Category Archives: Bookshelf Bombshells

Best Summer Reads (part 2)

Yes, I know, for many people Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer. This post has been patiently waiting in my draft bin as the blog went through some changes (noticed anything different around here…?). After about two weeks of beating my head on my desk (seriously, I have dent marks) I mostly finished my switch from Blogger to WordPress. I’ll tell you that story another day.

Today is all about books.

I devoured SO MANY fabulous books during these sweltering summer days. Several of my favorites listed below aren’t new, but if you missed them, I highly recommend you pick them up.  And if you missed the books I reccomended on my Best Summer Reads (part 1), check them out here.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

I’m still not sure if this book is a romance, YA, New Adult, or just fiction. I don’t care.
This book Blew. Me. Away. Read the full review at Bookshelf Bombshells. 

 

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

I’d heard so much about this one. While Louisa had a Bridget Jones quality to her (that wonderful self-depreciating English spunk) this story dove into some deep places. What else can you expect from a love story involving a quadriplegic? This book made me cry (dammit, I hate crying), but it also left me filled with beauty and hope. Thrilled Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind is waiting on my Kindle, as she could become one of my favorite authors.

One and Only by Lauren Sandler

A humorous, tough-minded, and honest case for being and having an only child.

Journalist Lauren Sandler is an only child and the mother of one. After investigating what only children are really like and whether stopping at one child is an answer to reconciling motherhood and
modernity, she learned a lot about herself—and a lot about our culture’s assumptions. She brings a passion and a laser-sharp intelligence to the subject that cuts through the anxiety, doubt, misinformation, and judgment about what it means to
be an only child and what it means to have one.

In this heartfelt work, Sandler legitimizes a conversation about the larger societal costs of having more than one. If parents no longer felt they had to have second children to keep from royally screwing up their first, would the majority of them still do it? And if the literature tells us that a child isn’t better off with a sibling than without one, and it’s not something parents truly want for themselves, then whom is this choice serving? One and Only examines these questions, exploring what the rise of the single-child family means for our economies, our environment,
and our freedom. Through this journey, Sandler has quite possibly cracked the code of happiness, demonstrating that having just one may be the way to resolve our countless struggles with adulthood in the modern age.

As an only child raising an only child, there is SO much I need to write about this phenomenal book. That’s why my full review is up at Bookshelf Bombshells. If you’re an only, raising an only, or debating if you should have more kids just because you’re “supposed to,” read the review, then read this book. {If you have a bunch of kids and love your life, you’ll probably hate it. Vive La Différence!} 

 

The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan

Evie and Nicole Glass share a last name. They also shared a husband.

When a tragic car accident ends the life of Richard Glass, it also upends the lives of Evie and Nicole, and their children. There’s no love lost between the widow and the ex. In fact, Evie sees a silver lining in all this heartache—the chance to rid herself of Nicole once and for all. But Evie wasn’t counting on her children’s bond with their baby half-brother, and she wasn’t counting on Nicole’s desperate need to hang on to the threads of family, no matter how frayed. Strapped for cash, Evie cautiously agrees to share living expenses—and her home—with Nicole and the baby. But when Evie suspects that Nicole is determined to rearrange more than her kitchen, Evie must decide who she can trust. More than that, she must ask: what makes a family? 

This book reminded me of growing up in South Florida, for some reason.  Maybe because I miss my Jewish friends and their rich traditions (and I long for a real bagel?). The characters felt like people I knew, and I enjoyed following them along on their journey. Poignant, funny, and fresh.

What are you reading now? Anything worth recommending?

Best Summer Reads (part 1)

Summertime . . . and the readin’s easy. . .

I wish I could read a book a day. There must be a dozen books waiting on my Kindle “To Read” queue. I just sent three books I’m dying to read back to the library. (Gasp! But they were two-weekers, and the was no way I’d get through them without racking up some major late fees.) SO many of my favorite authors shower the bookshelves with new summer releases. I just can’t keep up. And by trying to read so many book in so little time, I certainly have no to write the reviews they deserve. I’m sorry! 

I thought I’d round up some of my recommended summer reads. Some are fresh releases, some I finally got my hands on, and all are fabulous.

Read on, my friends. . .

Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop. Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky. It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

I absolutely adored this book. But as a women’s fiction lover, that’s not too surprising. Instead of me raving, I’ll let one of my fellow Bookshelf Bombshells, a book lover who does not usually appreciate the WF genre, explain what makes this book stand out. {read full review here}

Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool. Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style. 

Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal. So is attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality. When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday “Ladies’ Night” sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined. Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there? 

Heartache, humor, and a little bit of mystery come together in a story about life’s unpredictable twists and turns. Mary Kay Andrews’ Ladies’ Night will have you raising a glass and cheering these characters on.

I’m an unabashed MKA fan. Her books mix laughter with real life, often with a touch of mystery thrown in for fun. This book captures her wit and spunky style better than any of the last few she’s released ( I liked those too, this one’s just even better). And it takes place in my Sunshine State. Pack this one in your beach bag.

Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende

This contemporary coming-of-age story centers upon Maya Vidal, a remarkable teenager abandoned by her parents. Maya grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandmother Nini, whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with a young son, and her grandfather Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer.

When Popo dies, Maya goes off the rails. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as “the vampires,” she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime–a downward spiral that eventually leads to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between warring forces: a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol.

Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. In the care of her grandmother’s old friend, Manuel Arias, and surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in her notebook, as she tries to make sense of her past and unravel the mysteries of her family and her own life.

If I could write like anyone in the world, I’d write like Isabel Allende. A writer can dream. This story differs from most of Allende’s works, as it’s a modern tale dealing with modern problems—loss, addictions, crime, and atonement. Yet every sentence still reads like music, luring readers into her lyrical world through her words.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot-searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion-along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams

I’m late lauding this one. Drunken 50s movie stars, decrepit Italian villages, and cannibals. What else do you need? Seriously, a marvelous tale you won’t want to put down.

***************
More of my favorite books of this summer comming soon.
What books have you fallen in love with this summer?

 

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham’s Debut Novel & Rory Gilmore’s Reading Challenge

Lauren Graham wrote a novel—sharp, poignant, snort-coffee-out-your-nose funny novel that you do not want to miss. Her debut SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY MAYBE earned my Buy It NOW rating over on Bookshelf Bombshells. I absolutely adored this book. Rush over there and read the full review. 

But here’s a quick synopsis from Goodreads:


someday someday maybeFranny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing “important” work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It’s hard to tell if she’ll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won’t call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job. ~from Goodreads

Since Ms Graham’s delightful novel left me to twitching in Gilmore Girl withdrawal, I decided to jump on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

You’ve probably seen this make the rounds, as I’m always a few years late to the party, but I’m a sucker for book lists and reading challenges.  

I’ve had a huge hole in my television viewing pleasure since that smart and sassy show went off the air years ago. {If you never watched it, go back and buy the entire series on dvd. NOW. You won’t regret it.}

Rory Gilmore was a breath of fresh air in a TV world dominated by brainless bimbos fighting over boys and their fifteen minutes of fame. Between her brains, bookworm tendencies, and her witty banter she broke the Hollywood mold of what a typical American teenage girl should be and gave a generation someone to emulate.

And she got the hot guys anyway.

This meme/challenge lists 250 books mentioned by Rory during the show’s run. I didn’t count them to verify.

The books in orange I know I’ve read. I’m embarrassed to admit that there are many on the list I can’t remember if I actually read or just saw the movie. (I’ve been reading for a loooong time…)

How would you do?

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
– read – June 2010
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – read

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
 Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber – started and not finished

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – read
– 2009
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR) – read

Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – started and not finished

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (TBR)
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (TBR)
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini –

Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR) – read

R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy

Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers

Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Color is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – started and not finished

The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

**I’ve caught dozens of books that I should have read, yet they somehow slipped by. I think a few may even be on my bookshelves. I’ll add them to the never-ending to-read list. . .

Betty Goes Vegan: Curry and Wild Rice Soup

Last week I told you about my dalliance with VEGAN cooking via the Betty Goes Vegan cookbook. {Check out the full review HERE. Trust me, it’s worth it.}  Again: I’m NOT vegan. The Limoncello Bundt Cake baked like a science experiment—and yes, by some miracle of food processing chemistry, I can bake a cake with powdered egg replacer. Who knew?

The next day I was sick and craving soup. While perusing the 500+ recipes I spied Curry and Wild Rice Soup. This authors proclaimed the recipe was “one of those soups people expect in a vegan cookbook.” It called to me. I had all of the ingredients on hand after a weekend trip to the farmers market.The recipe contained for no faux meat (scary), but was loaded with fresh veggies and antioxidants (woo-hoo!). And garam masala turns me on—the scent alone can make my heart flutter.

As advertised, the finished product was easy to make and pretty awesome. Not particularly hot or spicy (but that’s just my taste—some people definitely would have zinging tongues). And it was even better the next day for lunch.

See that gorgeous pot pictured above? This recipe marked the debut of my *new* vintage Cousances Dutch oven, graciously passed down from my grandmother. I’m in love with it. Each time I use it, I imagine the dishes my grandmother prepared in it as she traveled through Europe years ago.


Pin ItCURRY AND WILD RICE SOUP
from Betty Goes Vegan: Over 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family

Makes 4 to 6 bowls (made 3 to 4 lunch sized bowls for me)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cups Better Than Boullion vegetable broth, made per package instructions
3 1/2 teaspoons of garam masala curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup raw broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a large stewpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until warm. Use a whisk to blend in the flour. Once the flour and oil have made a paste, add the broth and continue to whisk your soup until the flour has blended in. Add the curry powder and coconut milk and continue to whisk until the curry powder has blended into the soup.

Toss in the peas, wild rice, broccoli, and bell pepper and simmer until the vegetables are tender. With a large wooden spoon, mix in the black pepper, basil leaves, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Serve warm and often.

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Full Book Review HERE

 

Betty Goes Vegan: Over 500 Classic Recipes  for the Modern Family
Annie & Dan Shannon
Grand Central Life & Style
$26.99 (hardcover), $10.67 (Kindle) 480 pages

Betty Goes Vegan: Limoncello Bundt Cake

AM NOT VEGAN. Nor do I have any intention of becoming a vegan. But the whole concept of Betty Goes Vegan: Over 500 Classic Recipes  for the Modern Family intrigued me, so I reviewed it for Bookshelf Bombshells.

How can Betty Crocker, the BFF of every pearls-and-apron wearing 50s housewife be cool—and vegan? In a few words— if you are vegan, you need this book. If not—it’s clever, loaded with comfort food (even vegan venison! eek!), and full of enough geeky Star Wars references to make anyone laugh.  {Check out the full review HERE. Trust me, it’s worth it.}

I don’t know about you, but bundt cakes aren’t a staple in my home. I do have a pretty cobalt blue bundt pan—purchased once upon a time to make some chocolate rum cake, I believe—but I only break it out every few years. Plus every time I hear the word “bundt” I think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (You remember, the scene where fiance Ian’s (John Corbett) WASPy parents bring a buntd cake to the very Greek parent’s massive party and the Greek mom puts a flower arrangement in the center of the cake…)

I am also NOT a good baker. Why I chose a from-scratch cake recipe to try (opposed to my normal Betty-in-a-Box route) I don’t know. Wait—I do know—LIMONCELLO.

I figured, even if the cake turned out nasty, I could drown it in limoncello and no one would care. But the cake was NOT nasty. It was actually pretty good. Now, lemon cakes don’t pack the oomph of a decadent death-by-chocolate masterpiece. But they’re steady, solid, and if you’re a lemon fan like me, almost a comfort food. This cake was dense and moist. Since it is my first vegan cake (and my first scratch cake in a while) I’m not sure if that was me or the recipe. This had a density more like a donut.

But donuts are GOOD, so we didn’t care. In fact, we had an overabundance of desserts in the house, so we ate much of this baby for Sunday breakfast. (It’s okay. I paired it with yogurt and fruit. And it’s vegan anyway, so that’s all like health food, right? Well, minus the liquor…)

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LIMONCELLO BUNDT CAKE
from Betty Goes Vegan: Over 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family
by Annie & Dan Shannon
 Makes one bundt cake

CAKE

Baking spray
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer, just the powder,  not made per the instructions on the package
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon crushed pink Himalayan salt
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons limoncello

GLAZE

1/2 cup margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/4 cuplimoncello (best homemade recipe HERE)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a fluted tube cake pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, blend your sugar and margarine with a handheld electric mixer on a high setting until it is smooth and fluffy. Blend in the applesauce and egg replacer.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt until completely blended. Add the flour mixture to the margarine mixture a little at a time, alternating with the coconut milk. Each time you add flour or coconut milk, use your mixer to blend i tin completely. Once your flour and coconut milk are completely blended in, add your lemon zest and limoncello and blend on a medium setting for 2 to 3 minutes. You want your after to be fluffy and smooth.

Pour your batter into the pan evenly. Use a spatula to spread it out to make a nice even layer. It’s important to make sure the batter is even because the cake will be sitting with the rimmed ring on top. If you see any ridges or clumps, make sure to smooth them out now.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Now, not every fluted cake pan is the same, and some are deeper than others. So start checking on your cake at around 330 minutes. Use a bamboo skewer to test if your cake is done. If you can poke the bamboo skewer in a few times and remove it cleanly, you’re done. Once you’ve pulled the cake out of the oven, immediately poke it several more times—like 15 times—with the bamboo skewer. You only want to go in about as deep as a fork would go. You’re releasing the moisture from the cake to help it cool and also to help release it from the pan. Let your cake cool for 20 minutes and then turn your cake pan upside down on a large serving dish to cool to room temp.

While your cake is baking, make your glaze. In a saucepan, melt your margarine over low heat. Once your margarine is melted, use a whisk to blend in your powdered sugar. Then blend in the lemon zest and limoncello. The glaze is pretty sweet. If you taste it an you are, like, “This is too sweet,” just add a little more melted margarine and lemon zest until you get the flavor you like. You’re going to want to keep your glaze warm till you drizzle it over the top of the cake.

Once your cake is cool, drizzle your glaze over the top. In the springtime, it’s really nice to decorate those lemon cakes with edible flowers and completely worth hunting them down.

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Full Book Review HERE

 

Betty Goes Vegan: Over 500 Classic Recipes  for the Modern Family
Annie & Dan Shannon
Grand Central Life & Style
$26.99 (hardcover), $10.67 (Kindle) 480 pages

Fifty Shades of Chicken: Book Review and Recipe {Go Get the Butter Breasts}

Fifty Shades of Chicken. Yes, it’s a real book. And in my humble opinion, far better than that poorly written smutty best seller.

What happens when a young, free-range chicken falls under the mercy of a dominating, ravenous chef (who happens to also sport fabulous abs)? You get a delightfully quasi-erotic collection of food porn that will leave you salivating for more.

My review, both tantalizing and freaking hilarious, is up at BookshelfBombshells.com. You know you are just dying to read it.  But first, check out the dominating chef Shifty Blades’ abs trussing skills.

Whenever I review a cookbook, I select a recipe to sample. The selections in this book were almost just too scrumptious, too tempting— Dripping Thighs (roasted chicken thighs with sweet and sour onions), Cream-Slicked Chick (crisp baked chicken with honey mustard and lime), and yes, even Cock au Vin (braised chicken with red wine, mushrooms, and onions).

Tell me those titles would not make for some invigorating table conversation.

While many recipes appealed to my rather open-minded tastes, I decided if I was going to sample one of Shifty Blades’s epicurean fantasies, I was going to be bad—not just naughty, but slathered in sumptuous butter, calories, and decadence bad. I went all the way out of my (healthy eating) comfort zone with Go Get the Butter Breasts (sauteed chicken breasts with aromatic brown butter and hazelnuts). These babies just oozed desire—hot, gooey, and utterly sinful. I had to make them early, pounding the breasts into submission, gently spicing them, then slathering them with creamy butter. I tried to resist the fragrant flesh while I photographed them in all their glory, but I gave into temptation. No self-control. Holy shit, they were divine. Perhaps the dish was not my best culinary performance, but it was eagerly devoured by all, and a decadent aroma lingered in the house for hours. One diner innocently announced, “Like, whoa, that had some bang in it.” If only he knew.

Go Get the Butter Breasts 
(a.k.a. sauteed chicken breasts with aromatic brown butter and hazelnuts)
serves 2 to 4
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 boneless, skinless (about 8 ounces each), patted dry with paper towels
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
¾ teaspoon finely grated orange zest (from one small orange)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped, toasted hazelnuts or almonds (toasting instructions here)

1. Using a mortar and pestle, or the flat side of a knife, crush the coriander seeds and put them into a bowl.
2. Using the side of a rolling pin, gently pound the breasts until they submit, flattening them ¼ inch thick. Put the chicken into the bowl with the coriander and add the salt, orange zest, pepper, and nutmeg and toss to coat. Let marinate in the fridge for at least and hour, or better, up to 6 hours.
3. Melt 1 ½ tablespoons of the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat and let it simmer until it turns golden brown and starts to smell nutty. Add the chicken in batches and cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
4. Melt the remaining ½ tablespoon butter in the pan and add the nuts. Let them heat up and crisp until very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve on top of the breasts.

Devour.
You know you want to read the full book review now. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll feel a tantalizing flutter down there which could be hunger…or something else…

And if I haven’t won you over yet: GO READ THE REVIEW. You won’t be sorry.

And watch this book trailer. (narrated by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart. I think.)

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My Berlin Kitchen: Review and Recipe

My latest review for Bookshelf Bombshells, My Berlin Kitchen, is a delightful tale of how one thoroughly confused, kitchen-mad romantic broke off her engagement, quit her dream job, and went across the ocean in search of happiness. And food. Lots of food.

 Some of you may know author Luisa Weiss from her popular food blog The Wednesday Chef.  Inspired by other excellent food blogs and drowning in stacks of recipes she’d clipped from the Wednesday food section, Weiss set out to test the recipes, just for a year. That year flew by. She gained a dedicated readership following her mix of personal journal and cooking diary (and now reading her “love story with recipes”).

Now according to Luisa, there are two camps of potato salad eaters: mayo (rich and creamy) or hot vinegar (light and sour).  Being a Southern girl, I was raised with both feet firmly planted in the mayo camp. Potato salad should contain big old Idaho potatoes, hard boiled eggs, onions, MAYO, and MUSTARD (but NO relish, please). It should be firm, creamy, and yellow with sprinkles of salt, pepper, and maybe paprika on top.  My mom, despite growing up in Germany, is renowned for her Southern potato salad (based on one of my dad’s family recipes). I stand as firm as a scoop of that divine salad: mayo & mustard rule.

But I’m also totally open to new foods. I had to give it a try.

And I’m delighted I did. Though the hot vinegar mix made my house smell like a German restaurant (tip: open windows before boiling), the finished salad was crisp, vibrant, and not at all overpowering. Everyone in the house liked it. The tart/sour flavor mellowed  over time (it makes a good-sized batch, so we ate it over several days).

Though I don’t think it will replace my family recipe, it was a nice change and would be a hit at any party or potluck. Try it!

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Kartoffelsalat (Potato Salad)
from My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

2 lbs. Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup beef or chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley

  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot with cold salted water just to cover. Bring to boil with the lid on; then reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until they are just tender. Depending on their size, this should take between 20 and 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them cool for at least an hour or two and up to overnight.
  2.  Peel the potatoes and cut them into very think slices, about 1/8-inch thick. Put the potato slices into a serving bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a 10-inch saute pan and add the onions. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Pour in the vinegar and the broth. Add the mustard and stir well. Let the mixture simmer over low heat for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Carefully y whisk in the oil, and then pour the hot marinade over the sliced potatoes and mix well. The potatoes will take a few minutes to absorb all the dressing. Add the salt and add as much freshly ground pepper as you’d like.
  5. Just before serving, add the minced parsley to the bowl and mix well. taste for seasoning and serve.

Variations:
If you’d like bits of bacon or Speck in your salad, dice up 3 1/2 ounces and fry the bacon or Speck in the butter for a few minutes before adding the chopped onions (reduce the amount of butter by a talbespoon0.

Or add 1/3 cup of diced French cornichons to the finished salad to bump up the sour, crunchy flavor.

****

I used red potatoes (I had 5 pounds just begging to be used up), red onions (ditto), and about 2 ounces of Speck. I also let the potatoes sit overnight (as Weiss recommended) and they were ridiculously easy to slice by hand. (I’ve sworn off mandolins because I have an overwhelming desire to keep all ten digits.)

Try it. You’ll like it.

And don’t forget to drop by Bookshelf Bombshells for the full book review.
 
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On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves

Island Dreams: Indie Phenom Tracey Garvis Graves

Have you read On the Island yet? If not, you absolutely should. Go over to Bookshelf Bombshells for the full book review.

On the Island‘s author, Tracey Garvis Graves, could be the poster girl for Indie publishing success stories.

She wrote a compelling, risky, and slightly addictive romance about two people who shouldn’t be together stranded on a desert island. She sent off the dreaded query letters hoping to find an agent to represent her. Instead of snapping up the debut author’s intriguing story, agents quickly ripped off rejection letters. The book didn’t quite fit into the right genres. The storyline could be dangerous. It just wasn’t for them.

While most writers would crawl into a cave of self-doubt and shove their precious manuscript into the back of a drawer to rot, Tracey fought back. She decided to self-publish On the Island.

Now, many of us are scared of self-publishing. I know I am. There is the stigma that if you self-pub it’s because your book isn’t good enough for the mainstream bookstore shelves, it’s a sad reject filled with poor grammar, typos, and a plot seemingly contrived by a sixth-grader.

If you have read any of the millions of Indie self-published books out there (and if you haven’t, why not?) you know this is not always the case.

She uploaded her edited manuscript onto Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Then this suburban mom harnessed the power of the internet, promoting her  book to the top of the best sellers lists. On the Island became a word-of-mouth (and blog) phenomena.

I learned about the book through another blogger. Actually, several blogs, but when someone who normally doesn’t talk about books mentioned it was a must read (thanks MomJovi), I downloaded it that day. Once I pulled up that first page, I was hooked. I stayed up past midnight finishing the book in one day.

Tracey’s book sales and loyal fans finally caught the attention of the “big boys.” She got an agent, a two-book deal from Penguin, and  MGM even optioned the book for a feature film.(And there’s constant online chatter about just which actors should play main characters T.J. and Anna.)

Word of mouth sales keep going up. I should get credit for a few copies in my Costco. Twice I watched a woman pick the paperback up, skim the back cover, look slightly puzzled, and set it down. “That was a great book!” I gushed. “It’s not smutty? It sounds … just … “  “It’s not a 50 Shades. At all. Trust me. Not creepy at all. I read it in a day.” They slipped the book into their carts.

PhotobucketWord. Of. Mouth.

Stop by Bookshelf Bombshells to read the full review. Come on: a 30-year-old teacher, her 16-year-old student,  a plane crash,  a deserted tropical island. Can love conquer all despite the odds? Should it? You know you’re intrigued.

DEMETRIE’S Infamous CHOCOLATE PIE {you know the one I’m talking about}

Today’s recipe is from The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, a compilation of 100+ recipes from favorite classic and contemporary novels.  The thoroughly delicious book review is up at Bookshelf Bombshells.com.

I simply could not resist trying Demetrie’s Chocolate Pie from The Help by Kathryn Stockett. If you read the book (it must have been in the movie, too) you know the pie I’m talking about — the best chocolate pie south of the Mason-Dixon line — with a little extra bit of something dark and rich in it if you happen to be a nosy racist b*tch.

*recipe courtesy of The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp*

1 2/3 cups water
5 tbsp. Sweetened cocoa powder, such as Ghirardellis (must not contain milk)
3 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. Pure vanilla extract
1 9-inch ice shell (plain or graham cracker)
**See graham cracker recipe below

whipped cream (or if it’s not too humid, you can top with meringue)

  1. In a medium-size cool saucepan, mix water, cocoa, and cornstarch with a whisk until all the lumps are gone, making a paste. Stir in condensed milk and egg yolks. Heat     to just under a boil and stir until it’s thick.

   

  1. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Add in your good vanilla, and keep stirring well. Turn off the heat and let it cool some. Pour into a prebaked pie shell, store-bought if that’s how you do things.

   

  1. Let the pie set up in a cool spot, like a plug-in refrigerator, covered with waxed paper so you don’t get a skin. Dollop cream on tip, or top with meringue.


Yield: One 9-inch pie, 6 to 8 servings.

**Now, needless to say, I made the scrumptious chocolate pie sans the special ingredient. (If you read the book, you what I’m referring to.) Show up at your book club with this pie and your cohorts will most likely force you sample a slice first. Once they see the chocolate bliss on your face, they will dig right in and the compliments and bathroom humor will start flowing.

This is simply the best damn pie crust in the world. It’s easy (as pie!) to make and makes everything taste better. Everything. {Sorry Mom, the secret is out. . .}

prep time: 5 minutes
bake time: 10 minutes

9 whole graham crackers (1 1/3 cups crumbs)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick melted butter or margarine ( 1/2 cup)
**optional 1/4 cup shredded coconut

*If starting with whole graham crackers, put them inside a gallon sized ziploc bag.  With a meat mallet, or wooden rolling pin mash to fine crumbs. {Great way to get out stress for a minute!}

Mix together crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Add melted butter/margarine. {I usually pour all but 2ish tablespoons in and mix. It should be moist, but not soggy. Add in the rest if necessary.}

Press mixture firmly and evenly on bottom and up the sides of a greased pie pan. {sometimes wax paper or foil helps, but this is easy}

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


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Check out the FULL BOOK REVIEW @ BOOKSHELF BOMBSHELLS and make your next book club meeting a feast for your brain and your palate.



and for more ideas check out The Book Club Cookbook.com
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Win Confessions of a Scary Mommy for Mother’s Day!

Unless you live under a cyber rock (or you have yet to endure the pleasure of childbirth, adoption, or raising a child in any way), you know that Jill Smokler (a.k.a. Scary Mommy) wrote a book — a  snort-coffee-out-your-nose funny book Confessions of a Scary Mommy.

Jill buzzed through MY town last weekend (okay, she took some time out from schmoozing at the Social Media Moms Conference and blitzing through Disney) and held a book signing at my local Barnes and Noble. Of course, I was there.

And I must tell you, she was as witty, candid, and utterly delightful in person as she is on her blog and in her book…and much thinner.  (No, I’m not saying that to kiss ass, but because she writes about her body image issues, but she could totally qualify as MILF material. Just saying.)


Yes, that’s the copy YOU can win right there in my hand.


Jill read from her book (the chapter on family vacations — how apropos), dished the dirt on a few topics she can’t write about online, and discussed the ever-changing worlds of blogging and publishing. It was enlightening and depressing and through-provoking all at the same time. And laced with some trademark language that would make a sailor blush, as well.

I met few bloggers I knew online, and it’s always a wonderful experience to have a moment to talk with someone who “gets” you (because you know all those non-bloggers just think we’re weird).

I had to buy a book while I was there, support blog-to-book writers and all that jazz, but since I already owned a signed advance review copy, I decided to buy a copy for you. Someone out there can win a signed copy of Confessions of a Scary Mommy just in time for Mother’s Day.  How’s that for a rocking present?


So…do you want to win?



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 My fabulous book review is over at Bookshelf Bombshells today. 

To enter, you MUST head over there first AND:

Choose one or more of the entry methods: Must leave a separate commentfor each thing that you do!
Mandatory entry:
* Leave a comment (including your email address) on the Bombshells website telling us why you or someone you love is a Scary Mommy.
Optional Entries:
*Follow @BookShelfBmshlson twitter and leave your twitter name on your comment.
*Follow Bookshelf Bombshells on Facebook and leave a comment that you are a follower.


On this site:
You can get some additional entries by:
* Liking me on Facebook and/or
*Twitter and leaving separate comments here also.  
And if you tweet about the contest, maybe we’ll give you another entry, too.

 
The giveaway will close on Friday, May 11th at 9pm ET. Winner will be chosen from the comments at random by Random.org and will be contacted via email.