Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Once in a Lifetime Dog by Chantelle Hildreth

Once in a Lifetime Dog: My BorisangelFor anyone who has ever loved, and lost, a dog.

Once In A Lifetime Dog, My Borisangel, is the true, heartwarming story of Chantelle Hildreth's journey into adulthood with her dog, Boris, a massive, elegant white beast with more personality, grace and charm than most people you'll ever meet. He was her companion, best friend and, at her side, every step of the way. Boris was Chantelle's study partner through the rigors of law school, her backbone in her first teaching position, the inspiration for the purchase of her first home, the first child of her marriage and an infallible source of comfort and strength through the trials of her pregnancy.

Boris was all-things good. He was the embodiment of love, friendship, happiness and hope. He was gentle and kind, but strong. Boris possessed the keen ability to know a person's true character. He was her protector always, even when she did not think she needed it. And, he was always right.

Once In A Lifetime Dog, My Borisangel, is a true story of unconditional love, the heartache of loss and the astonishing and uncanny ability of the special animals in our lives to teach some of the most profound life lessons.

It is a love story. A story of how much a dog loved his owner and just how much she loved him, a love that changed her forever.

Boris stood by the one he loved, so in the end, when he left her, she could stand-alone.

For anyone who has ever had that one special dog, this touching story will rekindle both the joy and the heartache we experienced and take us back to the unconditional love we felt for that ever so special friend, the one who truly was, a once in a lifetime dog.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.  It was a charming story of the author's journey with her beloved dog.  You could truly feel the genuine love between the author and Boris on every page.  The adorable photos of Boris just added to the story.  The story will make you smile and cry and will not disappoint if you are a dog lover.  It is certainly recommended.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Drawn to the Land by Elizabeth J. Cockey & Barton M. Cockey

Drawn to the Land: The Romance of FarmingDrawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming takes readers on a spellbinding tour of upstate New York and its farming community. A follow-up to Upstate New York: Towns That We Love, this volume focuses on the men and women who feel the enduring pull of the land. From beekeeping to winemaking, the book tells the story of the dedication and passion that mark every sustainable New York homestead. The reader learns about raising chickens, building silos, and growing potatoes from conversations with the people who remain devoted to the natural world in an increasingly urban age. Alongside Barton s descriptions of animals, farm stands, and fresh ice cream are Elizabeth s oil paintings, which burst from the page with the love and admiration of an artist revisiting the place she was raised. Rural upstate New York is a one-of-a-kind locale, and Drawn to the Land celebrates its unique culture, conveying the richness of both its soil and its traditions.

Received from the publicist for review.

This one gets four stars.  The intelligent, easy to read text has a nice flow and is accompanied by charming oil paintings by Elizabeth Cockey which clearly illustrate the accompanying text.  They beautifully capture the land, farms, and animals in a novel way that adds extra appeal to the book.

The book clearly shows the love the authors feel for the area.  It is the New York farming experience which is, of course, rather different than the New England experience, but it was still fun to read for this New Englander.

This would make a great gift for anyone interested in dipping a toe into the mystique of farming in Upstate New York.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Wine Service for Wait Staff and Wine Lovers by Rick Jelovsek

Wine Service for Wait Staff and Wine LoversUncomplicate wine service and wine-food pairing. Learn the secrets of sommeliers and great wait staff to make your wine and food experience outstanding whether dining out or entertaining wine lovers at home.

Received from the author for review.

This one gets three stars.  I found it clearly written and educational with a wealth of information for those who are in the market for a clear, concise guide to wine - from glassware to serving temperature to how much to pour.  This is certainly recommended for those looking for a solid, basic introduction to wine.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: Dotty by Erica S. Perl

DottyIt’s Ida’s first day of school. She carries her new lunch box and a long, blue string with her special friend Dotty attached to it. A big, colorfully spotted pal with horns, Dotty just happens to be invisible. On that first day of school, Ida and Dotty find out there are plenty of other imaginary friends in attendance. But as the year passes and fewer and fewer imaginary friends come to class, Ida begins to wonder if Dotty is welcome at school anymore . . .

Perceptive and warmly funny, with charming art from exciting illustrator Julia Denos, Dotty is a celebration of the power of friendship and imagination.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets four stars.  It was an utterly adorable story!  Within its few pages it brings you from smiles to sadness and back again to a happy, tender smile.  It was masterfully written with beautiful illustrations by Julia Denos.  This incredibly fun book would make an ideal gift for the imaginative child.  I very highly recommend it!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: pia ... me by Pia Jacobsen takes the reader through the myriad of fashion and lifestyle choices that are common to young women today. Inspired by the young celebrities with their headline-grabbing escapades, Pia felt she had to say something to help steer girls in the right direction, both in terms of fashion and lifestyle. "Stop the madness!" she cried. For Pia, a woman is defined by her beauty, both inside and out. A woman needs to work hard to determine what works for her personally. Just like your beauty routine, once you get it figured out it becomes second nature, and just needs a little tweaking as you go through life. A girl's journey can be a difficult one into womanhood. So many things are not discussed or explained, certainly not planned or very well thought out. Pia says it like it is, in her experience, and hopes to help influence or shape young women to be the best they can be. She encourages us to make good choices, establishing boundaries and striving to be kind and loving without being taken advantage of - to consistently take the high road and walk the goddess walk.

Received from the publicist for review.

I must say that I did not care for the illustrations by Zang Toi at all.  Perhaps it is just because I'm not a member of the author's artsy, rich target audience and as such cannot appreciate the artiness.  In any case, they were extremely annoying.

This one gets three stars.  This was well written in a friendly style.  Although it was clearly geared towards the upper middle class some of the solid advice and suggestions can be taken away and used by those with a normal income.  If you're a member of the upper middle class certainly feel free to check this out as you may find something valuable.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review: Deadly Portfolio by John J. Holm

Deadly Portfolio: A Killing in Hedge FundsIn his first novel, Deadly Portfolio: A Killing in Hedge Funds, John J. Hohn exhibits a mastery of plot and character development. Four families are drawn into a tragedy that claims three lives in their lakeside neighborhood. Detective James Raker, a widower struggling with his own grief, bucks his superiors when he concludes all three deaths are related. Pelican Bay may have appeared . . . serene and bucolic, but in the deep, cool shadows of the elms and maples, the hypnotic lapping of the waves, pain and terror dropped out of the breeze from the lake. . . . Raker is on his own to prove his case and stop the killer from striking again.

Hohn's gripping plot unfolds with cinematic vividness as Raker considers his suspects. Neighbor Dr. Tom Sherman's second wife, Joyce, wants to break free of the hateful struggle with stepson, Jaime, a college. "No. You won't," Joyce shouted (at her husband), "You'll yell at him, and he'll think I put you up to it. You'll leave and then, if anything, matters will get worse." Sherman's professional demeanor crumbles in the face of his failure with his wife and his son.

Stockbroker Morrie Clay and his wife, Monica, live the good life with their two sons--summers at lakeside; winter in a sumptuous city home. "So, that's it? Those two beautiful sons of ours went off this morning like nothing in their world is wrong. Michael's enthusiastic and innocent . . . still so much a boy. 'You can't fail,'" Monica said. "I can't look at this beautiful life we've made for ourselves and know that it could all go away . . . ." Threatening their dreams is client Alan J. McAllister who suspects that Clay is guilty of unauthorized trading and forgery. 

McAllister wants to change brokers to keep peace in his own marriage. About her he muses, . . .they would fight later, perhaps just before bed, but if not then, in the morning, hung over and full of loathing for one another, and he rehearsed his come-backs quietly to himself . . . .

The narrative moves nimbly as each family deals with the events of the summer. Building momentum, the author comfortably changes pace with detailed flashbacks that provide insight into his characters.
Hohn's imagery is crisp. A breeze induced a slight roll to the lake, and the sun, lower on the horizon, struck the upper branches of the trees, gilding them with a coppery brilliance and then skipped half way across the bay where the waves winked into the retreating light. Lights from neighboring homes began to glow in the shadows and the neighborhood was quiet except for the desultory robins greeting the onset of a dusk scented with bar-be-que lighter fluid and hickory smoke--an evening that full-filled everything that Morrie had ever wanted when he re-turned home.,

The author delivers a powerful climatic ending. Deadly Portfolio: A Killing in Hedge Funds overlays mystery on the year market plunged and tragedy struck four families who felt that they had it made. Adult. Mystery. Some strong language. Some sexual content.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars.  It was an interesting story but a bit on the long side.  The dialogue also felt a bit off to me.  The characters weren't exactly likable but they felt real.  Overall this was a solid first novel from the author that should be the beginning of a nice career.  I'd recommend this to those who enjoy legal type mysteries such as a John Grisham, as the style feels very similar.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Winners: Death of a Chimney Sweep

The winners of Death of a Chimney Sweep from Hachette are:

#139 - Jessica
#86 - CherylS22
#99 - mrsshukra


Thank you to all who entered!

Winners, please e-mail me your shipping address within 48 hours to
BethsBookReviews at

Winners: Mr. Funny Pants

The winners of Mr. Funny Pants from Hachette are:

#39 - Jessica
#2 - Stephanie


Thank you to all who entered!

Winners, please e-mail me your shipping address within 48 hours to
BethsBookReviews at