Friday, July 30, 2010

Make Ahead Meals Cookbook Giveaway from Audrey's Give Aways!

Audrey's Give Aways is hosting a Cookbook Giveaway... this cookbook looks right up my alley and I wanted to share it with all of you.
Im not a mom (unless you count my puppies), but I am terribly busy with working full-time and attending school at night.. so any help I can get in the cooking department I'll take.
Audrey has a review and pictures of some of the meals she made from the cookbook and they all look delicious. If the book interests you, go over to Audrey's site and enter for the cookbook.
Good Luck!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Racous Year of Eating Locally
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (April 24, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030734732X

Genre: Non-Fiction

Received book in Shelfari Book Chat Book Swap

The authors of this book memoir their journey of eating locally (with-in 100 miles radius) for a year. This idea comes into fruition one day when they are in a remote location and only have a few items on hand and can't get to a store. They must feed themselves and their guests on what they can find locally. They fish and forage for mushrooms and veggies from their old garden and come up with a meal that proves you can make something good from seemingly nothing (of course you really need to know how to cook first - and be a little adventurous).

At the first of Spring they start their journey with only eating foods the come from with-in 100 mile radius of their home and it starts out a little bumpy. Sure they can find food, living in the Vancouver area, but it's expensive and again, you must have a creative cooking bone to accomplish this task. Their first meal cost them $128.87. This is when they realized the challenge they were facing. Being able to sustain this lifestyle will be harder then they imagined.

There were alot of good scenes in this book, I felt it honest and interesting. There were parts about the food itself that bored me a bit, but the relationships and the events were great. I really liked how they gave themselves a free pass when they were invited to a neighbors house for dinner (not alienating their friends) and when they travelled. I love the idea also of being able to bring food home from 100-miles of where they travelled to as well. Now, I am not one who would normally consider doing something like this but as soon as I finished Chapter One (March) I was sold on the idea. I started looking at local eating websites and all of a sudden this is something I'd really like to try to do. Living in Southern New Jersey should make things easier for me, right? We have so many farmers markets right near me. Well, Im seriously considering trying it. I think that the ramp of this task would be tremendous but once you got the hang of it (Canning, freezing, etc) it would end up being very rewarding.

This books fits the following Categories/Challenges for me:
  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge
  • Truth is Stranger than Fiction Reading Challenge
  • RYOB Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Amazing Book WIN for the WoWOs - Year of Books Contest Win!

I entered a Year of Books contest at Leah Stewart's Facebook page (you can also find her at her website Leah Stewart is the author of several books and she hosted a MAJOR contest for book clubs and I won books for the WoWO Book Club!!

This is just absolutely amazing that we (The WoWO's) won 10 copies of 12 different AMAZING books.

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, by Kevin Wilson
(5 Stars on

Kevin Wilson's characters inhabit a world that moves seamlessly between the real and the imagined, the mundane and the fantastic. "Grand Stand-In" is narrated by an employee of a Nuclear Family Supplemental Provider—a company that supplies "stand-ins" for families with deceased, ill, or just plain mean grandparents. And in "Blowing Up On the Spot," a young woman works sorting tiles at a Scrabble factory after her parents have spontaneously combusted.

Southern gothic at its best, laced with humor and pathos, these wonderfully inventive stories explore the relationship between loss and death and the many ways we try to cope with both.

*** We've already received this book from Kevin and it looks really interesting! ***

The Truth About Delilah Blue, by Tish Cohen
(3.5 Stars on

Delilah Blue Lovett has always been a bit of an outsider, ever since her father moved her from Toronto to L.A. when she was eight, claiming Delilah's mother no longer wanted to be part of their family. Twenty now and broke, but determined to be an artist like her errant mom, Delilah attends art class for free—by modeling nude at the front of the room, a decision that lifts the veil from her once insular world. While she struggles to find her talent, her father, her only real companion, is beginning to exhibit telltale signs of early-onset Alzheimer's. And her mother, who Delilah always assumed had selfishly abandoned them, is about to reappear with a young daughter in tow... and a secret that will change everything. Delilah no longer knows which parent to trust—the only one she can really rely on is the most broken person of all: herself.

In a new novel as witty, sparkling, and poignant as her acclaimed Inside Out Girl, author Tish Cohen uncovers the humor and heart within the most dysfunctional of families.

** This just came out in June and I LOVE chick lit so I'm really looking forward to this one. I first saw this one available as an ARC (I believe) and the cover caught my eye.***

A Maze of Grace, by Trish Ryan

(Not Rated on

In her first book, Trish Ryan chronicled the ways in which finding faith lead her to the happily-ever-after ending that had eluded her for so long. Only it wasn't an ending. It was a beginning.

In A MAZE OF GRACE, Ryan picks up where she left off, sharing the early years of her marriage, and the challenges that both shaped and startled her: temptations regarding fidelity, the anxiety of shifting body image, the awkward nature of following Jesus in a decidedly secular family and city, and struggles (depression, trying to conceive) that made her wonder if God had lost her file.

With appealing candor, Ryan sweeps the reader into her life and ponders questions and issues that we all face, dropping nuggets of wisdom along the way that are sure to inspire, encourage and help readers from all walks of life.

** This just came out in June and is the second book of a series, I'll be looking into if we should read the first book to enjoy the second or if they can be read stand alone. I am not really into religious books but if an author is willing to give me copies, I'm open to reading anything for a group discussion. Her first book (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) has 5 stars on, so this should be pretty good. **

The Love Goddess’s Cooking School, by Melissa Senate

(Not Rated on

A charming story about a woman who inherits her grandmother's cooking school in a small town in Maine, and finds her happy ending in the process.

**Short and Sweet Synopsis. This book doesn't come out until October, so the book cover isn't even shown on Amazon yet. But based on the other books that Melissa Senate has written, something tells me this is going to be a goodie. Im anticipating really enjoying this one for sure.**

The Embers, by Hyatt Bass

(2.5 Stars on

A novel about a once-ascendant Upper East Side family that has crumbled in the aftermath of a tragedy for which the father has been held responsible, and how they put the pieces of their lives back together.

** With only 6 ratings on and the fact that it just came out in May of this year, this 2.5 rating doesn't bother me. The premise seems interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading it. **

The Last Will of Moira Leahy, by Therese Walsh

(5 Stars on

This haunting debut novel explores the intense bond of sisterhood as a grieving twin searches for her own identity in the ruins of her sister's past.

Moira Leahy struggled growing up in her prodigious twin's shadow; Maeve was always more talented, more daring, more fun. In the autumn of the girls' sixteenth year, a secret love tempted Moira, allowing her to have her own taste of adventure, but it also damaged the intimate, intuitive relationship she'd always shared with her sister. Though Moira's adolescent struggles came to a tragic end nearly a decade ago, her brief flirtation with independence will haunt her sister for years to come.

When Maeve Leahy lost her twin, she left home and buried her fun-loving spirit to become a workaholic professor of languages at a small college in upstate New York. She lives a solitary life now, controlling what she can and ignoring the rest–the recurring nightmares, hallucinations about a child with red hair, the unquiet sounds in her mind, her reflection in the mirror. It doesn't help that her mother avoids her, her best friend questions her sanity, and her not-quite boyfriend has left the country. But at least her life is ordered. Exactly how she wants it.

Until one night at an auction when Maeve wins a
keris,a Javanese dagger that reminds her of her lost youth and happier days playing pirates with Moira in their father's boat. Days later, a book on weaponry is nailed to her office door, followed by the arrival of anonymous notes, including one that invites her to Rome to learn more about the blade and its legendary properties. Opening her heart and mind to possibility, Maeve accepts the invitation and, with it, also opens a window into her past.

Ultimately, she will revisit the tragic November night that shaped her and Moira's destinies–and learn that nothing can be taken at face value–as one sister emerges whole and the other's score is finally settled.

The Last Will of Moira Leahyis a mesmerizing and romantic consideration of the bonds of family, the impossibility of forgetting, and the value of forgiveness.

** This sounds amazing! **

Life After Yes, by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

(3.5 Stars on

"Music plays. Dad appears. I walk with him, eyes fastened to the floor. When I look up, something is very wrong. There are three grooms."

This is the story of Quinn—born Prudence Quinn O'Malley—a confused young Manhattan attorney who loses her father on that tragic September morning that changed everything. Now, at an existential crossroads in her life, Quinn must confront impossible questions about commitment and career, love and loss. Her idealistic beau desperately wants a wedding, and whisks her away to Paris just to propose. But then Quinn has a dream featuring judges and handcuffs and Nietzsche and Britney . . . and far too many grooms. Suddenly, her future isn't so clear. Quinn's world has become a minefield of men—some living, some gone, and traversing it safely is going to take a lot more than numerous glasses of pinot grigio.

Life After Yes is a blisteringly honest, thoroughly modern tale of life and love in chaos, marking the arrival of a truly exciting new voice in contemporary fiction.

**Have to admit I've been eying this one up. Just came out in May and since I saw that cover for the first time, which I loved, I've been wanting to read this one. ***

The Lost Girls, by Amanda Pressner, Holly Corbett, & Jennifer Baggett

(5 Stars on

Jen, Holly, and Amanda are at a crossroads. They're feeling the pressure to hit certain milestones—scoring a big promotion, finding a soul mate, having 2.2 kids—before they reach their early thirties. When personal challenges force them to reevaluate their lives, they decide it's now or never to do something daring. Unable to gain perspective in fast-paced Manhattan, the three twentysomethings quit their coveted media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to travel the globe. Dubbing themselves the Lost Girls, they embark on an epic yearlong search for inspiration and direction.

As they journey 60,000 miles across four continents and more than a dozen countries, Jen, Holly, and Amanda step far outside of their comfort zones, embracing every adventure and experience the world has to offer—shooting blowguns with Yagua elders in the Amazon, learning capoeira on the beaches of Brazil, volunteering with preteen girls at a school in rural Kenya, hiking with Hmong villagers in Vietnam, and driving through Australia in a psychedelic camper van. Along the way, the Lost Girls find not only themselves but also a lifelong friendship. Ultimately, theirs is a story of true sisterhood—a bond forged by sharing beds and backpacks, enduring exotic illnesses, fending off aggressive street vendors, trekking across rivers and over mountains, and standing by one another through heartaches, whirlwind romances, and everything in the world in between.

This candid and compelling memoir will speak to anyone who has ever felt the desire to spread her wings and discover the world with her best friends by her side.

** This one Just came out in May as well. I love that this is a memoir and not fiction (even though I'd love it as fiction as well). I feel like I'll really be able to relate to this one. **

Exley, by Brock Clarke
(Not Rated on

** Not due out until October 2010, there is no synopsis of this on On Good reads it's rated 4.2 Stars with the following Synopsis - Looks promising!**

A nine-year-old boy named Miller, who lives in Watertown, NY, struggles to make sense of his father's disappearance, for which he blames himself. Later, when he is convinced that his father is lying in a coma in the local VA hospital, he searches for the one person he thinks can save his father, the famously reclusive--and dead--author, Frederick Exley, Watertown native and author of the "fictional memoir" A Fan's Notes, his father's favorite book. Told in alternating voices of the young boy and the therapist the boy's mother has hired to help him, Exley is ultimately an exploration of the difference between what we believe to be real and what isreal and how difficult it is to reconcile the two.

Pug Hill, by Alison Pace
(4 Stars on

For Holly Golightly, there was always Tiffany's. For me, there's always Pug Hill. For as long as I've lived in New York, whenever I've just wanted to think, or relax, or be happy, or even sad, my destination of choice has been, without fail, Pug Hill.

For Hope McNeill, pugs are love, unconditional friendship, happiness, and freedom-all qualities currently in short supply in her own life. She's also short on time and apartment space, and for those reasons she doesn't have a pug of her own. But she does have Pug Hill in Central Park, where pugs (and their owners) from all over New York City convene.

She also has a serious crush on one of her co-workers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a flailing relationship with her squash-playing, cold-weather-loving boyfriend, and an unspeakable fear of public speaking. When Hope's father calls with a daunting assignment-to make a speech at her parent's fortieth wedding anniversary party-Hope is completely taken off guard. As a last resort, she signs up for a public speaking class, but can't help wondering, will it be enough?

Some fears are so big that even all the pugs in the world might not be enough...

**I saw this at a book store last year and was VERY close to buying it. Mostly because of the dogs honestly and I didn't buy it because I really didn't know if it was any good. Based on the rating on and the synopsis, I think I'd like it. Although now I'm glad I didn't buy it then because I can enjoy it with my book club now! :)**

Sea Escape, by Lynne Griffin
(4 Stars on

A sweeping story spanning from the idyllic 1950s through the present, about the people, places, and things each of us holds on to.

** Not much of a synopsis, but this book came out this month so I'm sure it will be updated at some point. Certainly has potential to be a good women's fiction book. **

Good Things I Wish You, by A. Manette Ansay
(4 Stars on

The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill returns with a story of two unlikely romances—one historical, the other modern-day—separated by thousands of miles and well over a century.

Battling feelings of loss and apathy in the wake of a painful divorce, novelist Jeanette struggles to complete a book about the long-term relationship between Clara Schumann, a celebrated pianist and the wife of the composer Robert Schumann, and her husband's protÉgÉ, the handsome young composer Johannes Brahms. Although this legendary love triangle has been studied exhaustively, Jeanette—herself a gifted pianist—wonders about the enduring nature of Clara and Johannes's lifelong attachment. Were they just "best friends," as both steadfastly claimed? Or was the relationship complicated by desires that may or may not have been consummated?

Through a chance encounter, Jeanette meets Hart, a mysterious, worldly entrepreneur who is a native of Clara's birthplace, Leipzig, Germany. Hart's casual help with translations quickly blossoms into something more. There are things about men and women, he insists, that do not change. The two embark on a whirlwind emotional journey that leads Jeanette across Germany and Switzerland to a crossroads similar to that faced by Clara Schumann—also a mother, also an artist—more than a century earlier.

Accompanied by photographs, sketches, and notes from past and present, A. Manette Ansay's original blend of fiction and history captures the timeless nature of love and friendship between women and men.

** Looks good! **

To see a list of all the winners and all the great books that were offered up, go here.

Thank you Leah for hosting this fabulous contest! If any of these books interest you, be sure to check back with the WoWO review posts so see what we thought of them.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. DIck

5 Stars / Favorite

Pub. Date: May 1996
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 256pp
ISBN: 0345404475
Edition Description: Reissue
OWN: Keeper Shelf

In the year 2021 (the original printing is set in 1992, but this version has 2021 at the setting), years after World War Terminus, humans have either died or emigrated to Mars. Those who choose to emigrate are enticed with andriod servants and those who have stayed behind on earth risk radiation poisoning and risk being classified as "Special".

One of the most important things when staying behind on earth is the status of owning an animal. Caring for an animal somehow shows you have empathy and humanity. Some, even the protagonist Rick Deckard, pretend to have animals or have synthetic animals. Deckard when his sheep Groucho died, didn't want anyone to know that he no longer had an animal so he replaced it with a synthetic sheep. One of the most interesting elements for me was the Empathy Box, a box that controls your emotional state of mind.

In this novel we follow Dekard while he hunts down androids who are pretending to be human. We also follow John Isidore, who is a driver for an synthetic animal repair shop, who is classified as "Special" and cannot leave Earth. The stories and relationships that develop in this story explore the age old question of "what makes us human?" I personally love stories like this and this was no exception. Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep is staying with me on my keeper shelf. This book was the inspiration behind the BladeRunner movie, which I don't think I've ever seen but I will now for sure. I am not sure what kept me from reading this book, but Im glad I finally did.

This book fits the following categories/challenges for me:
  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge
  • RYOB Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

June Reading Wrap-Up

June was another slow reading and posting month for me as my night class started and I've been SWAMPED with reading for school instead of pleasure. My apologies for my late June wrap-up post but better late than never.

I finished the following books in the month of June:

I have to say that this wasn't a great reading month but Wild Heart and Eat, Pray, Love made it worth the while. You can't win them all.

My favorite book of the month was Wild Heart by Lori Brighton, which was the WoWO book club read this month. I think that this Debut novel is a great start to a wonderful career for Lori. I'm looking forward the next book in this series from her.

My least favorite book of the month was The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. This was my first Kingsolver book and I will give her another try as I've heard this isn't her best book.

Eat, Pray, Love is next months WoWO book club read (July 30th) so I will be reposting my review with the book club discussion review at the end of the month.

I also managed to finish my New Authors Challenge that runs through December 2010. I was aiming for 15 new authors this year and I'm already at 18. I'll continue to work on it and see how far I can take it passed. I love reading new authors and finding new gems that I've never read before.

Some of the books coming up next month for me are:

  • Fallen by Lauren Kate
  • The short second life of bree tanner by Stephenie Meyer
  • Tall, Dark & Dead by Tate Hallaway (carried over from last month)
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon
  • Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
  • Do Andriods dream of electric sheep by Philip K. Dick

So check back during the month to see the various reviews.

*Above image was borrowed from

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Pub. Date: January 2001 (orig. pub. 1942)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback, 224pp
Series: C. S. Lewis Signature Classics
ISBN: 0060652934
Library Loan

In Episolatory format, the Screwtape Letters is the communication of the devil Screwtape to his nephew on earth, Wormwood. Wormwood is on earth to secure human souls for hell. These letters from Screwtape give guidance to Wormwood on how to handle "the patient", the human he is trying to secure the soul of for hell. Through these letters we learn about the situation on earth with Humans and how they can be swayed to go towards evil ways.

I think myself and this book got off to a bad start, I must have started out reading the book while distracted because I didn't realize at first that these were letters from hell. The terms "The Enemy" made me wonder if the enemy was god or the devil at first. Once I figured it out I liked it a little better. I went back and re-read the prologue of the book and realized that I was mistaken in not being sure who "the Enemy" was referring to. I LOVE the idea of this book, coming from the perspective of evil but we only learn from one side of the conversation and I would have liked to have seen back and forth communications from the uncle and nephew.

The book fills the following challenges for me:
  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge
  • PBT Bingo - Christian Living Tag