Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Wild's Call, by Jeri Smith-Ready

The Wild's CallElysia and Darien live in a world where modern society has completely collapsed, and they share a secret.  Each is called by an animal spirit to help guide mankind into a new way of living.  Will they join in this new society, or try to survive on their own?

This novella is a prequel to a trilogy of the same subject matter, so it is intended to be merely an introduction to the characters and situation, and that is exactly how I saw it.  It was but a taste of what was to come, to allow readers to determine if this series would be for them.  While we do not learn enough about Elysia and Darien to make a deep connection to them, we do make some connection, enough to push us on to read the trilogy.

I personally am not a huge fan of post apocalyptic literature, so for me, that was where more of the problem with the book lies.  Similarly, the whole animal spirit aspect does not particularly interest me.  I think people who are very interested in Native American religion and philosophy will be quite interested in this book, but for me, a person begin guided by a squirrel is more than a little corny.

That being said, I do think the novella was well written, and worth reading.  For those who read the novella and like it, I think the trilogy will be a good match.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Girl Named Mister, by Nikki Grimes

A Girl Named MisterMary Rudine has acquired the nickname Mister because of her initials.  Raised by her mama in New York, Mister has been taught to love and obey God, and to keep herself pure.  But then she meets Trey, and one mistaken act changes her life forever.  Faced with pregnancy at the age of 15, Mister finds comfort in a book about Mary, mother of Jesus, and we get to follow both girls on their journey to motherhood.

I will start by saying I absolutely loved this book.  A word of warning, yes, it is written in verse form, and no, contrary to other reviews out there, it is not all angsty teenage poetic drivel.  Yes, it sounds like a teenage girl, because it is written partially in her narrative voice. That is intentional, to make it relatable for teen readers, particularly urban teens, like Mister.  And while Mister's journey is shown as parallel to Mary's, I see no evidence where the book tries to say Mister is like Mary, or any other blasphemy.  Mary represents motherhood to all Christian women, it makes sense that even a teen mother would find comfort in Mary, and be able to relate to her.

In reality, teens face issues of sex, and teen pregnancy.  Even Christian teens.  I think this book is an excellent example of how teens can make mistakes, and sin, and still find comfort in God's loving grace.  The book does not preach abstinence, it simply shows the reality of the potential consequences of sex, and the impact on a young life.

As for the literary style, poetic novels are not for everyone, true, but fans of authors like Ellen Hopkins will enjoy this book.  And think about it, much of Scripture is written in poem form.  Many literary classics use poetic forms.  So the fact that this is poetry is not enough to write it off.  Through the verses, we really learn who Mister is, what she struggles with, and how she finds comfort from the mother of our Lord.

Personally, I think this is an excellent young adult book, and while it does deal with sex, it does so in a realistic manner, not quite as severe as a cautionary tale, but there are real lessons to be learned through this book.  Lessons teens could use.  Especially Christian teens.  I think with proper parental guidance and discussion, this would be appropriate for teens 13 and up.  It would make for an excellent small group/teen book club selection.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stupid History, by Leland Gregory

Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions Throughout the AgesHave you ever gotten the impression that a lot of what you know about history is wrong?  Well, you would be right.  For example, Napoleon, not really that short.  Paul Revere, not the actual midnight rider.  And some things you do not know about history are just too ridiculous to be made up, like the fact that the first person ever punished in the stocks was the man who made them.  His crime?  Charging too much for his work.  What else about history is just plain stupid?

Filled with fun stories and nuggets of trivia, this book is just the kind that I love, one that does not take itself too seriously.  We always hear that what we learn in school is false, and this book cites many examples.  I love the fact that not only do we learn the truth, but for many of the stories, we learn why the falsehood was ever circulated.

The book has a lighthearted feel, though it does tend to be a little heavy handed with the puns and word play.  That, however, can be overlooked because of the solid content on nicely varied subject matter.  I read a couple of excerpts to my Hubby, and he loved it.  I think any good natured student of history will appreciate this book, along with many a retired history teacher.  There is nothing stupid about loving this book.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Coffee Shop Conversations, by Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher

Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small TalkSometimes, Christians are not sure how to talk about their faith in a way that is real and relatable.  They worry about not having all the answers, saying the wrong thing, or being confronted with tough or controversial issues of faith.  This book serves as a guide to help Christians have "coffee shop conversations" about religion, real talk about God in a way that has meaning, relevance, and admits mistakes.

I think this is probably the best book I have ever read about how to witness your Christian faith.  Dale and Jonalyn talk about how to be open and honest, how to have manners when talking about belief systems (which is applicable to more than just religion), how to admit mistakes and avoid them, and how to be honest and open about what God really means to you.

So often, Christians talk a good game, using spiritual vocabulary, and it ends up coming across as very off putting to non-believers.  This book shows you how to be more in touch with yourself, and how to share yourself with others, while being open to others sharing themselves with you.  It all boils down to love.

There were parts of the book I did not like as well as others, and Part I was my hands down favorite part of the book, but overall, I thought this was a great, no nonsense tool for Christians to use for personal growth and improving relationships with others, regardless of whether conversion occurs.  I look forward to reading more books by both Dale and Jonalyn.  You need to read this, real talk.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Found, and Found II, by Davy Rothbart

Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World

Found II: More of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World  Ever find a random grocery list and wonder about the person who wrote it?  Read a neglected apology letter and wonder what sins for which it was begging forgiveness?  See a long lost photo and make up a story about the people in it?  If you answered yes to any of those, or wished you could have, then these are the books for you.  These books take lost scraps of paper containing lists, pictures, poems, letters, term papers, notes, and more, and try to determine where they came from, and why.

It all started with someone putting a note on the wrong car.  The author found a note on his car one night, obviously intended for someone else with a similar car, and immediately wondered about the person who left it.  This sparked an interest that led to looking at other "found" items, which led to a magazine of "found" items, which in turn led to books.  Of course, the whole thing is terribly voyeuristic.  And really really fascinating.

These are the kind of books you can look at on a Monday, and ponder one way, then look at again on Thursday, and ponder in a whole new light.  It is not quite art, but brilliant none the less.  I love these books, because they remind us all of ourselves, things we have written or drawn, or seen.  Silly things we have done in life.  Sad stories we have heard.  This is humanity in raw form.  It is sort of hipster anthropology.

This is a great couple of books for your coffee table, useful as conversation pieces, or the 'just for fun' shelf of your bookcase.  Perfect for when you have had too much Austen, not enough wine, and a non-existent romantic life.  The books will make you laugh, make you frown, make you feel shocked and disturbed, and make you come back for more.  Trust me, these books are best bought as a set.  Because once you have one, you will want the other.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Silver Birches, by Adrian Plass

Silver Birches: A NovelStill reeling from the death of his wife Jessica, the last thing David feels like doing is spending a weekend with old youth group members getting reacquainted.  However, his old friend Angela was given something by Jessica before she died, and the only way for David to get it from her is to attend a weekend retreat at her country home with several members of his childhood youth group.  Honesty, humility, and raw human emotion result.

I thought this was a beautiful story.  There is something quite lovely and enchanting about the character of David, and watching him struggle with faith and grief, alternately and simultaneously. I thought the characters in general were incredibly well developed, and could actually see the story playing out in my mind like a movie.  My only wish is that we had learned a bit more about Jessica, and were able to feel more connected to her as a character, instead of a memory.

The book is set in England, and there is something delightfully British about it.  It has a tone different from American books.  The story is poignant and emotional, making one want to smile and weep all at the same time. This book evoked a strong emotional reaction from me.

I loved that this book openly discusses faith, with many of the characters having crises involving faith or religious issues, yet the book never feels preachy or presumptuous.  It is a note we as Christians should take.  I find this book to be appropriate for a wide variety of audience.  It may be a little deep for young adult readers, but certainly still appropriate content wise.

A review copy of this book was provided courtesy of the Christian Review of Books.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

101 Things I Learned in Culinary School, by Louis Eguaras with Matthew Frederick

101 Things I Learned (TM) in Culinary SchoolEver wonder what all those different knives in your butcher block are for, or the correct way to hold them?  What kind of wine should you pair with your spice dinner menu?  What is the difference between a white roux and a blond roux?  The answers to all these questions and many more can be found in this handy little guide.

I felt that with me preparing to cook my first Thanksgiving meal as a hostess, this would be a helpful book to read.  I am glad I did.  I would say about a third of the information in the book was not new to me, having been cooking since I was in middle school, and having been blessed with two parents who are also excellent cooks.  Furthermore, my father was a meat cutter in his youth, so he was able to teach me a lot regarding cuts of meat, and proper cooking.  But, still, having know a third of the information, that still means two thirds of this book was brand new material to me, and I think that is a pretty good percentage.

Clearly, a lot of the book is aimed at someone looking to be more of a professional cook or chef, with terms in facts regarding appropriate kitchen protocol being covered.  However, the majority of the information can still be useful in your household kitchen at some time or another.  There are even cute little illustrations.  I like that the book took concepts that can seem foreign or overwhelming to some people and made them seem simple.

Overall, I think this is a very handy book, one that will now sit on the shelf with my cookbooks.  And while I might not just right in there and try to make my own Bechamel sauce, this book might help me take a few more risks in cooking

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God Made Me Pick Up Underwear, by Orlando U. Javien Jr.

God Made Me Pick Up UnderwearLiving an average life, Orlando was unaware there was anything wrong with the way he lived his life.  He was unaware that his wife was unhappy, or that his binge drinking and addiction to pornography were not normal behaviors.  But slowly, Orlando had his eyes opened by God, and saw tremendous changes in his life.  This book is full of stories of his journey.

Let me start by saying that Orlando certainly does not lack heart, or passion, for God.  He clearly loves God, and wants everyone else to as well.  I think, however, his book may have lacked some direction, and a good editor.  The first few chapters read much like book reviews.  The lead back to specific books, or authors, or sermons by specific preachers, none of which I was familiar with, and tied some personal story in with some aspect of the subject matter.  As the book went on, this was less common, but the book lacked cohesion.

Clearly, this book is intended for a Christian audience, but I wonder about the Biblical nature of some of the topics covered.  It struck me as odd that a prayer group of laymen would go off in a limo to perform an exorcism at a house.  Just look at how many things could be odd about that sentence.  There were several instances in the book that I felt could have benefited from scriptural defense.

It seems to be that Orlando is still very young in his faith, which is good in that he is still greatly on fire, but a young fire can burn a bit out of control.  I think that with more years of study and mentoring, as well as a more seasoned co-writer, Orlando could write wonderfully uplifting spiritual books.

A review copy of this book was made available from the Christian Review of Books.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro

DeadlyPrudence Galewski is a young lady growing up in early 1900s New York, when a rash of unexplained typhus cases crop up.  Prudence gets a job working for the Health Department helping to investigate the cause of the outbreaks, and helps to track it down to an Irish immigrant worker named Mary Mallon.  But how in the world can they prove their theory?

I must say I thought this book was quite clever, an intricate weaving of fact and fiction.  Clearly, many of the characters in this book are real historical figures, but much of the timeline and details were created by the writer.  And I love the creation of the character of Prudence.  I found her voice to be quite honest, and at times heartbreaking.

I love historical fiction written for young adults.  I continue to assert that if historical fiction for young adults were well written, more young adults would be interested in history.  This is a perfect example of how a good story can really pull kids into history.  In short, I loved it!

A traveling review copy of this book was made available by Traveling ARC Tours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, by Jillian Lauren

Some Girls: My Life in a HaremJill was not your typical teenage girl.  She finished high school early, and started college at sixteen.  She quit college, and continued living on her own in New York City, pursuing an acting career while supporting herself as a waitress, then later as a stripper.  In an odd turn of events, she became an international escort, and landed in a harem for the Prince of Brunei before she was even twenty.  Her may involve a prince, but it is far from a fairy tale.

This story was gripping from the first pages.  You knew you were going to get frankness without crassness.  The intent was not to titillate, but to inform the reader of the realities of the international sex trade.  For many girls, they have no real choice about working in the sex industry, but for girls who have even some semblance of a choice, we often wonder how they came to that choice.  Lauren does an excellent job of explaining how she came to her choice, without making herself out to seem like a victim.  She makes it seem as though she took control of her choice, even though it did in fact victimize her, and hurt her.

The book is an unbelievable tale, and it draws you in at your very core.  What little girl does not dream of a prince?  What little girl does not want money, gowns, jewels lavished upon her?  But oh the price that girl pays.  I was unable to put this book down, and somewhat saddened when it was over.  I wanted to hear more of Lauren's story, more about the other girls in the Harem, more of the downfall of the Prince.

A memoir like this is never easy to read, one where the writer has suffered some form of damage, but I commend Lauren for writing it.  I commend her for taking back control of her life, for healing and moving on.  The book will be especially interesting to readers interested in feminism and women's issues, particularly issues involving sex abuse or the sex industry.  While the subject matter is intense and adult, it is handled in an appropriate manner.

A touring review copy of this book made available by Crazy Book Tours.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Butterfly Garden, by Chip St. Clair

The Butterfly Garden: Surviving Childhood on the Run with One of America's Most WantedAs a child, Chip lived in fear of his father.  He suffered abuse, and never knew what was going to ignite his father's wrath.  Then suddenly, Chip learned that everything about his life was a lie.  His name, his birthdate, everything.  The man he knew as his father was not at all what he seemed, but was in fact a criminal.  For the next several years, Chip would try to figure out who he was, where he came from, and what he would choose to do with his life.

Much like A Child Called It, this is a wonderful and terrible book all at the same time.  Wonderful in composition and message, terrible in that it ever had to be written.  It is never easy to read books about child abuse, but this one is a great story of empowerment.  Chip chose to not remain a victim, but to instead become an advocate for others.

While the details of the situation were a little hazy in the book, I am sure there were some things that legally could not be disclosed.  Perhaps someday another book, more in depth, can be written about the situation, to clear up some of the questions.  But all in all I think this was an important story, one that needed to be told, and this book told it well.  Any fan of memoirs will appreciate the book, and those who enjoyed Dave Peltzer's books will enjoy this as well.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poison, by Sara Poole

Poison: A Novel of the RenaissanceFrancesca works for the infamous Borgia family.  Not as a cook, or a maid, or even a nanny, oh no.  Francesca is the family's poisoner.  She took over for her father when he was murdered.  She has vowed to avenge his death, and in the process is determined to save the fate of Rome's Jews.  She will set wheels in motion that will alter history and perhaps endanger her soul.

I found this book very hard to get into, and I just can not pinpoint why.  The story was thrilling, a wonderful mix of fact and fiction.  The characters were well developed, and I really connected with Francesca well from the start.  But I found myself plodding through the book, and making little progress at first.  I think there were just too many things going on, too many subtleties of the plot points, and instead of pulling me in, it just put me off from the story.

I think Poole does a great job of painting the picture of the Renaissance, and showing the corruption within all institutions, including the Church.  It is much different from the romanticized version we were served in history class, and she clearly show us the seedier, more raw version of Roman life.  I think that Poole has real power as a writer, she just needs more time to reign it in a bit, focus it a bit more, because once I got a little further into the book, and determined what I was going to focus on and what I was going to get go, I enjoyed the book much more.  I would like to have seen a bit more about Lucretia Borgia in here, perhaps in Poole's next book.  All in all, a decent read.

A touring copy of this book was made available by Crazy Book Tours.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cut!, by Denise Imwold, Andrew Brettell, Heather von Rorh, and Warren Hsu Leonard

Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other TragediesWhat is it about movie stars that fascinates us?  We want to know everything about their lives.  We even want to know about their deaths.  Sometimes the deaths are tragic accidents, sometimes the results of illness, and sometimes murder and scandalous deaths.  This book explores the lives and deaths of some of Hollywood's elite.

I am a sucker for old movies, so when I saw this book was bargain priced, I had to pick it up, thinking I had little to lose.  Personally, I think I scored a bit of a treasure with this one.  I love movie trivia, and I like to read stories about movies and movie stars, so this was right up my alley.

I thought the book was well organized into different sections, with the appropriate amount of information on each star.  I also liked the variety of stars covered in the book.  Most were ones with which I was familiar, as least a little, but there were a few instances where I learned about stars that were new to me.  And in some instances, I learned some interesting new facts about the stars with which I was familiar.

While this is not a highly academic or scholarly read, nor is it very literary, I found this book highly interesting and entertaining.  This is a great book for film buff, particularly those interested in older movie stars.  While the subject matter could be considered a bit morbid, it is also quite fascinating.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Has a Hot Dog, by Professor Happycat

I Has a Hotdog: What Your Dog Is Really ThinkingHave you ever wondered what your, or any, dog was really thinking?  This book spells it out for you.  Tons of pictures of adorable dogs with cute, clever, funny, and ridiculous captions that perfectly capture the dog's sentiments comprise this cute little tome.  Common themes are how dogs can get food, how cute they are, and getting away with bad behavior.

Long a fan of the Lolcats and Loldogs, as well as the many other websites that are a part of the I Can Has Cheezeburger Network, it should come as no surprise that I am also a huge fan of their merchandise and books.  Hubby bought be Lolcat and Failblog merchandise for our first Christmas, which I loved, and I was totally stoked when I won this book to review.  And of course, it did not disappoint.  As a matter of fact, my head just about exploded from all the cute.

This is not the kind of book one can just jump into; you should have some kind of background knowledge of the internet sensation known as Loldogs before buying it, otherwise you will not appreciate the book as much.  Yes the dogs will still be adorable, but you will be confused by the captions, which are often misspelled and grammatically incorrect.  It is just one of those internet meme things, either you get it or you don't.  But when you do, you love it, and will love this book.  Regardless though, the pictures are ridiculously awesome, and make this book a total win for any pet lover.  At this great price, it makes a good stocking stuffer for the dog lover that on your holiday list.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent: A NovelSo many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph and his brothers, resulting in the 12 tribes of Israel.  Their sister, Dinah, gets but a mere mention in the Bible, and what little is told of her is of her shame, her rape by Shechem, and how her brothers avenge this.  Now, we learn her full story, what it meant to be a woman in ancient days, how the women fit into those Biblical tales, the story behind Shechem, and what happened afterward.

Obviously, this is a work of fiction.  But beyond that, it is a work of art.  So many times, I have found a profound lack of female voice, and feminine story, in biblical literature and study, that this book is such an amazing breath of fresh air.  I love learning about Dinah from childhood, something we are never privy to in scripture.  And I love a behind the scenes look at what some of the other women of the Bible may have been like, as well as the roles they may have played in Bible stories.

Clearly, a lot of creativity went into this story, particularly what happens to Dinah in her adult life, which has no Biblical parameters.  But it is also clear that Diamant has done a tremendous amount of research to make the book as historically accurate as possible, and I cannot help but wonder if something like this story may not have actually happened to Dinah.

I love when Biblical historical fiction is written in a way that even non believers can enjoy it, as I think that this story has been.  I found a similar treasure in Roseanna White's A Stray Drop of Blood, so if you are a fan of that book, you will like this book (also, Roseanna has another Biblical historical novel coming out soon, so stay tuned!).  This is a book that I can read again and again, and never tire of it.  It is a highly recommended addition to the library of any lover of historical fiction, particularly stories with strong female characters.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict: A NovelJane Mansfield is a well bred British woman living in Regency England.  So when she wakes up in the body of Courtney Stone in the year 2009, living in L.A., she does not know what to make of this strange world around her.  On the one hand, she finds herself free of all the ridiculous constraints of femininity in the 1800s, but on the other hand, she has no idea how to survive in these modern times.  What's a prim and proper modern girl to do?

Having read and loved the first book by Laurie Viera Rigler, there was no way I was passing this book up.  And it was a wise choice.  The second of the Jane Austen Addict books was just as deliciously whimsical as the first, but I think this one had even more heart.  I found I liked the Jane character even better than the Courtney character, and while it was not quite as funny watching Jane in modern times as it was watching Courtney in the past, it was much more poignant.

I also loved the male characters, particularly Wes, and while some readers may have found him unrealistic, I found that he made me have faith in modern men again.  Having married a sweet man much like Wes, it pleases me to see such a character portrayed so well in a book.

I liked looking at my familiar world through Jane's eyes, and having it seem unfamiliar to me.  This is a hard thing to accomplish, and I think it was done quite well.  While the book did not have me rolling on the floor, there were quite a few bits that were laugh out loud funny, and the book kept me engaged from the moment I started until the moment I finished, which were about 10 hours apart.  All in all, a great book for an Austen fan, or a fan of more modern romances.

A touring review copy of this book was made available by Crazy Book Tours.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Denial: A Memoir of Terror, by Jessica Stern

Denial: A Memoir of TerrorIn the early 1970's, rape was not thought of the same way as it is today, so when a teen aged Jessica and her younger sister were raped, the case was not handled all that well.  Very few people could believe that a stranger would rape children in the small town of Concord, Massachusetts.  As an adult, she works with the police to help solve the case, and try to find some personal resolution.

This is a very difficult review to write.  Books about topics like rape and child abuse are always troubling and disturbing, and it is hard to like a book like that.  However, that is not why I disliked this book.  I found the book incredibly disorganized, and somewhat boring, something I would not have anticipated.

As a way to deal with her trauma, Stern has learned to not feel.  She is so removed, emotionally, from the situation, and that blunted affect carries through to her writing.  She has researched and written noted works on terrorism, in a very removed and scholarly tone, and she uses a similar approach here.  But to hear someone flatly, coldly discussing their own childhood rape is really disconcerting, and uncomfortable to read.  Seeing the word memoir in the title made me anticipate a personal story.  I have never read such a desensitized, depersonalized version of a personal memoir.

I think for anyone who has been raped, or suffered a severe trauma, for anyone suffering from PTSD, this book is probably very helpful, and mirrors a lot of that they may be feeling.  However, for your average, everyday reader not having suffered this way, it just does not connect.

A touring review copy of this book was provided by Crazy Book Tours.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fat Girl: A True Story, by Judith Moore

Fat Girl: A True StoryHer whole life, Judith has struggled with her weight.  She would lose weight, and gain twice as much back.  She has been on reducing diets since childhood, and has come to associate lost weight with increased love.  Even as an adult, these struggles continue.  Her father struggled with his weight, and Judith is well aware of the fact that her mother hated her father's fatness, much as she hated Judith's.  In this starkly honest memoir, Judith tells what it is really like to be a fat girl.

I cried when I read this book.  So much of what it holds feels familiar to me.  As a woman who struggled with weight for years, I found a sense of sisterhood in the candid story of Judith Moore.  I laughed, I cried, and I hurt for her, as well as for myself.  In times when obesity is so prevalent, and talked about in terms of numbers, I think it is important that at least one woman told the story behind her journey.

People think that overweight people are lazy, dirty, and unambitious, but Judith helps dispel a lot of those myths in her book.  She provides a lot of insight, and I think this book would be helpful for anyone struggling with body image issues, low self esteem, or eating disorders.  This is a book that will be a permanent part of my library, and I will look to it for comfort many times in the years to come.

Friday, November 12, 2010

That is Priceless, by Steve Metcher

That Is Priceless: Art's Greatest Masterpieces... Made Slightly FunnierSometimes great art could be made even greater, or at least a little funnier, if only better titles were chosen for the pieces.  Why go with something boring or hum drum, when a pop cultural reference might be much snappier?  This book takes some wonderful artistic masterpieces and makes them funnier by changing the names of the pieces.

Every now and then I need a good humor book to break things up a little.  This book was the perfect solution for that.  It was the kind of book you can either read cover to cover, which I did, or flip through randomly.  The book actually is broken into different sections, some being more religious art, some having more pop cultural references.  However, all of it was really funny and I got a big kick out of it.

I think this book would be a fun gift for people who enjoy humor books, for artists or art lovers.  It would make a nice little coffee table book, because beside being funny, the artistic pieces in the book are really lovely.  Overall, I found it to be a nice little diversion, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a nice light read and a good belly laugh.

This book was made available for review by NetGalley.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Grilled Cheese, Please!, by Laura Werlin

Grilled Cheese, Please!: 50 Scrumptiously Cheesy RecipesThe grilled cheese sandwich is all grown up, and people take it very seriously.  This book provides scholarly advice on how to make the perfect grilled cheese, along with 50 recipes that will have your mouth watering.  But do not expect Kraft or Velveeta, because this book takes things to a whole new level.

I love cheese, and I love bread, so me and grilled cheese are pretty well acquainted, at least I thought so.  And then, I read this book, and realized what an amateur I am.  This book means business.  I am embarrassed to admit that many of the cheeses mentioned in this book I have never heard of, let alone tasted, so some of the recipes are completely inconceivable to me.  That does not mean that I do not want to try all 50 of them immediately, because I totally do.

As if the content matter were not tantalizing enough, the book has some simply amazing photographs to accompany the recipes.  At one point, I wanted to lick my computer screen.  I do not recommend doing this.  What I DO recommend, however, is buying this book, and trying at least one recipe from each section.  With 50 different recipes, in several subcategories, there is something in here for pretty much everyone who is not lactose or gluten intolerant.  And if you are either, or, shudder, both, of those things, you have my deepest sympathies.

A review copy of this was made available by NetGalley.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens

Still MissingAnnie was a successful real estate agent, with a caring boyfriend, when she was suddenly abducted.  Her abductor takes her away to a cabin in the woods, where he keeps her hostage for over a year.  Terrorized both mentally and physically, Annie finds a way to get free.  When she returns to the world she had trouble adapting to her freedom, and it only gets harder when she starts to learn who is behind the abduction.

I want to be very careful not to give away spoilers for this book, because I really want you to read it.  You NEED to read it.  This book is so amazing, particularly for a debut novel.  I loved the unique structure of the narrative.  Each chapter starts out in Annie's voice, as she narrates bits of her story to her therapist, each chapter being a new therapy section.  You immediately feel intimate with Annie, you are privy to her inner thoughts, and a first hand account of her horror.  The amount of character development right from the gate is staggering.  You literally feel as if you are her therapist.  I was completely mesmerized.

The story was terrifying to read, because I know things like this really happen.  But the book was incredible; I could not put it down.  In fact, I read it in a day.  Any lover of thrilling dramas will like this book.  I was shocked to learn who it was that set this chain of events into motion, and I think other readers will be as well. Overall, a fantastic, dramatic book that will have me looking over my shoulder for weeks.

A touring review copy of this book was provided by Crazy Book Tours.