Thursday, July 28, 2011

Student's Vegetarian Cookbook for Dummies

Student's Vegetarian Cookbook for Dummies

Since students now a day think that vegetarianism means meals should consist of fruit based candies and energy drinks, I thought it was about time I armed myself with a few facts and therefore be prepared for the next uninformed teen that I meet.

Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook for Dummies is very informative with easy to understand chapters and icons, the reader is embarking on a learning experience that makes sense and will lead you down the right path for proper nutrition.

Though the information about how many grams of this and how many servings of that are fine, unless you are a diehard student, you aren’t going to pay attention, but for us mom types, it is fascinating stuff you don’t always commit to memory. Students want this spelled out in quick easy to follow steps, so will probably skip over the knowledge part and head right for the recipes. This is what I did on my first reading.

The recipes look very good, they are simple easy to make meals and snacks using easy to find ingredients and with the use of minimal kitchen appliances and tools there is no excuse for not eating a healthy vegetarian meal.

With this book, there is no excuse for not getting it right. Just pop it open then next time that you think that gummy bears and a monster will keep you on the vegetarian path.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

Dead and Berried

Karen MacInerney

Chapter 1

I had gotten used to nighttime noises.

When you live in a 150-year-old inn, you do. Guests bang around in their rooms, the pipes thump and clank in the walls, and the wind sometimes moans as it slithers past the eaves.

But I’d never heard anything from the attic before.

Full Description:

Developers have returned to Cranberry Island. This time, they're planning to wipe out a natural cranberry bog, along with the island's namesake berries, to build a luxury subdivision. Natalie Barnes isn't sweet on the idea of commercial interests souring their cozy oasis, but the single innkeeper has other problems on her plate: a withering relationship with her best friend Charlene, the sudden appearance of her ex-fiancé with a tempting proposal, and eerie bumps in the night suggesting the Gray Whale Inn is haunted. Worst of all, there's a killer on the loose, picking off people like ripe fruit.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Breaking Silence

Breaking Silence

Linda Castillo

There seems to be a growing trend in reading the last page or three of a book so you know what is coming and which characters to root for. Well, do not do it with this book!! Linda Castillo has a knack for leading the reader down a fascinating trail and whacking you upside the head with a zinger of an ending, so if you want to cheat and not take the time with this book, you will be disappointing yourself and not getting the full intensity of Ms Castillo’s writing.

Once again, we are back in Painters Mill where there has been a recent breakout of hate crimes again the Amish. Chief Kate Burkholder is incensed. Who would want to do these terrible acts on the gentle Amish people? When in the midst of investigating one crime, she is called to the seemingly accidental deaths at the Slaybaugh farm. Soddy and Rachael have had problems in the past with manure maintenance so when they and Mr. Slaybaugh’s brother are found dead, apparently overcome by methane gas, Kate’s heart goes out to the four-orphaned children.

Soon things are not adding up and Kate has a couple of questions for the family and the close-knit community. It is not easy being a female chief of police when the residents close ranks and continually reminds you that you are no longer a member of their community, but Kate is determined to see this unfortunate situation to the end. No matter which end it leads her to.

Ms Castillo mesmerizes me with her books. I eagerly await the next arrival and I am drawn in from the first paragraph. Of course with any series, I suggest that you start at the beginning to get the full picture of who Kate Burkholder is and how she interrelates with her staff and agent John Tomasetti. Whereas the investigations can stand on their own, the interpersonal relations are developed with each book and you get a fuller richer picture of Painters Mill and their police department.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir

My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir
Noelle Hancock

I love books called memoirs because there really does not need to be much fact in them. They can be told in a “this is my story and I’m sticking to it" approach which I think is useful with Noelle Hancock’s memoir concerning her “Year of Fear”.

Noelle finds herself facing down her 30th birthday and has found that she has closed herself off. Her job as a blogger on an entertainment platform has left her more concerned about other people’s lives then where she is going with her own.

One day she gets a call that her job is no longer and she sees a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

That sets the whole year in motion.

That is where my problem with this mentality began. A single twenty-nine year old woman with no children, a college degree, money in the bank and she needs to find herself. Really? Where has she been? Well, apparently it gets her on her analyst’s couch trying to figure out where to go from here.

What does any self-indulged woman do – shark diving, fighter pilot lessons, tap dancing stand-up comedy, running naked down a hall, trapeze artist, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Well of course, why didn’t we all think of that?

I can appreciate her trying to shake things up a bit, but for goodness sakes, she is only in her woman infancy. What is she going to do when she is staring down fifty? Indy Drive? Lead Ballerina? Astronaut? Neurosurgeon?

Ms Hancock takes the reader along as she tries to face down her fears, including her addiction to sleeping pills. There are some very funny parts, not sure if they really happened that way or were embellished for the sake of a good story, but the readers do find themselves wondering what this woman will do next.

Using Eleanor Roosevelt as a mentor is a unique way of looking at your situation, just think that I should have read Eleanor’s books instead of this one. I can see how it would be inspiring for some, but for those of us that are way past our 30th birthday, will be annoyed by Noelle’s constant need for acceptance and wondering if she will ever be good enough. Eleanor lived it and made it through -maybe that just takes time and not fear inducing feats - and what older women need as an inspiration.

I rarely comment on editing in a book, don’t know if my grammar skills are good enough to point out the faults of others, but there are a couple tense problems that stop a reader in their flow. Also, just need to let you know that on page 260 (hardback) you do not urinate out of that part of your body.

Overall, would I recommend this book? Possibly, but not for anyone over 30. This book was not been written for my demographic. If you are under 30, you will love it. If you are on the downhill side of that – I recommend the works of the master herself – Ms. Eleanor Roosevelt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

Breaking Silence
Linda Castillo


The dogs were going to be a problem.

He’d driven by the place twice in the last week, headlights off, windows down, looking, listening. Planning. He’d heard them barking from their pens. Fuckin’ beagles. He could see the tops of the chain-link kennels from the road. At least a half dozen of them. The old lady had a whole herd of flea-bitten, barking mutts. But then, that’s what dirty old bitches did. Collected dirty animals. Lived like a pig herself. If she thought dogs would keep them from doing what needed to be done, she had something else coming.

Chapter 1

The rain started at midnight. The wind began a short time later, yanking the last of the leaves from the maple and sycamore trees and sending them skittering along Main Street like dry, frightened crustaceans. With the temperature dropping five degrees an hour and a cold front barreling in from the north, it would be snowing by morning.

Full Description:

The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure

Alice Kimberly

I loved how this story began – the 1940’s feel with dames, Doll Face, and gams. The cozy genre rarely gives this type of atmosphere and the hard-boiled detective flare is a refreshing start to a new-to-me series.

Penelope Thorton-McClure (Pen to her friends) decides to move to Qunidicott, Rhode Island to help her aunt keep open a small and not very profitable family bookstore. With the small inheritance from her recently deceased husband, Pen and her young son move to this out of the way hamlet in hopes of starting over and getting as far away from the wealthy and annoying McClure family as she can.

“Now I was a full fledged co-owner of my own failing business”

Deciding that her money would be best used by expanding the bookshop into the area next door, Penelope does not realize that she has awoken a local ghost. Actually, this spirit is Jack Sheppard a 1940’s detective that newly murdered author Timothy Brennan has been using as his inspiration for a fading book series.

“Where’s a psychotic delusion of a ghostly detective when you really need one?”

After the mysterious death of Mr. Brennan, Pen starts to hear voices, not just any voice, the voice of Jack Sheppard. It would be so nice if others could hear him, but of course it is only Pen and with Jack’s help, they set off to find the killer of the annoying Mr. Brennan.

Now, Buy the Book, is overwhelmed with the rabid fans of the recently departed author and all the weirdo’s and crackpot are filling the store with their own illusions of the dead and if they can make a buck or two in doing so, then let the fun times begin.
“How nice, I thought, to be informed that I was mentally unstable by a woman who believes in elves and fairies”.

With the help of the disembodied voice, Pen puts together the wherefores of the mystery that surrounds them and with a small cast brings the events leading up to the murder to focus and therefore solving the crime in the brink of time to save her bookstore and to sell out all remaining copies of the dead man’s books.

The “why” of the mystery was easy to figure out, the how was unique, but the humor of 1940’s Jack is what makes this book and will bring me back to the subsequent books in the series.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Quickening

The Quickening

Michelle Hoover

This is not going to be one of those books that you run to for an uplifting experience, Enidina (Eddie) Current and Mary Morrow are two very different women living quiet desperate lives from 1913 to 1950. Being farm wives and living far from town, they are the only neighbor that the other has and you could not find any two different people.

I found myself liking one character more than the other, not sure if that was the writer intention, but Eddie’s character was so much more for me then just a character in a book. She became real and her loves and her passions would just jump off the page and talk to me in a way that a character has not in a very long time.

Mary on the other hand was too tense. She was not cut out to be a farm wife and you could tell from the moment that she first spoke that she was not going to be, for me, a likeable character. Coming from a well to do family and having been run out of town as a young girl, Mary continued to have an edge that by the end of the book might not have been worn smooth.

In alternating chapters, Mary and Enidina tell their stories and how their lives, from the moment they met, would intertwine. Each takes the hard knocks differently, from new marriages, to childbirth, to the great depression, to the death of loved ones; these two women have been through it all and come out bruised and battered in a way that will leave an indelible mark on the reader.

Though I would not call this a depressing book, at the same time, I would not call it a book of hope. These are hard times that the women have lived through and each has come out more shattered than whole.

A memorable story has been told, a story that will resonate and will honor the physical and emotional hardships that women have faced and survived.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Bone House

The Bone House

Brian Freeman

For me, this book read more like a travelogue then a suspenseful murder mystery. The way Brian Freeman describes the nuance of Door County, Wisconsin, I found myself Googling the area instead of paying close attention to the story at hand. I do not know if this was his intention, but I think I can describe the area better than I can the plot and outcome of this book. Which might be a better thing since the atmosphere is much better than the storyline.

There are many characters introduced in this story and you might have to go back and reread parts to keep everyone straight. As a quick outline, you will have to know that Glory Fisher witnessed a crime several years before, her sister Tressa inadvertently caused Mark Bradley to lose his teaching job, Mark’s wife Hilary believes her husband can do no evil and Glory is found dead on a beach, which of course makes Mark the number one suspect.

I know, Cliff Notes would be helpful about now.

Cab Bolton of the Criminal Investigative Division of the Naples Police Bureau is called into investigate the whole confused mess – not sure if this character is completely convincing, but there is enough side story thrown in to make him an interestingly flawed character.

Well, back to the story. Apparently, a horrendous crime that Glory witnessed years before is coming back to haunt her and Mr. Freeman has managed to throw the whole mess at the wall in hopes that something will stick and the reader will follow him down yet another rabbit hole.

Overall, the story is a muddled confusion and the reader is left with a bit of whiplash as to which storyline to follow; how it will all tie together - and is it really that important that Cab’s mother is a famous actress and once, a while back, Cab was involved with a woman that messed with his head so badly that there was only one way to end their relationship.

Maybe Brian Freeman is trying to get a new series started by trying to throw multiple angles at the reader, but for an experienced writer, he should know better. Do not put it all out there in the first book; let the reader work for it over a couple of volumes.

Of course, I will continue with the Brian Freeman books, I love Jonathan Stride and Serena; I just will have to be convinced to revisit Cab Bolton.