Aug 29, 2009

Want To Win A New Bookcase? Here's How...

BOOKIN' WITH BINGO is having an EXTRAVEGANT BINGO BOOKCASE GIVEAWAY sponsored by CSN STORES who sell everything from fireplaces to office furniture. Stop by and enter by 6 PM, EST on September 26th.

All the details are there along with pictures of the bookcase! Don't be left out of this great giveaway!

Good Luck!

Aug 27, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Fluff

This week's BTT question is . . .

What's the lightest, most 'fluff' book you've read recently?

Although I prefer to read books with more serious content, I have read some lighter fiction recently. A few months ago, I read BEACH TRIP by Cathy Holton and THE FIXER UPPER by Mary Kay Andrews. Although I enjoyed both books and they did have very good storylines, I still consider than lighter fiction, although I hesitate to call them 'fluff'. Actually, one of the books I'm reading now, DIAL EMMY FOR MURDER by Eileen Davidson is definitely a 'fluff' mystery. Ms. Davidson, as some of you may know, is a long time actress on the daytime soap, The Young and the Restless, which I've watched for years. Since I'm a fan of the show, I was happy to accept her book for review when asked by AuthorsOnTheWeb. That said, it isn't what I typically read and maybe that's why I'm kind of slow getting through it.

Have you read any 'fluff fiction' lately? For more BTT responses or to participate, click here.

Aug 20, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Best

Today's BTT question . . .

What's the best book you've read recently?

We should've all seen this one coming considering last week's question of recent worst! To answer, I'm considering books I've read so far this year. One immediately pops into my mind and that is THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield. To say I loved this book is an understatement. Not only did the story completely suck me in but the writing was beautiful! I loved the Gothic tone of the book and I love books about books! Add to that the unforgettable characters and you have a thoroughly entertaining read. if you'd like to read my complete review click here.

Another 'best' for me so far this year is THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. I love southern fiction and this book is a perfect example of why. This story about one privedged white woman in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi working together in secret with these black women to tell the true stories of what it is really like to work as maids and nannies for white families is gutsy, eye opening and even heartbreaking. They were putting their lives in their hands by telling these stories and the fear was real. I was glued to this book, a wonderful debut nove!. My review is here if you'd like to read it.
So those are two of the best books I've read recently. What's your recent best? For more BTT answers or to play along, click here!

Aug 16, 2009

Musing Mondays: Movies

Today's musing is about movies . . .

How do you react to movies made of your favorite books (or even not-so-favorite books)? Do you look forward to seeing them or avoid them? Do you like to have read the book before seeing the movie?

My response:

Generally, when I hear that a movie is being made of a book I've already read and loved, I'm interested and excited about it. It's the idea of the characters I know from the book being brought to life that excites me. However, I've been disappointed more times than not. I want it to be just like the book - but it seldom is. One example is John Grisham's THE FIRM. I absolutely devoured that book when it came out and when I heard it was going to be movie I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the movie was just OK for me. I felt there was so much left out that it just didn't work for me. I know it's impossible to put everything from a book on the big screen, but sometimes screen adaptations just don't work. It was a huge hit at the box office, so I realize I'm probably in the minority of people who didn't like it. That said, there is an exception to this - LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. Back in 1990,when I heard the movie version was going to be on TV at the end of the week, I hadn't read the book yet. I was working at a nail salon at the time and had a full appointment book for the whole week, but I ran to the grocery store down the sidewalk on my break, grabbed a paperback copy (900+ pages) and read it in four days! I've never read so hard in my life! To my delight, the movie did the book justice. It didn't hurt that two of my favorite actors (Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones) starred in it. More recently, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES movie was a pleasant surprise for me. I loved that movie, too. Beyond that, not many others come to mind. For some reason, the movies come across as corny to me if I've already read the book. I don't understand why, but they just do. There is one movie-from-a-book that I will never watch and that is THE KITE RUNNER. I loved that book so much and I don't want a mediocre movie version to ruin the images and memories I have etched in my mind from that amazing book.

If I haven't yet read the book, I'm not as excited about it and if I'm planning to read the book, I will put off seeing the film version until afterwards. I'm not a big movie watcher like I used to be, so this isn't really a problem for me.

I'm sure there are other good movies made from books, but this is just my opinion and I realize I may be too critical. How do you feel about books made into movies? Do you avoid ar attend? Visit Rebecca at Just One More Page for more Mondays Musings.

The Sunday Salon: Book Brunch

I thought I'd do something a little different today. I want to share a recipe that I made the other day that is perfect for a brunch and since Sundays are great brunch days, this seemed to me the right time to introduce y'all to it. It also fits in well with the book I'm reading this week by Karen Weinreb called THE SUMMER KITCHEN.

This is the story of Nora Banks, a mother of three living in the exclusive neighborhood of Bedford, New York. When her husband is convicted of white collar crimes, Nora and her kids not only face losing everything they have, but also learn that life can be turned upside down in an instant and you learn who your friends are very quickly, especially in Bedford. Nora has always had a passion for baking and after her husband's arrest, she must do whatever it takes to support her family. So she decides to do what she knows and starts her own baking business. Along the way, Nora learns a lot about herself and what is really important in life.

I'm just starting this book, but I can already tell I'm going to like Nora. She isn't like the other Bedford wives. Another reason I like her is that she loves books! You have to appreciate that, right? I look forward to diving into this book later today. After the lull I've had in my reading, I'm happy to report this book is helping me out of it! Yay!

Now on to that recipe I promised you. I actually saw this dish being made on Ellie Krieger's show on The Food Network, but I've changed it up a bit to suit me. That's what I love about cooking - there is no right or wrong way to do it. If you like it, then you did it right! OK, here goes . . .

Cheddar Broccoli Frittata
  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • Chopped red onion (I used half of a small onion)
  • 3 or 4 eggs depending on the size
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
I use an 8" stainless skillet but you can adjust this recipe for larger servings too. (I spray my skillet with Olive Oil cooking spray to prevent sticking). Add onions to hot olive oil and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, crack the eggs into a bowl, season well with salt and pepper and add a splash of milk for fluffy eggs. Whisk well. Add the steamed broccoli to the skillet and stir. Pour the eggs over the onions and broccoli. The eggs should almost cover the veggies. Let it cook until the eggs are firm around the edge but still a bit liquidy in the center. While that is cooking, turn your broiler on so it can heat up. Once the eggs have almost cooked through, sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until the center is done and the cheese is completely melted.

I love using my smaller skillet for this recipe because it's perfect for one or two servings AND it fits perfectly in my toaster oven to broil. (Some of you may remember my house was struck by lightening twice last summer and I'm still without a full size oven!) My toaster oven saves the day all the time!

I found this to be such a simple and tasty recipe. I had my own little brunch when I made this and I even splurged and had a glass of chilled Moscato wine with a few peach slices with it! Yum! Like I said, you can adjust the ingredients for more servings. If you'd like to see the original recipe that Ellie Krieger made, click here. The thing about frittatas is that you can make them with so many different ingredients. And it can even be eaten at room temperature! It's the perfect brunch food!

Thanks for stopping by today and for letting me share some food ideas with you. If you try this recipe let me know how you liked it! Now I'm off to read more of THE SUMMER KITCHEN. Enjoy your Sunday!

Aug 14, 2009

Fifteen Books That Have Stayed With Me

You may have seen this fun book meme floating around the blogs, facebook and other social networking sites. It's my understanding that you're not supposed to take a long time to come up with your list. Off the top of my head, here's the fifteen books that, for one reason or another made an impression on me and stuck with me. it doesn't mean they all are my favorites, just that they are memorable to me. Here they are, obviously, in no particular order.

Start time - 2:59 PM
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Engalls Wilder
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Bible
  • Where Is Joe Merchant? by Jimmy Buffet (?? Don't know why, but this book was a great escape!!)
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Non-Fiction)
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying The West From Within by Bruce Bawer (Non-Fiction)
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Finish Time - 3:09 PM

If you'd like to participate, or have participated in this meme, leave a comment with the link and I'll include it in mine. It's interesting to see the different answers eveyone has. What books have stayed with you?

Aug 13, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Worst

Today's BTT - What's the worst book you've read recently?

Although I wouldn't necessarily say this book is 'the worst', I would say that it is a book I enjoyed the least. The book is OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson. Many other readers have enjoyed this book very much, however, I just never felt a connection and I thought the story itself was sluggish. Honestly, I had to push myself to finish it. I'm not sure if it was the translation from Norwegian to English or if it was simply the story for me.

Typically, if I'm not enjoying a book, I'll stop reading it, so there aren't many books that I would say were the worst. For more answers to this BTT question, click here.

Aug 10, 2009

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

After a few weeks of a reading slump and abandoning one book after nearly 100 pages, I'm looking forward to a fresh start. I haven't finished a book in two weeks, but last week I did post my review of Michelle Richmond's NO ONE YOU KNOW. [Review here].

This week I'm starting a book I received last week called THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb. Here's a blurb from Amazon:

When Nora Banks goes to answer the doorbell early one November 1st, she thinks it must be a group of teen pranksters still out trick-or-treating. But it's no prank - it's the Feds, who have come to arrest her husband Evan for a white collar crime. Nora's enviable, privileged life in the eighteenth-century house she'd quit her job to renovate to museum quality perfection, is upended in an instant.

The Bedford wives close ranks against Nora and her children. Nora's only support comes from her children's nanny, Beatriz. The two women bond to raise the boys as smoothly as possible, while Nora goes back to work. Baking has always been her biggest passion, so she launches a business of her own, The Summer Kitchen. Tempted by the offer of an affair by one of the local husbands and thwarted by an alpha wife who actively tries to shut down her business, Nora has to reach into reserves she didn't know she had to support her family and change her way of thinking about life, family, money and romance.

Apparently, the story is based closely on the author's personal experiences. Should be interesting reading!

Another book I'm planning to read this week is FROZEN TEARS by Mary Ann MacAfee. This book is described as 'a mystical, contemporary, Alaskan adventure tale'. Here's a bit more from Amazon:

In Alaska's stunning, but brutal interior, where white and native cultures clash, Kale Weaver struggles to survive a devastating tragedy that becomes the genesis for her allegiance to wolves and the circumstances making her the target of a primitive superstition.

This book caught my eye for a number of reasons. Although I've alwasy admired the area, I've never read any books about Alaska, it's people and their culture. The story deals with environmental and cultural issues along with traditions of the native people. This will be a definite learning experience that I'm looking forward to. Besides, it's so hot outside that a book taking place in Alaska sounds wonderful right about now!

So that's my plan for the week. What books are you reading?

Aug 9, 2009

The Sunday Salon: 8.9

Happy Sunday book lovers! Today is the beginning of a new week and new books! The last few weeks I've found myself in a sort of slump. I read some really good books then all at once I just stopped. I didn't pick up a book for one solid week and barely read anything last week. That is just not like me. One reason might be that the book I had started reading just wasn't doing it for me. It was THE NIGHT GARDENER by George Pelecanos. I normally don't do this, but after almost 100 pages, I quit reading it. I just couldn't connect with the characters or the story. Maybe I'll pick it up again one day, but for now I'm moving on.

Even though I didn't read last week, I did manage to post my review of NO ONE YOU KNOW by Michelle Richmond. You can find that review here. I got three books in the mail last week that I'm excited about, so I'm hoping this slump is over. I also made a trip to the used bookstore and found a copy of THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I recently became aware of this book through Book Chatter and Other Stuff and I feel pretty lucky to have found a used copy so easily!

For today, when I get back from church I'm cracking open one of the new books that arrived last week. I'll have more details on them in tomorrow's post but for now I have to run and get ready. I'm already feeling like I'm getting back in my groove - I think this is going to be a great reading week!

Aug 6, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Serious

Today's BTT question is:

What's the most serious book you've read recently?

This one is easy for me. Back in May I received an advanced copy of THE LAST BRIDGE by Teri Coyne. That is definitely the most serious book I've read in the last several months. It's a debut novel that deals with alcoholism and abuse. The writing was bold and intense and the subjeect matter was difficult, however, I still enjoyed reading it. I'm the type of reader who doesn't shy away from that sort of book. That said, I usually read something completely different afterwards. THE LAST BRIDGE was just released a few weeks ago, so it is now available to everyone. If you'd like to read my review you can find it here.

What's the most serious book you've read lately?

Aug 5, 2009

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

There are so many things I liked about this book! I'd been wanting to read it for so long and I was not disappointed at all. If you haven't yet read this book, don't worry, I haven't given anything away in my review.

NO ONE YOU KNOW is the story of Ellie Enderlin, a coffee buyer living in San Fransisco, who has never been able to come to terms with the murder of her older sister, Lila, twenty years earlier. Lila was a brilliant mathematician studying at Stanford with a promising future ahead of her when she was brutally murdered and left in the woods. There were few clues for the police to follow and since Lila led such a private life, it was nearly impossible to comprehend who would do this to her.

Ellie, who was also in college when her sister was killed, didn't share the gift of genius her sister had and also had no idea the direction her life would take her. With her parents basically shutting down after the murder, Ellie began a friendship with her literature professor, Andrew Thorpe. Over a matter of months, Ellie shared things with Professor Thorpe she never thought she'd share with anyone. She felt lucky to have found such a friend that she could bare her soul to.

Eighteen months after the murder, Ellie and her family were devastated to learn that this man who had been invited into their home and had witnessed their grief first hand, was writing a book about Lila's murder. Ellie, feeling completely responsible, begged Thorpe not to publish the book, to no avail. This act by a person she trusted, left Ellie feeling even more unsure of herself and her future. But Thorpe took the story one step further and actually named a person in Lila's life as the murderer, even though he had never been charged. The book became a best seller and it was very easy for the public to believe what Thorpe wrote.

Twenty years later, while on a coffee buying trip to Nicaragua, Ellie runs into the man she always assumed had killed her sister. This chance meeting brings back all of the questions and feelings that were buried inside her. In the years since the murder, she began to see herself as the flailing and troubled sister of the murdered genius - exactly how Thorpe portrayed her in his now famous book. Those labels molded Ellie's life and even she began to believe that was who she was.

Like I mentioned earlier, there are several things I enjoyed about this wonderful book. Most importantly for me, the storyline was fantastic. I love stories about sisters and I felt the relationship between Ellie and Lila was so believable and original. Believe me, it is completely possible for two sisters to be polar opposites yet share a bond. Michelle Richmond's writing made the story even better. Even though this is a mystery, there were no cliff-hangers or nail biting moments, only perfect prose that allowed the story to unfold as if you were living it right alongside Ellie. As she tells the story and relives memories of times she and her sister shared, you get to know Lila, even though she was already dead when the story began.

Richmond's characters also make this book stand out. The fact that some of them are flawed is what lends believability to it. Through Ellie's memories, I was left with a very vivid picture of who Lila was. And even though Professor Thorpe was not such a nice guy, I found myself feeling sorry for him yet dispising him other times. She did a wonderful job of taking a range of personalities and creating a truly believable story.

I also loved that the story took place in San Fransisco. Having never been to this city, it was almost like being on a tour. I realize now that it is a place I definitely want to visit. Making Ellie a coffee bean buyer was a great idea as well! I LOVE coffee and it was so interesting learning a little about that process too. (I even jotted down certain things and Googled them to find out more. - I know, I'm such a geek!) Even though I suck at math, I still managed to enjoy the mathematical side of the story. All of these reasons I've mentioned are why I loved this book so much.

Michelle Richmond is also the author of The New York Times Best Seller, THE YEAR OF FOG, which I have sitting on my shelf waiting for me. I have no doubt I will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed NO ONE YOU KNOW. Ms. Richmond's website is full of information, including reading group guides for book clubs, excerpts from the book and opportunities to purchase signed copies along with the latest news on her writing career. In case you couldn't tell, NO ONE YOU KNOW is easily one of my favorites books!

Author: Michelle Richmond
Authors Website:
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: June 2008
Pages: 320
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommend!!!)