Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Drinkwater by Eric Hopkins

From the Publisher

Drinkwater was originally an English word given to someone who abstains from drinking alcohol. As a family name it represents sobriety, dignity and self-control.
Nineteen-year-old Amber Drinkwater knows that when life presents hardships, a responsible person meets them fairly, with a clear head and the willingness to work. her plans to start a new life in Toronto with her brother Guy are interrupted when their uncle fails to meet them at the train station, but she resolves to abide until he tu
rns up--and when it seems their caretaker is gone for good, she accepts it as an unexpected but timely call to independence and adult responsibility, in spite of her dearth of money or friends in the city.
The sprawling city of Toronto represents a shining opportunity for Amber to prove herself through an old code of grim endurance and bold resignation, but she will find her simple work ethic is no match for its modern towers, dark streets and disjointed neighbourhoods. Drinkwater is a provocative story that blurs the borders between teenage empowerment and helplessness, between experience and naivety, and between optimism and blind hope.

My Thoughts

Obtained through Mini Book Expo I picked this book because it was set in Toronto. I am a real home-grown girl.
Throughout the book the reason for Amber and Guy to be their own is just hinted at. Suddenly they are alone without parents and nobody is really that invested in helping and providing for them. Somehow they must muddle through the preparations for their life and live it without a safety net and nowhere is this more evident than when they arrive in Toronto and their uncle is supposed to be collecting them from Union Station but he never shows up.
They have no place to go and nobody to call in Toronto to help them. I think that Amber thought she could provide for the two of them but in reality a couple of teens on their own without a lot of money and their luggage in tow become lost like so much dross blowing around the city.
They are unable to even find basic accommodation for themselves and spend days eating nothing more than carbs at local donut and coffee places.
Amber also showed her age and inexperience by her pride. She had thought that she was old enough to care for them both but in reality a grown and experienced adult would be willing to admit when they didn't have any options and would use any and all resources to help themselves and their loved ones.
Well written...I could feel the despair!
I give this a 4 out of 5 stars.
I loved this book and was riveted throughout.

The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari

Product Description
Anna Norton used to be fat. Correction: Anna Norton used to be a fat, nerdy, overeater with low self esteem. When she moves from suburban Ohio to Manhattan at age 23, her life does a total 180. With guidance from her boss, an unlikely Fairy Godmother in the form of a chic caterer and excellent cook, Anna loses all the weight and--though still not quite Kate Moss--finally drops her inferiority complex, brushes the crumbs off her skirt, and enters the world of feeling good, looking good, and...finally having sex.

When Anna meets Ben, the man of her dreams (and of every other person's dreams who isn't blind) she almost can't believe she is dating the Ken Doll. Deep down, she is still the chubby nerd who wrote in a diary called Hello Fatty. But not everything is perfect; her hot boyfriend is a huge flirt, and every leggy blond who crosses his path is a threat to Anna. She just can't escape the feeling that Ben is way out of her league and that everyone thinks she is dating up and he's dating down. It gets so bad, she decides she will do anything to make these women go away.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. Not sure if it had anything to do with being an overweight ie. fatty... nerd myself throughout my formative years and being teased and bullied but this book felt like retribution on my behalf! What made this book so eminently readable for me was how real Anna and her family were. I could absolutely picture them together and all the family conversations...in jokes and embarrassing family-speak with each other. What was also classic was remembering yet again that no matter how old we become we never stop being somebody's baby...their child.
I could also picture how insecure Anna would be about dating such a "god" as Ben after being the aforementioned fat-girl but I followed every step of the 'Makedown' with horror and felt this way through to it's inevitable conclusion. Despite her incredible metamorphosis into a girl in control of her life...Anna needed to grow into believing in herself and though the story turned her life into a 'train-wreck'...she came out this experience stronger yet more resilient.
Good read!
I give this a 4 out of 5 stars.

No Time for Goodbye By Linwood Barclay

The house was deathly quiet. That was the first sign that something was terribly wrong. Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke that morning to find herself alone. Her family—mother, father, and brother—had vanished without a word, without a note, without a trace. Twenty-five years later, Cynthia is still looking for answers. Now she is about to learn the devastating truth.

From critically acclaimed author Linwood Barclay comes a new suspense thriller that strikes to the core of our most primal fear. What if you woke one day to find your entire life had changed? If everyone you loved had disappeared overnight without so much as a chance to ask why?

My Thoughts

I first encountered Linwood Barclay when my family and I were discussing different authors to try out. My husband and my mother in law had heard of Linwood Barclay and I was eager to try his books out. I have been so blessed lately with new and amazing books to read that I believe that my tastes have fined down. In other words...the bar has been raised. I enjoy a good thriller so I couldn't wait to tuck into this story.
Cynthia is a married mother of one, Grace (8), who enjoys a satisfying relationship with her schoolteacher husband. She is haunted though by an unsolved mystery from 25 years in her past when her parents and brother disappeared one night after she had gone to sleep. Cynthia being only 14 at the time had been dragged home by her irate father and subsequently passed out after arriving home drunk from her date with the 'bad boy' of town.
She woke up the next morning to find her entire family had disappeared without any sign of what had happened.
I found the book to be a good read. I enjoyed most of the story but I did find that parts of it didn't ring true. While it was obvious to see Cynthia becoming paranoid around the safety of her daughter what I did find incredible was that she wasn't completely obsessed with her child's safety all the way through. Until some very odd things started happening Cynthia didn't seem to be as overwrought as I would imagine a woman with her past would be.
Funnily enough...I enjoyed the bits of back story about her husband's relationship with a difficult student more than I enjoyed the main story.
I give this a 3 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Picture of happier times....1994
A lovely memory!

Wishing you all a loving and wonderful holiday!


Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Fill-in


1. I must __feel at peace_and travel to exotic lands__ before I die.

2. You can't stop _life ____.

3. I wish I never had to buy _pain reliever ..... ever____ again.

4. _Thinking outside of the box____ has helped me change my life.

5. I know the song _American Pie____ by heart. ( Bye Bye Miss American Pie....drove my chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.....)

6. If I weren't so afraid, I would _join a choir____.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dreaming_____, tomorrow my plans include _shopping____ and Sunday, I want to _read and blog____!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst


What do a suburban mom, her troubled daughter, divorced brothers, former child stars, born-again Christians, and young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on LOST AND FOUND, the daring new reality show. In teams of two, they will race across the globe --- from Egypt to England, from Japan to Sweden --- to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play.

Yet what started as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. The question now is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost.

My Thoughts

What an incredible idea for a story and what a story!
Set up along the lines of The Amazing Race but with the twist of collecting found objects and carrying them with you for the rest of the journey...this includes a parrot, sequins and a ski pole.
The underlying tale speaks to family angst and an unusual mix of secrets with sexual orientation. The teams are each unique and some are more sympathetic than others and you find yourself rooting for them all through the race.
The mother and daughter team of Laura and Cassie are struggling with a family secret that is threatening to split their tiny family asunder while the young married couple Justin and Abby are struggling with their sexuality. There are two ex-child stars looking to rekindle their fame and a pair of brothers that are easy to like but also overlook.
The end of the game is uncertain as each team seems to bring with it it's own agenda and it isn't all about winning the race even though 1 million dollars is certainly compelling.
I enjoyed it immensely and found all the characters quite likable and the book very readable.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Having a Hard Time

I'm not sure if anyone reads my blog and might be wondering where I have disappeared to....I was quite prolific at one time...... but we are coming up to Christmas and I am just barely able to make it out of bed to go to work.
Christmas is a family time and we are missing our Nicky. Both of my children were the brightest souls around and people felt drawn to them because of their warmth and sensitivity.
I'm sorry but living without one of them right now feels absolutely unbearable.

I have two weeks off over the holidays and I plan on getting back to my reviews. I love it after all...I am still reading...just not able to put fingers to keyboard.

I hope that your holidays are EXACTLY the way that you wish them to be...........



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rachel's Holiday by Marion Keyes


The fast lane is much too slow for Rachel Walsh. And Manhattan is the perfect place for a young Irish female to overdo everything. But Rachel's love of a good time is about to land her in the emergency room. It will also cost her a job and the boyfriend she adores.When her loving family hustles her back home and checks her into Ireland's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic, Rachel is hopeful. Perhaps it will be lovely -- spa treatments, celebrities, that kind of thing. Instead, she finds a lot of group therapy, which leads her, against her will, to some important self-knowledge. She will also find something that all women like herself fear: a man who might actually be good for her.

My Thoughts

Everytime I pick up a book written by Marion Keyes I have to change my mind about my favourite book. This time I am in love with Rachel's Holiday.
Rachel...a cunning, man-crazy, cocaine snorting heroine is so likeable that she just jumps out of the book and takes you by the hand and becomes your best friend immediately.
You know that she is completely messed up but she is so much fun that her little quirks seem to slip by you.
She steals from her friends though....calls in sick most of the time and is embarrassed by her boyfriend Luke's retro-rocker look so you know that she has some work to do but ...you just know that she is this wonderful vulnerable little girl underneath all the bravado.
This book is a wonderful glimpse of someone who is trying to mess up their life because they truly believe themself unworthy of a happy ending.
You find yourself rooting for Rachel because she deserves to feel some peace and find a place for herself.
The Walsh family again show themselves to be this unusual raunchy family of which Rachel is the forgotten middle child. She doesn't believe good things for herself but eventually accepts her family's caring and regard to help her along the path of beating her addiction.
I love Rachel!
This is a 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Fill-in

1. Snow _means cold and dead____.

2. I'm looking forward to _being off for 2 weeks at Christmas____.

3. _Chocolate____ is the best comfort food_____ ever!

4. One of my favorite old tv shows is _Buffy The vampire Slayer____.

5. I'm done with _trying to make people like me____.

6. The most enjoyable thing around the holidays is _getting presents and the food____.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _relaxing with Paul and Madeleine____, tomorrow my plans include _ planning our Christmas decorations____ and Sunday, I want to _go out for breakfast with Paul's parents____!

Blog Tour of Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter


Full Description

He got the second home and the Porsche. She got the kids and a broken heart. Now Jackie, post-divorce and heading toward the big four-oh, is on vacation in sunny Hawaii and staring down her upcoming birthday-alone. But not for long. She's soon falling for Kai, her gorgeous, much younger surf instructor, and the wild passionate fling they have becomes the biggest surprise of Jackie's life.

Back home in Seattle, Jackie has to struggle with single parenthood...and memories of Kai. He hasn't forgotten her. Yet thousands of miles of ocean-not to mention an age difference that feels even wider-separate them. And, of course, her friends disapprove. When a choice must be made, can she, will she risk everything for her chance at happiness

Visit all sites on the blog tour to experience Hawaii from

Flirting With Forty

My Friend Amy

Bermudaonion's Weblog

Book Critiques
Sharon Loves Books and Cats
The Tome Traveller
The Printed Page
A Bookworm's World
Books,Movies and Chinese Food
Allison's Attic
S. Krishna's Books
Booking Mama
Cheryl's Book Nook
B & b exlibris
Marjolein Book Blog
A Novel Menagerie
Wendi's Book Corner
The Book Czar
The Book Girl
A Circle of Books
Books in Every Room
A Blog of Books For You
Book Ahoy!
Enroute to Life
At Home With Books

Movie Debut:

Saturday December 6th, 2008 at 9PM on Lifetime

Jane Porter and Heather Locklear

My Thoughts

I really enjoy linking with other blogs and discussing the same book together in a tour.
Hachette Books has enabled us to set this up and it is thrilling.
The book itself is an easy read and it flows quite well. It seems to have been semi-autobiographical with a possible few added twists.
I enjoyed the book but the story that it tells is a sad and familiar one. I frankly don`t think that this book is Jane Porter`s best story or effort but that might have been because the story has been 'done to death'! The charm of a Jane Porter novel though is in the writing and her characters which are warm and reach out to you.
Jackie is a very appealing heroine, beautiful and capable and needing a change but while I didn`t agree with all of the choices that she made I agree that it was HER right to make them. She needed to find her place in the world as a woman.....she needs to find herself after living in a cocoon and losing herself in the day to day drudgery of living with a man who doesn't appreciate her.
This is 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Type is Your Blog

Saw this over at J. Kayes Book Blog Here


I analysed and this is what my blog is:

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Take the test.....the result amazed me!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Found: 1 Video of My Son's Grade 9 English Project

My Son Nick Baff

Video displayed in the Sidebar------------------------->

This One is Mine by Maria Semple

From the Publisher:

Violet Parry is living the quintessential life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills with David, her rock-and-roll manager husband, and her darling toddler, Dot. She has the perfect life--except that she's deeply unhappy. David expects the world of Violet but gives little of himself in return. When she meets Teddy, a roguish small-time bass player, Violet comes alive, and soon she's risking everything for the chance to find herself again. Also in the picture are David's hilariously high-strung sister, Sally, on the prowl for a successful husband, and Jeremy, the ESPN sportscaster savant who falls into her trap. For all their recklessness, Violet and Sally will discover that David and Jeremy have a few surprises of their own. This One Is Mine is a compassionate and wickedly funny satire about our need for more--and the often disastrous choices we make in the name of happiness.

My Thoughts

I read this book but I didn't really enjoy it. I felt next to no sympathy for Violet.
How does someone who is living the perfect life make such bad choices?
She was this extremely capable woman who following the birth of her child...packed up all her self confidence and threw it out with the trash.
I guess that it fits the image of a woman on the edge......someone who behaves erratically wih little regard for those around her but the book felt too contrived to me and made me uncomfortable.

I can understand some of her choices like looking outside of her marriage when David was treating her so badly but she jumped out of the fire into the frying pan with Teddy. He was treating her worse! Why would she put herself into that situation?

I enjoyed the references to Jeremy with his Aspberger's syndrome. This is a timely diagnosis that is becoming more relevent daily. Many children in the school system are currently undergoing testing for this little known type of autism.
2 out of 5 stars

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Girl in the Backseat by Norma Charles

The Girl in the Backseat

In this fast-paced, on the road, YA novel, Norma Charles once again manages to include provocative social issues in an adventure story that will appeal to children from age ten and up.

The novel opens with Toby, a young girl in a Bountiful-style community, being caught secretly reading at night. The community leaders decide that she must be married at once to "the prophet," an older man. Hearing of the plan, Toby decides to escape to Winnipeg where she has a sympathetic aunt. Fortunately, at this moment she meets Jacob and Minerva Armstrong and learns they are on their way to Winnipeg in the family Mini. During the night, she steals away and hides herself in the backseat of the Mini.

Jacob and Minerva have their own set of problems, since they are black and their Caribbean mother has recently remarried, this time to a penny-pinching Englishman who has two children of his own, and who seems wholly alien to the siblings. When the two Armstrong children discover Toby hiding in the backseat, she pleads with them not to tell their parents, since they will surely call the police. As the trio make their way across the country to Winnipeg, all sorts of problems arise as Jacob and Minerva learn more about Toby’s plight and her life in the religious community.

My Thoughts

Claimed from Mini Book Expo. I always enjoy reading books that take place in Canada and this book is no exception. I haven't travelled through the western provinces though so I eagerly lapped up the descriptions of the route travelled by the family. I am reminded of the young adult genre of the book when the main story of polygamy and young girls being married off to old men is 'glossed' over. The subject is a distasteful one and aside from Toby's brief explanation of her frantic flight from her fate of being sent to Texas to marry a prophet of their faith...the details are hazy. She is running away to join an aunt of hers who had also escaped her life of drudgery and servitude and had run away to Winnipeg. What is less believable about this story though is how Toby has managed to keep her heretical thoughts and beliefs leading up to her escape.... to the age that she is now. I would assume that most young girls growing up in this environment would be thoroughly indoctrinated by the age of 14 and would willingly fall in line with the community's expectations. The book flows along well though and the characters are appealing and likable. 3 out of 5 stars

Get Positively Beautiful by Carmindy

It's always best to have a positive attitude towards one's self, and whether your empowerment lies in mind or body, it's a good practice to try and nurture both. Whether it's fixing up everyday or getting ready for that special evening, let these books guide the way to a fabulous you.

In GET POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL, makeup artist Carmindy, from TLC’s hit show What Not to Wear shows you how to change your mindset from negative fault-finding to a positive beauty philosophy. You learn how to find and focus on your best features and how to combat negative thoughts about your appearance. Carmindy demonstrates easy makeup techniques for the eyes, brows, lips, cheeks, and skin, and how to adapt looks to different weather conditions and “beauty moods.”

Completely unique, GET POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL mixes self-help and makeup how-to in this total beauty book.

Carmindy has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, CBN, as well as in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Elle, O, Glamour, InStyle, and many more prominent men’s and women’s fashion magazines.

Check out Carmindy’s website: www.carmindy.com

My Thoughts

I have been following makeup trends since I was old enough to wear my first aqua eyeshadow at the advanced age of 11. My mother was having a portrait painted of me and she bought me this great wool vest (the 70s) with a gradated shading of colour from pale aqua to deep teal. Mom bought me the eye shadow to match. I felt like a princess...I felt so beautiful that day that every time I see that portrait...I am transported back to that specific moment in time when I felt so special-frozen in a moment of true beauty.
What made me feel so special was the glow that I had from being utterly convinced that I was the prettiest girl in the mall that day. This was many years before the destructive power of self bashing became de rigueur in my life.
This is my long winded attempt at trying to pair a personal analogy of myself with the positive message of Carmindy's new book. We need to teach ourselves how to promote our own positive messages and mantras that will cancel out all those critical feelings about our own beauty. We need to understand that we are ALL unique in our beauty and that we don't need to look perfectly airbrushed like someone from a magazine or tv show to be truly beauteous.
Carmindy has combined this positive mantra with glossy pictures and tips that keep the book useful as well. She also shows some makeovers of women who haven't always made the best choices with their looks and how to accent what makes them uniquely appealing.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book.
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 24, 2008

Makeup Manual by Bobbi Brown


Full Description

This is the book that Bobbi Brown's fans have been waiting for: her 25-plus years of makeup styling experience distilled into one complete, gorgeous book. Bobbi looks at everything from skincare basics to every aspect of facial makeup--from how to find the right color and type of foundation for any skin tone to how to apply every detail of eye makeup (Brows, Eye Liner, Eye Shadow, and Eye Lashes) no matter your eye color and shape. Of course there are never-before-seen tips on blush, bronzer, lip liners, lipstick, etc. And Bobbi looks beyond the face with informative chapters on "Hands and Feet" and "Body Skin Care." Each chapter has thorough step-by-step basic directions for makeup application and easy-to-follow photographs and line drawings, along with Bobbi's expert, yet assuring, advice. Plus, there's a groundbreaking section of the book that will be of special interest to women who've wanted to know how makeup stylists do what they do: the top beauty secrets only these artists know, essential equipment to keep on hand, how to break into the business, and how to work with photographers and celebrities.

Breathtaking photos of the finished faces-from everyday looks to exotic runway style-along with advice on putting it all together for every woman, make this a book like no other.

BOBBI BROWN'S MAKEUP MANUAL will be the only book any woman will need to look absolutely fabulous.

My Thoughts

I am the kind of woman who is in love with makeup and have been since my early teens. Back then I was crazy about aqua eyeshadow and would put it all over my eyelids and feel beautiful! It wasn't long before I tamed my look considerably and the only eyeshadow I love now is a discrete taupe and/or beige.
I haven't completely lost my artistic sensibilities ....I just now paint murals for artistic expression and not my face.
This is a beautiful book. I enjoyed leafing through it and the pictures are incredibly glossy and magazine-like but it didn't seem to have much more information in it that hasn't already been printed before....even by Bobbi Brown herself.
Beautiful book but only a 2.5 stars out of 5 for lack of originality.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

From the Publisher

Living in Toronto for a year, Elena is leading the normal life she has always dreamed of, including a stable job as a journalist and a nice apartment shared with her boyfriend. As the lone female werewolf in existence, only her secret midnight prowls and her occasional inhuman cravings set her apart. Just one year ago, life was very different. Adopted by the Pack when bitten, Elena had spent years struggling with her resentment at having her life stolen away. Torn between two worlds, and overwhelmed by the new passions coursing through her body, her only option for control was to deny her awakening needs and escape.

But now the Pack has called Elena home to help them fight an alliance of renegade werewolves who are bent on exposing and annihilating the Pack. And although Elena is obliged to rejoin her "family," she vows not to be swept up in Pack life again, no matter how natural it might feel. She has made her choice. Trouble is, she''s increasingly uncertain if it''s the right one.

My Thoughts

I won this book from Library Thing...my first yet.
I started it and was immediately intrigued with a werewolf story with the setting in Toronto. Being as I am fairly close to Toronto in distance...I knew the places that Kelley Armstrong spoke of and that made it feel more personal.
I have hardly read any adult supernatural books but I requested to read and review it because I had already read The Summoning by Ms Armstrong and enjoyed it...I was confident that I would feel the same about this book.
I read the book from start to finish in less than a day and took it to bed with me to keep reading. I enjoyed it a lot and hope to find and read the sequels and the other series that Kelley Armstrong wrote as well.
This book while not inspiring deep thought and meditation has a place in my life under escapist fiction. This fact should NEVER be undersold as I spend a great deal of time trying to run away from the realities of my own life and this story was perfect for that.
I have never liked series novels that only seem to be a continuation of each other and this one seemed to be just what I like...a story from start to finish. If I never read any more in the series then I will never feel cheated out of my enjoyment of this book.
The characters were fun and sympathetic.
A solid 3 stars out of 5

Kelley Armstrong.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Product Description

OATHS SWORN . . . loyalties tested . . . forces collide.

Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still there is more at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

owes his loyalty to others, too. The First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved, Katrina, from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But EragonVarden are in desperate need of his talents and strength—as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices— choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once-simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

My Thoughts

I have enjoyed both of the two books previously in the Inheritance Trilogy (now 4 instead of three....so not a trilogy but a quartet) and this particular chapter of it is no exception.
Christopher Paolini has created an amazing world in Alagaesia peopled with intriguing characters both good, bad and undefined with dwarves, elves and dragons to muddy the waters.
I have found one fault in these books and that is the length...it is without a doubt...far too long and it reads quite slowly through a large chunk of the middle of the book. The style of writing though is flowing enough that I still read through even the boring bits but it was worth it and the book became more exciting again.
I would love to creep into Christopher Paolini's mind sometimes to see the progression of ideas from conception to the final product as this world is so finely crafted and all nuances seem to be fleshed out.
I give this a 4 out of 5 stars

My daughter Madeleine's blog

Here be a shameless plug for my daughter. She has recently started a blog and it is cute and worth a look!

The Coloured Lady

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenbur

Eight years in the making, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is a landmark book that will inspire the greatest creations of innovative cooks and chefs by serving as an indispensable guide to creativity and flavor affinities in today's kitchen.

Cuisine is undergoing a startling historic transformation: With the advent of the global availability of ingredients, dishes are no longer based on geography but on flavor. This radical shift calls for a new approach to cooking as well as a new genre of "cookbook" that serves not to document classic dishes via recipes, but to inspire the creation of new ones focused on imaginative and harmonious flavor combinations.

THE FLAVOR BIBLE is your guide to hundreds of ingredients along with the herbs, spices, and other seasonings that will allow you to coax the greatest possible flavor and pleasure from them. This astonishing reference distills the combined experience of dozens of America's most innovative culinarians, representing such celebrated restaurants as A Voce, Babbo, Blue Hill, Cafe Atlantico, Chanterelle, Citronelle, Gramercy Tavern, The Herbfarm, Jardiniere, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, The Modern, Moto, and The Trellis.

You'll learn to:

* explore the individual roles played by the four basic tastes salty, sour, bitter and sweet and how to bring them into harmony;

* work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients by discovering which flavors have the strongest affinities for one another;

* brighten flavors through the use of acids from vinegars to citrus juices to herbs and spices such as kaffir lime and sumac;

* deepen or intensify flavors through the layering of specific ingredients or techniques; and

* balance the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of cooking and serving an extraordinary meal.

Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from the country's most respected chefs and pastry chefs, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is an essential book for every kitchen library.

My Thoughts

Thanks to Anna Balasi from Hachette for sending me this book to review and peruse.
It isn't a cookbook. What it is is a encyclopaedia of food ingredients like chicken or beef with traditional pairings of flavors that suit them and very untraditional ingredients that will enhance and challenge your taste buds.

This is not a book for the cooking challenged...nor does it give any type of step by step instructions or directions.... but for an experienced cook who is looking for ideas and exciting food flavors...then this is your answer.
Flavors such as basil for your traditional pesto but also basil for syrups and fruits and poured over icecream. This is an empowering resource for someone experienced in the kitchen who is looking for new ideas.
The book is set up with ingredients listed alphabetically and appropriate choices and pairings listed with each...the best bolded to allow easier experimentation.

Thank you for this invaluable resource...a beautiful book to add to my cooking library

Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russell


"Will you take her?" she asks.

When Beth Nonte Russell travels to China to help her friend Alex adopt a baby girl from an orphanage there, she thinks it will be an adventure, a chance to see the world. But her friend, who had prepared for the adoption for many months, panics soon after being presented with the frail baby, and the situation develops into one of the greatest challenges of Russell's life.

Russell, watching in disbelief as Alex distances herself from the child, cares for the baby -- clothing, bathing, and feeding her -- and makes her feel secure in the unfamiliar surroundings. Russell is overwhelmed and disoriented by the unfolding drama and all that she sees in China, and yet amid the emotional turmoil finds herself deeply bonding with the child. She begins to have dreams of an ancient past -- dreams of a young woman who is plucked from the countryside and chosen to be empress, and of the child who is ultimately taken from her. As it becomes clear that her friend -- whose indecisiveness about the adoption has become a torment -- won't be bringing the baby home, Russell is amazed to realize that she cannot leave the baby behind and that her dreams have been telling her something significant, giving her the courage to open her heart and bring the child home against all odds.

Steeped in Chinese culture, Forever Lily is an extraordinary account of a life-changing, wholly unexpected love.

My Thoughts

I received this book last night and read through it quite quickly. It is an easy and flowing read but I had difficulty with some parts of the book.

The dream sequences seemed out of place and certainly didn't add to the story as a memoir of adopting a child in China. If this had been a fictional tale the tie in to the reincarnation dreams might have added an intriguing layer but as part of a real life tale it just felt clumsy and as if the author was trying to add another element of interest to keep the reader's attention and to flesh out the story.

I was confused a bit about why her friend Alex was not only indecisive about wanting Lily after they arrived there but then seemed to enjoy the power struggle of denying the baby to Beth. I certainly hope that Beth didn't remain friends with her after this.

If Beth had written more about her struggles with feeling lost and empty before the process of adopting Lily...I might have felt more connected with her and more interested in her vivid dream recollections. I myself have incredible dreams and oftentimes would rather be dreaming than living my life now.

I did finish it though and maybe if there had been more editing done with the dream sequences...there wouldn't have been enough left of the book.

Because I finished it...I give it a 2 out of 5 stars.

Love in The Tropics… A Contest over at A Novel Menagerie

Falling In Love on A Tropical Island… Watching Sexy Surfers Ride the Surf… Mai Tai’s At Sunset… Those Long Romantic Walks on the Beach… What Could Be Better?

I remember going to Mexico when I was 22. What a great time!
Too many margaritas though!!!


Monday, November 17, 2008

The iRespect Movement

Nelson High School, Burlington, Ontario
-a revolution that I am extremely proud of...

Hey Everyone!

Welcome to the Revolution!

If you’ve stumbled upon this page by mistake, it is your lucky day.

We here at the iRespect Headquarters would like to wish you a very cheerful welcome, and we hope you bookmark this page in your favourites.

What is iRespect you ask?

The iRespect Campaign is a volunteer run organization focused on spreading the seven habits of being human, and a general attitude of respect in the community and eventually the world.

The Seven Habits of Being Human:

1) Make it a habit to smile and say hello to everyone you can, even a complete stranger
2) Make it a habit to open the door for someone in need
3) Make it a habit to swear as little as possible
4) Make it a habit to clean up after yourself and your friends, and respect the environment
5) Make it a habit to not spread rumors
6) Make it a habit to not just standby and witness disrespect but rather speak up and join the revolution!
7) Make it a habit to spread these habits

 iRespect Movement

The Man Behind The Revolution

Most of you already know her, but for those who don't, the power behind this entire movement is one Christine Dine. Out of her creativity and passion sprang the idea for an iRespect Campaign to slowly work on changing the world. Check out the About Us page for more info on the details of the Campaign if you are unfamiliar. The Campaign is spreading like wildfire and it's effect is being seen at Nelson and soon it will be seen in and out of the community.

Ms. Dine is a dynamic person who encourages unique thought and respectful behaviour, and should be recognized for her acheivements thus far.

Pass on the respect.

Written by Maya D'Alessio for iRespect.ca

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One More Pic...

You guys were so kind I will bore you with one more pic....
This was in the library at the school that my children went to.

Harry Potter

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Murals from Madeleine's Room...soon to be painted over.

Madeleine is soon going to be painting over the murals that I painted in her room 5 years ago.
I don't blame her for painting over them...they are too young for her now and she is looking to craft a much cooler image.
Feeling nostalgic here and just wanted to post them for posterity!
The dragon is the dresser that I painted for my son when he was a little boy.
It lies hidden in the closet.


Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter

From Jane Porter’s blog:

Marta Zinsser grew up in a conservative, old Seattle suburb and couldn't wait to leave for New York, where she thrived as an independent woman with no need for men -- even when she decided to have a baby. Ten years later when her mother becomes ill, Marta realizes that this may be her daughter's last chance to get to know her grandmother and returns to Seattle, taking up residence on the affluent, technology-drenched Eastside, filled now by snobby old money families and even snobbier nouveau riche. Enrolling Eva in the local school, Marta accedes to her daughter's wishes and agrees to join the PTA despite being horrified by the fancy moms that dominate it. With wealthy husbands, massive homes, nannies, no jobs, and their own hierarchy, the fancy moms have no intention of letting a bohemian mom like Marta in to their private circle. Will Marta be able to carve a niche for both herself and Eva? And when gorgeous maverick Luke Flynn appears in Marta's line of vision, will she find love after keeping it at arm's length all this time?

My Thoughts

Reading this was quite painful at times. I knew only too well what it feels like to be the one on the outside and for me it has been a lifelong estrangement. The best thing about becoming a grownup though has been to find peace in myself and acceptance for the quirks that I am full of. Marta finds her own peace by the end of the story and the ride is a hilarious one. What is especially hard to deal with though is her daughter Eva. Eva believes that her mother needs to find acceptance by the local PTA to lead a fulfilling life and she works on trying to change and mold her mother into a coiffed clone of all the other mothers.
Thank God that Marta convinced her that to be yourself is the truest way to happiness and internal contentment and that sometimes to be accepted by the wrong people can create conflicts within yourself.
Especially poignant moments include her mother’s descent into dementia with Alzheimer’s and the struggle that the three generations have in dealing with it.
Of all of Jane Porter’s novels I enjoyed this one the most probably because I most identified with it. Maybe there is something of the Odd Mom Out in all of us.
I give this a 4 out of 5 stars.

The Frog Prince by Jane Porter

From the Publisher

Jane Porter makes a delightful mainstream debut with this funny and touching story about a woman who must begin again after her fairy tale marriage falls apart. Holly Bishop is the proverbial, small-town good girl. She always follows the rules, thinks of others first, and she never, ever makes mistakes. Until she marries the man she thought was her Prince Charming, who confesses on their honeymoon that he’s not sexually attracted to her. Now, 14 months later, Holly’s marriage is in the toilet, along with her self-esteem. Determined to start over, she moves to San Francisco, where she must navigate the landmines of dating in the big city. In the shadow of the Golden Gate and amid a population of wacky Bay Area eccentrics, Holly will discover that nice girls don't always finish last. In fact, they sometimes end up with everything they'd ever wanted.

My Thoughts

I have signed up to do a blog tour of Jane Porter’s “Flirting with Forty” on December 5th, 2008 in time for the book’s rerelease and the debut of the movie of the same name.
The publishing company Hachette Books sent me all of Jane Porter’s books so that I may have a real taste of the range of her stories and I am quite impressed.
Jane Porter has been writing novels for Harlequin for a number of years and has developed quite a following which I am sure has also made the transition into more mainstream chick lit with her.
The Frog Prince is a delightful foray into female territory. Holly the heroine is recovering from a quickie marriage that had promised to be the stuff that fairy tales are made of but on her honeymoon her husband informed her that he didn’t want her sexually and didn’t really love her and he was sorry but they would never work.
What is lovely about this story is that her ex-husband never redeems himself…it just becomes easier to see what a toad he really was. I really love the play on the French husband-frog and the fairytale of ‘kiss a frog to find your prince’. Jean-Marc will never be anything but a self centered baser creature disguised as suave.
I love how Holly grows into her new self and becomes that pinnacle of female adulthood-someone who is happy within herself and confident again to trust her own instincts.
I give this a 3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bookworm Award

Beth over at Beth Fish Reads tagged me for The Bookworm Award!

Here’s how it goes.

Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.

Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

page 56........Sentence 5

"I don't want it to fall on her."
Eragon looked back at the wretched butcher. He had no more time for mindless wanderings. He had to choose. One way or another, he had to choose....

I have to tag 5 people....I choose:

Sharon Loves Books and Cats

The Printed Page

Fresh Ink Books

J. Kaye's Book Blog

Ask Anna

Have Fun

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke


A dragon. A boy. A journey.

Firedrake, a brave young dragon, his loyal brownie friend Sorrel and a lonely boy called Ben are united as if by destiny. Together, they embark on a magical journey to find the legendary place where silver dragons can live in peace for ever. With only a curious map and the whispered memories of an old dragon to guide them, they fly across moonlit lands and seas to reach the highest mountains in the world.

Along the way, they discover extraordinary new friends in unlikely places and a courage they never knew they had. Just as well, for the greatest enemy of all is never far behind them – a heartless monster from the past who’s been waiting a very long time to destroy the last dragons on earth.

My Thoughts

This book has been kicking around our place since I bought it for Madeleine years ago before Nick died. I remember that all the teachers at her school were reading it to their classes and kids were in love with the story but for some reason I just never seemed to get around to reading it. (Unusual for me as I read everything that hasn`t been nailed down and even some books that are)
Fantasy has been enjoying a resurgence in recent years since the popularity of Harry Potter but Harry Potter can sometimes be too sophisticated for some younger children particularly the latter novels...so there was a hole to be filled.
This book fills that space perfectly. The story is full of charming characters that have you cheering plus the villain is scary enough to thrill older children but not too scary for the younger ones. The journey takes you to interesting places in the world and introduces you to some different cultures plus a few imaginary ones.
This story is a classic adventure story pitting the good against the evil with the usual results but some parts of it are quite original.
I enjoyed it and give it a 3.5 stars out of 5

Upcoming Reviews

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud by Jenny L. Cote

The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud by Jenny L. Cote


Max, a Scottish terrier, takes his usual morning trot down to the loch where he hears a mysterious Voice humming in the reeds saying, “Come to Me . . . follow the fire cloud.” He embarks on an unknown journey from Scotland, meeting other animals along the way including Liz, a brilliant, petite black cat from France. Max and Liz become the brave leaders for their group, and eventually, for the entire ark. The mysterious journey, filled with danger, humor, trials, and triumphs, leads them across Europe to the Middle East. The moment of arrival for these animals is spectacular as the ark is miraculously transformed into the animals’ natural habitats.
Throughout the prior one hundred years, Noah and family have to endure ridicule from villagers while building the ark. Now this family must painfully witness the loss of lives and total destruction of the earth through the mighty flood.
After the journey to the ark, the voyage in the ark begins. Liz finds ways to keep the animals occupied, including daily exercise led by the flamingos and talent night where the animals entertain each other with their natural abilities. BUT a sinister plot develops. Someone is out to kill Noah and his family. Liz follows clues that lead her to discover a stowaway who has deceived them all. Max and Liz foil the plot, but at a high price. The end climaxes with unexpected twists and turns, taking the: reader from despair to hope.

My Thoughts

I received this book through Bostick Communications and it was a signed copy (which thrilled me). I started to read this and I was frankly dubious about being interested enough in it to finish it. This book is written for young adults and children and is a charming tale reworked about the story of Noah and the Ark.
The story flowed quite smoothly and the characters were endearing although not terribly fleshed out. There was a certain amount of suspended belief as I was reading this book as an adult and not it’s intended audience but I quickly read and enjoyed it.
I would recommend this book to a child and certainly it would be a cute addition to a Sunday school library.
Thank you Jenny L. Cote.

You've Been Tagged

I haven't been tagged yet for a meme so I thought that I would tag myself!

~You've Been Tagged~  Bermuda Onion's Weblog

6 Random/Weird Facts about myself:

* I ABSOLUTELY love to curl up in bed in the evening and have my supper there while I am reading my book...with the electric blanket on! (in fact reading in bed is my favourite)

* When I was a child....I WASN'T allowed in the adult section of the library...even though I had read everything in the children's section (my parent's had to sign a waiver)

* To celebrate our Welsh heritage my parents named my brother and sister with Welsh given names...Ceinwen and Bryn. I was NOT given a Welsh name and I was the 1st child.

* I was a total Queen fanatic when I was a teenager and not only saw them live twice but blew out my hearing listening to them at full blast on headphones.

* I do not enjoy reading the CLASSICS because although people revere them now and quote them...in the day they were written as novels and pulp fiction and I predict that our present-day novels will become future classics.

* I am a total cat freak and have 4 cats....all female...and I cuddle them and play with them as if they were dogs. Two of them actually crawl into bed (under the blankets) with us every night and sleep at our feet.


Monday, November 3, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My Thoughts

I was drawn into this story from page one when I fell in love with Dawsey. There were only a handful of characters in this book that I didn't have a fondness for and every page was a courtship for me and this novel.
I never knew very much about the island of Guernsey beyond the fact of it being a channel island off the coast of Great Britain and I never knew that it was occupied by the Germans in WW2...so close to England.
There were many shocking revelations in this story but also many examples of the courage and ingenuity shown by the islanders and how they protected their own standing straight and tall in the face of the adversity of war.
The meat of the story is written as a series of letters between all the main characters of the story to each other and Juliet, an author on the mainland. Juliet Ashton is a dream of a heroine with charm and a love of life that spills from the pages of her letters to her editor and friends and their responses seem real not contrived.
The story spills out from the letter writers as each character relates his/her own experience of the occupation and how they managed to survive and also of those family members and friends who were not so lucky.
The images were vivid and tears were shed as some of the words struck home about the losses and tragedies of each islander.. but the ending was wholly satisfying.
I give this novel a 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong Summary Chloe, the 15-year-old narrator of this opener in the Darkest Powers trilogy, Armstrong's (Women of the Otherworld series) first YA novel, hasn't seen ghosts since she was a little girl-until the day she finally gets her period and starts seeing ghosts everywhere. Almost immediately Chloe is sent to a small group home, Lyle House, and diagnosed as schizophrenic. Readers will forgive these familiar and even formulaic plot devices, however, given Armstrong's well-timed revelations of paranormal activity at Lyle House. What is the eminently sane Chloe to make of her new peers, especially the antisocial Derek and his foster brother, who offer their own diagnosis-that she is "supernatural" like them? Are they psychotic or scheming to get her in trouble, or could their idea help explain why certain disruptive teens are mysteriously transferred from Lyle, never to be heard from again? Drawing on elements dear to horror lovers (secretly buried corpses, evil doctors, werewolves, telekinesis), Armstrong adds a stylish degree of suspense. The ending, while still a cliffhanger, brings with it a chilling closure. Ages 12-up.

A young girl in one of my classes loaned this book to me after she finished it. She was angry and disappointed with the ending and frankly I agreed with her. The story flowed quite nicely right up to the ending and then it seemed to abruptly stop. It is clear that the book has been put together to just be a "chapter" in a series as opposed to a complete story on its own. This is disappointing. A book should tell a complete story from beginning to end. There are many book series that are written with each book having a distinct plotline with an individual climax and then the characters move on to the next book...but this did not happen here.
The characters were likeable though and the plot flowed along seamlessly and even created a shiver or two...but the abrupt ending spoiled it.
I gave this book a 2.5 out of 5.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stonecypher Road by Nancy and Warren Longwell

Stonecypher Road by Nancy and Warren Longwell

Book Description

Ida Jo Canfield, having come from childhood poverty, has now returned to her old hometown to care for a dying mother. When her husband, Morris, returns from a week of speed racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats, he tells of a mysterious artifact found half-buried in a remote corner of the vast salt desert a replica of a human skull carved in crystal. Using a computer access at the small local public library, he searches the Internet for possible clues to the origin and history of the relic, unaware that powerful government supercomputers are at work screening Web traffic to look for the same thing. Following their own instincts and ideas, Morris and Ida Jo undertake a quest to decode information ingeniously hidden within their crystal relic, even as they try to decide on its proper disposition. They have now set themselves on a journey that will take them to the great museums of Manhattan, and deep under New York City into abandoned tunnels where the mole people give them a taste of first contact with a hidden society. Nancy and Warren Longwell have drawn on their 30 years of global travel and high-adventure exploration to write a stunning and literate debut novel that always keeps the reader wondering how much of the story might be true.

About the Author

Nancy and Warren Longwell have spent their lifetime together searching for new ways to expand their limits. They have paddled their own canoe down Africa's crocodile-infested Zambezi River, and climbed towering ice walls in British Columbia and Alaska. In the course of three global circumnavigations, they sailed for months at a time on working freighter ships, and once crewed on an America's Cup yacht. Travel, they decided, would be their higher education, and they spent their semesters trekking to holy shrines at Machu Picchu and Rangoon and along China's Great at allWall. Warren has raced on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and Nancy has run the New York Marathon, and together they have gone underwater through a subterranean river in Mexico's Yucatan. Off the coast of Vanuatu (long before Vanuatu became famous on reality television) they tried their hand at underwater archeology on the submerged hulk of a steel warship, then later recovered a museum-quality artifact! in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. They have "flown" in a shuttle simulator at NASA's Houston space facility, and crossed four continents by rail. All this has given them material for numerous published magazine articles, but it has taken until now for them to realize their dream of authoring a published novel. Stonecypher Road marks their stunning and literate debut.

My Thoughts

Claimed from Mini Book Expo

The book arrived and I looked at the cover and it was awful. Not appealing at all...garish colours with childlike graphics that gave you a false negative sense of the book...but then I started to read the book and settled in.
I have had so many good books to read and review lately that I have been expecting to eventually come across one that I would have to force myself to finish. This is NOT that book. This book was an easy and interesting read and proof of the old adage to 'not judge a book by it's cover'.
The husband and wife dynamic of Ida Jo and her mate Morris epitomise the happy grounded couple who enjoy each other's company. They are best friends and continue to learn new facets to each other's personality and past which keeps the mystery alive and makes their lives more interesting. They have fun together and the story flows because of that.
The book revolves around the finding of a carved crystal skull...apparently only the 13th found ever. Morris finds this skull in a chance out of the way incident as he races at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and he sees it glinting in the sun. Completely intrigued by this find he starts to search online for information about it and he unwittingly triggers an online policing system that is activated when certain keywords and specific sites are visited. A secret section of the government is in charge of monitoring this system.
Ida Jo was not with Morris when he found the skull as she was caring for her dying mother in her hometown but he came to be with her during her mother's last days to comfort and provide solace to her.
Their adventures take them from Boulder Colorado to Nova Scotia Canada and back down to the underground tunnels of New York City to meet the mole people before they manage to rid themselves of this dangerous artifact but not before they learn it's secret.
The dialogue is witty and clever and their relationship seems genuine and not forced or fake which makes this book a pleasure to read.
3.5 stars out of 5

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nicholas Dana Baff -January 28th, 1991-October 30th, 2006

"Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved."
--Iris Murdoch

My Prayer

To my darling Nicky,
Words fail me on this 2nd anniversary of your death. I can't believe that 2 years have gone past...it feels like just blip in my life...a point at which all the joy has faded from my soul.
All that I felt good about as a grown woman was to be your and Madeleine's mother...everything else felt tainted...you two were the only purity. I must find a way to keep going and continue to feel good about being your mom even if you are not here for me to hold and hug and watch grow up.
I want to believe that we will be together again.