perfect choice, especially since I got to read some of it at my cottage on an actual lake. I really enjoy Wendy Wax novels, but some are better than others, and this one wasn't my favorite. Not a bad read, just not my favorite. It began well enough, three longtime (middle-aged) friends were getting together for a week at the lake. What used to be an annual trip that they all enjoyed, hadn't happened in five years, and only one of them knew why. I think if Wax took us right to the lake instead of such a dramatic opening, I would have liked the novel better because once these three friends finally did get to the lake, I loved the novel. I loved that the characters were all involved in "the business" of acting/fashion and met in New York. It was just a little predictable, and I would have preferred more appropriate romances happening, because there was definitely room for it. If there was a less dramatic sequel, I would give it a read.

Friday, August 14, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Before summer ends, here's a chance to win a FREE copy of Summer Secrets!

....all you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 8/17 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

everything that's NOT famous.

As I've mentioned a hundred times, I LOVE NYC! Despite summer school madness, I was able to visit the city last month for the weekend. Caught the Jimmy Fallon Show, and a Yankee game, had a bottomless champagne brunch, got a blow out, ate way too much. All of my favorite things. I love the busyness of the big city. The people, the bustle, but what I never really stop to experience is the little things. The places that are less populated. At the start of the year Will Ellis came out with Abandoned NYC and shows exactly what I've been missing, the underbelly of my favorite city.

In this photography book, Ellis sheds light on anything and everything that is not famous in the 5 Burroughs, along with a short history. It's very cool. Coffee table book cool.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Summer school is over, time to get crafty! One of my favorite craft books of 2015 came out earlier this month, How to Sew Little Felt Animals by Sue Quinn. These animals honestly look like they came out of a craft store, they are really cute and detailed, and I love their little outfits. All of the patterns for the different animals are completely separate, which makes them all look unique, and the step-by-step instructions, written and visual, will appeal to any and all beginners.

The woodland animals included in this book are:

 Male Rabbit in a Schoolboy’s uniform of trousers, blazer, sweater, collar and tie
Female Rabbit in a Schoolgirl’s uniform and cardigan
Male Squirrel in gardening dungarees and scarf
Female Squirrel in a summer sailor dress
Bear with nightcap, blanket and mini teddy bear
Male Mole in working clothes of a cap, neckerchief, waistcoat and trousers
Female Mole in winter clothes of a coat, skirt and headscarf
Male Mouse with outdoor clothes if trousers, a hooded coat and scarf
Female Mouse with outdoor clothes of a skirt, jacket, satchel and bow

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

one book tour guide.

I typically only review travel guides of places I've been to myself (I only traveled through Austria briefly on my way to Venice), but I couldn't help but share Rick Steves Pocket Vienna guide because it's SO amazing that it's giving me the travel itch. In true Rick Steves fashion, he shares amazing maps of Old Town and the Vienna City Walk, helps you plan your time wisely, and shares history on the places you should visit. Seriously, who needs a tour guide? Not you!

Monday, August 10, 2015

for the every woman.

You may not be able to always tell this from her novels, but Lisa Scottoline is pretty hilarious. You can see for yourself in her latest collection of funny anecdotes that she writes with her daughter titled, Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? Which any woman who breathes can relate to.

It's summer. And yes, the beach makes me look hella fat. But Lisa and Francesca want me and every other woman out there to have a worry-free time even if our bodies aren't summer ready, because, honestly mine has been like, once. Their stories are soooo so funny, and multigenerational. Francesca being single in her early twenties living in NYC and her mom being, well, a mom. There is a touch of serious here and there, but these ladies definitely aren't trying to kill the mood, so mostly they keep it light, except when it comes to their spaghetti sandwiches.

Friday, August 7, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of Embracing the Seasons: Memories of a Country Garden!
all you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 8/11 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

summer read.

I have definitely been slacking in my suggestions on what to read this summer, in the pool or on the beach, with a cocktail in your hand, because my soul has been shattered by my summer school kids. But I have a great one for you today. The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis is a novel about three sisters who vacation together with their families (including their recently divorced parents) every summer on Cape Cod, only this summer there is A LOT they aren't talking about.

As you can imagine, there is tons of drama with rocky marriages, boy toys, inappropriate flirting, hoarding...that will probably make you feel really good about your own family situation.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

from rock bottom to recovery.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green has much more depth than many of the other summer novels I have read this season, so if you are looking for light and airy, wait a few days and I'll give you some suggestions. But for now...

It's 1998, and late twenty-something Cat is an alcoholic, although she refuses to admit it until it costs her everything. Now it's 2014 and Cat has gotten ahold of herself and is now traveling from London to Nantucket to make amends with her family. But will the stress of reuniting with the family she lost lead her back to the bottle? This is an extremely emotional story of the internal struggle that alcoholics face, and it's heartbreaking to watch.