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.)