Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review of To The Dogs by Peter Culley

To the DogsPeter Culley's To The Dogs is an engaging coffee table book. Culley discusses the domestication of dogs, the evolving relationship between dogs and humans, and the portrayal of dogs in literature.

But even more interesting than Culley's witty commentary are the wide range of dog photographs. The photos capture images as early as 1851, such as Gertrude Kasebier's Charging Thunder, American Indian, ca. 1900. And modern photos, such as Chris Steele-Perkins' Alcoholic Living Alone With His Dog, Birmingham (1978). The pictures depict the close friendship of dog and human.

There are photos of well heeled dogs and their keepers from historical figures to actors, socialites, artists and designers: General George Custer and his Dog (1911), Martin Parr's Valentino and His Business Partner Giancarlo Giametti Check Erin's Outfit Before the Show, Paris (2001), Bruno Barbey's The French Fashion Designer Yves Saint-Laurent at Home, Paris (1983), Steve Shapiro's Andy Warhol (1965), David Seymour's Mrs. Peggy Guggenheim in her Palace on the Grand Canal, Venice (1950), Dennis Stock's Grey Advertising (1959), and Inge Morath's Jane Mansfield, Hollywood, California (1959).

To The Dogs captures dogs of all types engaged in play, work, and relaxing, as well as pictures of dogs in popular culture. The book is a quick and fun read - and sure to be appreciated by dog lovers everywhere.

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2008), 224 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Thank you so much to Janice and Arsenal Pulp for this review opportunity!

Cym Lowell's Book Review Blog Party - I won a KINDLE!!!


Cym Lowell, international tax lawyer, author, and book blogger, hosts weekly Book Review Blog parties. He's given away Amazon gift certificates, and all sorts of prizes that book lovers enjoy. For December, he generously offered a Kindle for the grand prize. And I won!!

I'm so excited - I can't believe it. I just wanted to thank Cym and to plug the weekly Book Review Blog Party! Bloggers link up reviews, whether old or new, from any genre. It's a chance to meet other bloggers, read about books that they've enjoyed and to share your own reviews. And win amazing prizes! Thank you again, Cym - I still can't believe it!!

Book Review of Get Cooking: 150 Simple Recipes to Get You Started in the Kitchen by Mollie Katzen

I have often used Mollie Katzan's Moosewood Cookbook and was very excited to review her latest cookbook, Get Cooking. Get Cooking: 150 Simple Recipes to Get You Started in the Kitchen

The blurb:
Get Cooking is the first book from bestselling cookbook author Mollie Katzen designed specifically for beginners, whether you are just starting to cook for yourself or trying to kick the restaurant habit. Unlike most cookbooks, the goal in Get Cooking is to get you in the kitchen no matter what your experience level might be. Along with her own color photographs of each dish throughout, Mollie gives you clear, step-by-step instructions from making everything from classic mashed potatoes to Broccoli-Cheddar Cheese Calzones to Hot Fudge Sundaes (with homemade hot fudge!). With this book, anyone - (you included) can make delicious, fresh food with a lot less expense (and a lot more satisfaction) than ordering in.

You may know Mollie as the author of famous cookbooks as Moosewood Cookbook or The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest. Get Cooking has all the accessibility and personal warmth of those beloved books but is Mollie's first cookbooks for vegetarians and carnivores alike. With Get Cooking, you'll be serving everything from salads (such as Wilted Spinach Salad with Hazelnuts, Goat Cheese, and Golden Raisins) to desserts (try the Cheesecake Bars), with stops along the way for party snacks, a full array of side dishes, and a brilliant assortment of hand-crafted burgers (bean, tofu, and mushroom - as well as beef, turkey, and tuna). Here at last is the cookbook that will make a cook out of everyone.

Get Cooking takes the beginner through all the steps, clearly and briefly, from how to study a recipe to make sure that you have all the ingredients and tools and to understand the whole process of preparing the food to getting it on the table on time.

Each chapter begins with the essential facts about the type of food, the tools and ingredients that you will most often use, and even an assessment when the inexpensive or moderately priced tools and ingredients will suffice and the times when the added expense is worthwhile.

Katzen describes the cuisine as "'Big Tent,' accommodating a broad base of tastes and needs, vegetarian, meat-loving and everything in between." Most of the dishes are familiar - the items that you'd find at a party, picnic, or enjoy at home. We've made the teriyaki chicken thighs and the poached salmon - which were both easy and tasty! I am eager to try the recipes for carmelized balsamic-red onion soup with cheese-topped croutons, linguini with clam sauce, linguine with spinach and peas, green pea and feta quiche, and deeply roasted cauliflower.
The three bean salad, mac and cheese, spaghetti with meatballs, pasta with tuna, white beans, and artichoke hearts, chinese-style peanut noodles, chocolate-chip mint cookies and intensely chocolate brownies are sure to become regulars at our home.

Get Cooking would be excellent for someone just learning to cook - it gives you the essentials of cooking in simple steps and offers tasty rewards for your effort.

Publisher: HarperStudio (October 13, 2009), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:
With more than six million books in print, Mollie Katzen is listed by the New York Times as one of the bestselling cookbook authors of all time. A 2007 inductee into the prestigious James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, and largely credited with moving healthful food from the "fringe" to the center of the American dinner plate, Mollie has been named by Health magazine as one of the "Five Women Who Changed the Way We Eat."

In addition, she is a charter member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Roundtable and an inaugural honoree of the Natural Health Hall of Fame. An award-winning illustrator and designer as well as a bestselling cookbook author and popular public speaker, Mollie is best known as the creator of the groundbreaking classics Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Her other books include the children's trilogy Pretend Soup, Honest Pretzels, and Salad People (referred to as the "gold standard" of children's cookbooks) by the New York Times), and a collaboration with Walter Willett, M.D., of Harvard, on Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less.

Since 2003, Mollie Katzen has been an adviser to Harvard University Dining Services, and co-creator of their new Food Literacy Project. This is the first volume of her new Get Cooking series, continuing Mollie's lifelong mission to spread cooking knowledge and food literacy as broadly as possible.

Visit the Get Cooking website for cooking tips, as a companion to the book, and for a chance to win a copy of Get Cooking.

Thank you so much to Mollie Katzen, Sarah and HarperStudio for this review opportunity!

Friday 56: Week 24 - Harold Evans' My Paper Chase

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's mine:

"Among other things, Howard taught me magic tricks. Of course I hated him at first, not just for his sexual prowess but also in my Christmas stocking I received a velvet bag that could make an egg disappear, and he was better at the trick than I was."
- My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times by Harold Evans

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review of Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection edited by Shana Liebman

Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection
The blurb:
Adapted from Heeb magazine's popular storytelling series, the stories in Sex, Drugs, and Gefilte Fish range from sentimental to strange, vulgar to virtuous, and give an honest and humorous examination of what "Jewishness" means to some of this generation's leading writers, comedians, actors, artists and musicians.

With close to fifty humorous, self-reflective, and angst-ridden tales, this collection has a little something for everyone, including a mentally unstable stalker from New Jersey and an ill-tempered and heartbroken Bigfoot.

Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish captures a unique moment in time for a generation of Jews who have lost their ties with traditional Jewish life, but still consider themselves Jewish. Nevertheless, it's a book that will appeal not only to young, hip Jews, but to anyone who shares its bawdy and irreverent take on traditional and secular life.

While I was excited to review Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't fully appreciate the humor or the nuances of the writing. I found the book thoroughly entertaining, even though I'm not Jewish. The book is divided into six parts: Sex, Drugs, Work, Youth, Family, and Body & Soul. Each part has from six to twelve short stories, each by a different author. The stories of young love, awkward encounters, and self-discovery are sometimes touching, often hilarious, and fun.

The stories aren't connected, so you can start with any story. You'll likely not be able to stop at one. I would read at least three or four at a sitting. No doubt the stories would be even more enjoyable to someone fully familiar with the culture and religion.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 26, 2009), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Thank you so much to Brianna and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Blog Tour of The Scottish Thistle by Cindy Vallar

I am excited to be part of Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour of Cindy Vallar's The Scottish Thistle!

The Scottish Thistle
Thistle is a masked hero of the Highlands, akin to Robin Hood but Thistle helps smuggle goods into the Highlands instead of stealing from the rich. Like Robin Hood, Thistle shares the food and riches with those that need it most. When the book opens with "Thistle" has saved a man traveling alone from an attack. Thistle and his men aid injured Duncan Cameron and take him to their secret quarters.

Duncan Cameron had traveled into the territory searching for the outlawed MacGregor clan with a missive from his lord Lochiel that will require the fiercely independent Rory MacGregor to fulfill her father's decades old promise to marry a person of Lochiel's choosing. This early promise was made as a way to offer Rory the protection of a powerful clan and to give the MacGregor's a better future. They had not expected Rory to become chieftain of the MacGregors.

As chieftain, Rory agrees to marry Duncan Cameron but imposes two conditions: the marriage will be of short duration and it will not be consumated. Duncan agrees to the marriage because his lord demands it, but he agrees to Rory's conditions because he has come to respect and love her. Rory and Duncan slowly settle in to married life on Cameron lands, but their peaceful existence is shattered when the Stewarts ask longtime supporters to aid their return to the throne. Bonnie Prince Charlie drags Rory, Duncan, and all they love into the deadly battle.

If you enjoyed Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, you will surely love The Scottish Thistle. It combines political intrigue, Scottish history, and a powerful love story. Rory MacGregor is strong, courageous, gifted and loyal - she takes on all odds to save those that she loves. Rory is well matched with Duncan Cameron. Duncan is an unmatched warrior and a leader who will fight to the end. While the details of the love story of Rory MacGregor and Duncan Cameron are different from those of Diana Gabaldon's Claire and Jamie, you will find yourself equally admiring of their courage and will and rooting for their survival. I thoroughly enjoyed The Scottish Thistle and recommend it highly!

Publisher: Amber Quill Press, LLC (November 20, 2006) 420 pages.
Review copy courtesy of Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tours and the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
A former librarian, Cindy received the first Friend of Clan Cameron Award at the clan's North American Rally in 2005. She and her husband, Tom, are co-membership directors of the Red River Branch of the Clan Cameron Association. She teaches online workships and spaks to groups about Scottish history and culture, as well as her own passion - maritime pirates. She is the editor of Pirates and Privateers and the Associate Editor of Industry for Solander, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society, for which she pens the "Red Pencil" column where she profiles authors and compares a selection from their published novels with an early draft of that work. She also reviews for their journal, Historical Novels Review. She is an editor and copyeditor, and does freelance editing. She belongs to the Historical Novel Society, the Texas Coalition of Authors, the Scottish Clans of North Texas, the Laffite Society, the National Maritime Historical Society, the Louisiana Historical Society and EPIC. Learn more about her through Cindy Villar's website called Thistles & Pirates.

Thank you so much to Cindy Vallar, Tracee, and Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours for this review opportunity!

Pump Up Your Book sig

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review of These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

These Old Shades
Justin Alistair, the Duke of Avon, is called "Satanas" by friends and enemies alike. He's brilliant, strikingly attractive, wealthy beyond measure and cynical. He has a reputation in London and in Louis XV's Paris as both dangerous and debauched. The Duke of Avon and the Comte de Saint Vire have a longstanding enmity.

When the Duke stumbles upon Leon, a red-headed urchin fleeing punishment from his brutal brother, the Duke intervenes. On a whim, the Duke purchases Leon from his brother, trains him to be his page, takes an interest in his welfare. Leon adores his savior and when it turns out that Leon is not what he seems, the Duke whisks Leon away to England and to safety.

In England, Leon the page is transformed into Leonie Bonnard, ward of the Duke of Avon. Justin looks to his sister Fanny to help Leonie learn to dress and behave like a young lady. When Leon is transformed into the enchanting Leonie, the Duke is surprised by his deep reaction to his young ward. Justin Alistair is equally affected by Leonie's respect and unwavering love for "her Duke."

I loved These Old Shades, it's now one of my favorites because both Leonie and Justin are both decent and loyal but also bitingly witty at the same time. The plot is fun, convoluted, and full of twists. The dialogue sparkles. There is enough drama and romance to keep you reading through the night. If my mother didn't already have a copy of this, I would have ordered her one.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (October 1, 2009)384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Thank you so much to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!

A huge thank you to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!