Thursday, July 29, 2010


Author: Jill Brock
ISBN: 978-1419659362
Book Surge Publishing

Combine Nancy Drew and a modern day pissed off suburban house wife and you will get our first beloved character in this hilarious novel! Maggie Swift, who resembles a full grown Tinker Bell, wakes up one morning and within hours of a “normal “day her husband goes missing, draining their accounts. Maggie, who thinks her husband, is having an affair, enlist the help of her best friend, our second beloved character in this novel, Odessa Wilkes. Odessa is a fiery African American woman who has recently encountered “The god of divine crap” and isn’t taking it well. In one day Odessa looses her six-figure income job, is dumped by her boyfriend of two years, and is in a subway fire. The inevitable meltdown occurs, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t have one, and Odessa is left to make desserts at her families restaurant under her overbearing sisters watch. After Maggie enlist Odessa’s help the two set off on a wild hunt for Maggie’s husband. It is a search that is hilarious and will keep the reader entertained for hours. Once you start the hunt you will not stop until he is found.

Pennywise, is one of the most hilarious novels I have read in a long time. I actually laughed on the first page! The author tells the story from Odessa’s point of view, though without Maggie’s situation you would loose the story. Odessa’s voice and attitude/perspective is very funny. The pair gets themselves into many situations that will make the reader chuckle. The novel is full of vibrant, colorful characters. Without any one of them you would feel something was missing. Each character plays a key role in the story regardless of its size.

One of the joys of reading for me is finding a new fresh author. I found one by reading Pennywise. After finishing this book I researched the authors’ other works and I will be reading the sequel to this novel. The novel was full of solid content, entertaining story, developed characters and humor to make me laugh repeatedly. The novel is mystery, suspense, and humorous fiction with has some spicy love scenes. It tells the tale of two best friends, one who will stop at nothing to find her husband, and the other who learns about family, overcoming heartache, taking chances, love and loyalty. It is a wonderfully delightful read and I highly suggest it.

*Reviewed for reviewthebook*

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hollywood Stories

Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes about the Stars and Legends of the Movies!Author: Stephen Schochet
ISBN: 978-0-9638972-7-5
Publisher: Hollywood Stories Publishing
(To buy or price, click on the picture to the left)

Reading Hollywood Stories is like taking a tour of Hollywood. It is a journey of the past and present Hollywood personalities in anticipation for the future. These short stories were originally told for Stephen’s radio feature entitled Hollywood Stories. The immensely popular stories are now formed into this entertaining, amusing book, which is full of extras to accompany their original short anecdotes. The pages are packed full with stories, tidbits and humorous true tales of the stars. The book depicts the stars as normal everyday people, going about their life, working or spending time with friends, family and coworkers. It gives an everyday look at tinsel town and its glamorous crew. The reader is able to learn as well as be amused by these stories.

Hollywood Stories is a thoroughly entertaining read. With many humorous parts, you find yourself laughing out loud, feeling connected with the individual being presented. Each story gives the Hollywood actor, producer, director, or writer in the spotlight, an every day average typical American feel. Many of the stories remind the reader of pranks, jokes or situations they or a friend have personally done or gone through. It is a reminder that while stardom may be part of the overall package, these individuals are human. They were not always famous; they are simply doing their job by using their talents and creativity. They are the lucky few who are able to work with what they love. Outside of all this, they are mom, dad, husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter or son. They enjoy life. They have made an impact and are well known, yet not known at all. The book introduces you on a more personal level to these legends of Hollywood, enabling the reader a better warmth and understanding of their favorite actors, directors, writers, and producers.

The book is divided into 13 chapter divisions. Each division represents part of Hollywood. This enables the reader to skip around easily. If you have a favorite section you could read it first. I flipped back and forth between the pages of this book, not reading it in order. I went with my mood and it works because the stories are not tied to each other. There are so many individual stories and tales; you do not feel held down to an order. It was easy and enjoyable to read, leaving you addicted and wanting more. Due to how the book came about, it would be a wonderful book to grab on audio CD for travel. It provides hours of promising entertainment and interesting tidbits of the Hollywood we have come to know and love. I highly recommend these well written stories which you will want to share with others. They make great pieces for topical conversation and are sure to bring laughs to any audience.

*Reviewed for*

Monday, July 26, 2010

Last Night at Chateau Marmont

Last Night at Chateau Marmont: A NovelLauren Weisberger
ISBN: 978-1-4391-3661-4
Publisher: Atria Books
Release date: 8/17/2010

After five years of marriage Brook and Julian’s lives are catapulted into the spotlight of fame. Julian, a musician, catches his break and is quickly made into one of the most famous rock stars. Brooke, after working two jobs to help get Julian to this point, is in awe and amazement and couldn’t be more proud of her husband. Then the publicity hits, the constant travel starts and Brooke is left in the background and alone. Fighting to keep her job and her marriage while remaining supportive, Last Night at Chateau Marmont tells the tale of Brooke and Julian Alters’ lives before and after fame. When the breaking point hits, and Julian is caught seducing another woman, Brooke is left to decipher the truth from the lies to see if she has a marriage anymore. The story is one that a reader will not soon forget.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont was simply amazing. I absolutely loved this novel. Lauren does a fantastic job enabling the reader to get to know the Alters individually and as a couple before the fame. This magnifies the readers’ emotions and involvement throughout novel. The reader is able to feel both Brooke and Julian’s personal struggles as well as understand the strain on their marriage. All of this leads up to an amazing ending. I couldn’t have been any happier with this novel. It has every emotion. I laughed, I cried, I was hooked and involved in every aspect.

The author clearly shows she did her homework with this novel. She skillfully wove Brooke and Julian’s story into recent events of the decade, making the story feel it was almost true. The novel gives the reader the skinny on stardom. It tells the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a must read that will provide comical relief as well as a suspenseful urge to keep reading. Once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down. Last Night at Chateau Marmont, which could not have a better title, gives light on the question “What would it be like if your husband became a star overnight?”

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Balloon for Isabel

A Balloon for Isabel
Author: Deborah Underwood
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
ISBN: 978-0-06-177987-9

 Isabel and her porcupine friends are about to graduate kindergarten! Everyone receives a balloon as a present except for the porcupines because their quills will pop the balloons. Teacher says it is too dangerous to give the porcupines balloons so they will receive a bookmark. Isabel has already received bookmarks for previous holidays and special occasions and this time she really wants a balloon! She ask the teacher if she could wear goggles to protect her eyes and promises the sound will not scare her. Her teacher stands firm, as long as they have quills they cannot have balloons. Isabel starts to think of a plan to solve her quill popping problem! Through a series of imaginative ideas, she finds one that works and the entire class along with their porcupine teacher receive a balloon at graduation.

Here is what my daughter had to say:
The book was great, great, great, great, great!” Isabel wants a balloon like the other kid animals. She can’t because she’s sharp and will pop them! She is not afraid of balloons that pop, but her teacher said no. She hides in a box and gets stuck in the door. She puts on a pillow and pokes holes thru it, stuffing flies out! She wraps in bubbles but her friends pop them! Popping bubbles is fun! The end is my favorite! She puts candy on her and not she is not pokey and all the kids get balloons! I like the end because everyone gets a balloon!

I absolutely loved this adorable, imaginative story. It was fun to read, and the illustrations along with the cover art are just beautiful and bright! It was a very cheery story for our rainy day! This book is a must have for all children ages 2-8. It is a great story about problem solving and equality. Both of my daughters enjoyed the illustrations and my 4 old loved the story! I was very happy with “A Balloon for Isabel”.

**Reveiwed for**

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming

Author: Elizabeth J & Barton M Cockey
ISBN: 978-1-934454-40-4
Publisher: Bridgeway Books

Take a journey through the past, present and future of farming in this picturesque representation of the land, the people and the spirit of farming. The book is separated by the seasons, starting with winter and ending with fall. Each season brings the flavor, the feel, the scent and the visual representation of the farm and land during those months. The vivid paintings make you feel you are seeing the land, animals, equipment and people through the eyes of another, one who is in love with the farm. To quote the author, the book gives recognition of the essential order of things, a basic modesty that comes natural to the farmer.” Drawn to the Land will make you want to travel to upstate New York and view the beauty and splendor for yourself. If you are not able to travel the book provides many clues to vendors that you could purchase from to get a taste and feel of upstate New York at home.

The Romance of Farming can be described as a learning process. Simple facts such as “They cut blocks of ice from ponds and rivers, and packed them in straw in their ice houses”, which refers to the early settlers method of refrigeration without electricity, enable you to learn and understand more about farming as a culture and a way of life. Farming teaches values, every member of the family is essential and works together. The farmers are literally drawn to the land, they love it, and they feel at one with the earth. The process of farming, though difficult and stressful at times is something they enjoy. It gives them inner peace and happiness. The reader can feel this through the books words and paintings, each page bringing forth a renewed energy and excitement.

I learned quite a deal about maple syrup production and other produce and lively hoods found on a farm. The winter is a harsh, cold, barren season in which farmers tend to the livestock and prepare for the spring. Spring is a rebirth, bringing maple syrup production into full swing, along with the start of flowers and produce. Summer joins with corns and chickens taking the spot light. The farmer tends to its livestock producing eggs, milk, cheese and other items. The produce is planted and growing, making way for fall. Fall I assume must be the best time on a farm. It’s the season of Thanksgiving. Pumpkins, roadside stands with organic produce, fruits and vegetables, hunting, handmade breads, pies and preserves and ice cream bring visitors and tourist. It is a journey that brings amazement and awe along with a respect for the farmers and their way of life.

The reader will be delighted with the vivid, beautiful paintings in this book. I wanted to see more. Some of my favorites were as follows, The Colonial Home in Cambridge, NY. I enjoyed the Greenwich Countryside painting with the town in the forefront. The Gardenworks farm is featured throughout, but the first painting in the spring draws you in. Last but certainly not least are the fall paintings, my ultimate favorite view of the vivid colors of the New England fall. Pages 31-35 of this book have beautiful scenic representations, as well as the cover. Readers will enjoy a different look at farming. It brings an appreciation of the farm that even those who are the least likely to farm will be able to feel.

**Reviewed for**

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Short History of a Tall Jew

Dennis Danziger
ISBN: 978-0-615-31846-2
Publisher: Deal Street Press

A Short History of a Tall Jew, mixing past with present, chronicles a year in the life of Philip Lachman. Philip has been divorced for years, he is an English teacher at a public high school that is literally a melting pot. With lawyer fees and child support he barley makes any money. After celebrating his 39th birthday alone, Philip decides he no longer wants to be alone. Craving a chance at normalcy, Philip announces to his children that by the following Valentines Day he will have found his second wife. The problem is, he has no leads, no numbers, a son into communism, a daughter who is a teenager with lofty aspirations, and a horrible life sucking ex-wife who will do anything to make his life miserable. While battling for his children he attempts his search for happiness, except Philip has no idea how he will find a nice, caring, competent woman who will make a good step-mother, and who he sincerely loves in L.A., a city all about worth.

This novel is laugh out loud funny. There were multiple times I just couldn’t contain myself. It is well thought out and wonderfully composed. I couldn’t imagine the book without every aspect that it has, nor could I add more. The ending fit so well with the book that it left you feeling complete. The book characterizes the life Philip Lachman leads. He is a public school teacher in L.A., a melting pot of cultures and lifestyles with no real minority. The author gracefully includes all aspects of life in this situation, making you feel you are actually there and that this story is not fiction. While it is amusing, it is also heartbreaking, painful and almost tragic at times. It is life. The reader will connect with Philip, laugh at Philip, and want to slap him into wake up mode. The novel is irresistible and will keep you hooked until the end.

I highly suggest A Short History of a Tall Jew to all. While I personally would classify this book as the male version of chick-lit, it is simply a work of fiction. There is an amazing amount of variety in content in this novel. It has something for everyone and the reader will not be disappointed. I look forward to reading more works from Dennis in the future.

**Reviewed for**

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Department of Temporal Adjustment

Veronica R Tabares
ISBN: 978-1-60916-002-9
Publisher: Sun Break Publishing

Vanessa and Tony are happily married with three beautiful daughters. Both parents are also trying to finish their degrees. In order to always have one parent at home with their daughters, they carefully plan out their work schedules and school schedules to accommodate. This puts Vanessa on campus working in the lab until the early morning hours. She is always cautious and safe, but lately strange things have been happening. Weird noises and odd people keep showing up around campus. One night, when her curiosity gets the best of her, Vanessa discovers a portal in time. Each time she happens upon the portal she is given a memory blocker and allowed to return to the past because she is part of history that cannot be altered. The memory blocker is used to avoid the danger of her spilling the secret of the time portal. This can only be used so many times without dire consequences and side effects. The problem is Vanessa keeps returning. Can the future trust its past to keep a secret?

The Department of Temporal Adjustment was a very original piece of work. I have not read anything like this novel. It follows the life of Vanessa, mom by day, student by night. Always curious, Vanessa gets herself into trouble when she discovers a time portal and keeps falling into it. The book is easy to read and will keep you interested, however it has some flaws and irritations. Vanessa’s children are portrayed as perfect little angels, she calls them her “cherubs”, they rarely do anything wrong and she seems to never tire or get aggravated with them. It was kind of annoying to read this. Her attitude of never getting frustrated or upset or worn out was very fictional. Even the most patient of mothers gets frustrated, worn out, or upset. She literally is “super mom” which doesn’t exist. The book also became very predictable because it started to follow a pattern.

Overall, the book was worth the read. I am glad I chose it. It was enjoyable, original and easy to follow. The title still doesn’t really fit with the book for me, but for lack of a better title, it works. The title didn’t make sense until the last chapter, and then I felt that that part of the book was thrown in just so they could have a title. This is one of those books you cannot judge by its cover.

Reviewed for

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Kathy Brodsky
ISBN: 978-0-578-05059-1
Publisher: Helping Words
Publication Date: October 1, 2010

Purrsnikitty, which I can only imagine is pronounced [per-snick-itty], is the humorous tale of an adorable cat that is very aware of just how wonderful and special he is! After being rescued from a shelter, because he was the best, Purrsnikitty learns the ways of being a pet and part of the family. He has the normal troubles of a cat, including hair balls, learning not to jump and break things, and general mischief. However, he also has all the perks! He can sit so tall, curl up anywhere, strut his stuff and hide! He likes to play, which includes chasing and pouncing things he sees. The family is not overjoyed when Purrsnikitty bring home the things he has pounced on. As a result they buy him a bell to warn all mice and birds that he is around. He has the grooming needs of a kitty and easily gets himself in trouble by scratching up the couch. This always curious, territorial cat is thrown for a loop when the new family member is brought home! After all, what cat needs a dog? Soon even Purrsnikitty realizes how wonderful another family member can be. He likes to snuggle with dog when he is cold, and play with dog now that he is big! Purrsnikitty again learns about being friends and part of a family.

What a wonderful delightful book! My daughters loved it! My four year old daughter has asked to read it multiple times. Here is what she says when asked about the book:

“They went to the shelter and picked out Purrsnikitty, he was the best! He licked his fur, got hair in his mouth and spit it out! YUCK! He broke stuff. The little girls’ mother says “No kitty!” He sits, he curls, he walks and hides. Why does he hide? The kitty chased the mouse and then gives it to his parents. He was a bad kitty who scratched the couch. He got in trouble for that. He stares and jumps at birds. His bell rang, it scared the bird. They bring home a little doggy. He doesn’t like him, he likes mice. The doggy takes walks and cuddles. He got big and they were all friends! This book is great! My favorite part is all about the kitty.”

As you can see, my daughter had plenty to say about this wonderful book. It tackles the daily life of a cat, but also goes deeper by prompting the reader to realize when the kitty behaves and misbehaves. It also tackles the issues of being a responsible pet owner as well as how to adjust to knew people, whether friends or family. There are wonderful discussion question as the end of this book that my daughter has asked to read and discuss. The questions are just as much fun for her as reading the book. She readily answers me and we have engaged in many conversations regarding family, friends and others due to the questions. Purrsnikitty is a book full of fun and learning for all ages. Children are bound to love this adorable tale!

**Reviewer for**

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Plan A Woman In A Plan B World

Author: Debbie Taylor Williams
ISBN: 978-0-89112641-6
Leafwood Publishers

Everyone has a plan for their life, a path they hope to follow, and a journey they wish to complete. Some call it a plan; others call it a vision or a dream. No matter what term you use, you have a Plan A. Unfortunately life does not always follow Plan A, and instead it twists and turns, re-routing you to Plan B. plan B is the alternate route, the route you do not know, did not expect, and need detour signs as guidance to find your way. How do you cope with Plan B? What sustains you and helps carry you through the day to day trials along with the most overwhelming moments? “The Plan A Woman In A Plan B World” tackles the ultimate question, “What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan?

This book was eye-opening. It gives constructive advice for every situation. The author tackles major issues women face head on and helps explain our world, our lives, our emotions and how we are wired and equipped to deal with issues as they arise and we feel our world crumbling beneath us. The book is divided into three sections; “Live Out Loud”, “Love Out Loud” and “Laugh Out Loud”. She starts the book off by explaining the Plan A and Plan B woman, before diving into issues such as divorce, death of a spouse, child or parent, job loss, health issues, pornography, abandonment, and other significant life changes. She gives valuable feedback, real women’s testimonies and discussion questions to help groups or friends jumpstart conversations to further their learning or healing. Debbie point women to Christ, always reminding us that God is faithful, God is good, and even in turmoil, a rainbow can shine.

The book is suggested for women to read together. I highly suggest you do this, as a group at church, group of friends or one on one with someone you feel comfortable with. The book brings up many topics that can be further discussed in a group setting. Many issues might not relate to you personally, but you can still learn from them by listening to someone else share or by inserting your own struggle and using the suggestions and verses to apply to you. If a particular topic doesn’t pertain to you the author suggests that you keep “what if” in your mind. We easily can learn or prepare by following the example of others, or learning from others who have gone before us. It was easy to replace a battle or struggle of my own with a topic that did not pertain to me. The study is not always specific to each example; rather the example is used to help understand the study.

This book did a great job of tackling major issues or life alternating changes, but lacked on the minor topics that can still be upsetting or throw our plans off course. There are day to day battles that almost every woman faces that are most certainly not in our Plan A. A chapter about daily struggles would have been nice to read. It is after all a day to day walk. I thought the book focused on divorce a little too much, but I can see that it is probably one of the most relatable Plan B issues in today’s society.

Overall, The Plan A Woman In A Plan B World is a wonderful tool for all women. It is a great devotional/self-help title for reading groups, friends and churches. I can easily see this book becoming the next big women’s conference. Many will benefit from this book and the women who have shared within. You will be surprised at all the little things you will learn or be reminded of that will encourage you to press on, keep the faith and fight the fight.

**Reveiwed for**

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fly Away Home

Jennifer Weiner
Atria Books, July 13th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9427-0, 401 pg.

Fly away home is the beautifully written story of Sylvie, a politicians wife, and her two daughters Diana and Lizzie. In the wake and aftermath of scandal these three women are forced to face the truth about themselves including who they are, who they want to be and what they want out of life. The women deal with past issues as well as present. Weiner does a wonderful job of taking the serious issues of commitment, self-esteem, identity and choices and mixing them with comical moments.

Meet the women of Fly Away Home:

Sylvie: Wife of Senator Richard Woodruff. Sylvie has spent her life in her husbands service, helping him, guiding him and focusing on him. After his affair is brought into the open, Sylvie must re-evaluate who she is and who she wants to be. She must make the biggest decision of all. Will she be able to trust and forgive?

Diana: The eldest daughter of Sylvie and Richard Woodruff. After watching her parents marriage, Diana has a very clear path for her life and how she wants it to be. While everything makes sense on paper, Diana forgets about the heart and love. When she is reminded her world is turned upside down and she must choose to love or not to love? Will she be happy?

Lizzie: (Elizabeth) The youngest daughter of the Woodruff’s and the family screw-up. Returning from rehab, Lizzie is determined to be better, to make something of herself, and to stay clean. It seems the world doesn’t want to make this easier for her, and her family isn’t in the best state to help. Will she be able to overcome of one the hardest parts of her life? Will she learn from the rehab and will she survive the shock and surprises she will encounter along the way?

The novel is divided into three sections. Each section skillfully sets up the next and smoothly transitions into it. Each section is divided into chapters, entitled by the woman who narrates the chapter. The first section focuses on past memories as well as current happenings. The second section dives deeper into the issues of the women, each leading to the point of no return. The third and final section brings the three women together. They face the past, present and future together and discover where home truly is.

Jennifer Weiner did a wonderful job with this novel. Fly away home quickly moved its way up the list of my favorite novels by Weiner. She encompasses so many relationships and focuses on them throughout the book. It is skillfully written and will make you laugh as well as feel the emotions of each character. You will find yourself relating to each character in your own way and rooting for them to find comfort and happiness. Fly Away Home is a heartbreaking, insightful novel, full of humor and interpersonal relationships. It will easily become a novel you will not want to put down, a novel that will carry you through many emotions, a novel you simply wont want to end.