Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Old Christmas Question

Next Christmas there will be (God willing) 25+ family members at my house on Christmas Eve, so the old question comes to mind -how will 25 people handle the gift giving?
1. Everyone exchanges gifts.
2. Everyone draws names.
3. Give gifts only to those under 18 years of age.
4. Or something else?

We seem to always be mulling over this puzzle.

What is gift-giving like in your extended family? I would love to hear about your traditions and challenges. What seems to work best?

Wishing You A Merry Christmas And Many New Year Blessings!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Living Oprah / Review

Author: Robyn Okrant
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Center Street (January 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599952394

My Review:

Living Oprah is the story of one women's self-challenge to live one year with the suggestions she received from the Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah's website, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Can she do it? How much will it cost? How will it change her life... or will it? These questions are answered in this amusing account. It is well written and enjoyable. I found that I identified with the author's journey on many levels. Recommended.
(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

FaceBook Members You Must Read This

Dear Friends,

If you are a member of FaceBook you must read this as soon as possible:

Blessings, Barbara

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dollars To Donuts / Review

Author: Dawn Welch with Raquel Pelzel
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Rodale Books (November 10, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160529571X

Book Description:

Which meals are best for your family? The kind that taste great, don’t break the bank – and most importantly, don’t keep you chained to the stove all day. As the sole proprietor of her own restaurant and busy wife and mother of two, Dawn Welch has perfected the art of cooking smart, using short-order strategies and a little bit of advance planning to rack up huge savings of time, money, and effort at home on a daily basis, and now you can, too.

These days everyone is keeping an eye on the bottom line, and Dawn is no different; she shares her best tips and tactics for stretching your food budget without giving up the favorite foods and special treats that make mealtime the best part of the day. Who wants to live on a steady diet of pasta and canned tuna? In Dollars to Donuts you’ll find plenty of savvy ways to serve up steaks, seafood, even luscious chocolate desserts without letting costs spiral out of control. She also dishes up great ideas for transforming basic foods – baked ham, roast chicken, meatball mix – into sexy new offerings that no one will recognize as a leftovers and offers great advice on how to stock your pantry and freezer for last-minute drop-ins and impromptu entertaining.

Each recipe indicates cost per serving so you can choose the dishes that suit your budgetary needs, and a weekly meal planner helps streamline the process of pulling together menus and making the best use of your time and pantry. Icons throughout show which recipes are kid-friendly, which freeze like a dream, and much more.

Think cooking healthful, cost-effective, crowd-pleasing meals is beyond your reach? Take a page out of Dawn Welch’s info-packed book and dollars to donuts, your family will be eating better than ever before and having more fun in the process!

My review:

What more can I say? The book description just about says it all. This would make a wonderful
edition to any cookbook collection! Bon Appetit!!!
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tucker James Loves The Christmas Tree

Our big 20 lb. cat, Tucker James (he's our gentle giant), has found that ultimate serenity means hanging out under our new Christmas tree. He seems to think it is just for him and sleeps under it day and night. Tucker will have to move over when the presents start to arrive!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gifts of the Heart / Review

Author: Karen Boes Oman
Illustrator: Marilyn Brown
Ages: 4-9 years
2009 by Karen Oman
1st Printing
Web address

My Review:

When Grandma and Grandpa arrive at the home of their grandchildren on Christmas, they have a tale to tell.

On their way to the Christmas visit, Grandma and Grandpa encounter a terrible storm and end up in Mother Goose Land where they discover the secret of Christmas.

Told in verse, the story is one of the best I've read this season. The illustrations are also fresh and colorful, making this book an instant holiday favorite.

(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remember Kendyl Grace?

Hello Friends,

Here is a little update on Kendyl Grace...our miracle baby. She is healthy, happy, and enjoying the Christmas season (as you can see in the photo), and is a constant reminder of God's perfect plan.
Happy Holiday to all.

Monday, December 7, 2009


The winner of the pashmina scarf is Sandy aka Doris the Great. Congratulations Sandy! Please email your address to me, so I can send the scarf right out.

Thanks to all who entered!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Scarf Giveaway

Hello Friends!

Winter is almost here and with it will come ice, sleet, and snow, so to keep you warm, I'm giving away 1 beautiful, new, soft, wool pashmina scarf (color to be chosen later).

The drawing will take place on December 5th.

To enter:
*Leave a comment for 1 point
*Become a follower for 5 points (tell me if you already are one)
*Blog about this contest for 3 points (tell me if you do this)

Scraves are very much in style now, so be sure to enter. Good luck to all.

Chocolate: A Love Story Cookbook / Giveaway

Title: Chocolate: A Love Story
Author: Max Brenner
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316056626

I'm giving away a brand new copy of the new cookbook "Chocolate: A Love Story" on December 1st here on my newest blog. Come and enter!

Book Description:

With gigantic vats of churning chocolate, desserts like their famous chocolate pizza, and 12 varieties of hot chocolate served in custom mugs, Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man has turned their line of hip, colorful themed restaurants into an international sensation.. Chocolate: A Love Story is a vibrant new cookbook that includes 65 original recipes narrated in the quirky, captivating voice of Max Brenner, the restaurant's visionary founder and "bald man." Bold, original illustrations, inspired by Art Deco poster graphics, full-color photographs, easy-to-follow, delicious recipes, and a serving of Max's unique vision for spreading "chocolate culture" around the world make this book a must for every chocolate lover.

My Review:

When I opened this cookbook my first reaction was surprise. The recipes certainly looked delicious, but the full-color Art Deco poster graphics blew me away. I had never experienced a cookbook like this one; it was a collector's delight. Having said that, it will also make chocolate lover's drool, and rush to the kitchen to whip up a delectable treat. Recipes include: My lost childhood chocolate birthday cake; Politically correct Sacher torte; Intimate scones; The Belgian street waffle; and 61 others! I give this collector's dream 5+ stars.

(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My New Cookbook Blog + Cookbook Giveaway

Hello Cookbook Fans!

You may have noticed that I've been reviewing a lot of cookbooks lately. So today I'm launching a new blog "My Favorite Cookbooks." I'm also giving away a wonderful new cookbook over there, so stop by, say hello, and enter the drawing.

I hope you like my new venture. There is going to be lots of yummy cookbook reviews and giveaways. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you!

Bon Appetit!

The Guilt Gene / Review

Author: Dianna M. Raab
Paperback: 92 pages
Publisher: Plain View Press (September 21, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935514393

Book Description:
The Guilt Gene is a collection of sixty poems depicting the author's view of her inner and out life.

My Review:
This is easy-to-read poetry. It is unpretentious and honest; a self-portrait that will resonate with most women. I'm not an expert on writing poetry, but I do know that I enjoyed Ms. Rabb's book. I especially related to her poem, Where I Write.
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

The House Is Quiet, Now What / Review

Author: Janice Hanna
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (November 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602604525

Book Description:
Wondering what to do now that the kids have flown the coop? Look no further than Turning Points for Empty Nesters, wherein answers to the questions and challenges now facing you reside. Fuel-for-the-journey chapters address issues such as redefining and rediscovering yourself, deliberate downsizing, dealing with depression, balancing new responsibilities, becoming part of the sandwich generation, living with a renewed purpose, and so much more. Filled with sage advice and practical, biblically-based guidance, this unique volume will help you devise a new flight pattern as you navigate your way through the rest of your fabulous life.

My Review:
Sooner or later parents find themselves in a quiet house. For years, mothers spend 24-7 taking care of their children, making sure they are growing up safely, to one day find the kids have lives of their own. How do we handle the loss of indentity; the sense of purpose; the life patterns we are accustomed to living; the loss of feeling needed? This Christian-based book answers our questions and gives suggestions for coping with what most parents will face. It is a well-written, faith-building book. A must read for the empty nester.

(Thank you to Barbour Books for my review copy.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Strictly Sundays (Making every cook a hero on Sundays) / Review

Author: Joe Fitzpatrick
Paperback: 146 pages
Publisher: Book Publishers Network; 1st edition (September 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935359193

My Review:

I just received my copy today and I can't wait to cook up some of these recipes! When I was younger, my family always had a nice sit-down dinner on Sunday; this cookbook makes me think of those good times. A few of the recipes included are: Crab Cakes with Dipping Sauce; Beef and Pork Pot Roast with Caramelized Onion Gravy; John's Stuffed Flank Steak; Tomato Pie; and Salmon in Cranberry Dijon Sauce. The recipes are down-to-earth with something unique about each one. Every dish is an adventure in 5 star eating. Thanks Joe for sharing all of these great dishes with us!

(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dam Good Sweet Cookbook / Review

Authors: David Guas & Raquel Pelzel
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Taunton Press (November 10, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600851185

Book description from inside cover:

New Orleans comes alive in DamGoodSweet, a dessert cookbook devoted to the pastries and sweets of the New Orleans region.

My Review:

What's not to love about the taste of New Orleans? Cooks from all over the world think of the best and most exciting classic desserts when they hear the name of this famous city and its region. That is just what a home cook finds in the Dam Good Sweet (Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth) cookbook. Recipes include: Bananas Foster; Crepes du Vieux Carre; Pecan Pie; Black and Blue Crumble; Lemon Icebox Pie; Red Velvet Cake; Pralines; Turtles; and Peanut Brittle. There are 50 delicious recipes; family and travel stories; and numerous color photographs in this unique volume. The book is gorgeous; the recipes are outstanding. I can't wait to try my hand at making the Pralines! This would also make a wonderful gift.

(Thank you to the author and Taunton Press for my review copy.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Interview with Emma Walton Hamilton, author of Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment

Author: Emma Walton Hamilton
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Beech Tree Books; 1st edition (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098158330X

Hello Dear Friends!

Today I'm interviewing the best-selling children's book author, Emma Walton Hamilton. She has written 17 books, including the award winning, Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment. Ms. Hamilton is also the daughter of the beloved actress, Julie Andrews.

As many of you know, I'm a huge bookworm myself, and love to introduce books to others, especially children, so when I came across this special book, I just had to do an interview with the author!

So let us begin......

1.Tell us a little about yourself and your writing career.

I think of myself as an author, editor, arts educator and arts and literacy advocate. I’ve been fortunate over the past 12 years to co-author seventeen children’s books with my mother, Julie Andrews, including the recent anthology JULIE ANDREWS’ COLLECTION OF POEMS, SONGS AND LULLABIES, illustrated by James McMullan, the DUMPY THE DUMP TRUCK series of picture books, board books and Early Readers (illustrated by my father, Tony Walton), the original fable SIMEON’S GIFT, the medieval novel DRAGON: HOUND OF HONOR and the New York Times best-sellers THE GREAT AMERICAN MOUSICAL and THANKS TO YOU – Wisdom from Mother and Child. My own book, RAISING BOOKWORMS: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment, which I wrote for parents, educators and caregivers, was written in response to my concern about the decrease in reading amongst young people in recent years. I’m proud to say that it premiered as a #1 best-seller on in the literacy category and won two silver medals from the Living Now and IPPY Book Awards, respectively, in the parenting category. It also received Honorable Mention from ForeWord Magazine’s Best Book of the Year. In addition to writing, I serve as the Editorial Director for The Julie Andrews Collection, (formerly with Harper Collins, now with Little Brown Books for Young Readers), which is a publishing program dedicated to quality books for young readers that nurture the imagination and celebrate a sense of wonder. I also function as the Co-Director of Stony Brook University’s Annual Southampton Playwriting Conference, as well as being the Executive Director of “YAWP” (The Young American Writers Project), an inter-disciplinary writing program for middle and high school students on Long Island, both of which are sponsored by Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA Program in Writing and Literature. I also teach children’s picture book writing through Stony Brook Southampton and independently, as well as maintaining a private practice as a freelance editor of children’s books.Before becoming a writer, I worked as an actress in theater, film and television for ten years, then turned my attention towards directing, producing, educating and writing. I was a faculty member at the Ensemble Studio Theater Institute, then left New York City to become one of the founders of Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, New York. I served as Bay Street Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director for thirteen years, at which point I chose to focus my energies on the Theatre’s educational and young audiences programs. Until 2008, my role there encompassed bringing theater to young people on Long Island and in New York City as Director of Education and Programming for Young Audiences.In addition to writing and editing children’s books, I also write articles for magazines, newspapers, e-zines and periodicals, and speak to groups about the value of, and synergy between, the arts and literacy.

2. What led you to write this book?

Whether I’m on a book tour with my Mom, at speaking engagements in schools, libraries and other public arenas, or in casual conversation, the one question that surfaces again and again, with increasing urgency, from parents, grandparents, educators, librarians and caregivers across the country, is “How can I get my child to turn off the electronics and pick up a book?!” As the Mom of a 12 year old son and a six year old daughter, I can relate, and as a passionate advocate for reading as one of the most important life skills, I understand the urgency behind the question. So I decided to do some research and see if I could answer it myself – and help to promote the joy of reading in the process.

3. What was your reading experience like as a child?

I was an avid reader as a kid – I still am. Books were my companions, my entertainment, my teachers, my inspiration. I was lucky enough to grow up in two families – my parents divorced and remarried when I was very young – who were both passionate about reading, so I was always surrounded by books, hearing conversations about books and being read to. I can remember many nights when I would beg for “Just one more chapter!” or stay up way past my bedtime to finish a particularly great book.

4. What is the first book you remember reading?

My maternal grandfather taught me to read around the age of three. I remember reading a picture book version of “Pinocchio” with him, and suddenly the printed words began to materialize and become understandable to me. It was thrilling.

5. Which children’s book had the greatest impact on your life?

The book that I loved the most as a kid was Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth.” That was my rainy-day book, the one I came back to over and over again. It was so unusual and irreverent, it really captured my imagination. I think the whole idea of words and letters having flavor and being delicious delicacies that were sold at market really influenced my love of language. Now, as an adult and a children’s book author myself, there are so many books and authors whom I admire... but my favorite is probably Phillip Pullman. His “Dark Materials” trilogy just blows me away in terms of its scope, its imagination, its intelligence and its extraordinary imagery. Pullmans’s books never talk down to the reader – and can be received and interpreted differently, depending on one’s age and level of understanding.

6. If you could become a character from one of your favorite books, who would it be?

What an interesting question! My first instinct was to pick someone with magical powers, who could time travel or read the future, like Lyra in “The Golden Compass.” But then, that always comes with so much baggage... and at the end of the day, I think I really yearn for a simple life. So I guess I’d have to say Winnie the Pooh. He seems so comfortable in who he is, and lives a life of such simple pleasures.

7. I read that you have written 17 children’s books. Which one is your favorite?

That’s a question we get asked a lot, and it really is impossible to answer. It’s like trying to say which is your favorite of your children. You love them ALL. I guess one of the one’s I’m most proud of is “Dragon: Hound of Honor” since it took such a great deal of research to write. But truly, they’re all very close to my heart.

8. Where do you find the inspiration for your books?

Our ideas come from all kinds of places – but usually from something that we’ve experienced or stumbled upon, and/or from my kids. “Dragon” came about from an entry in a Readers Encyclopedia that my mother happened upon, just a few sentences about a French medieval legend involving a dog avenging his master’s death. It piqued our interest and we decided to try to find out more and write about it. The “Dumpy the Dump Truck” series was inspired by my son, Sam, who was truck mad for many years... And the characters and places in the books are loosely based on places and people we know and love. The one about the firefighters was inspired by a fire that took place in our village about 15 years ago. Our forthcoming book, “The Very Fairy Princess,” was inspired by my daughter Hope, and her love of all things princess and fairy, plus her absolute conviction that these are her people.

9. If you could suggest only one children’s book, which would it be?

What an impossible question! It would depend on what age the child was... But I guess if I had to pick ONLY one, it would be one that spans several generations and delights all ages: Winnie the Pooh. (Are you detecting a pattern here?!) The characters, ideas and stories are so original, and yet so timeless, and kid-friendly. A.A. Milne was such an astonishingly gifted writer and Ernest Shepard’s art is just classic. The humor, originality and gentle themes of tolerance, community, courage and friendship put at the top of my list.

10. I see that you and your mother, Julie Andrews, have a new book in print. I'm sure my readers would love to hear a bit about it and how the idea came about.

Our new book is a treasury entitled “Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies.” Poetry has always been very important to our family – we are all lovers of poetry, and also dabble in writing it as gifts for one another on special occasions. When our new publishers at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers asked us to consider putting together a poetry anthology we jumped at the chance. We were so excited to cull our family favorites together in one place, and also to be able to include song lyrics which are poetry in and of themselves. We even dared to include a few of our own, as well as a few written by our fathers and grandfathers... So it really is a collection of our “favorite things,” so to speak! As I wrote in a recent blog post, my Mom and I have always believed that poems, songs, and lullabies have the power to transform into family treasures. Poetry, in particular, is really the perfect shared family experience – and it can be one of the best ways to introduce young people to the joys of reading. Great poems make children want to read – they give us a vision of beauty and joy in the world, and an awareness of the richness and power of language. Poetry is a breath of fresh air in the midst of our multi-media, mad-frantic world. It soothes the soul. As one of the poems in the book by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers says: “Keep a poem in your pocket… and you’ll never feel lonely.”

What wonderful insights we have gathered here from Ms. Hamilton today. I wish to thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview. I have read Raising Bookworms and highly recommend it to mothers, grandmothers, teachers, and friends of children. Thanks also to the author for my review copy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again / Review

Author: Lisa Schroeder with Danielle Centoni
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Taunton Press (November 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600850170

Cookbook Description:
For 10 years, Lisa Schroeder, chef and owner of Mother's Bistro & Bar in Portland, Oregon, has been serving her guests home-style food their mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers might have made. Now she wants to teach people how to make these dishes themselves. With Mother's Best, Schroeder offers recipes for 150 of her favorite dishes and have seasoned it generously with advice gleaned from all her years behind the stove.

My Review:
When I first opened this cookbook, it made me think of all the comfort foods my mother and grandmother made when I was young. Yum! It is filled with down-home recipes and useful hints that a mother would teach her daughter. It even tells how to cut up a whole chicken! Mother's Best has recipes like Nana's Chicken Fried Chicken; Meatloaf Gravy; Manhattan Clam Chowder; Mama's Minestrone; Grandma Mary's Meatball and Sunday Gravy; $15,000 Crab Cakes with Creole Mustard Sauce; Mother's Biscuits and Gravy; Basic Scones; Mother's Pulled Pork Sandwich; Mother's Apple Crisp; and many more recipes that remind me of my own mother's cooking, with a few subtle changes.
Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again has 150 favorite, mouth-watering recipes, and most important, teaches how to cook with love. It is an inspiration and will make your family keep coming back home for more. I especially like the recipe for Chicken Caccitore.
I'm giving this cookbook 5+ stars!!
(Thank you to Ms. Noblin at The Taunton Press for my review copy.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jane Odiwe: Author of "Willoughby's Return" Interview + Book Giveaway

Hi Everyone!

I'm interviewing Jane Odiwe, author of the Jane Austen sequel, Willoughby's Return, today at my other blog, Everything Victorian. The publisher is giving away one brand new copy to a lucky winner. I hope you'll visit us for Ms. Odiwe's interview and giveaway.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The winner of the pashmina scarf is Susan Brady. Please send me an email with your mailing address. Thanks for entering! (To receive this gift, please reply within 48 hours.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

One Hundred Butterflies

Author: Harold Feinstein
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316033634

Book Description:
In One Hundred Butterflies, photographer Harold Feinstein showcases butterfly varieties from around the world, turning exquisite details into mesmerizing works of art. Feinstein's breathtaking photographs capture the color, vibrancy, and infinite variety of patterns that occur on the wings of these ornate insects. One hundred impeccably reproduced, oversized photographs allow viewers to appreciate the Blue Morpho of Central America, the African Birdwing, and the Asian Swallowtail at a scale and depth impossible to experience in nature. An elegantly printed deluxe gift book, it is a treasure for butterfly enthusiasts and art lovers alike.

My Review:

Let me start by saying, One Hundred Butterflies by photographer Harold Feinstein, is one of the most gorgeous coffee table books I have ever seen. As I opened it, page by page, my breath was taken away. The full page photographs are large, vivid, and extremely detailed. Butterfly varieties from around the world are shown, most of which I had never seen before now. Feinstein has created a classic work of art that cannot be disputed. This beautiful book would make a wonderful gift.
(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pashmina Shawl Giveaway

Hello Friends!

Winter is almost here and with it will come ice, sleet, and snow, so to keep you warm, I'm giving away 1 beautiful, new, soft, wool pashmina shawl (color to be chosen by me).

The drawing will take place on November 1st. To enter:
*Leave a comment for 1 point
*Become a follower for 5 points (tell me if you already are one)
*Blog about this contest for 3 points (tell me if you do this)
Good luck to all of you dear friends!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas Is Coming Soon

Hello Friends!

Isn't it amazing that the holidays are just around the corner? Where did the year go? I've always heard that time passes faster when one gets older and that is exactly what I'm finding!

This morning I started thinking of Christmas gifts and how difficult it is to buy a gift for someone you love. There's always that disappointment thing in the back of my mind. Will this be right for them? Will they love it, or is it something I just think they would like? Gifting is always a challenge, isn't it? We so want to please!

That brings me to the question of what you are doing for Christmas. Did you start preparing early? When do you begin to shop? How do you solve the question of pleasing those on your gift list? What are some things you are doing this season (cutting back, giving homemade gifts, is your family drawing names, etc.)?

I would love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Absolutely Chocolate: Irresistible Excuses To Indulge / Review

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Taunton Press (October 20, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600851339

Book Description:
For years, most cooks only worried about choosing between semi-sweet and milk chocolate when whipping up chocolate creations. These days, however, it's vital to know the origins, varieties, and unique characteristics of chocolates available.

The experts at Fine Cooking magazine have taken the guesswork out of making more than 125 scrumptious sensations from layer cakes, tarts, and pies to muffins, cookies, and brownies to candies, sauces, and hot cocoa. Each recipe features must-know tips on choosing and buying just the right chocolate; step-by-step, cant-fail instructions; and authoritative advice from America's most respected experts. In other words, Absolutely Chocolate is absolutely fabulous!

My Review:
Oh my goodness! I'm so excited about this beautiful cookbook! If you are a chocoholic and love divine chocolate desserts, you will love this book as much as I do. There are 55 full-color photographs throughout, along with 125 mouth-watering, company-perfect, holiday-delicious recipes. The book offers recipes like: Chocolate Chunk Scones; Brownie Cream Cheese Bites; Chocolate Orange Biscotti; Chocolate-espresso Mousse Torte; Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes; Fastest Fudge Cake with Ganache Drizzle; and soooo much more. This is a big, beautiful book that inspires me to make lots of wonderful treats. (My family is going to love me!) It would also make a nice holiday gift for a home baker.

(Thank you to Ms. Noblin at The Taunton Press for my review copy.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

How To Roast A Lamb Cookbook

Author: Michael Psilakis
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316041211

Book Description:

A rising star in the food world, Michael Psilakis is co-owner of a growing empire of modern Mediterranean restaurants, and one of the most exciting young chefs in America today. In How to Roast a Lamb, the self-taught chef offers recipes from his restaurants and his home in this, his much-anticipated first cookbook.

Ten chapters provide colorful and heartfelt personal essays that lead into thematically related recipes. Gorgeous color photography accompanies many of the recipes throughout.
Psilakis's cooking utilizes the fresh, naturally healthful ingredients of the Mediterranean augmented by techniques that define New American cuisine. Home cooks who have gravitated toward Italian cookbooks for the simple, user-friendly dishes, satisfying flavors, and comfortable, family-oriented meals, will welcome Psilakis's approach to Greek food, which is similarly healthful, affordable, and satisfying to share any night of the week.

My Review:

This big, beautiful cookbook tells you everything you need to know to start cooking delicious Greek food. There are ten chapters of recipes, techniques, personal memories, and color photos. You will find 150 recipes: salads and side dishes, grilled meats, seafood delights, sauces, vinaigrettes, etc. There are classics like: spanakopita (spinach pie), stuffed baby eggplants, Greek mac and cheese, chicken and pork Shish Kebab, tomato and String bean salad, pan roasted chicken with lemon potatoes, and more in this large collection of classic Mediterranean dishes and meals.

For cooks of Greek heritage or cooks in general, this would be a very nice edition to your kitchen. It would also make a welcomed gift for the holidays.

(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The winner of Sanctuary is Chocolate Covered Daydreams. Please email your address so I can mail you copy. Congratulations!

Thanks everyone. Another giveaway is coming soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Power of Respect by Deborah Norville

Author: Deborah Norville
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785227601

My Review:

The Power of Respect (Benefit from the Most Forgotten Element of Success) by Deborah Norville is a breath of fresh air in an era of rudeness, violence, uncertainty, fear, selfishness, and low self-respect. What would it take to get society back on tract? Ms. Norville has made a valiant attempt in this book to suggest concepts and real-life examples to live by--helping hands; respect for our fellow man; faith in ourselves. The book includes inspirational quotes; motivational lists; and highlights of reflection at the end of each chapter. It also reminds the reader of the power of praise. The book looks at the power of respect at home; the power of respect in relationships; the power of respect at school (in my opinion, is very much needed); the power of respect in business; the power of respect for leaders; values in action--strength of character.

Deborah Norville has been one of the most respected media personalities of our day; a bright beacon of grace, intelligence, kindness, and beauty. Because she has retained her self-respect and dignity, I feel she can speak with authority in this important new book. I completely enjoyed this and highly recommend it to other readers.

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson for my review copy.)

Monday, October 19, 2009


Author: Robert Hicks
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 23, 2009)
ISBN-10: 044658164X

Book Description:

Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army--and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins. But fate had other plans. Crippled by his war wounds and defeat, ravaged by financial misfortune, Hood had one last foe to battle: Yellow Fever.

A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures-and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him.

My Review:

Well, I must begin by saying this is one of the most beautifully written stories I have ever read.

A Separate Country is based on the true story of Confederate General John Bell Hood and the love of his life, his wife Anna Marie. It is told in the words of three characters: General Hood, Anna Marie, and an acquaintance of General Hood, Eric Griffin. Each one speaking from a unique perspective, they relate the remarkable tale of love, regret, hate, self-reflection, and redemption.

There are books one feels honored to have on the shelf of their personal library. This is one of those! It is richly textured and hauntingly eloquent. A tale to read again and again.
(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my complementary review copy.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Sanctuary" Book Giveaway

Author: Pamela Bailey
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Walk Worthy Press (May 17, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446695165

Dear Friends,

As you know, here at the Serenity Gate I'm always looking for things that bring us beauty and joy in living. So I've decided to do a giveaway of the inspirational book, Sanctuary, by Pamela J. Bailey.

Book Description:
Realizing the preciousness of life and family, a hunger has emerged for beautiful, nurturing and spiritual home environments. This creative text inspires readers to create beautiful spaces by concentrating on how to live in them as opposed to what you put in them.

About the Author
Pamela J. Bailey developed an appreciation for beautiful homes at the age of 10 and made a career in the home furnishings industry. She speaks and gives workshops on living well and the importance of creating loving, peaceful and beautiful home environment.

How to enter:

*You must be a follower

*Leave a comment telling me something that made you happy today.
*You must also leave your email address

*US and Canada residents only

*Winner will be announced on October 22.

Blessings, Barbara

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ansel Adams in Color

By: Andrea G. Stillman
Hardcover: 168 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company;
Revised edition (October 21, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316056413

My Review:

The photography of Ansel Adams, photographer and environmentalist, has been enjoyed for years in black and white. His photographs of the American West, and Yosemite National Park are classics that will forever remain in the photographic archives of natural wonders. His creative genius is timeless and now can be enjoyed in stunning color images.

This book of color photographs is a marvelous and magic production. I found myself amazed at the beauty he captured. This is definitely a book that should be placed with joy on the coffee tables of America and the world. It is an absolute delight!

(Thank you to Hackette Book Group for my complementary review copy.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Potluck Club Cookbook

Authors: Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Revell; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0800733495

A few years ago I became hooked on a cute series called The Potluck Club by Linda Shepherd and Eva Everson. I read three books in the series and loved them, so when I was offered the chance to read and review The Potluck Club Cookbook, you can imagine how happy I was to accept.

Book Description:

From the popular authors of the Potluck Club books comes a cookbook loyal fans (and anyone who likes to eat) won't want to miss. The potluck meal makes sharing good, home-cooked food with family and friends simple and easy. Start with a few (or a lot of) guests, bring delicious dishes to share, and mix with love. A proven recipe for success.

Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson, veterans of countless potluck dinners, have gathered their favorite recipes. From salads to casseroles to slow-cooker delights, there's something for everyone, even those watching their waistlines. Eating in is the new eating out. These great potluck ideas not only save money, but also build memories to last a lifetime.

My Review:

I love this cookbook just as much as I loved the Potluck Club book series. It is full of easy recipes like Italian Coconut Cream Cake; Grandmother Miller's Tea Cake; Turkey Chili; Dumplings; Crock Pot Spanish Rice; Linda's Spaghetti in a Crock Pot; Low-Fat Corn Bread Tamale Pie; Peach Streusel Coffee Cake; Russian Chicken; and lots more! I especially like the Key Lime Pie recipe.

(Thank you to the authors for my review copy.)


The winner of the beautiful new pop-up book "Angels" is Pat's Place. Congratulations!! (Pat, please send me your address by email.)

Thank you to all who entered.

(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for the free giveaway copy.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Angels Giveaway

Author: Chuck Fischer
Hardcover: 18 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 19, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0316039705

I'm having a giveaway for one copy of the new book Angels by Chuck Fischer, courtesy of Hachette Books, on October 13th.

Book Description:

Fascinated by pop-up books? The brilliant artist behind Christmas in New York, Christmas Around the World, and In the Beginning returns with a stunning new pop-up book.

Whether you consider angels to be divine messengers, spiritual guides, or the stuff of legend, you will find something to marvel at in Chuck Fischer's beautifully illustrated Angels: A Pop-Up Book. Chuck Fischer's original art, inspired by classic images from art history, is crafted into astoundingly intricate three-dimensional pop-ups with fold-outs and moveable parts. Angels brings to life the most captivating stories of these celestial beings, from the angels of the zodiac to Biblical angels to angels in the arts and popular culture. Much like its subject, Angels: A Pop-Up Book inspiresawe and wonder and is a unique gift book for all ages. (Giveaway courtesy of Hachette Books.)
*Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry.
*Become a follower for 3 entries (let me know if you already are.)
*Blog about this giveaway for 3 entries (let me know if you do this).
*Last day to enter is October 12th.
*Drawing is open to Us and Canada residents only.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

You Were Always Mom's Favorite / Review

Author: Deborah Tannen
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Random House (September 8, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1400066328

Book Description:
"I love her to death. I can't imagine life without her," a woman says about her sister. Another remarks, "I don't want anyone to kill my sister because I want to have that privilege myself." With these two comments, begins this eye-opening and entertaining new book.

New York Times bestselling author Deborah Tannen is renowned for illuminating the way we communicate–and revolutionizing relationships in the process. What she did for women and men in You Just Don't Understand, and mothers and daughters in You're Wearing THAT?, she now does for sisters in a groundbreaking book that explores one of the most powerful and perplexing relationships in our lives.

Conversations between sisters reveal a deep and constant tug between two dynamics–an impulse towards closeness and an impulse towards competition, as sisters are continually compared to each other. When you're with her, you laugh your head off, and can giggle and be silly like when you were kids. But she also might be the one person who can send you into a tailspin with just one wrong word. For many women, a sister is both. With a witty and wise voice, Tannen shares insights and anecdotes from well over a hundred women she interviewed, along with moving and funny recollections of her own two sisters. You'll come away with a profound new understanding, as well as effective techniques to improve and accessible solutions for problems in this unique and precious relationship.

About the Author:

Deborah Tannen is the acclaimed author of You Just Don’t Understand, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly four years including eight months as #1; the ten-week New York Times bestseller You’re Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You’re All Adults, which won the Books for a Better Life Award; Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work; That’s Not What I Meant!; and many other books. A professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, she has written for and been featured in newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. She appears frequently on TV and radio, including such shows as 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Colbert Report, Nightline, Today, Good Morning America, and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She is university professor and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, and has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

My Review:

As the mother of three grown daughters, I was so excited to read this book! So when it arrived, I got right down to it. Immediately, I began to understand some common issues between sisters, and I could also see things I did, inadvertently, as a mother when they were growing up, and mistakes I make, even now.

I wish I had read a book like this years ago. It is insightful, full of wisdom, and very readable. Chapters include: We're Close, But We're Different; Looking Up and Talking Down; Whose Side Are You On?; I'll Be the Princess, You Be the Frog; and much more.

If you are a sister or the mother of girls, this is a must read.

(Thank you to the author and Random House for my review copy.)



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monica Fairview Interview + Giveaway

Hello Friends!

I have an interview with Monica Fairview, author of The Other Mr. Darcy here. There's also a book Giveaway.

I'm hoping you'll drop by and enter!

The Winners Are....

The winners of a copy of Simon's Cat are:


If you have entered this contest and your name appears in the winner's list above, please email me your address. Be sure to mention your entry name in your email. Thanks to all who entered!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Simon's Cat Giveaway

Author: Simon Tofield
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 24, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0446560065

I will be giving away 5 copies of Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield on September 29th, compliments of Hachette Book Group.

My Review:
Simon Tofield's, Simon's Cat, is a compilation of adorable illustrations that gives us a hilarious look at our furry friends and the love/adventure they add to our daily lives. I recognized the escapades of my own cats on almost every page. This is a laugh-out-loud look.
Do one or all of these to enter:
* Leave a comment with you email address for 1 point
* Become a follower for 2 points (let me know if you already are)
* Blog about my drawing for 2 points (let me know if you do)
* Open to US and Canada residents only
* Last day to enter- September 28, 2009
This is cute book that I think you'll like, so be sure to enter. Good luck to all!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kendyl Grace Is One Year Old

Last weekend, family members traveled to Spokane, Washington to a birthday party for Kendyl Grace. She is one year old now. Can you believe it has been that long? Most of you know that she was born almost two months early with a severe intestinal defect. We knew, at that time, we could possibly lose her. Well, needless to say, we are all thrilled to see her healthy and thriving. She is our miracle, and we celebrated that miracle at the party.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

After the Ball / Review

Author: Barb Greenberg
Publisher: Rose Path Press
107 Pages

My Review:

After the Ball is an inspirational book for single, married, widowed, or divorced women. In a short story, fairy tale format, Cinderella and Snow White tell their stories--the stories of two women who thought they had married their own Prince Charmings, but later are disappointed in their choice of men. The two friends decide to take their sadness to a woman of wisdom, Annetta, who lives in the woods. Before the two guests leave her enchanted house, Annetta gives them the gift of peace and wholeness.

After the Ball is a beautiful book about loss, difficult choices, support systems, and discovery of self. Can a princess find true happiness? This is a gorgeous gift book that I highly recommend.
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Permission Slips

Author: Sherri Shepherd
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 5, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0446547425

Book Description:
Covering topics such as "It's Jesus or Jail,""Marriage, the Hard Way,""Children: The Gift You Can't Give Back," and "All the Things I Don't Know...And All the Things I Definitely Do," stand-up comedienne, actress, and ABC's The View co-host Sherri Shepherd comically chronicles her struggles to keep up with the many roles-professional, wife, mother, daughter, and friend-that women must play in today's world. Sherri urges women to pursue their most important dreams and to never give up, but also let's readers know that it's okay to give themselves "permission slips" when things don't always work out the way they want them to. As her many fans know, Sherri is never hesitant to speak from the heart, and her bubbly personality shines through in this delightful autobiography.

About the Author:
Sherri Shepherd currently serves as a co-host on ABC's The View, which airs five days a week on ABC affiliates nationally and consistently draws more than 3 million viewers per show. She also plays a recurring character on NBC's 30 Rock. Sherri has had a long career as a regular cast member on some of America's best-loved shows, including Suddenly Susan, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and her own show, Less Than Perfect. Sherri has also been in countless other TV shows and films including Beauty Shop, and Guess Who. Sherri currently resides in New York with her son.

My Review:

Have your tissue ready for this one. She will have you laughing until you cry.

Sherri Shepherd declares in Permission Slips that no matter what a woman does or how well she does it, she can't make everyone happy. So why not give ourselves permission to be ourselves, and make some waves, or at least, some ripples in our lives! She shares with the reader some of her own permission slips and how she celebrates life. Some chapters in the book are: Doing Everything Wrong; Permission to Date, Love, Marry, and Divorce the Wrong Guy; Permission to Pursue Your Dreams; Permission to Get Better as I Get Older; Permission to Be Less Than Perfect; and much, much more.

Her book is sensitive, honest, inspirational, spiritual, and one of the funniest books I've EVER read. Several times I laughed out loud until I cried!!! It is such a good read. I highly recommend it!!

(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Friday, September 18, 2009


The "Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms" cookbook winner is Mirage. Congratulations!

Please email your address to me, so I can send your new book.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Surrendered Heart

Author: Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (August 1, 2009)
Christian Historical Fiction

My Review:

As the books opens, Cholera has struck in epidemic proportions, causing a panic among the citizens of Rochester.

Enter, Amanda Broadmoor, the daughter of one of the city’s most prominent families. Having aspirations of becoming a doctor, and over her parent’s objections, she begins to work for Dr. Blake Carstead in the Home for the Friendless. Although, she is a seemingly strong, healthy young woman, she becomes a victim of the dreaded disease.

However, cholera is not the only problem the Broadmoors will face. Hidden financial difficulties are also looming on the horizon. Deception, uncertainty, and division begin to take its toll on the family.

This is the first book I've read in the series, but I found it well-written, fast-paced, and passionate, all combining for a fascinating story. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

(Thank you to Bethany House for my review copy.)


Thursday, September 10, 2009

LET GO by Sheila Walsh

Author: Sheila Walsh
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 10, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0849901359

My Review:
Author Sheila Walsh heard a voice from within, one like she had not heard before. It said, “I will deliver you.” Ms. Walsh begins to ask the question, “What does it mean to be delivered.” In her new book, Let Go, Live Free of the Burdens All Women Know, she attempts with great success, I might add, to put it into perspective for all of us.

What are we to be delivered from? It is anything that is weighing us down. The weight may come from shame, bad habits, secrets, fear, loneliness, hopelessness, depression, or number of other burdens in our lives. The author shows us how to start the journey back toward wholeness.

This well-written, easy to read book, includes helpful scriptures, famous quotes, questions and a prayer at the end of each chapter, and notes at the end. Some chapters are: Living in the Past; Look at the View Ahead; The Trap of Unforgiveness; Let Go and Live in Christ’s Victory; You Are You for a Reason; Sometimes My Life Feels Like a Cliffhanger; God Will Prove It’s a Love Story; and more.

This is the first time I have read anything by this author and was very pleased at her style of writing and depth of scriptural and spiritual knowledge. The book was a delightful and inspiring read.
(Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing for my review copy.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World

Author: Jordan Christy
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Center Street (August 13, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1599951835

Book Description:

In a society driven by celebutant news and myspace profiles, women of class, style and charm are hard to come by. The Audrey and Katharines of the world continue to lose their lustre as thongs, rehab and outrageous behaviour burn up the daily headlines. But, despite appearances, guys still want a girl they can take home to their mother, employers still like to see a tailored suit and peers still respect classy conduct. So is it possible to maintain old fashioned virtues in a modern world without looking like a starchy Amish grandma? Christy shows women how in this guide to glamorous style, professional success and true love...the classy way. Full of fun assignments, notable names and real-life examples, Christy offers a new look at seemingly 'old fashioned' advice. She covers diet, speech, work ethic, friends, relationships, manners, makeup and fashionable yet modest clothing, showing modern ladies how they can be beautiful, intelligent and fun while retaining values and morals

About the Author:
Jordan Christy is a publicist for Warner Bros. Records and has worked with dozens of artists and celebrities, in addition to various TV and media outlets. She has also written for local and national fashion magazines and music trade publications. She currently lives in Nashville, TN with her husband Drew.

My Review:

Jordan Christy has touched a nerve, and it screams the need to return to a time when women were strong, confident, intelligent, and classy. Many young women in today's society have been sucked into the notion that rude behavior, a lack of manners, and fantasy shapes and sizes will lead them to happiness and success. In my opinion, there has been a dumbing down of women. With the help of this insightful book, ladies can begin to break through the "glass ceiling" and use their own example for positive change.

How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World encourages women to embrace their true selves, dress tastefully, find meaningful relationships, polish their professional image, and remember to have fun in life. It also offers helpful quizzes, antidotes, quotes, make-up suggestions, a diet related chapter, and some really great recipes.

I loved the book and read it within 24 hours. I highly recommend it.
(Thanks to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tennessee Vols Holiday Tree

As most of you know, I've decorated a tree for almost all holidays this year. I've created one for St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter, and the 4th of July.

Now.... since I'm a Big fan of UT.... I have one decorated for the Tennessee Vols Football Season. Hope you like it!!

Go Vols!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Science of Life After Death

Author: Stephen Hawley Martin
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Oaklea Press (August 15, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1892538520

My Review:

After an interesting experience in the early 1970s, I began to read every book I could find on "out of body/near death" experiences. Since then I've accumulated several dozen books on the subject.

I was recently introduced to The Science of Life After Death (New Research Shows Human Consciousness Lives On) by Stephen Hawley Martin. This new book contains vivid accounts of near death/out of body experiences that I had not previously read. It also reports on what the typical "end of life review" is like; quotes numerous researchers in this particular field; and lists additional books on the subject.

Some chapters are:
*Almost Fifty Years of Irrefutable Research
*Life Between Lives
*How Non Physical Reality Forms the Physical

For those who are searching for answers to the questions of life after death, this is a must read.
(Thanks to the author for my review copy.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Way Home Giveaway

The Hachette Book Group is allowing me to giveaway 5 copies of The Way Home by George Pelecanos. As some of you may know, this is one of the titles, President Obama, took with him to read on his last vacation.


A thriller by the popular author, George Pelecanos, is set in Washington, D.C., and spins the tale of revenge and suspense.

Drawing rules:

*Leave a comment with your email address for 1 point
*Join as a follower for 2 points
*Blog about this contest for 3 points
*Contest is only open to residents of US and Canada
*Drawing will be held on September 7th, 2009


The winner of Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie is Andrea. Congratulations! Please email your address so I can send this wonderful book.

Thanks to all who entered.

Another drawing will start later today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado

Author: Max Lucado
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 8, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0849921392

Most of us have some fear in our lives, especially in today's volatile world. There's the chance we'll lose our job, our house, our livelihood, even our family. Fear is always with us, it's the name of the game: LIFE.

Max Lucado reminds us in his new book, Fearless, that where there is fear, there cannot be peace; there cannot be happiness; there cannot be creativity; there cannot be good health; none of the good life that God wishes for each of us.

Jesus was always encouraging us to "be not afraid" because He knew the dangers of fear, and many or most of Jesus' words are noted in this book. Mr. Lucado takes these scriptures and invites us to use faith as a tool in conquering our fears.

Chapters include:
*Why Are We Afraid
*My Child Is In Danger
*I'm Sinking Fast
*There's A Dragon in My Closet
*This Brutal Planet
*Scared To Death
*What If Things Get Worse?

In the very back of the book there is a nice size discussion guide that can be used by individuals or groups, which cover three lessons:

*Examining fear
*Exposing fear
*Battling fear

I would say this is a must read for most people in today's hectic world.

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson for my review copy.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Book Review

You can find my review of the hot summer romantic mystery "I Can See You" at I Recommend Great Reads and Page Turners.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sugar Time

Author: Jane Adams
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (July 2, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1439237611

Product Description:

What if you got one last chance at both love and success but getting one meant giving up the other? Sugar Kane hasn't created a hit TV series in years but now she's older, wiser, and ready to prove she can still deliver - unless her young, scheming assistant doesn't steal her new show out from under her. Then Sugar faces a crisis that threatens her career, her health, and the unconditional love she's finally found, long after she stopped hoping she ever would. "A wise, funny novel about sex, love, money, family and friendship whose lusty, compelling heroine every woman over 50 will love and relate to as much as I did" Pepper Schwartz, author, "Prime: Adventures & Advice on Love, Sex and the Sensual Years" "This juicy, irreverent novel reclaims sex, romance and intimacy for women who are old enough to know that taking is as precious as giving." Suzanne Levine, author, "Fifty is the New Fifty".

My Review:
What a fun book for those of us 50 and over! It's not everyday someone thinks of our age group. Thank you, Jane Adams, for a refreshing, fun, and fast read! A real page turner!!
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Steelhead Fishing

Matt went fishing last night on the river and caught his first Steelhead of the year. A Steelhead is a rainbow trout that is headed back home from a trip to the ocean. It's born in fresh water and at a certain time in its life makes it's way to the Pacific. Nice fishing Matt! Congratulations!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Matt Buys His First House

Our youngest son Matt and daughter Becka (his sister and realtor)
Matt signing the papers for his first house. Girlfriend Tileena is watching.

Matt and Becka (sister/realtor) do the happy dance after signing!
Congratulations Matt!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story

Author: C. David Heyman
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Atria (July 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416556249

Book Description:
From the New York Times bestselling author of American Legacy, RFK, and A Woman Named Jackie, an in-depth look at the much talked-about -- but never fully revealed -- relationship between Jackie Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy

Few writers have immersed themselves in the world of the Kennedys as completely or successfully as C. David Heymann, whose biographies of Jackie, Robert, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Caroline together have sold millions of copies and have shed light on the private lives of the most prominent members of this iconic American family. Now he draws on more than two decades' worth of personal interviews, as well as previously unavailable reports and briefs from the Secret Service and the FBI, to create a complete picture of the complex relationship that existed between two of the most heralded figures of the twentieth century.

My Review:

The book begins with the JFK motorcade in Dallas on Friday, November 22, 1963, and takes the reader through details of the assasination, Jacqueline Kennedy's time with her dying husband, the death of the President, and the swearing in of Lyndon Johnson.

After the death of her husband, Jackie becomes depressed and begins to lean heavily on John Kennedy's brother, Bobby, who is also dealing with his own deep grief and guilt. Even though Bobby is a married man, these two devastated people find solace in each other and start a long-time physical love affair.

The author names and quotes numerous people who personally knew the two lovers and gives detailed accounts of their relationship. Jackie and Bobby were obviously two needy people who had romantic dalliances with many, even though they seemed to continually come back to each other.

As a reviewer, my job is not to make moral judgements, so after reading the book, I've come to the conclusion they were "soul mates" and deeply in love, although they knew and understood they could never have a normal life together.

The book ends with the shooting of Bobby Kennedy, his lingering in the hospital as his family deals with the end, Jackie's response, and her own death several years later.

The author seems to be a reliable source and offers extensive documentation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Author: J. Randy Taraborrelli
Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 25, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0446580821

Product Description:

When Marilyn Monroe became famous in the 1950s, the world was told that her mother was either dead or simply not a part of her life. However, that was not true. In fact, her mentally ill mother was very much present in Marilyn's world and the complex family dynamic that unfolded behind the scenes is a story that has never before been told...until now. In this groundbreaking book, Taraborrelli draws complex and sympathetic portraits of the women so influential in the actress' life, including her mother, her foster mother, and her legal guardian. He also reveals, for the first time, the shocking scope of Marilyn's own mental illness, the identity of Marilyn's father and the half-brother she never knew, and new information about her relationship with the Kennedy's-Bobby, Jack, and Pat Kennedy Lawford. Explosive, revelatory, and surprisingly moving, this is the final word on the life of one of the most fascinating and elusive icons of the 20h Century.

My review:

Marilyn Monroe was, without question, one of the most intriguingly beautiful women of the 20th century. Not only was she attractive, but she was deeply complex and had a sincere desire to become a great actress.

"The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" is an examination of her life from beginning to end, opening with an account of Marilyn's foster mother, Ida Bolender, and how Marilyn came to be a part of her family. The book then goes on to chronicle the histories of Marilyn's grandmother, Della; mother, Gladys; and finally the birth and childhood of Norma Jeane (Marilyn's birth name).

The book is not complex in it's writing style and gives the reader a clear and honest portrait of the most sensual actress of our time.

Some chapters are:
*The Voices Return
*Norma Jean in an Orphanage
*Norma Jean Marries
*Marilyn Tries To Meet Her "Father"
*Joe DiMaggio
*Marilyn's Rebellion
*Arthur Miller
*Why Marilyn Was Investigated By The FBI
*Marilyn Is Committed
*How Dare You Betray Me!
*Kennedy Style
*An Overdose Because of JFK?
*many more chapters throughout this 576 page biography.
(And there's always the question of whether Marilyn committed suicide, died of an unintended overdose, or was murdered. The book will give the reader solid clues into the mystery.)

If you are a Monroe fan or just want an interesting read, this will probably be one the most talked about books of 2009. I enjoyed the book, and found out many things about Marilyn that I had not previously read by other writers.

(Thanks to Hachette Book Group for my ARC.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kendyl Grace Loves Water

Remember our little Kendyl Grace? She was born last fall, premature, with a severe intestinal defect. Her condition was very serious for several weeks, so we prayed, and prayed, and prayed for her recovery.

This is Kendyl Grace today, enjoying her swimming pool. Her grandmother (my daughter) sent the photo this afternoon, saying, "Kendyl loves the water and just hums and coos the entire time she is in. And yells when we take her out!"

She is growing so fast, isn't she? She's our little miracle!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Julie & Julia

Author: Julie Powell
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 031604251X

Book Description:
Julie & Julia, the bestselling memoir that's "irresistible....A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef" (Philadelphia Inquirer), is now a major motion picture.
Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto.

My Review:
While visiting her parents, Julie finds an old cookbook that brings back important childhood memories. When it's time to go back to her own home, she conveniently stows it away in her luggage.
After returning home, and being unhappy with her job, Julie's husband encourages her to create a cooking blog, where she will attempt to cook and talk about every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a single year.
I really got a laugh out of her description of her first days as a new blogger. The enthusiasm, the excitement of getting that first comment, and her new "followers" being her friends and relatives, brought back so many memories of my own first days of blogging.
This is an entertaining, laugh-out-loud, well-written book that is not only the story about Julie, but it also gives glimpses into the life of the legendary, Julia Child.
At the end of the book the reader will find a study guide with questions and answers which are well suited for reading groups. There's even a recipe for Valentine's Day Liver for Two (Yummy! LOL).
I have also reviewed this on Amazon. If it has been helpful, please give me a "yes" vote under reviews.
(Thanks to Hackette Book Group for my review copy.)