Friday, June 25, 2010

June Hatchette Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! I've notified the winners and they have until Monday evening to send me their mailing addresses. Thank you again to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for generously sponsoring these giveaways!

Babushka's Beauty Secrets: Old World Tips for a Glamorous New You Ravished by a Highlander The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion

by Raya Ruder and Susan Campos

littleone -confirmed
cenya2- confirmed
HilLesha - confirmed

jellybelly82158- confirmed
tiredwkids- confirmed
hawaiismn - confirmed
castings- confirmed

womackcm - confirmed
hillary26 - confirmed
unknownkreature - confirmed

Hatchette Audio Book Winners

Congratulations!! I've contacted the winners and they have until Monday evening to send me their mailing information. Thank you all for participating and to Hatchette Audio for generously sponsoring this giveaway.

The 9th Judgment (The Women's Murder Club) God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898
Deliver Us from Evil Men and Dogs: A Novel

anthy_st - confirmed
monacart32 - confirmed
bloggyig- confirmed

denny - confirmed
amt - confirmed
librarygrinch- confirmed

womackcm- confirmed

David Baldacci's Deliver Us From Evil
skkorman- confirmed
mom1248 - confirmed

Katie Crouch's Men and Dogs
forwhlz- confirmed
mitzihinkey - confirmed
monacart32 - confirmed

Book Contest Winners - Part 1

I'd like to apologize for the delay in announcing the results of these giveaways. I've notified the winners and they have until Monday evening to send me their mailing addresses.

A Change in Altitude: A Novel A Touch of Scandal Stay a Little Longer Forbidden Passion

Anita Shreve's A Change in Altitude
lizzi0915 - confirmed
adrianecoros- confirmed
leenbeen2001 - confirmed

Jennifer Haymore's A Touch of Scandal
candc320 - confirmed
pams00 - confirmed
dcf_beth - confirmed
nancyecdavis - confirmed

Dorothy Garlock's Stay A Little Longer
bgcchs - confirmed
mittens0831 - confirmed

Rita Herron's Forbidden Passion
usignolc- confirmed
mlawson17 - confirmed
booklover0226- confirmed
tore923 - confirmed
countrybear52 - confirmed

Friday 56: Week 48 - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

* 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.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel
Here's mine from The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel  by Aimee Bender.   I just received the book this week and am very excited to start reading!
Here's the blurb:

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift:  she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice.

She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother -- her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother -- tastes of despair and desperation.  Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.  Anything can be revealed at any meal.  She can't eat her brother Joseph's toast; a cookie at the local bakery is laced with rage; grape jelly is packed with acidic resentment.

Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden -- truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment, Joseph's clash with the world.

Yet as Rose grows up, she realizes there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern.

Here's my Friday 56:
Why'd you solve it that way? Joseph asked.

It's quicker like this, said George, scratching on a pad.

Wait, do that again, said Joseph. 

Which part?


The toy train bumped along a track of red and blue.  I sat and listened for a half-hour, and not once did Joseph explain something to his guest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free Bobs at Bumble & Bumble University - Model Call on June 28

Bumble & Bumble's Hair Model Project is quite famous for the free haircuts.    The cuts are completely free (no tipping) and are as good or better than the rather expensive ones that I'd gotten in NYC over the years.     The students are professionals -- they've years under their belt and they're studying specialized techniques to perfect their craft.  The teachers are excellent -- friendly, responsive, and they always seem to know how to make the haircut really work for you.   I've had their razor bobs, coloring and the short layers and I've always been quite happy with the results.

The hitch:  
To qualify for the cut, you have to undergo a model call. They'll check out your hair and see if you're a fit for the program.  There are a range of cuts: short layers, razor bob, long layers, etc.  They do coloring as well for certain types of cuts.

Also, the process takes longer than the usual haircut because it's a teaching class.   If you have time, it's worth doing not just for the free haircut but because it's interesting to see how the styles and techniques are taught/learned.  Once you're in the system, you can sign up for free haircuts every 4 months or so.

The next Bumble & Bumble Model Call for Razor Bobs will be on June 28 from 5:30 - 6:15 pm. 

Bb.U Model Project
415 West 13th Street, 6th Floor (between 9th Ave & Washington St)
New York NY 10014
t. 866.7.BUMBLE/866.728.6253

The closest subways are: 
L at 8th Ave.
A/C/E at 14th Street

If approved during the Model Call, you can book a Razor Bob appointment for either:
  • Wednesday, July 7 at 12pm and 2:30pm
  • Friday, July 16 at 12pm and 2:30pm
If those dates don't work, additional dates are available.

How to sign up:
RSVP to  Don't forget to mention that you're signing up for the Model Call on June 28.  Give them your name, a phone number and your email.  It'd be great if you could mention that you'd heard about this on Starting Fresh blog.

Resolved: To engage in at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity every other day

When I began Starting Fresh, I was determined to exercise more, eat healthy, act healthy and get more done.   While I've loved reading and reviewing books,  I haven't taken any real steps to become more active or slimmer. 

It's been easy for me to put off exercising, and then to put off other things (networking, etc) until I slim down and reach other self-improvement goals.

Both my husband and my mother have been encouraging me to "seize the day."  The phrase in Filipino (Tagalog) is "Sayang ang araw" or "Sulitin ang araw" which roughly translated means "Don't waste the day,"  "Make the most of the day."  I usually smile and nod, but haven't improved all that much.

I know I used to get so much more done when I was working 12 to 15 hours a day at the law firm.  Those days, just a fifteen minute break or an hour in the sun was such a luxury.  

So here goes, I had planned to commit to 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day of the week.  I've since I bargained myself down to every other day.   I won't bore everyone by posting about my diet and exercise plan, but I hope you guys don't mind that I mention what I've done (just one line!) the day that I do it.  This will force me to keep honest and keep at it.    And now, I'll head over to my local YMCA.  A blogger I met during BEA mentioned that she reads her Kindle on the elliptical -- I'll give that a try!

Would anyone else like to give this a try? We help keep each other on track!  Shoot me an email at gaby317nyc at

Book Review of I So Don't Do Makeup by Barrie Summy

I So Don't Do Makeup by Barrie Summy is the latest adventure of 13-year old sleuth Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin. 
I So Don't Do Makeup
Sherry Baldwin is far from your typical 13-year old.   Her mother passed away two years ago and Sherry misses her constantly, but overall, her home situation is good. She has an uncannily brilliant younger brother who is very neat, a maths whiz, and a sucker for silly jokes.  Her new stepmom (a.k.a. "The Ruler") teaches at her elementary school and though she's notoriously strict, she's very maternal - caring, great cook (albeit on the healthy side), and fun to be around.  Her father is the same dependable and sweet.  

Plus, Sherry's got Jake, her first and relatively new boyfriend.  They spend time at the mall, visit each other's houses, and hang out with their mutual friends.  A first "real date" is in the offing.  And when things get strange, Jake is by Sherry's side.

Sherry's developed a reputation for sleuthing after she and her dead mom solved a mystery at the zoo.  Now that her friend's makeup business is threatened by tampered products, Sherry's been asked to investigate.    It looks like her investigation will take her undercover -- as a "Jane."  The Janes, as in "plain Janes" have made a conscious choice not to use makeup based on the research that middle school girls who don't use makeup are more focused in school, more successful academically, enter better colleges and have more professionally rewarding careers...  Sherry suspects that the Janes may have decided to sabotage the popular makeup brand to keep young girls makeup free.  

This is the sort of book that I'm setting aside for my niece (and future daughter).  Sherry's engaging, funny, and generally a sweet and wholesome girl.  She's very much a "tween" - eager to become a glamorous, popular teenager.  The things that fascinate her and that she's looking forward to, we've taken for granted for years.   I love that she's sharp too.  What's not to love about a successful girl detective?

The mystery itself is interesting -- there are a good number of suspects and Sherry narrows them down through careful detective work.  Sherry,  her stepmom (The Ruler) and her bosom buddy Junie work the clues with their knowledge of chemistry.  Overall, I highly recommend I So Don't Do Makeup as a quick escape for you, your daughter or a favorite niece.   I'm sending my copy to the school library in the Philippines where I am sure that it'll be a hit!

About the Author:
Barrie Summy grew up in Canada on a steady diet of books and tobogganing. She tries to read a book a week and always breaks for tea and cookies at three o'clock.

Barrie lives in California with her husband and their four children. She's currently hard at work on her next book. Please visit her at

Check out Barrie Summy's blog, too!  She's giving away autographed copies of her three books, a tote bag, and a T-shirt. The contest ends on June 30, 2010. 

  I So Don't Do Mysteries     I So Don't Do Spooky    I So Don't Do Makeup

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lightning Review: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison

This is something new that I'd like to try.   Instead of a long and detailed review, here are lightning reviews that are meant to be a snapshot of the book.  I'll tell you my impressions of the book, what I liked best about it and what didn't work for me with brevity.  It's an experiment -- let's see how I do!

The Cold Room
The Cold Room (Taylor Jackson Novels) by J.T. Ellison

The blurb:
Homicide detective Taylor Jackson thinks she's seen it all in Nashville -- but she's never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor.  Once his victim is captured, he contains her in a glass coffin, slowly starving her to death.  Only then does he give in to his attraction.

Later, he creatively disposes of the body by reenacting scenes from famous paintings.  Strangely, similar macabre works are being displayed in Europe.  Taylor teams up with her fiance, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, and New Scotland Yard detective James "Memphis" Highsmythe -- a haunted man who has eyes only for Taylor -- to put an end to The Conductor's art collection.

I first began reading The Cold Room months ago but had found the scenes with The Conductor too disturbing.  When I came back to the book months later and read about Homicide Detective Taylor Jackson, the book turned for me.  Taylor Jackson, Dr. John Baldwin and Memphis Highsmythe are a good team:  their detective work, fighting skills and rapport give the book a lighter side.  The Cold Room is a dark detective thriller offset by the strong woman detective Taylor Jackson -- be prepared for intense and disturbing images.

The book made me realize that I don't enjoy novels that give me a vivid glimpse into the criminal's mind - especially if this results in a violent and sadistic crime.  If you're not overly bothered by dark and twisted psychotics and you enjoy detective thrillers, give this a try because the book itself is gripping and might be more to your taste.  Many other reviewers enjoyed it.   If you'd like to read fuller and more favorable reviews of The Cold Room, head over to Paige Crutcher's review for the Nashville Authors Examiner at The, or Jenn's Mini-Review of March 23, 2010 at Jenn's or January Magazine's March 4, 2010 review.  Each of these reviewers clearly recognized the J.T. Ellion's superb storytelling skills.

ISBN-10: 0778327140- Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Mira Books (March 1, 2010), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, with novels published in 14 countries. A former White House staffer, she moved to Nashville and began research on a passion: forensics and crime. She has worked extensively with the Metro Nashville Police, the FBI and various other law enforcement organizations to research her novels. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and a poorly trained cat. Visit for more insight into her wicked imagination, or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick.