Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope this year will be a great year. Hope there will be good books to read, and blog about this year. I would like to thank all my followers that keep visiting. All my book blogging friends for your comments and support for this year. 

I have been having a rough time this year with my blog. I lost many of my readers because of my new name and blogging address.  Also, school takes precidence over my blog, but I hope to start getting a better readership again.

                  HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2011!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Ribalow Book Award Winner



  I am happy to announce, Sara Hougteling, author of Pictures at an Exhibit has been awarded the 2010 Harold U. Ribalow Prize for fiction.

The award is sponsored by Hadassah, a Jewish women's organization.
To be considered the book has to be fiction, a novel or short story and written in the english language.

You can visit Sara's website to read about her wonderful novel, Pictures at an Exhibit.  Anyone interested in art may want to pick up this book. You can read a review at The New York Times website here.

Darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling s sweeping and sensuous debut novel tells the story of a son s quest to recover his family s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation.



Born to an art dealer and his pianist wife, Max Berenzon is forbidden from entering the family business for reasons he cannot understand. He reluctantly attends medical school, reserving his true passion for his father s beautiful and brilliant gallery assistant, Rose Clément. When Paris falls to the Nazis, the Berenzons survive in hiding. They return in 1944 to find that their priceless collection has vanished. Madly driven to recover his father s paintings, Max navigates a torn city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Résistants, and collaborators. His quest will reveal the tragic disappearance of his closest friend, the heroism of his lost love, and the truth behind a devastating family secret.





You can read more at my Jewish book website at Bagels, Books and Schmooze for more of the in depth discription of her work here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Boo: Book Review

Boo
By Pat Conroy
E-edition by Open Road Media


 You were forewarned in the very beginning. This is Pat Conroy's first book.
If you have any connection with a Citadel, in SC. You may feel a connection to the book. The only connection I have is, I live in SC, and my son did go into the military, specifically the navy for a short time till he was medically discharged.

This is my first book that I read by Pat Conroy. I wanted to like this book especially since living in SC. What native from SC doesn't like Pat Conroy.

 I  liked the snippets of the "Boo"( stories). At other times I did not enjoy it.  Pat Conroy warns us this is his first attempt. It is self published. It was written because of his friendship of the Boo. He wanted to tell the story of the Boo's, care of his cadets, looking out for them.

  Mr. Conroy tells the story of Boo from 1961-1969.  Pat Conroy wanted to tell the story of this gruff man with a golden heart( he always had a cigar in his mouth). He gave demerits to his cadets, but gave them with love and concern for each of them. He pushed them to the limit to graduate and become successful men.

 Most of the cadets came from broken and abusive homes.  There was one father he told him to be a father, and love your son.

Mr. Conroy wrote this to stop Boo from being demoted from a higher ranking officer to a menial job.  He did get demoted but he took it with grace,because he loved the Citadel and the young men. During the controversy, The book, The Boo was banned at the Citadel.


My Review:  I wish I had read other books by Pat Conroy before reading The Boo. To compare his other work.  I heard he has written some good novels. The story, and characters I did not care for. But, I did like he's writing style, and the rhythm of the book flowed. 


 Pat Conroy wrote "Boo", after he graduated from the Citadel. The Citadel is a christian military college.  The Citadel is close to Charleston, SC. It is written from the early to late 60's.   Each chapter is one of the cadet's experiences with Boo.


Each cadet tells us about the lectures,discipline(hard displinarian) and the demerits the cadets received and overcame.   Colonel Courvoisie, known as The Boo, was  a gruff man, with a cigar always in his mouth. His n But a heart of gold helping each cadet get through school.  Some do and some don't.


  I can picture, those old army movies.  The commander telling you off, and all you could say is, yes sir, and no sir.  


Most of the e-books I receive from Barnes and Noble for my NOOK. This is the first time I am reading a e-book from a publicist. My criticism of the book stucture itself are a few.


1) Many of the pages had a few words, and a few sentences and then the rest of the page was blank.  It was not the end of the chapter.  Why not format the book so it is a continuation rather than breaks in parts of the chapter. I was trying to figure their reasoning.
2) Did not know there was a glossary in the back of the book.  Even so, as a e-book I would not like going back and forth. I perfer a regular book, not a ebook    It is quicker to visualize things in this format.  It just doesn't work for me.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guest Post and Book Giveaway Table of Contents

In honor of their just published cook book, Table of Contents. I am having a book giveaway. The rules are to leave a comment on my blog, about your experience with food and books and book clubs.  Then write a post on your blog about the contest, and link up to my blog. The contest starts today 12/19- 1/1. There are two books to be given away.

I am honored today, with a guest post by co-authors, Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. They have written a marvelous book called Table Of Contents Cook Book, From Breakfast with Anita Diamant to Dessert with James Patterson.

Judy and Vicki met over stacks of books, and endless cups of jo at a local sandwich shop. They decided to try their hand  atThe Book Club Cookbook, followed by Kids Book Club Book and Table of Contents.  They also have a marvelous website, Book Club Cook Book, with enormous resources for book clubs.  You would find food pairing with a favorite book. Information about the author. Loads of resource information for your book club.

Welcome Judy and Vicki,


Hi everybody,



We envisioned our new book, Table of Contents
as a compilation of intriguing recipes drawn from the works of 50 bestselling authors.  When we began our research, we were unsure what the combination of authors would be.  After all, there are hundreds of authors popular with book clubs.  And, some of their books lend themselves better to recipes than others.  How would we choose?
As it turns out, the process unfolded naturally.  We quickly identified our “wish list” of participating authors, based on ongoing correspondence with book clubs, thorough searches of bestseller lists, and daily monitoring of book club and reading websites.   Many invited authors signed on immediately, while some declined because other projects took precedence, or even because they lacked interest in the topic:  food and literature.  The self-selection process meant we were left with authors as fascinated by the topic of food and books as we ourselves were, and 50 wonderful partnerships were born.
We felt fortunate to work with this eclectic, intriguing, ethnically diverse selection of authors.  Book club members have been telling us for years that they love being transported to exotic locales and distant times through their reading.  It was no surprise to find Abraham Verghese, Frances Mayes, and Esmeralda Santiago on our list, with books set in Ethiopia, Italy, and Puerto Rico.  Readers also seem to love stories set in the South, so Amy Greene, Joshilyn Jackson, and Hillary Jordan were natural choices.  Writers of historical fiction who transport readers to times gone by -- Tudor England (Phillipa Gregory) and wartime Hong Kong (Janice Y.K. Lee), for example -- also made the grade.
Of course, this selection of authors and titles translated into tantalizing, exotic recipes!  We love Lisa See’s Won Tons, that she makes with her family every year at Thanksgiving.  And Stephanie Saldana, who spent several years traveling and living in the Middle East, sent us a recipe for Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts and Pomegranate Syrup), the smell and taste of which carries the cook to the winding streets of Damascus, Syria.  And there are so many more examples!  Readers tell us they enjoy experiencing some of these ethnic foods for the first time, and preparing and eating these dishes helps them connect with the setting and time period of the book.  
As we embark on our new project, a revision of our first book, The Book Club Cookbook, we look forward to sharing more recipes and insights from bestselling authors.  We hope this will continue to enhance readers' understanding of these books, and of course to add another important element to book club meetings - fun!  

Bon Appetit!  
Judy Gelman and Vick i Levy Krupp 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Girl She Used To Be: Book Review




The Girl She Used To Be
By David Cristofano


The novel is about Melody, and her family.  She and her family witnessed a brutal act of violence. They were then put into the Witness Protection Program.  She, and her family lost their home, their identity. Melody eventually looses her family as well.
She has had several times had to change her identity.

As the book opens, 20 years later. She is now a grown woman. She is teaching to high school students. Melody is restless and bored and wants to change her life. Melody contacts Sean, from the Witness Program.   While this is happening the son, Jonathan of the murderer, (family is mafioso). Jonathan follows her and they converse with each other. She loves the attention, the thrill, the freedom. She goes with him willingly defying the witness program.  For a few days the Feds don't know where she went.

They both fall head over heals with each other. Jonathan has a plan. He wants her to meet his family. He has a idealistic idea. He thinks once everyone meets her they will fall in love with her the way he has. They travel to his home.  Jonathan brings her into the house to meet everyone. At first, the family think Jonathan is joking. He introduces her as Melody. The family think he is joking they realize he is not joking. 

The Bravaro family don't want any part of her. She begs and pleads with them to accept her.

I am not going to spoil the rest. But this is my take of the book.

My Thoughts: I had a hard time accepting her motivation. I could not relate to Melody in the beginning. But because she didn't have a life or a identity, this was her coping mechanism. Why would she want to change her life again.?Why would she want to be with a mafioso that killed her family? and changed her life forever?

Melody was starving for affection.  She showed her desperation by being compulsive, and reckless with her life, and not any regard for others.

I felt like slapping Melody a few times.  Are you crazy begging them to accept you. They should be begging Melody for forgiveness. 

I had a hard time with the book in the beginning, I felt like I would never let myself be in this situation. She was very gullible, and pathetic. 

I have a hard time with books when female characters are victimized and let themselves get in this situation. Especially when they don't do anything to help themselves. Melody did not feel like she was real to me.  I felt like is, the author kidding.

It must be very hard to go place to place without roots to lay down. Within a few months you move again. I would imagine you have a hard time connecting with people. Because as a young child you keep moving. You can't get close to anyone in case someone realizes who you are. One part of the story,

 But the end of the book I did feel satisfied, it felt more realistic than the beginning of the book.  

"She is very grateful to Jonathan for her freedom. She mistook love for her grateful of her freedom.

I read this for our book club. Most of the book club said" The family did not trust her". I am asking trust her are you kidding, it should be the other way around, role reversal.  They are the ones that are dangerous and should ask her, for forgiveness.  Most of us felt like shaking her and we could not relate. But we were not in her shoes either. We all felt this was a different kind of book. There are not many books based on the Witness Protection Program. That was interesting background. The book was a fast read. Most of us read in one or two days.

Maise Dobb Read-A-Long

Book Club Girl is hosting a Maisie Dobbs read along starting in January. I am excited to join. I always wanted to read the books but never got the chance. The read a long happens with the timely paperback release, Mapping of Love and Death, and the new published novel in March,of Lesson in Secrets.

Book Club Girl will be posting book discussion questions on a schedule. It is listed on Book Club Girl's website. The first one starts with reading the first Maisie Dobbs questions will be posted on January 14th. 

I am looking forward to reading.  Just because of the timely setting in Europe in 20's and 30's.  I am very excited. I am going to get the digital version for my nook.  Come join us, and read the mavelous article on book club girl.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Table Of Contents: Book Review

What a good pairing, authors, and their recipes.

I received a  copy of Table of Contents by Judy Gelman and Vicky Levy Krupp, from the authors of Book Club Cookbook.

Every book club should have a copy. But, even if you are not in a book club it is a nice book to read about your favorite authors. I had fun reading all about them. There are 50 authors and their recipes that they have put in the book. The authors give your recipes to go with their books. The recipes are from meat loaf, to beverages.

I like the way the book was written, with the author's picture and the books they have published and about to be published. There are a few questions asked and the recipes. What inspired you to choose the title of the book, Who was the writer that influenced you the most. What would you like your readers to know about you.

What is your writing process.  I did think that Julia Glass had a very interesting perspective. Her answer is, day dreaming. I love her words" Marinating in your own thoughts". I just love the way she put that. Every author had a different answer for their writing process.

  I want to try Elinor Lippman's, recipe for the Kugel.  I have had Kugels before, this I never heard of with the casserole and then a topping.  My Kugel, is all mixed together.  It does sound very good.

  Anita Diamant, her writing process is dance and movement.
She mentions,American diets would never think about having a Israeli Salad for breakfast.  In Israel, the Americans eat it while visiting. But when they come back to the states they go back to their old routine.  As I was reading it I was visualizing the colorful breakfast plate, with the sun shining in
.All those pretty colors in the morning on your breakfast plate with scrambled eggs. I think she may have started something. I am willing to try that with my family and friends and see what they say. Who says you can't. It should be healthy.  It is just what we are used to.

The only thing, I wish there were pictures of the recipes in the book.  I don't think it would stop me from buying the book. But it would have been a added bonus.  In the back of the book is book pairing with the recipes.

Thank you Judy and Vicki for allowing me to review. I am planning on making a book basket with Table of Contents, and also adding Anita Diamant's latest novel that she sent me for the auction as well. I can't wait to see the finished product.  See who wins this.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

South Carolina is Cold!!!

This is the second year that we are actually cold, I  mean C-O-L-D!!  The last few years I did not mind the cold. But this year, maybe because I am getting older. I am feeling like the retirees that live here.  I used to not mind the cold.  But, I do now.  It is suppose to be cold till Friday and then warm up!!! Haleluah!!!

Last year I moved to a new apartment that has a fireplace. Since it has gotten cold( I am talking about the teens) we started using the fireplace.  It was so nice and warm and toasty.  Our cat, is just sitting in front of the fireplace contented.  What a warm and cozy feeling.

Yesterday I felt a sore throat, coming on.    So today was a good  cooking day for my cold. The good aromas of Chicken Soup, for me  and beef stew for David.

 Then after all the cooking I did I sat down to a old fashioned movie. Then after I will hit the books for a few hours. I am wrapping myself in my PJ's and a blanket.

 In my reading life, I am reading a good" grab me book" for our book club. The book is The Girl She Used to Be. I am enjoying reading it.

Keep Warm everybody

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Love and Other Drugs

Love &Other Drugs, I did not expect it to be very good. But because Jake Gyllenhall and Anne Hathaway were both starring in this film I wanted to see it. I expected it to be another chick-flick. Not so, this was not a chick flick.  I was not sure, but I thought this was based on a true story.
I  related to the movie because I am in the medical profession. The movie is about a pharmaceutical rep. Right up my alley.

I remember when I worked in a doctor's office all the pharmaceutical reps visiting the doctors. The way to get their foot past the receptionist and through the doctor's office, butter up the medical secretaries. Give them the perks.

In some ways, this movie brings up the discussion of pharmaceutical companies. Is it right for the doctors to be given perks.  I am talking about the expensive lunches, and broadway shows, and all the perks that go with it. 

I don't want to get on my soap box.  Because this movie was not focused on the pharmaceutical companies. Rather on the relationship of the two people. I just loved this movie. It was serious at times, and comical. It made me cry at the end.



The story was about a pharmaceutical rep, Jamie Randall.  At the point of the movie, Jamie wants the doctor to allow him to pose as a intern.  To help him further his career. During this time he interns, he meets the girl of his dreams, Maggie.  Maggie is in the examing room, her doctor and Jamie come into the examing room. She is not aware he is not a intern. Her doctor examines her.  Maggie tells her doctor she has a problem with her breast.  She exposes her breasts.  She is in the examing room waiting for her doctor. She finds out when she goes to his car that he was not who she thought he was, she felt duped... She sees his car trunk full of pharmaceuticals, and the pharmaceutical merchandise with labels of Pfizer. She puts two and two together. There is a confrontation, but they still end up together.

The only thing is if you are a prude, there are lots of sex scenes. Jake and Anne Hathaway were good together in this movie.  He was so funny!! I have seen him in other movies mostly drama.  I did not realize he was so funny.  He was great as a smooth talker.   I  highly recommend it. 

I am not going to spoil the rest of the movie. If you are in the medical field you would enjoy it. Don't take my word for it, go to see it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bringing Home the Birkin: Book Review

                                   

Bringing Home the Birkin
 By  Michael Tonello


The memoir, is about Michael, a makeup artist. The book is about Michael's escapades in Europe.  He is living in Ptown, and goes on a trip to Barcellona. He decides that he has been working in the US too long.  He doesn't know what he wants to do. But he wants to live in Barcellona. He tells his room mate that he is going to move. He packs up his things and puts them in storage.  He travels to Europe with literally, not much of anything. He doesn't know what kind of work he is going to do.  On a fluke, he goes on ebay, and puts some of his hermes scarves up for auction.  He doesn't think anything will happen. He finds out he is totally wrong. He can't believe that they want it.   He does this for awhile. He becomes friendly with some of his buyers. One of his buyer's Grace gives him a idea.

On a fluke he buys some more scarves and then he gets a hold of one birkin bag. He buys the birkin bag and then resells them on ebay. Because the Birkin is on a two year waiting list.   One bag becomes another and another.  Most people are told that there are a limited number of these bags per year. He learns it is supply and demand and the hot pursuit.




Once he goes into the stores and makes a purchase of more than $1000 he will get his foot in the door.  He will be able to purchase the bags.  The book is a fun romp about how he gets around Europe to buy these bags. What kind of person to look out for. What person he can get his foot in the door. What person would not.   The fun part is the traveling, buying, the stores, and the people he sells to on ebay. He then gets a friend of a friend to go in business with him. What to do, How to do it? etc, etc?

What kind of person would buy this bag? The bag is considered, the bag for the Rich and Famous. All these famous celebrities have one.



Do they buy the bag for the thrill? Do they really need or want the bag? The bag is a status symbol.   Some of these women have 100 of these bags, it is just crazy.  A bag can go for 8,000 for a standard one, to 30,000 for a croc, as much as $200,0000 for the diamonds on the label and lock. Come on that is just crazy.... People don't know what to do with their money.

The spoiler: I kid you not, Michael had his bag held hostage for awhile.  Then one of his customers told him about buying one. It turns out, it is the same bag that was being held up hostage. YIKES

At the end Michael discovers he does not want to have this kind of luxury life. There is lots of stress and not any fun. Carrying all those bags from a business trip, is a lot to carry. He discovers the money is great but he is not having fun with his boyfriend, Juan. Life should not be so serious.    After his mother dies from Cancer. He realizes he doesn't want to do this anymore.  He doesn't have the passion that he once had.

I had fun reading this book.  This would have been a great summer read.  It is exactly the kind of book I was looking for since starting school.  I can't imagine anyone buying a purse for that kind of money. But people don't know what to do with their millions. I had fun with reading the fashion, about the rich and famous spend their millions.  I can fantasize can't I.

Here is the link about the Birkin Bag, a video on CBS news.  The link at wikpedia gives you information about the Birkin bag here.