Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer reading list

Those dog days of summer are here! No matter if you're on the beach (I wish), on the subway, on your couch (that's more like it) or in a car reading is the perfect activity. It is food for your mind and a way to keep your brain smart. Here are some of my favorite summer reads.

image courtesy of Getty Images
1.) The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

2.) The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

3.) A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins

4.) The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

5.) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

6.) And then there were none by Agatha Christy

7.) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

What are some of your favorite summer reads? Let me know by posting below. If you have any questions, comments, etc. about the books listed above post away!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

Hello fellow book friends!! I know I haven't posted in forever, but I have been reading. I have been reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective agency series and recently finished "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton. Today I am going to talk a little bit about "Ethan Frome." First let's find out about the author. Edith Wharton was born in 1865, into a wealthy New York family. She traveled extensively and was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for literature for her novel "Age of Innocence" (on my to reading list). She spent her life writing, promoting French imperialism and participating in charitable works. She died in 1937, in France.
Wharton wrote "Ethan Frome" in 1912. Ethan Frome is the name of a man who lives in Starkfield, a small New England town. He desperately longs to leave this town but his trapped there taking care of his sick parents and his invalid wife, Zeena. He pines after Mattie, his cousin, and contemplates leaving his wife to start a new life with Mattie but tragedy prevents this from occuring.
The vivid descriptive narratives draws the reader into Ethan's gloomy and seemingly hopeless life. The entire tale is told by an unknown narrator who peers into Ethan's life from the outside. Although this was a dismal and at times depressing story it is considered an American classic. In 1933, it was made into a movie...that I'll have to check out one of these days!
In the upcoming days I am going to post some of my summer reading suggestions for the beach and those dog days of summer!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Check it out

This week I am going to be a guest tipper at the Tip Spot. Check it out. I am going to be blogging about books and reading.

p.s. This awesome blog was created by my friend Christy and her sister Lizzy

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Autism awareness month

April is autism awareness month. Working at a school with children with autism has opened up my eyes to a whole new world. I read Born on a blue day by Daniel Tammet as a means of awareness. Tammet is a savant who has aspergers, a form of autism that is on the milder side. His abilities include being able to recite over 20,000 integers of pi, remembering any day for any year and having a photographic memory.

Too often it seems that we are afraid of autism and fear that our child will be autistic. But for those who live with autism it is their reality. Tammet is not depressed or angry that he's autistic, rather he celebrates his talents and gifts. This was an extremely interesting book that I would recommend you check out.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Baby, baking, books and blogs

I have not posted a book review in what seems to be forever! I have been reading, but have also been busy with a 10 week old baby, baking and discovering new blogs. I wanted to let you know about some of the blogs that I have discovered since I now have more time to peruse the Internet:
This is a great foodie blog with unique and interesting recipes. I recently made the fennel risotto and it was out of this world! In fact I made it twice in one week!
A website/blog with great tips on how to get organized! I consider myself fairly organized, but it seems that everything always gets messy again as soon as I clean it up. But as my husband says it all goes back to the 2nd law of thermodynamics which states: "all systems tend toward disorder and randomness." Ahh such is life!
This is another food blog that has fun recipes. The woman who writes the blog has won a number of food contests. Recently I have made her chocolate chai snickerdoodles (I brought them to our iServe meeting last night and they were a huge hit)! I am also planning on making her chickpea and sun dried tomato hummus. I love hummus and I finally bought tahini!
The recipes here are easy and yummy (although rather fattening....oh well it's not swim suit season yet). I have made her snickerdoodles and am planning on trying out her mac and cheese recipe tonight! Thank you to Sarah for mentioning this blog!
This is a fun blog that shows what a food writer is currently working on for her cookbooks. She writes about the origin of spices, unique cuisine and food history. Every Sunday she has a fun feature which shows unique pantries from around the country.
I am not from Texas nor have I ever been to Texas, however, I love country music, ribs, barbecue sauce and the Southern drawl. Ya'll this is a fun blog of a woman who lives in NYC, but who is a true blue Texan!!
This is a book blog created by Steph, my college roomie! She is studying to be a librarian and she is one of my best friends. She also has a fun and fresh way of writing and making you smile and laugh!!

Now I will share with you what I have been reading. It is a rather odd assortment of books but here goes:

The Silent Partner by Dina McGreevey-This was a rather blah read. Dina McGreevey's husband Jim was the former governor of New Jersey. He announced suddenly, near the end of his term, that he was gay. Dina writes about how this affected her life. Jim wrote his own book and Dina wrote this book to "set the record straight" (no pun intended).

Escape by Carolyn Jessop-This is written by a woman who formally lived in a polygamist fundamentalist cult in Colorado City, Arizona. I couldn't believe this book was real the entire time I was reading it. It was quite shocking and disturbing...especially since people today are still living this kind of life!

It Takes a Village by Hilary Rodham Clinton-Okay I know what you're thinking... no I will not vote for Hilary in 2008, but I did enjoy this book that she wrote back in 1996. It is a good read about how our country needs to take a more proactive role in caring for the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs of our children. I agree that it takes a plethora of people to care for our children's well being (family, friends, priests, community members, etc.).

Eric Rex and the Monsters of Otherness-This is Kaza Kingsley's book 2 of the Eric Rex series. I just started it and I am really enjoying it! Kaza emailed me to let me know that she just finished book 3 and that should be out by the fall! You go Kaza!

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation by Lynne Truss is a book I am halfway through reading. It does seem that in the age of the Internet many of us have forgotten how to write and use proper punctuation(I apologize in advance for any punctuation errors this post contains). Sadly, children are not learning how to use proper English punctuation. This is a fun read that discusses how we can all help to promote and proclaim proper punctuation!!

I have also been loving being a mom to Jacob. He's the love of my life and I can't wait to see him grow up and become a little man!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

My tribute to love

I know that my blog is usually devoted to the discussion of books, but I am going to diverge from this topic for the time being.....(what you are reading I submitted as an entry for the February write-away contest at

A Mother's Love
Love is a word that is often thrown around in a variety of contexts. Love is discussed in movies, books, diaries, on television and within the confines of a romantic relationship. Since becoming a mother, however, I have discovered a love that is unconditional, uncompromising, unpredictable and admittingly frustrating at times. A love a mother has for her child is unique and completely unexpected. It is a love that has no boundaries, limitations or expectations. We cannot expect a newborn baby to say "I love you" back to us in the usual terms. However, it is in the simple touch, a sudden smile and in a baby's vulnerability, that daily we come to discover how much we are loved.

At times a mother's love for her child can be fraught with insecurities, frustrations and feelings of helplessness. Daily, we ask ourselves if we are doing everything right, we seek validation and encouragement. However, love is constantly present when we're breastfeeding and satiating our little one's hunger, when we're rocking our baby to sleep and when we're down on the floor singing and playing with our baby, the list is virtually endless.

There are no boundaries or limitations to the love a mother has for her newborn. The love comes from a desire to provide the best possible life for our child. We never want our child to suffer pain, go hungry, be rejected or see the harsh and dreadful realities that all too often comprise the human experience. But part of love is the ability to let go. As a parent we have to let our children fall so that they can learn to walk, let them cry so that they learn to self-soothe and be left alone to think and feel on their own. To love is not to ensnare but to set free.

As my baby boy continues to grow both intellectually, physically and emotionally I cannot wait for the love I have for him to continually change. Love is not stagnant but constantly redefining itself like the ebb and flow of the tide. Someday he will leave home and he may become the father of his own baby whom he will love. Our love will change as he becomes more independent and self-sufficient. Someday I will probably rely on him for the things I now do for him. However, the bottom line is that I am proud to be a mother and I love my baby boy

Dedicated to Jacob-the baby boy that I love to love

Friday, January 25, 2008

2008 Resolutions

I know it is almost February, but I have been a little busy taking care of our baby (born 12/21/07). I decided that I need to make some reading resolutions for 2008. So here goes.

1.) Read more non-fiction. I love to read fiction books, but it is time to expand my horizons. I did enjoy reading The World is Flat and The Walk Across America (by Peter Jenkins). I would like to read a few biographies, some political books and I always enjoy books about personal achievement (i.e. walking across the U.S., beating the odds, etc.)

2.) Read all of this years Caldecott and Newbery Award winner books. I was able to do this last year and I really enjoyed all of the books. For those of you who are not familiar with these awards here goes. The Caledcott is an award giving to an artist of an outstanding children's book. The Newbery Award (the first children's book award in the world) is given to the author of an outstanding children's book. Go to for more information on these awards.

3.) Read more news sources. Currently I read articles from National Public Radio, I'll go to CNN, The Buffalo News and occasionally the BBC. I'd like to expand my horizons and read a plethora of diverse news sources. It doesn't hurt to get the news from a multitude of angles.

4.) Read at least three books I myself would never normally choose to read. How you might ask am I going to do this? Well I am going to visit the "virtual bookshelves" of all my friends on shelfari and choose a couple of books that I myself might not have picked to read, but that would expand my mind.

Well now I better get to these resolutions and begin reading! Happy New Year!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Blog Tour

Kaza Kingsley's Blog Tour: Day Eight.

Below are interview questions submitted by Kaza:

Have you worked any real people or experiences into your books?
Only one real person. My friend, Steve, is not a fiction reader, and definitely not a fantasy reader. I convinced him to read a few chapters of The Dragon’s Eye. He assured me he would not finish the book. Well, not only did he finish it, but he loved it! So, when he asked me to make him a character in Book Two, how could I say no?So Steve is a character (I used the name “Steve”) in Monsters of Otherness. He doesn’t have a big role. And … Steve was surprised to find his character was not even human! (I couldn’t resist…) See if you can spot him in Book Two. He has some of the characteristics of my friend.

Do you ever dream about your characters and their world?
Most definitely. The deeper I get into the writing process, the more lost I get in my fantasy world. Sometimes the ideas I get in dreams are actually useful in my writing. Usually they’re just glimpses, though. Another interesting thing that happens when I’m immersed in writing is that I start to feel like I’m living with a foot in two separate worlds. When things go wrong in one of them it seems to matter less – I always have the other.

I know it sounds strange. But if I hear something bad on the news, and I’m immersed in writing fantasy, it tends to feel less real, somehow. I just think, well, Erec’s also in danger, and that’s almost closer to my everyday reality. Then again, you have to realize, I write eight to ten
hours a day. I get really immersed.

Does it help to listen to a particular kind of music while you write? Or, do certain songs or themes come to mind when you think about your story?
Interesting – I cannot listen to any music when I write! It’s a darn shame, too, because I love music! I just end up hearing the lyrics in my head, and it pulls me out of where I am in the story. (I guess I could listen to classical music, just never was drawn there.)
I wrote most of Book One at my local Borders store. A certain spot in their cafĂ© had just the right amount of white noise, with people chatting in the distance and music speakers far enough that I couldn’t hear lyrics. Other stores that had louder music made it too hard for me to write. And if people sat next to me and got into an involved conversation I had to look rude and move! Since words are my medium, other people’s words just get in my head and mess me up.

What music do you like to listen to?
I love Jack Johnson, especially his “On and On” CD. Blue October is spectacular, I love their “Foiled” CD. I also love Nancy Griffith’s music – and so much more! Music is a great release for me. Before I got used to radio and TV interviews I had to listen to certain John Lennon songs to get in the right frame of mind!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love movies, and try to go to as many as I can. Funny, because at the same time, I rarely watch television. When I do, I like the Daly show and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central, as well as stand up comics! I love hiking and spending time with friends, cooking up goodies when I have time.

Kaza at the age of 5

Friday, January 4, 2008

Kaza Kingsley's Eric Rex Series Book Blog Tour

I just finished reading Eric Rex: The Dragon's Eye, a wonderful young adult fantasy book by Kaza Kingsley. Starting next week Kaza is going to be going on a blog tour to promote the second book in her series entitled Eric Rex: The Monster of Otherness. My blog is one of the stops on Kaza's tour. I am very excited to have been asked to participate in this event.

Check out Kaza's awesome website:

Kaza will be checking my blog daily to answer any questions, comments, etc. that are posted to my blog. So start asking questions!!!!

Here is a listing of the other blogs that Kaza will be frequenting and touring throughout the month of January:

January 8th-Books4Ever-
January 9th– Baseballs and Bows-
January 10th- Fanatic Space Blog-
January 11th-Bibliophile's Retreat-
January 12th– Children's Literature Book Club-
January 13th – Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-A-Holic-
January 14th – A Year of Books-
January 15th-Author Chris Rettstatt's blog -
January 16th- Deliciously Clean Reads-
January 17th – Into the Wardrobe-
January 18th – Real Gurlz Magazine-
January 19th- Chauceriangirl-

In the upcoming days I will post questions and answers from Kaza regarding her books, life as an author, etc. So continue to check out my blog for updates!

Introduction to Eric Rex from Kingsley's website

Fantasy fiction author Kaza Kingsley won over young readers with the inventive gadgets, relentless action, and gross-out humor in her first book, Erec Rex: The Dragon's Eye. The book became a bestseller and collected numerous children's book awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award for best new voice in juvenile fiction.
The highly anticipated second book in the series, Erec Rex: The Monsters of Otherness, deals with themes of adoption and acceptance under the mythological framework of the Hercules legend. As Erec fights to save the lives of 50 dragon hatchlings, his real quest is to uncover the truth about his own identity.
The excerpt below is called "Erec Buys His Memory Back." It's a short scene where 12-year-old Erec Rex visits the Memory Mogul to find out what happened to his childhood memories.
MONSTERS OF OTHERNESS is an awesome adventure, full of twists and turns, cool characters, mystery, and a lot of fun. Erec follows his heart when it’s not the easy thing to do, and goes against the odds to do what’s right. This is a wildly exciting book with pedal to the metal attitude!-Devon Werkheiser, “Ned,” star of Nickelodeon’s popular daily sitcomNed’s Declassified School Survival Guide
Kaza Kingsley won't let down fans of Erec Rex with this lively, imaginative sequel to The Dragon's Eye. It's a rollicking good read, with many layers that unfold into a captivating ending. The engaging characters, suspense, humor and vivid descriptions make it a great book for all ages.-Maria Schneider, Editor-in-ChiefWriter's Digest
Readers will be intrigued by a world filled with magic, friendship and thought provoking adventures.-Children’s Literature
"Erec Buys His Memory Back"
by Kaza Kingsley
It was not easy finding the Memory Mogul's shop. Most of the people Erec asked simply glared at him and turned up their noses. Finally a blind woman told him the store was near the edge of town, close to Medea's magic shop.
Inside the store, a counter stretched across the entire room. Behind it were racks of shelves covered with tiny packets. A small, spindly man hunched over the counter. His wild white hair and beard projected from all angles of his face, making him look like a dandelion gone to seed. He seemed to be in a daze.
The man remained still as Erec walked up to him. Erec cleared his throat, but the man seemed to take no notice.
"Excuse me."
The man jumped. "Oh! How's that for sneaking up on an old man? You should be ashamed of yourself, boy. Scaring me like that."
His wispy hair and beard waved around in the air as he spoke. It made him look so comical that Erec had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. "Now," the man said, "what were you saying, sonny? You have a memory to get rid of?"
Erec pointed at the shelves behind the man. "What do you sell here?"
"You don't know?" The man looked indignant. "Memory chips, of course. Splices. I cut, I take out, I add in. Anything can be altered." He coughed. "What was the question?"
"You were telling me about the memory chips."
"Of course. Memory chips. I've got all types." He waved a hand across the huge racks. "I've got bits of memories from all over the known earth and beyond. Want a bit of African jungle safari? Wild nights in the ogre bars? Dungeons? I've got plenty of dungeons," he said happily. "Of course there's no guarantee that the memory will be fully pleasant. But what fun would it be if it was all nice and safe, right? So what would you like, boy?"
"I'm not sure I want to buy any memories right now."
"So you're here to get rid of one? No problem. Would you like a replacement, or do you want to leave an empty gap where it was?"
Erec had to stop to consider. Why did Mr. Peebles suggest he come here? He said he might find out something about himself.
"Can I help you?" The man turned to him with a smile, white hair wagging around his face. He seemed to have forgotten their entire conversation.
"Do you happen to have any memories in the name of Erec Rex?"
The man chortled. "Oh, ho, ho! Erec Rex, eh? Even I remember the day I got the memory of Erec Rex. And I do admit my memory isn't exactly what it once was." He mused in silence a moment, then looked at Erec. "Can I help you?"
"I'd like the memory of Erec Rex. Tell me about it."
"You and everyone else, kid. I still remember the day his mother brought him here." His eyes sharpened, gained focus as if he could see her still. "He was real little, three, I think. And he was in trouble, hiding for some reason. He was here with another kid, and his mother had just changed their looks. They both got a chunk of their memories taken out that day. I talked his mother into giving Erec a replacement memory to take its place. It's usually easier on a kid to have some past to remember, I told her. It also doubled the price. And I happened to have a memory I had just gotten from a girl about his age. It was a short one, but who cared? It was something, right?"
The Memory Mogul's eyes danced as he relived old times. "His mom was real worried his replacement memory might be a bad one, but I told her it would be fine. The girl had looked nice enough. How bad could it have been, right? But then he started crying as soon as he got the memory, darn kid. His mom wanted me to erase it, but I couldn't do it for a week -- too dangerous -- so she had to leave it in." He shrugged. "Aw, don't worry about the kid. It was no big deal. His new memory was so short and hazy, and at that age it would only really come out in his dreams. The other kid there that day never got a memory replacement," he recalled. "The mom was too upset."
Erec gripped the counter, mind spinning. He couldn't believe his ears. He had known his mother changed his looks, but now this. And what was the memory replacement he got? Some memory discarded from a girl? What could it be? He squeezed his eyes shut. Something that would only come out in his dreams.
In the next moment he froze. His dreams? He remembered the nightmare he always had about his father. It was his only memory he had of his father. But what if -- Erec felt sick -- what if it wasn't really his own memory? So that wasn't his father then? It was someone else's father?
Erec's breath became heavy and he felt faint. He looked around the shop, but there were no chairs. He wondered if he should be glad that his memory of his terrible father wasn't his. He hated the memory, hated the man. But he had grown up with that memory nonetheless. It was all he knew.
The man tapped the counter, white wispy hair waving. "Can I help you, sonny?"
Erec stared at him. "I'd like to buy the memory of Erec Rex. Do you still have it?"
The man smiled. "Ah, Erec Rex. I still remember the day his mother came in the shop --"
Erec interrupted. "Do you still have it?"
"Oh, goodness no. I sold it the next day to a young man his age who had another memory problem to get rid of. But I wish I kept, I'll tell you. You and everybody else that's been in here want it. I could've gotten a good price on that one, yes sir. If I'd known how popular it would be, I'd have checked it out myself too. It's hard to resist trying out some of the memories I get in here, especially the more exciting ones. Of course, they can mess with your own memory if you're not careful. Not that I would ever let that happen to me."
Erec thanked the man, who settled back into a glassy-eyed stare. He didn't seem to notice when Erec left the shop.
Retail Price: $18.99, Hardcover, 349 pages. Published by Firelight Press, Inc., October, 2007. ISBN-10: 0978655575
Copyright ©2007 by Kaza Kingsley. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you