Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: The Knight Life by Keith Knight

The Knight Life is a hilariously twisted view of life through the eyes and pen of its creator, community-oriented urban hipster and award-winning cartoonist Keith Knight. The Knight Life deftly blends political insight and neurotic humor in a uniquely fluid and dynamic style, offering a comic strip that's fresh, sharp, topical and funny. Designed for daily newspapers, The Knight Life follows Knight's long-running, 2007 Harvey Award-winning weekly comic strip "The K Chronicles," which appears on salon.com.

An unabashedly provocative political and social satire, The Knight Life tackles contemporary issues like consumer culture, bacon, the media, race, family and everything else, gently mocking the minutiae of daily life with self-deprecating humor, honesty and goofiness-a combination that's perfect for the comics. And The Knight Life's energetic style reminds readers that comics can look funny as well as read funny. The result is accessible yet edgy, compassionate and political-and never preachy. Cartoonist and comic historian R.C. Harvey said, "The Knight Life is undeniably the best new laugh- and thought-provoker on the comics page. Not since Calvin and Hobbes has there been so novel an entertainment in the funnies."

Received from the publisher for review.

I actually learned an interesting fact from the book that gay men aren't allowed to donate blood.  Really?  How random and bizarre.  Not really an issue for me since I'm not gay or a man, and I faint at the sight of blood so I wouldn't be donating anyway, but still a thought provoking tidbit!

I did like the cartoon the tidbit came from on donating a pint of blood for every thee months the wary in Iraq is on (page 95).  Again, not for me with the fainting thing, but still intriguing!

This one gets four stars.  My favorites were the cookies strip on page 107, and the Doctor Who strip on page 145.  This was my first experience with the strip and the author and I was really genuinely impressed.  This would make a really funny gift for any comic strip fan and especially fans of this particular strip.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Monday, August 30, 2010

Giveaway: God and Dog by Wendy Francisco

GOD AND DOG is a phenomenon. First appearing on YouTube, the video of Wendy Francisco's charming animated illustrations and moving song tells of the unconditional love of both God and Dog.

With over 2 million YouTube viewings to date, Francisco's story appeals to all ages, to animal enthusiasts, to people of religious persuasions, and especially to anyone who has been loved by a dog.

Now in book format, Wendy's touching narrative will be expanded on through additional lyrics, illustrations, photographs and some of the powerful mail that is continually being sent to Francisco.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have two copies to give away!

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST September 22, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

To enter:

Required Entry:

You must be a Google Friend connect follower of this blog, and leave me a comment on this post that says "I'm a Google Friend Connect Follower". Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.

Extra Entries:

  1. Follow me on Twitter, and leave me a comment on this post that says "Twitter Follower".
  2. Tweet this, by clicking the Tweet This button and come back here and leave me a comment with the link to the tweet. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Leave a comment on any other post (anything except another giveaway, i.e. reviews, interviews, Bored Now, etc.) and leave a comment here telling me which post you commented on. You can do this up to five times for five additional entries.
  5. Grab my button (in sidebar), post it on your blog, and leave me a comment with a link to your blog. If you already have my button, leave a comment telling me that.
  6. Visit The Animal Rescue Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  7. Visit The Rainforest Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  8. Visit The Hunger Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)

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Review: Notes from a Friend by Anthony Robbins

Notes from a Friend is a concise and easy-to-understand guide to the most powerful and life-changing tools and principles that make Anthony Robbins an international leader in peak performance.

Starting in 1991, a self-published version of this book has been handed out to thousands of people in need, as part of the Anthony Robbins Foundation's Thanksgiving "Basket Brigade." The book helped so many individuals overcome the most challenging circumstances that people repeatedly asked to purchase it for themselves and for their friends. Now, for the first time, it is available to you in this special, updated edition containing new material.

From my personal collection.

This one gets four stars.  It was a nice, simple, easy to read, friendly distillation of Tony's other works.  You can truly feel that he cares about his readers and making their lives better.  This would make a great introduction to the author's work or a quick refresher for those who already enjoy his messages.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Giveaway: Oogy by Larry Levin

In the bestselling tradition of Rescuing Sprite comes the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have two copies to give away!

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST September 22, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

To enter:

Required Entry:

You must be a Google Friend connect follower of this blog, and leave me a comment on this post that says "I'm a Google Friend Connect Follower". Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.

Extra Entries:

  1. Follow me on Twitter, and leave me a comment on this post that says "Twitter Follower".
  2. Tweet this, by clicking the Tweet This button and come back here and leave me a comment with the link to the tweet. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Leave a comment on any other post (anything except another giveaway, i.e. reviews, interviews, Bored Now, etc.) and leave a comment here telling me which post you commented on. You can do this up to five times for five additional entries.
  5. Grab my button (in sidebar), post it on your blog, and leave me a comment with a link to your blog. If you already have my button, leave a comment telling me that.
  6. Visit The Animal Rescue Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  7. Visit The Rainforest Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  8. Visit The Hunger Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)

Post one comment for each entry.
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Review: The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson

Dr. Merlin Tuttle and his colleagues at Bat Conservation International aren't scared of bats. These bat crusaders are fascinated by them, with good reason. Bats fly the night skies in nearly every part of the world, but they are the least studied of all mammals. As the major predator of night-flying insects, bats eat many pests. Unfortunately bats are facing many problems, including a terrifying new disease. White-nose Syndrome is infecting and killing millions of hibernating bats in North America. But Dr. Tuttle, with the help of his fellow bat scientists are in the trenches—and caves—on the front line of the fight to save their beloved bats.

E-galley received from the publisher for review.

Some of the tidbits I learned from the book were:
  • The world's smallest bat is the Bumblebee Bat that weighs less than a penny and has a wingspan of just 6.5 inches.
  • Bats are mammals.
  • Bats have bellybuttons! 
This one gets four stars.  It was a great, genuinely educational children's book.  I actually learned quite a few things from the book!  The stunningly beautiful photographs by Tim Uhlman really made the book shine and made me realize that bats are actually kind of cute!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review: Foxy by Pam Grier

In this sexy, often shocking, memoir, you will get to know the real Pam Grier in all her battles and triumphs, her disappointments and her victories.

This book is broken down into Three Parts: The Early Years, 'Fros and Freaks, and Finding the Balance.

Chapters include:

* Chapter One: ARMY BRAT
* Chapter Six: LEW AND ALLAH
* Chapter Nine: TRIAL BY LOSS
* Chapter Eleven: NO MAN'S LAND
* Chapter Thirteen: THE L WORD

Received from the publisher for review.

I had no previous knowledge of the author before I read the book.  I wasn't a fan of The L Word either, so I had zero preconceived notions.

This one gets three stars.  It was interesting, but a bit too long for my tastes.  It was genuinely engrossing and enlightening and gave you a real feel of the author.  Not having been old enough to appreciate the author's work in the 70s and 80s I found the author's perspective quite educational.  And, let's face it, the author looked absolutely amazing on the cover!  If you're a fan you're sure to love this, and if you weren't previously a fan, you'll be adding many of her works to your Netflix queue.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: True Blue by David Baldacci (Audiobook)

Mason "Mace" Perry was a firebrand cop on the D.C. police force until she was kidnapped and framed for a crime. She lost everything-her badge, her career, her freedom-and spent two years in prison. Now she's back on the outside and focused on one mission: to be a cop once more. Her only shot to be a true blue again is to solve a major case on her own, and prove she has the right to wear the uniform. But even with her police chief sister on her side, she has to work in the shadows: A vindictive U.S. attorney is looking for any reason to send Mace back behind bars. Then Roy Kingman enters her life.

Roy is a young lawyer who aided the poor until he took a high-paying job at a law firm in Washington. Mace and Roy meet after he discovers the dead body of a female partner at the firm. As they investigate the death, they start uncovering surprising secrets from both the private and public world of the nation's capital.

Soon, what began as a fairly routine homicide takes a terrifying and unexpected turn-into something complex, diabolical, and possibly lethal.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.  It would have been four stars, since I love the author's work, but the reader's gravelly voice (which was appropriate for the characters) quickly became annoying.  In addition, the 114 chapters over 14 hours was entirely too long to listen to the reader.  The story itself was interesting and, as always, expertly written.  The nicely sized chapters made for good pausing points as well. This was not my favorite by the author, but was still a solid read and is certainly recommended.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Alibi by Terri Woods (Audiobook)

Two men think they've found the perfect opportunity--a chance to rob the stash house of Simon Shuller, one of Philadelphia's biggest drug lords. But their plans are spoiled when one of Shuller's men catches them as they break into the stash house. Temperatures flare as the men capture Shuller's worker, Poncho, and force him to show them the goods. What they didn't expect was for Poncho's partner to be armed and very dangerous. An altercation breaks out and when the smoke clears, Nard, Poncho's accomplice, is the only one left standing. Thinking quickly, Nard cleans shop and makes his escape, but not before being spotted by a few neighbors. Not wanting to kill anyone else, he makes a mad dash for the streets but wonders if the witnesses will give up his identity. What he needs now is a plausible alibi. If he doesn't come up with one fast, it could mean life in prison, or death on the streets.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.  The reader and music unfortunately combined to give the book a vaguely porn-like feel which hampered my enjoyment.  That said, the story was interesting but not great.  I just wasn't overly impressed.  I also didn't particularly love the characters.  I'm just thankful this was relatively short.  I think the book would be better than the audio, so if you have the inclination to read this, pick it up as physical or ebook edition.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review: Hope for Animals and Their World by Jane Goodall (Audiobook)

At a time when animal species are becoming extinct on every continent and we are confronted with bad news about the environment nearly every day, Jane Goodall, one of the world's most renowned scientists, brings us inspiring news about the future of the animal kingdom. With the insatiable curiosity and conversational prose that have made her a bestselling author, Goodall-along with Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard-shares fascinating survival stories about the American Crocodile, the California Condor, the Black-Footed Ferret, and more; all formerly endangered species and species once on the verge of extinction whose populations are now being regenerated.

Interweaving her own first-hand experiences in the field with the compelling research of premier scientists, Goodall illuminates the heroic efforts of dedicated environmentalists and the truly critical need to protect the habitats of these beloved species. At once a celebration of the animal kingdom and a passionate call to arms, HOPE FOR ANIMALS THEIR WORLD presents an uplifting, hopeful message for the future of animal-human coexistence.

Received from the publisher for review.

I don't normally do animal related books as they are generally incredibly depressing but I decided to give this one a go nonetheless.  Unfortunately the issues I had with the book stemmed not from the stories themselves, but with the reading.  This was another prime example of why authors should normally not read their own material.  The author's work is amazing, but the reading should be left to a professional.  I actually found myself dozing off nearly every time I turned this one, which made for extremely slow progress.

This one gets two stars.  It would have ranked as three stars had it not been for the unfortunate reader situation.  The material itself was good but should certainly be consumed as a book and not an audio!

☆☆= Just Okay

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar (Audiobook)

In an era of ever-expanding choices, HOW WE CHOOSE addresses the simple-yet-mystifying question : How do we know what we want?

The answers are strange, impressive, and profound. Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia University professor whose work on choice is widely recognized and cited by companies like AOL and Citigroup, looks into the heart of what we desire-- and what we think we desire-- to show how tangential factors enter into (and run roughshod) over our decisions.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.  The reader was a lovely choice for the material.  The book itself genuinely interesting but was more than a bit depressing at some points.  It had a very nice flow and was well written, but all 11 hours felt a bit lengthy.  The most fascinating section for me was the discussion on arranged marriages.  I just found it really enlightening.  This is certainly recommended.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: The Liar in Your Life by Robert Feldman (Audiobook)

Deception is a central feature of everyday life. We hear it not only from Presidents ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman"), the dean of admissions of M.I.T. ("I have three college degrees"), or the sleazy sales associate at the local car dealership ("This SUV gets terrific mileage!"); we also hear lies from the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis, including our family, friends, colleagues-and yes, the woman ahead of us in line at Starbucks.

The issue confronting us is not whether people lie to us-they do-but how much and why. Just as importantly, we need to consider why we're so prone to believe the deception we hear from others, as well as the lies we tell ourselves. Finally, we need to explore why we view certain lies as harmless, while rejecting others as manipulative and shameful. Robert Feldman has unique knowledge of how deeply dishonesty is engrained in our everyday lives and broader culture.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets two stars.  This was nine hours long and I felt every moment of it.  The reader was very good but even he sounded bored by the material he was reading, which is never a good sign.  The material was just snooze worthy in this incarnation.  Perhaps if it were in book form it would be more palatable.  Needless to say I was just not feeling this, but some of the author's messages were beneficial.  They did lose some of their charm when experienced in the half hypnotized daze induced by the reader's voice.  If you are so inclined to venture into this arm yourself with a copious amount of caffeine and pick up a copy of the print edition.

☆☆= Just Okay

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Completed Challenge: 2010 Audiobook Reading Challenge

Completed in August 2010

Link to my official challenge post.

Books Read:
  1. The Paris Vendetta
  2. The Lost Symbol
  3. The Cricket In Times Square
  4. What the Dog Saw
  5. There Goes the Bride
  6. Breathless
  7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  8. Why Our Health Matters
  9. The Wisdom of Your Cells
  10. Heat Wave
  11. When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?
  12. What On Earth Have I Done?
  13. The Demon in the Freezer
  14. When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden
  15. Good Omens
  16. The End of Overeating
  17. The Guinea Pig Diaries
  18. The Phantom Tollbooth
  19. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  20. Poirot Investigates

Monday, August 16, 2010

Giveaway: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Like many young Americans, Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between enthusiastic carnivore and occasional vegetarian. As he became a husband, and then a father, the moral dimensions of eating became increasingly important to him. Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them.

Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill. Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is a book that, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, places Jonathan Safran Foer "at the table with our greatest philosophers."

Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST September 6, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

To enter:

Required Entry:

You must be a Google Friend connect follower of this blog, and leave me a comment on this post that says "I'm a Google Friend Connect Follower". Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.

Extra Entries:

  1. Follow me on Twitter, and leave me a comment on this post that says "Twitter Follower".
  2. Tweet this, by clicking the Tweet This button and come back here and leave me a comment with the link to the tweet. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Leave a comment on any other post (anything except another giveaway, i.e. reviews, interviews, Bored Now, etc.) and leave a comment here telling me which post you commented on. You can do this up to five times for five additional entries.
  5. Grab my button (in sidebar), post it on your blog, and leave me a comment with a link to your blog. If you already have my button, leave a comment telling me that.
  6. Visit The Animal Rescue Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  7. Visit The Rainforest Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)
  8. Visit The Hunger Site, click the Click Here to Give - It's Free! button and come back here and leave me a comment telling me you clicked. (once daily, leave a new comment each time)

Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Remembering the Ladies by Ann Covell

In this 21st century, America's First Lady is as well known as her husband due to world-wide modern technology. In the 19th century, however, it was difficult for the public to even know who the president's wife was. Even today it is not easy to call to mind those pioneering First Ladies, many of whom were burdened with more than their fair share of misfortune and some almost forgotten

This book provides an insight into the lives of the 19th century First Ladies, in an undemanding, easy-to-read style, and aims to raise awareness of the historical significance of these women. Their abridged stories, sometimes joyful, sometimes sad, range from slavery, bigamy, duels, royal snubs, European conflicts, American wars, assassinations and suffrage, and demonstrate how the Ladies might be seen as victims of history. The text includes a basic review of the restricted evolution of the First Lady role during the first hundred years. The aim is that the book will encourage foundational study in colleges and schools, and inspire anyone who is interested in presidential history to deeper levels of publications and study.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. It was nice to see the First Ladies in a different light than the usual three lines in the history texts.  Frankly though, all their portraits made them seem miserable. I'm not sure if that was a result of being First Lady or if they were miserable before. Dolley Madison was actually the most marginally likable, but I wouldn't have wanted to be friends with any of the lot. This educational, well written book makes a worthy read for any history fan.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: Messages from Water and the Universe by Masaru Emoto

Masaru Emoto’s 15 extensive years of study on water has given him the background to discuss what water is, how it has been implicated in the creation of the universe, and why a perfect ratio of Love and Gratitude can help this energy can go on infinitely.

This fascinating book explains how our prayers, goodwill, and positive words heal us humans—as well as viruses and the universe as a whole—through water. Dr. Emoto explains that the fact that water has lost its true form shows that our way of living has moved away from God’s will, so we should be aware of our Creator’s alert to “correct the way we are living now.”

The information in this work is an important step in revealing how we can modify our way of living to bring about true peace on earth.

E-galley received from the publisher for review.

I read and enjoyed several of the author's other books so I was quite looking forward to this.  I was rather disappointed by the first chapter which was all about "God" but I decided to slog onwards.  The repeated references to "god" in nearly every sentence became very tiring after about two pages.

Unfortunately, this volume passed from intriguing scientific research to metaphysical, Birkenstock wearing, crunchy granola boredom almost immediately.  There were even references to Atlantis.  I mean, really!  Completely yawn worthy!

There was even a hate filled passage about how evil it was for the US to drop atomic bombs on Japan in retaliation for their unprovoked attack at Pearl Harbor.  No, seriously.  He essentially blames the US and Allied Forces for all the issues currently faced by Japan.  Apparently he believes that the attack on Pearl Harbor was perfectly acceptable.

Lest I forget, the author also believes and repeatedly states that the Japanese are just simply better people than those of us in the Western World.  This in a book published in English in the US.  I'm not entirely sure about the thought process behind pissing off your target audience.

The author also had the balls to rewrite Einstein's E=MC2 formula to what he believes Einstein meant.  He believes that through some grand conspiracy Einstein's formula is actually in code.  One that, of course, only he can read.  The only word that came to mind while reading this nonsense was "prick", which I think is especially appropriate in this instance.

This one gets one star.  I was not at all impressed by the religious overtone of the text.  The political and religious manifesto was simply intolerable yet I did manage to finish the slim volume through sheer willpower.  This will certainly be my last book by the author if he continues in this unfortunate vein.

☆☆ = Didn't Like It

Review: The Supreme Being by Birinder Bhullar

The purpose of the book is to reveal about the Supreme Being and the Supreme Reality. It will remind the Self about its original quest. After reading it, no Self can be the same again -- no Self can avoid falling in love with the True Reality. It shares about the true relationship of the Self with the Supreme Being, as well as about the purpose of life, bondage of the mind, the path to experience the Supreme Being, and true living.

Knowing the Ultimate has remained the innermost quest of every human being since the beginning: Mystics, Philosophers, Emperors, Kings, Conquerors, Scientists, Explorers and Discoverers all wanted to arrive there. The mind cannot come to rest without this knowledge. Deep within, we seek a heaven. We have imagined it with the ultimate in everything we want: beauty, power, security, knowing, peace, happiness, contentment. We seek to know about it and find a path going there. We wish to experience it while living.

We love life. We never want it to end. So we have to live it for the reason we are here. To know it, we have to know The Truth. From a grain of sand, a blade of grass, a drop of water to many distant stars, we have come to know something about the world. We think we will arrive at an ultimate knowing by dividing and microscopically looking into things in the infinitely vast physical Universe. We ignore the fact that this visible Universe is itself an infinitesimal speck in the unknowable vastness beyond. We think we will analyze data, theorize, and understand The Whole, And once we have ultimate knowing we will have power over everything in Creation -- even life and death. But all we are doing is growing a very knowledgeable, confused, complicated, doubtful, disordered, unhappy, discontented, and restless mind. And its center we perceive as our "I."

Our present Self-identity is an illusion, and impermanent. Our experience is incomplete because it is relative, partial, and extremely limited. The new reveals itself every day but our Ultimate Truth remains elusive. Why? Because there is one domain we have never entered: the search for our source and our true "I." It is in this realm we will experience what we are actually seeking: spontaneous knowing, uncaused happiness, everlasting identity, and infinite living!

Received from the publisher for review.

First of all, and perhaps most annoyingly, the author claims to have lived several previous lives. That, in and of itself, is not the issue. The issue is that he claims to have been a famous conqueror as so many before him have also asserted. It is interesting to note that the author has joined the ranks of those insisting they were Cleopatra or Alexander the Great in a past life. No one tends to discover that they were a chambermaid in a previous life.

This one gets two stars. While the book was well written and covered many important truths, the material just did not resonate with me. The author was steadfastly religion neutral which was a pleasant surprise. Fans of Eckhart Tolle's beliefs should find this along the same lines.

☆☆= Just Okay

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pre-Review: CSN Stores

The generous people at CSN Stores offered me a wonderful opportunity to review one of their awesome products!  They offer virtually anything you could possibly want (from dining room furniture to lighting to office supplies to pet accessories) in their 200+ stores.

I'm in love with the bookcase I reviewed before so I'm contemplating giving it a friend to keep it company.  This Tvilum-Scanbirk Spectrum 46" Bookcase and CD Tower in White struck me as particularly nice.

I'm going to visit their site and drool over all the options and let you know what I decide upon.  I'm so excited!

Monday, August 9, 2010

FYI: iVillage How "The Help" Inspired Me Contest

I'm a bit late on letting you know about this, but better late than never!  :)

Dreamworks Pictures is making a new movie based on the best selling novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett. To promote the film iVillage is launching a contest asking people to tell them how The Help inspired them by uploading a picture and then sharing an audio or written statement. The picture and explanation should work together to express the contestant's answer.  Here is the info from the site:

Five contest winners will be selected based on how inspiring their entry was. The prize is a trip for the winners along with a guest to visit the set of the film and meet the cast. The contest runs from July 19th to August 15th.   

Enter here.

Q&A: Catherine Fitzpatrick author of A Matter of Happenstance

Catherine Fitzpatrick, author of the book A Matter of Happenstance, stopped by to share with us a Q&A session.

Tell us about yourself.
I live in Wisconsin but I grew up in St. Louis, which means my high school is my identity. I know, I know, but that's the way it is.

So. St. Joseph's Academy. Also Creighton University and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Hear that? That clicking? Droves of St. Louisans, now fully informed, are navigating to the site’s next page.

What's your favorite book?

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. There’s very little plot and not much in the way of character development, but the vocabulary’s great. Here are some gems, playable all:


Did your newspaper career take you to memorable locations?

Many times. Near and far.

To Walnut Street in Milwaukee, where I climbed a ladder and clung to the rafters of a Habitat for Humanity house while interviewing Jimmy Carter.

To the Death Row cellblock at a maximum security prison in Texas, where I chatted through the bars with a pretty young mother who killed her two little boys for the insurance money.

To Mississippi’s Yazoo Delta, where I recorded a sweltering summer mission trip that gave a Latino teen from South Milwaukee new perspectives on poverty in America.

To a show tent in Manhattan, where I hunkered with a thousand other idiots on metal risers, watching anorexics in $4,000 dresses zip down a runway while Hurricane Floyd whip-snapped the canvas like laundry on a line.

New York Fashion Week, right? That must have been ...

... as glamorous as a gown of Swarovski crystals, and as gritty as a midnight ride on a freight elevator. Fashion Weeks are eight-day feasts marinated in champagne and obliviousness. Take, for example, Ralph and Ricky Lauren’s invitation-only garden party a while back ...

What would you never, ever do again?

Pick up a reporter’s notebook and run toward a terrorist attack (New York, 9/11). But that’s another story for another day.

And the smartest thing you ever did?

Married Dennis. Had our daughters, Claire and Meg.

Good luck with the novel. What’s it called again?

A Matter of Happenstance


About the book:

Gaslight-era St. Louis. At the dawn of a golden era, an era of grand retail emporiums, a restless dreamer on the edge of ruin inherits a fortune. George Reinhardt invests every penny and more in launching a department store so luxurious it is said to elevate shopping to art. From its opening day in 1883, Reinhardt & Krug is a great success that transforms a man who nearly lost everything into a titan of commerce, a civic leader, and an avatar of style. Affluence goes a long way toward insulating George and his descendants from tribulation, but not far enough.

A Matter of Happenstance is the story of George’s affable grandson and the caprices that knit Fritz Reinhardt, his family, and their fate to five hardscrabble characters whose lives intersect by coincidence.

By the time Fritz is old enough to roll a hoop along a sidewalk, Montreal canal-digger Paul LaChapelle has brought his pregnant wife to Hannibal, MO. Washington University graduate Leatham Smith is stabling horses in the Missouri wilderness. Irish farmer Seamus Conrad has abandoned his blighted fields and shoveled his family into a St. Louis row house. Sicilian fisherman Antonio Gibaldi has sailed an ocean in steerage and landed in Chicago. Scullery girl Gatty Bordelon has given afflictive birth to twins in a New Orleans attic. And store clerk Esmie Hobbs has hopped a mule wagon heading north out of Mississippi’s Yazoo Delta.

Thanks to Esmie, the Reinhardts’ new housekeeper, Fritz survives a childhood bout of rheumatic fever. Soon after graduating from St. Louis Academy, Fritz astounds his scholarly father by renouncing all future interest in the department store founded by his grandfather. Barely old enough to vote, Fritz establishes a brokerage house and during the bullish Roaring Twenties his brilliant, conservative strategies make him and his clients wealthy beyond measure. In the worst decision of his life, Fritz proposes to Lydia Conrad, the prettier of two daughters born to a heroic Irish-American firefighter. On his wedding night, Fritz’s heart is broken when he discovers Lydia is a shallow, cunning girl who doesn’t love him and likely never will. An honorable man, a giver by nature, he reconciles to the role of faithful husband in a one-sided marriage.

While honeymooning in England, Fritz and Lydia make an unscheduled stop at Blenheim, the ancestral home of the dukes of Marlborough. In midlife Fritz buys property in Huntleigh, the most exclusive of all the St. Louis suburbs, property just down the road from the old Leatham Smith Stables. He commissions a renowned architect to design a palatial home, a grand scale model of the Oxfordshire Blenheim. He inscribes lines by T.E. Lawrence on the cornerstone. And he hires Gatty’s twin sons and Hannibal waitress Sophie LaChapelle as keystones of the household staff.

During the 1940s and early 1950s, Blenheim is the center of St. Louis society, an ode to the good life skirted by swirling beds of Old Garden roses. Readers of the rotogravure section assume the Reinhardt wealth inoculates Fritz and his family against vicissitude. Hardly. The children are over-indulged and dangerously under-parented. Lydia is stumbling into cognitive decline. Fritz has invited her sister to stay, an invitation that takes a toll on everyone and everything at Blenheim.

On a blistering summer afternoon in 1956 an assassin glides unseen into Fritz’s impregnable mansion. Small as a thimble, light as a wishie, it sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in tragedy, a tragedy that proves happenstance is anything but.

About Catherine:

Catherine is currently working on several projects:

One Last Mission - A 1,000-word essay in Nov/Dec 2009 Ships in Scale Magazine

"768 Words" - A short fiction story scheduled to publish in the April 2010 issue of The Vocabula Review

Beyond the Back Yard - A 1,000-word reminiscence under contract for the August 2010 issue of Good Old Days Magazine

Bird of Paradise - A 2,000-word essay scheduled to appear in the Outrider Press 2010 Black and White Anthology

From Hidden Away to On Display - A feature story package under contract for the October 2010 issue of Sew News Magazine

Guest Post: Dora Calott Wang, M.D. author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

Dora Calott Wang, M.D., author of the book The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

Women Will Steer the Fate of Health Care Reform
By Dora Calott Wang, M.D.,
Author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

As mothers, daughters, wives and leaders of households, women often steer the health care choices of families. Thus in the coming years, women will also be a major force toward implementing health care reform and the landmark Affordable Care Act.

Whenever we enroll a child into newly available health insurance, whenever we convince parents to get mammograms or colonoscopies that will be free under Medicare in 2011, each time we appeal an insurance company's denial of care, or when we choose health insurance in new marketplaces beginning in 2014 -- we will be helping to shape the future of health care in America. In fact, much of the ACA depends upon the actions and choices of patients, with women often taking the lead.

Many ACA laws are already in effect. For example, nursing mothers in most workplaces are now entitled to time and private space to pump breast milk for a child's first year of life. Did you ever think the feds would mandate this? It's a new era.

The ACA's main goal is for nearly every American to have health insurance. New opportunities are already available, and uninsured members of your family may qualify. If someone in your family has been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing illness, check out the new "high-risk pool" insurance plans available now. Log onto Healthcare.gov to find local options, and get your loved one covered. Medicaid has been expanded, so someone in your family may be newly eligible. By September 23, you can insure your children under your own health plan until they are age 26, and insurance companies will have to accept all children under age 19 with pre-existing illnesses.

Patients (and the women often guiding them), might possibly exert the most influence on health care reform through two important ACA measures -- appeals processes that should be in place by Sept. 23, and the new health insurance marketplaces in effect by 2014.

In the words of President Obama, the ACA aims to protect patients against the worst abuses of health insurance companies. The ACA provides many safeguards against insurance companies denying coverage. Yet the devil is still in the details when it comes to holding insurers more accountable toward paying for care. To fight against insurance companies taking our premiums, then trying not to pay for medical care, the federal government is cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse. The ACA eliminates life-time caps on health insurance benefits, while mandating that insurance companies now must spend at least 85 percent of their dollars on medical care, rather than on profit and administration.

We the public can do our part to keep insurance companies honest through new appeals processes which should be in place by Sept. 23 for new insurers. If you feel your new insurer is unfairly denying care, or is stalling on time-sensitive care, you will be able to appeal to the insurer itself, but also to an external review process. The ACA leaves it up to individual states to institute these appeals processes, but the federal government will hear grievances if state processes are inadequate.

These appeals processes will be an all-important aspect of health reform -- which will be driven by patients making appeals, and therefore reliant upon all of us.

Another crucial step is that by 2014, we can shop for health insurance in new exchanges offering comparisons between different plans. So if we see an insurance company hiking rates by 70 percent in one year, for example, or if an insurance company has a reputation of not paying for care (yes, this will still happen under the ACA), the new exchanges will offer options. Collectively, by choosing insurance for our families, we'll determine which insurers succeed or fail, and thus shape the landscape of American health care.

The lady of the house has always had a large role in steering the health care choices of her family. Now with the new Affordable Care Act, the actions of women on behalf of their families will collectively shape the future of health care in America.

For more information about the ACA and its timeline, log onto the excellent website, Healthcare.gov.

© 2010 Dora Calott Wang, M.D., author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

About the book:

The personal story of how a psychiatrist confronts the profound changes sweeping the medical establishment as they reshape her life and career.

In the past two decades, a seismic shift has occurred within the walls of our nation's hospitals and doctor's offices. The medical profession- once considered a sacred, cherished vocation-has devolved into a business motivated by a desire for profits. Even psychiatry, once the mainstay of the human interaction between doctor and patient, has fallen victim to rising costs and dictates by insurance sources.

How has medicine strayed so far from its roots? In The Kitchen Shrink, psychiatrist and lecturer Dora Calott Wang delves into what happened.

Through the prism of her own story, Wang elucidates key events in her professional life-the declining state of hospitals and clinics, the advent of managed care, and the rise of profits at the ex­pense of patient care-that highlight the medical profession's decline. Along the way we meet some of her patients, whose plights reflect the profession's growing indifference to the human lives at risk. There's Selena, whose grief over her mother's death and lack of family support make it difficult for her to take the medicine that keeps her body from rejecting her new liver, and Leonard, a schizophrenic with no health insurance who develops peritonitis and falls into a coma for three months. Each new story brings additional compromises as the medical landscape shifts under Wang's feet. She struggles with depression and exhaustion, witnesses the loss of top doctors who leave in frustration, and attempts to find a balance between work and home as it becomes ever clearer that she cannot untangle the uncertain future of her patients from her own.

Part personal story and part rallying cry, The Kitchen Shrink is an unflinchingly honest, passionate, and humane inside look at the unsettling realities of free-market medicine in today's America.

About Dora:

Dora Calott Wang, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. A graduate of the Yale School of Medicine and the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, she received her M.A. in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been the recipient of a writer's residency from the Lannan Foundation. Her memoir, The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World was published by Riverhead Books, The Penguin Group.

For more information please visit http://www.doracalottwang.com/ and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

Review: Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker by Marla Martenson

In Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, Marla takes her readers for a hilarious romp through her days as an L.A. matchmaker and her daily struggles to keep her self-esteem from imploding in a town where looks are everything and money talks. From juggling the demands her out-of-touch clients to trying her best to meet the capricious demands of an insensitive boss to the ups and downs of her own marriage to a Latin husband who doesn't think that she is 'domestic' enough, Marla writes with charm and self-effacement about the universal struggles that all women face in their lives. Readers will laugh, cringe, and cry as they journey with her through outrageous stories about the indignities of dating in Los Angeles, dealing with overblown egos, vicariously hobnobbing with celebrities, and navigating the wannabe-land of Beverly Hills. In a city where perfection is almost a prerequisite, even Marla can't help but run for the Botox every once in a while.

Received from the publicist for review.

My favorite quote from the book, which sadly summed up most of the male clients, was:

He wants a gorgeous woman with a degree from a top university who will make a submissive 1950s wife without sounding like that's what he's after.

This one gets four stars.  This had a great flow and was quite fun.  The client e-mails were amusing, but also sad for any woman who is not a Playboy model with a Ph.D. since that seems to be what these men are looking for.  Essentially you'll never been too thin or your boobs too big for a bald, fat, rich dude.  Sad.  Of course, the women wanted sugar daddies so they fit well together.  The amusement factor faded rather quickly and would be more depressing for most female readers knowing that the book simply confirms what all women have known since puberty.  This was well written and the nice style made for a smooth read.  If you're looking for the other side of the Harlequin propaganda, this is it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Guest Post: Sherrie Dillard author of Love and Intuition: A Psychic's Guide to Creating Lasting Love

Sherrie Dillard, author of the book Love and Intuition: A Psychic's Guide to Creating Lasting Love, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

Three Ways to Make the Most of Women's Intuition
By Sherrie Dillard,
Author of Love and Intuition: A Psychic's Guide to Creating Lasting Love

For generations the term "women's intuition" has been used to describe the unexplainable, non-logical, sometimes quirky wisdom that women often possess. No one quite knows how or why intuition works. But it does.

Intuition has been defined as simply knowing something without any reasonable and logical way of knowing it. Associated with the right side of the brain, intuition resides in the elusive realm of emotions, creativity and imagination, the domain of the feminine.

Everyday in ways that normally go unnoticed, our intuition is at work. We intuit the unspoken feelings and emotions of our partner, co-workers, children and even the check out girl at the grocery store. We know when a loved one in the other part of the house or even miles away is struggling or having difficulties and we can sense the honesty or dishonesty of our children's excuses and the car mechanic's estimate with surprising ease.

Although we don't always know how we know these things, when we listen to our inner voice and follow through with our gut feelings we are almost always right.

There are many ways that you can employ your intuition to make your life easier and frankly more fun.

Try these:

Intuitive Listening

Your intuition is telling you that there is something that your partner, who is slumped in his chair, needs to talk about. When you ask him he tells you there is nothing wrong. Although this is frustrating it may be that he is unable to put into words what he is feeling. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He may not be intentionally withholding information.

Instead of pushing him to talk, take a seat near him and sit quietly. Take a long deep breath and relax. Come into an open hearted receptive state and listen within. When you feel moved to talk, express from the heart what you are receiving. Do not lecture, push or tell him how he feels, instead use "I" statements and talk about what you are experiencing.

This simple practice will help your partner to relax, open up and communicate.

Open hearted intuitive listening is also affective with your children, other family members, friends and even co-workers. It creates a calm intuitive environment of safety and love.

Intuitive Eating

It's been a long day. You finally have a few minutes to relax. Before making your way to the couch or bed, you scan the refrigerator and cabinets for a special treat. A little chocolate, a piece of left over fried chicken, and some popcorn never hurt anyone, right?

Before you grab the bag of tortilla chips, sit down, take a deep breath and listen within. Imagine that your body can intuitively communicate with you.

Ask within if you are hungry? If the answer is no, ask your body to reveal to you what is prompting the desire to eat.

There is a message behind the hunger, listen to it. You might find that emotions like loneliness, frustration or stress surface. You may be bored or want to fill an inner feeling of emptiness.

Instead of eating to dull the feelings, spend some time in inner listening.

Eating is a way to nurture ourselves, but there are other more affective ways. What is the best way to nurture and take care of you?

Listen to your intuition and commit to those actions that will empower you with self care. Often times just listening within and acknowledging how you feel will help you to release the feelings and dissipate the gnawing hunger. Acknowledge all that you accomplished during the day and have loving compassion for you.

Intuitive Career Decisions

Something feels off at work. You can't quite put your finger on it, but you feel restless and find yourself scanning job boards for other employment possibilities. You talk to your manager and he tries to assure you that your job is secure. As much as you would like to believe this, that little inner voice keeps telling you to start looking.

At this point you have a choice. You can convince yourself that this is just your insecurity and caution speaking or you can without any outside evidence, listen and act on your intuitive impressions.

In these kinds of situations, I often advise people to pay attention to outer synchronicities that may reinforce your intuition. Synchronicity is the random occurrence of unlikely coincidence and a form of intuition. In this situation, you might for instance receive a call from a friend who randomly lets you know that the company she works for is hiring. While exercising at the gym you overhear a couple of people discussing a new division about to open in an exciting and innovative company. You have dreams of being in interesting places involved in new activity and wake feeling more sure and ready to pursue other career options. I have a friend who woke up at 2:00 in the morning, spontaneously went to her computer and looked at the job postings of a company that she had always wanted to work for. There was a job listed that was perfect for her. Two weeks later she was hired.

Your intuition is like a muscle that must be exercised. Be creative and explore the many ways throughout the day that your intuition can guide you. As you do this you will become more adept at recognizing and confidently following through with intuitive messages. You will more often than not be glad that you did.

© 2010 Sherrie Dillard, author of Love and Intuition: A Psychic's Guide to Creating Lasting Love


About the book:

Develop your intuition in one of the most spiritual aspects of life: love and relationships.

Love, by its very nature, is profoundly spiritual—it brings out the intuitive side of us all. By embracing your innate intuition and letting it expand, the love and joy you deserve will naturally flow right to you.

In this heartfelt and uplifting book, professional psychic Sherrie Dillard teaches you how to develop your natural psychic ability and intuition to attract and sustain soulful love. After discovering your personal love type—emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical—you can find out your spouse or partner's love type and practice exercises, creative visualizations, and guided meditations to strengthen your relationship, heal rifts, get a better understanding of how you relate to each other, and deepen your connection.

Woven throughout are stories from Dillard's clients that shed light on attraction, fidelity, passion, sex, intimacy, and common relationship issues. You'll learn to change unhealthy relationship patterns, receive guidance from angels and spirit guides, and even add spice to your love life.

About Sherrie:

Author of the bestselling Discover Your Psychic Type, Sherrie Dillard has been a New Thought pastoral counselor, professional psychic, medium, and teacher for over twenty years. She has taught classes and workshops, both nationally and internationally, on the life-enhancing aspects of intuition development. Her writing has also appeared in New Age Journal and on Wellness.com and HitchedMag.com.

For more information please visit www.SherrieDillard.com and follow the author on Facebook.

Poll: Review Podcast?

Someone suggested that I record my reviews as podcasts.  Obviously, this would be rather time consuming, but an intriguing idea nonetheless.  I'm talking just my review portion here, not the book description.  So just the portion circled in blue here:

The podcast would be something like the book title, author, then the review.  Maybe like a minute or something long.

So, my question of the day is, would you be interested in having the option of listening to my reviews as a podcast?  Please cast your vote in the poll on the top right side of the sidebar, conveniently titled "Review podcast?".  If you have any suggestions or concerns, please leave a comment.

As always, thank you for your input!

FYI: Book Blogger Appreciation Week

I've had a couple e-mails ask my why I'm not participating in Book Blogger Appreciation Week so I thought I'd quickly address the issue.  

The short answer is that no matter how much work I put into the blog it was still apparently not good enough to warrant a nomination last year so I just chose to ignore the entire thing this year instead of making myself feel yet more depressed about how apparently my blog is crap when it didn't win or even get listed.  

I'm happy with my blog and if I'm not recognized as worthy according to the BBAW, then so be it.  It's my blog and my life and I choose not to dwell on the negativity and popularity contest that BBAW is.  I refuse to return to high school politics.

So you will not be seeing any posts about BBAW (besides this one) here.

Review: 101 Dirty Hot Hotel Stories by Jack Appleford

It's true. Follow the misadventures of a concierge in LA from horrible motels to the sleek and hip hotels on the Sunset Strip. This is the book that helped catch the Getty Imposter. Alright, one of the Getty Imposters. From checking you in to checking you out to Frakentits, her BFF and her STUD making out at the pool, there's plenty of room for you and your baggage. So, come on in. Enjoy it!

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.  While I didn't particularly care for the author as a person, some of the stories were amusing.  The stories themselves are nicely sized for quick, easy reading. My favorites were The Girl with the Pink Bunny and Is He Dead?  This wasn't fabulous, but it was an interesting read and would make for nice, light reading on a hot summer's day at the beach.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Guest Post: Dorothy Howell author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery

Dorothy Howell, author of the book Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery, stopped by to share with us a piece (which I loved!) she wrote.

Hollywood Loves a Great Handbag
By Dorothy Howell,
Author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery

Fashion is a major player in Hollywood. Wardrobe departments spend tireless hours perfecting the right "look" for their actors. Celebrity stylists live or die by the image they craft for their clients. Magazines and television shows devote themselves to photos and descriptions of celebrity clothing and accessories.

From the style and elegance of fashion icons such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn during Hollywood's Golden Era, to pics of celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Reece Witherspoon hitting the trendy L.A. shops, the public is fascinated by what they're wearing.

Regardless of current styles, situations or occasions, no actress or fashion icon would be caught in public without one indispensable fashion accessory -- her handbag.

This year's Oscar night saw pastels and bright colors, along with ruffles and trains, outside the Kodak Theater; most accompanied by a gorgeous clutch. The different shapes and sizes decorated with jewels glistening under the lights, made it the accessory to watch.

Anna Kendrick, a first-time nominee, carried a jeweled Judith Leiber clutch. Elizabeth Banks accessorized her Verace gown with a gray snakeskin and silver crystal clutch from Salvatore Ferragamo. Diva Demi Moore, ruled the red carpet with a gold leather envelope clutch, while Kate Winslet rocked an Yves Saint-Laurent silver satin bag. These Hollywood fashionistas proved nothing completes a red-carpet look like a handbag.

Yet for all their glamour and prestige, today's top handbag designers had decidedly unfashionable beginnings. Louis Vuitton made travel trunks in the 1800s, while Herm├ęs crafted horse harnesses for Europe's aristocracy. Prada, Fendi, and Gucci were known for their leather baggage.

These houses made the jump to light speed, fashion wise, by looking into the future and adapting to changing times, and today they give us some of the most sought-after handbags in the world.

Purses aren't just another glitz and glamour accessory. Like all Hollywood beauties, the handbag is expected to work. Whether in a starring or a supporting role, the handbag is often in the spotlight.

Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie Bradshaw, on the Sex and the City television show, received a Judith Leiber handbag from Big. The cupcake purse by this famed designer made an appearance in the SATC movie. Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall, ran afoul of Lucy Liu over a long awaited Birkin bag.

Ruth Buzzi turned her purse into a weapon and fought off her hapless, would-be attacker on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. A decades-old skit so funny it can still be viewed on YouTube.

Who can forget Jamie Farr's portrayal of Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger and his desperate attempt to get discharged from the Army by dressing in drag on the long running television show M*A*S*H? He went about his duties wearing a dress, hat, gloves, high heels and, of course, carrying a handbag.

The style, glitz and glam of a Hollywood-worthy purse are available to the everyday fashionista. Retail, discount, and online stores abound. Be the star of your own show with the handbag of your dreams.

© 2010 Dorothy Howell, author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery


About the book:

Fashionista and amateur sleuth Haley Randolph is in hot pursuit of the season's newest must-have handbag. But soon she's also in hot pursuit of a killer—when she discovers the corpse of none other than her designer purse party rival...

Life is beyond fabulous at the moment for Haley Randolph. She just spent two amazing weeks in Europe with her boyfriend Ty Cameron, owner of Holt's Department Store where Haley works. And now Ty's grandmother, Ada, is letting Haley drive her way-cool Mercedes. Things would be perfect if she could just get her hands on her latest fashion obsession: the new Sinful handbag.

Every store in town is out of stock, and Haley would rather die than buy a knockoff. But when she finds the body of her nemesis, Tiffany Markham, in the trunk of Ada's Mercedes, she's not so sure she wants to trade places after all...

Topping the list of suspects, Haley doesn't deny seeing red when Tiffany and her business partner not only stole her purse party idea, but also made more money. But Haley wasn't jealous enough to commit murder. Now she'll have to solve this mystery quickly—and find that Sinful bag—before she becomes a killer's next fashion fatality...

About Dorothy:

Dorothy Howell, author of  Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery, was inspired to write Handbags and Homicide by her crazed obsession with designer purses. She lives in Southern California, where there is, thankfully, no rehab program for handbag addiction, and is hard at work on her next Haley Randolph mystery. Visit her Website at www.DorothyHowellNovels.com.

Follow the author on Facebook.


Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets two stars.  I was really looking forward to this one, but I was really quite disappointed.  Despite the well written and wonderfully sensual descriptions of the food I wasn't feeling this.  I just didn't particularly care for the characters as people.  The sentiment was there, but it just didn't do much for me.  Fans of Oprah's Book Club books should find this uplifting but it didn't uplift me much.

☆☆= Just Okay

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: Iron Man 2 by Alexander Irvine

"I am Iron Man." With those words, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark revealed his secret identity. Now a famous high-tech superhero, he uses his powers to protect mankind. Yet things are not going well for Tony Stark. The U.S. military demands control of the most powerful weapon on earth--the Iron Man suit. His beautiful new assistant has a strange, mysterious agenda while his best friend, Rhodey, has betrayed him. And Tony is hunted by a vengeful Russian criminal armed with a lethal technology that may be stronger than Tony's suit. But even as he fights his demons, the hero faces his greatest threat--one that no armor can defend against . . .

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. While I hadn't seen the first movie, the is was still a good stand alone book. Granted, it is more of a "guy" book, but the characters are interesting and the plot made me want to see the movie. This is definitely recommended for Iron Man fans, as well as general adventure fans.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: Growing Pains by Billie Piper

This is an astonishingly candid insight into the world of Billie Piper. Famous since the age of 15 - first as the face of Smash Hits, then as a pop singer with three No.1 hits in less than three years - Billie Piper has won over the critics and the British public for a second time by re-inventing herself as an actress in BBC productions of "Much Ado About Nothing", "The Canterbury Tales" and, of course, "Doctor Who". And that's just the professional Billie. In this book, for the first time, she talks honestly about her whirlwind romance and marriage to Chris Evans, about her battles with anorexia and the dark side of teen fame. Moving, funny and honest, this is a page-turning read by one of the nation's favourite stars.

From my personal collection.

My favorite quotes were:

Life is so full of people who you think have something special about them, who hold themselves above the rest of us, but when you get up close you realize that they are actually quite bland and have very little to offer. 

You can be an anorexic in the States and get away with it, almost be applauded for it in some places ... Olsen twins!!

Americans are so inquisitive that they just ask outright.  You can't rely on their sense of discretion if they get a whiff that something's up.

This one gets five stars. It was absolutely awesome! You felt as if you were sitting across the table from the author, listening to her tell you her story. Just you and her chatting. This friendly feel really added to the reading enjoyment. Of course, I am rather prejudiced as I am a fan of the author's work in Doctor Who and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. This was also one the few autobiographies that leaves you actually liking the author more after you read the book.

★★★★★ = Loved It