Thursday, April 30, 2009

Socks From the Toe Up - Wendy D. Johnson

I consider myself pretty crafty - no not sneaky, I just really enjoy making and creating. And I've tried a lot of techniques, but knitting is one I've really never gotten into, except for stocking stitch scarves. With all the fiction books featuring knitters clubs and groups, I think the art of knitting has experienced a real resurgence in popularity.

My grandmother always made us handmade mittens or socks for Christmas. When I saw Socks from the Toe Up from Random House, the choice was made.

Wendy Johnson is a knitting diva! I loved the story of how this book came to be. She joined an online project in 2007 called The Summer of Socks. Wendy delved whole hearted into this project and came up with over 18 original designs and it morphed into this book.

As a newbie I was quite glad to find all the basics included. Needles - who knew there were so many kinds - yarn choices (I've stopped many a time in the craft store and just petted all the different skeins of wool!), and other tips and tools.

Most important though were the basics of knitting - the techniques for casting on, binding and the most important part of Johnson's patterns - the toe. Her reasoning makes perfect sense. If you start from the toe and work up, you save yarn and can fit as you go. All the instructions are clearly written and accompanied by detailed drawings.

The photographs of each pattern are done in full beautiful colour. And oh boy, are they gorgeous. Lace, cable and patterns that are astonishing in a pair of socks. I will of course be starting on what Johnson refers to as a 'plain vanilla' pattern - there are three basics to get you started. So at some future juncture I will attempt a pair of socks and share them with you!

Wendy is a blogger too - you can catch her at Wendy Knits.

Anyone else ever tried to knit socks?

Here's a great article (with pictures!) by Wendy on the different toe starts.

I loved the tagline in the flyleaf - "Socks From the Toe Up is the hands-down best guide for toe-up socks."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giveaway - The G-Free Diet - Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Yes, that's her - you know, Elisabeth Hasselbeck from the televison program The View. But did you know she also suffers from gluten intolerance? And discovered it while on the tv show Survivor in Australia?

From the publisher:

"For years, Elisabeth Hasselbeck couldn't figure out what was making her sick. She asked doctors and consulted nutritionists, but no one seemed to have any answers. It wasn't until spending time in the Australian Outback, living off the land on the grueling Survivor TV show, that, ironically, her symptoms vanished. Returning home, she pinpointed the food that made her sick -- gluten, the binding element in wheat. By simply eliminating it from her diet, she was able to enjoy a completely normal, healthy life. But that wasn't all. Hasselbeck discovered the myriad benefits that anyone can enjoy from a gluten-free diet: from weight loss and increased energy to even the alleviation of the conditions of autism. In this all-inclusive book, Hasselbeck shares her hard-earned wisdom on living life without gluten and loving it. She gives you everything you need to know to start living a gluten-free life, from defining gluten - where to find it, how to read food labels - to targeting gluten-free products, creating G-Free shopping lists, sharing recipes, and managing G-Free living with family and friends."

Weight loss and added energy - I want to know more!

Read an excerpt of the G-Free Diet.

Thanks to the Hachette Book Group, I have five copies to giveaway. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. To be entered, tell me why you want to read this book! An extra entry for followers - please let me know. And a third entry for blogging or tweeting about it. Make sure you leave me a way to contact you, either email or through your webpage. Giveaway ends May 29 at 6pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Winners - Giveaway - Dr. Gott's No Flour No Sugar Diet and Cookbook

The three lucky winners (chosen by of a pair of books from Dr. Gott, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Bettie B
2. Cindiizzy
3. Lenore

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Congratulations, thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe - Review AND Giveaway

You know, when The Calling first came out in hardcover last year, I heard nothing but rave reviews. It was voted one of the best mystery books of 2008 by Publisher's Weekly. Well, the paperback releases today from McClelland and Stewart and I'm kicking myself that I didn't grab a copy sooner. What a fantastic read!

The book opens with Delia, a terminally ill woman, letting the mysterious, cadaverous Simon into her home. She has been communicating with him for a while now. As she willingly takes the herbal tea he offers and falls asleep, he chooses between the gun, hammer and knife he has also brought along, finally deciding on the knife. Delia lives in Port Dundas.

The wonderfully different protagonist is Inspector Hazel Micallef of the Port Dundas, Ontario Police Department. Hazel is 61, newly divorced, her elderly mother lives with her, she suffers from excruciating back pain and medicates herself with whiskey every now and then. The Port Dundas department is woefully underfunded and understaffed. The Ontario Police Services is hoping to close them down and amalgamate with a larger force.

With the discovery of Delia's body, Hazel launches her investigation. When she discovers that Delia is not the first victim and that the killer may be operating Canada wide, she chooses not to involve the Mounties - a decision that may have serious repercussions. Her rogue methods may backfire.

Hazel herself is a flawed, realistic character. I also loved the supporting police team - the enigmatic Wingate, crazy Sevigny as well as Hazel's feisty mother Emily. (Her response to someone who offers help to the 87 yr old - "Piss off, I'm not crippled.") The killer Simon is explored in detail as well. Is it love or madness that drives him on his missions of mercy?

I wanted to stop and make notes as I read, but literally didn't take the time. I couldn't put the book down - a pager turner that I took everywhere for two days!

Now who is Inger Ash Wolfe? There has been great speculation about the true identity of this pseudonymous author. Me - I don't care, I just really want another Micallef mystery!

Want a chance to read this one yourself? Thanks to McLelland and Stewart I have three copies to giveaway. Please take note that this giveaway is open to CANADA ONLY. Comment to be entered, and extra entry for becoming or being a follower (let me know) and a third for tweeting/blogging about this post/giveaway. Giveaway ends May 26th at 6pm EST. Good luck!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow Me - Joanna Scott

Covers are very often the first thing that catches my eye. The cover of Follow Me by Joanna Scott is incredibly vivid and lush, promising a rich read. And it didn't disappoint! Thanks to Miriam from the Hachette Book Group for this latest Early Bird Tour selection. Another great pick!

The opening chapter is tantalizing. An unnamed granddaughter promises to never repeat the story her dying grandmother, Sally Werner, tells her. Her grandmother "confided in me because she wanted me to understand, as she put it, how one thing led to another." This book and the story contained within is the breaking of that promise and a granddaughter's search for answers.

Sally Werner's story begins in 1947 when she is 16 and makes a decision to leave her newborn child on her parent's kitchen table and run away. She finds herself at the beginning of the Tuskee River, burbling up out of the hillside. Sitting by the river, trying to decide what to do next, she thinks she catches a glimpse of a funny little creature with yellow spots watching her. There is a legend - of the Tuskawali - believed to be "sacred incarnations of fate, begot in the underworld for the sole purpose of multiplying possibility in the world. Their goodwill could be cultivated simply by leaving them alone." Sally decides to follow the path of the river and see what comes next. Along the Tuskee, Sally finds kindness, happiness, sadness and cruelty. But she is optimistic, making the best of what befalls her. But it always seems that just when things are settled, fate steps in and changes the flow of her life.

The telling of Sally's story is alternated with her granddaughter's view on Sally's life and legacy.

"I was more than a mistake to my grandmother , I was the consequence of a long series of bad decisions traceable back years before my mother and father fell in love, back to the time before mother had been born, when my grandmother was a young woman fumbling along, following the river north."

At this point in the story I had a good idea where it was going. But this didn't detract me from rapidly turning pages. Sally's life and choices are fascinating. She is a strongly written character, evoking many emotions in the reader. My opinion of her changed many times. I found myself feeling sorry for her, angry with her, proud of her and changing my viewpoint many times. She is resilient, going against the social mores of the 40's and 50's.

Throughout it all, the Tuskee River is a constant. The Tuskawali make appearances, but you have to read carefully to catch the references.

Towards the end, as Sally's granddaughter begins to find anwers, the same story is told by two characters. I found this part a little slow going - I was in a hurry to see the outcome. And although I would have liked to have the final scene all spelled out, I'm happy that Scott left it to us to use our imagination.

I really enjoyed this book. Sally Werner's life, her jouney, her indomitable spirit and the undercurrent of the Tuskawali made this a bewitching read.

Read an excerpt of Follow Me.

Thanks to Drey for putting together a list of other stops on the Follow Me tour. Check out what other bloggers thought.

And if you'd like a chance to own and read Follow me, enter my giveaway.

Giveaway - Follow Me - Joanna Scott

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group I have a copy of Joanna Scott's latest book Follow Me to giveaway. It's a fantastic read - here's my review. Or here's what the publisher has to say...

"On a summer day in 1946 Sally Werner, the precocious young daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, secretly accepts her cousin's invitation to ride his new motorcycle. Like so much of what follows in Sally's life, it's an impulsive decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. Soon she abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter and namesake, six decades later. But when young Sally's father--a man she has never known--enters her life and offers another story altogether, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother's secret history. Boldly rendered and beautifully told, in FOLLOW ME Joanna Scott has crafted a paean to the American tradition of re-invention and a sweeping saga of timeless and tender storytelling."

Giveaway is open to Canada and the US, no PO boxes please. Leave a comment to be entered. An extra entry if you're a follower or become one. (Let me know!) Please make sure I have a way to contact you, either by email or through your web page. Giveaway runs until May 23 at 6pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aww - Thanks!!

Thank you to Ambrosia over at Fire and Ice for awarding me the Sisterhood Award. I'm flattered Ambrosia! If you haven't met Ambrosia yet, you can find her on one of the FIVE blogs she maintains. Yep, she's one busy blogger!

And here's an award that's new to me and that I am thrilled to receive. Thank you to Melissa from Melissa's Bookshelf. You've got to check out Melissa's blog - it's beautiful and she's been running a fantastic series of posts on blog improvement. I've been bookmarking them - someday I will have more time than commitments and will get around to sprucing up my blog. And the post awarding me this honour had a wonderful list of bloggers I've yet to discover. If you haven't met Melissa yet - you're missing a great blog.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Winners - Giveaway - Girls In Trucks

And the five lucky winners of a copy of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. QuiltingReader
2. DebsDesk
3. Deci
4. Heather
5. ktgonyea

I have contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Congratulations, thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

**updated Sunday Apr 26. Deb's Desk kindly let me know she had already won a copy, so the next person on the list is Sue W.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Case Histories - Kate Atkinson

You know, I've heard nothing but great reviews about Kate Atkinson's works, but just haven't gotten around to reading one yet - until now. Boy, I've been missing an absolutely fantastic mystery author!

Case Histories opens with three different crime cases from the past being presented, each described in great detail up to the moment of the actual crime taking place. The background is fascinating - the feelings, emotions and background that lead up to that point.

We then meet Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator. He is hired to investigate all three of these case histories. As he delves deeper into each one, tiny threads connect one case to the other. Atkinson does a magnificent job of carefully weaving all these seemingly disparate threads together into a deliciously intricate, detailed plot. Many times the same scene is replayed from a different character's viewpoint, completely changing it. Three quarters of the way through I still hadn't figured it all out.

I actually listened to Case Histories in audio format. The reader, Susan Jameson, was excellent. This book is set in England and her accent was perfectly suited. Her inflections brought the words and tone to life, expressing incredulity, sadness, despair and a host of other emotions easily.

Atkinson slyly throws in a seemingly innocuous line or comment that proves germane to the outcome, so you'll want to listen or read carefully. Definitely an author I'll be following from here forward!

You can browse inside Case Histories.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven- Susan Jane Gilman

I'm a big fan of Susan Jane Gilman. Her first memoir Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress had me laughing out loud. I was pretty excited to read Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, released last month by The Hachette Book Group.

In 1986, Gilman and Claire make a momentous, drunken, four a.m. decision in their local IHOP (International House of Pancakes). Their place mats feature "Pancakes of Many Nations. So - " Staring at it , we'd had a jolt of inspiration. Why not eat pancakes of many nations in many nations? Why not travel the world? Oddly, barreling headlong into developing countries with a backpack somehow seemed far easier to us than simply getting a job."

Claire is from a privileged background. Gilman has grown up in subsidized housing and attended university on financial aid. They don't know each other that well, but go forward with their plan to travel the world. The first stop is Hong Kong and from there to China. China in 1986 has just opened it's doors to foreign travel.

What starts as an carefree adventure soon develops problems. At first Susan is able to explain away and ignore Claire's small idiosyncrasies. But when Claire mentions to other backpackers that she has heard voices and that there may be a terrorist cell after them, their carefree adventure takes a frightening turn. Stuck deep in a country where they don't speak the language, are physically ill and dependent on the goodwill of others, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is almost unbelievable. Yet as Gilman says; " All these events happened, and the people are real. God knows, I couldn't make this up."

An absolutely riveting read. Gilman writes with both humour and pathos - you won't be able to put it down until you turn the last page.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Giveaway - Made in the U.S.A. - Billie Letts

Have you read Billie Letts yet? If not, you're missing a real feel good author. You can read my review of Made in the U.S.A. or here's the back cover blurb:

"The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father.While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home."

Sound good? Thanks to The Hachette Book Group I have five copies of Made in the U.S.A. to giveaway. This is open to both the US and Canada, no po boxes please. Leave a comment to be entered! Giveaway ends Tuesday May 19 at 6 pm EST. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Six Months in Sudan - Dr. James Maskalyk

~Subtitled: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village~

Dr. James Maskalyk was an young emergency room physician in Toronto, Canada and no stranger to medical missions when he decided to join M├ędicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

" I wanted to see who I was when everything was taken away, when all the insulation between the world and me was removed."

His six month assignment was to Sudan. Most of us think of Darfur when we hear Sudan. Maskalyk went to Abyei, a small town on the border between Southern and Northern Sudan. At the time he was there, the town was 'neutral', but surrounded by military from both sides. This book was born from a blog that Maskalyk started while in Sudan to communicate with family and friends. Upon his return to Canada, he found it difficult to assimilate back into his former life , to not look back at Sudan.

"I went to Sudan, and am writing about it again, because I believe that which separates action from inaction is the same thing that separates my friends from Sudan. It is not indifference. It is distance. May it all fall away."

Dr. Maskalyk has done a fantastic job in trying to minimize the distance and bring Sudan closer. I literally could not put this book down. It's one thing to read newspaper accounts of the tragedies happening halfway around the world, but this book put an intensely personal face on it. We are privy to Maskalyk's enthusiasm and hopes for making a immediate difference when he arrives. We are able to read of the sorrow, despair and toll the situation takes on him personally, as well as the cost of war on the people of Sudan. With our health care system in Canada, it is difficult to read of the many children dying from malnutrition and measles. He deals with gunshot wounds, rape and gun toting soldiers invading the hospital. We meet the many other caring individuals from other countries on MSF missions as well as Sudanese individuals trying to make a difference in their country.

This book is soul baring in it's honesty and stark in reporting the reality of a humanitarian effort in a third world country. I was alternately saddened that this is life's reality for so many and thankful that there are people like Dr. James Maskalyk in the world. I encourge you to check out photos of his time in Abeyi as well as the Six Months in Sudan website.

"Some of the work in repairing the world is grim: much of it is not. Hope not only meets despair in equal measure, it drowns it."

Newly released from Random House Canada, this is on my recommended 'must read' list. A definite 5/5.

Listen to Dr. James Maskalyk talk about Six Months in Sudan in this video.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thanks to new friends

Many thanks to NotNessie for thinking of me when she was passing out the "Let's Be Friends" award! I'm honoured and flattered!

"Blogs that received the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

If you haven't already, stop by and visit NotNessie - a newer blogger - at Today's Adventure!

*updated Sunday Apr 19.* I woke up to yet another great surprise. Allison from Allison's Atttic of Books has awarded me the One Lovely Blog award. Thank you so very very much!! I'm supposed to pass it on to 15 other lovely bloggers. Instead, I'm going to encourage you to check out some of my follower's blogs to discover some new sites!

Winners - Giveaway - The Turnaround

And the five lucky winners ( chosen by of a copy of The Turnaround by George Pelecanos, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group are:

1. Christina
2. Jinxy and Me
3. Erma
4. Jayne
5. Indigo

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts

I fully admit it - I'm a big fan of Martha Stewart's crafting projects. I was given a subscription for Martha Stewart Living Magazine for Christmas a couple of years ago and have kept every issue. But that one year is just a fraction of what appears in this new release from Random House Canada. It covers 17 years of craft content from the magazine packed into 32 chapters!

I have been reading (drooling over) Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts for the last couple of weeks, savoring every last page (and there's over 400 pages!)

Each craft has an overview, the supplies needed, very explicit step by step instructions and many projects incorporating the techniques. All are accompanied by absolutely gorgeous full colour photos.

Many of the ideas presented are updated techniques on historical crafts such as candle making, soap making and quilling to name a few. Although some crafts may seem daunting on first view, they really aren't. I'm thinking of making candles for Christmas gifts next year. I could tin punch some holders for them. And then use stencilled gift wrap, stamped cards, origami boxes and calligraphic notes from other chapters to package them!

I've enjoyed working with stained glass before, but haven't tried my hand at glass etching. There are some great ideas for starting small with tumblers and working your way up to mirrors and hanging pieces.

Some of the ideas are so simple and yet so visually stunning. I loved the framed pressed botanicals. Sun prints were something I'd never heard of before. Using light sensitive paper, you burn the image in reverse and use it for a variety of designs.

Some of the chapters use newer techniques. I'm a dedicated sewer and had a huge light bulb moment when I came to the chapter on polymer clay. Buttons! I've always purchased those cute crafty buttons to finish off a child's outfit, but I'm going to try making some of my own.

I haven't even begun to touch on everything included in this truly encyclopedic book. There's beading, decoupage, gilding, mosaics, silk screening, wreaths and lots and lots more! There is a glossary in the back as well as templates and patterns for all the projects presented. I'm thrilled to have this book in my library.

I'll post some pictures of finished projects - but for now, I am happily rereading this book - there's just so much to take in in one read. One final word - I WANT TO LIVE IN MARTHA STEWART'S CRAFT ROOM!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Winners - Giveaway - Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home

These five lucky people will be ready to 'clean like the dickens' with their new copy of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home courtesy of the Hachette Book Group! Winners were chosen using I will contact you via email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours.

1. Nickolay
2. msrodeobrat
3. Hil'Lesha
4. Jenndiggy
5. Nicole

Congratulations and thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!
* update Sat Apr 17 - I did not hear back from one of the original winner so went to the next on the list for a new #2 * ARgh and their email bounced back - on to the next one....

Giveaway - Elegance - Kathleen Tessaro

Well, you know I love chick lit - especially Brit chick lit... and so does Harper Collins Canada. Thanks to them, I have three copies of Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro to giveaway!

From the publisher:

"When Louise Canova stumbles across a faded manual of style called Elegance, she believes the advice inside will turn her life, her fashion sense and even her lukewarm marriage around. But the lessons have a surprise effect, sparking a journey that changes Louise forever and shows her that - like timeless fashion - real friendships and true love never go out of style."

You can browse inside Elegance.

*Please note that this specific giveaway is open only to residents of Canada. Simply comment to be entered. An extra entry for becoming/being a follower (let me know!) And a third for tweeting/blogging. Ends Thursday May 7th at 6pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fifty is Not a Four-Letter Word - Linda Kelsey

Fifty is Not a Four-Letter Word is Linda Kelsey's debut novel. Although I originally thought this would be a chick lit type of read as the ARC I reviewed had a sexy black slip and a 'fun' font for the title. I was glad to see the cover changed on the final book, as it was not as light a book as I first thought. It was more of a retrospection of the unsatisfying/damaged relationships in the main character's life as well as an introspective look at herself.

Hope Lyndhurst-Steele is getting ready to celebrate her fiftieth birthday on New Year's Eve. She is having great angst over this 'auspicious' occasion. Topping it off, she is fired from her job as a glossy women's magazine editor, her mother announces she is dying, her son is having an affair with an older woman and her husband decides to leave her.

The rest of the book covers the next year in Hope's life as she attempts to make sense of all that has happened and how she will move forward.

Kelsey was the editor in chief of the UK Cosmopolitan magazine. (Note that her protagonist has the same job) For me her book reads somewhat like a series of vignettes that could have been published in just such a glossy magazine. There are lots of extraneous descriptions of food, furniture, art and designer names thrown around. Some would set the tone, too much feels like filler. It is written in a first person narrative, which normally would allow us to connect with the lead character. Unfortunately I never connected with Hope. I found her to be a shallow, selfish, vapid woman who makes some choices that I find questionable. Yes she turns things around in the second half of the book to a certain degree, but it was too little, too late for me. Her friends Maddy, Vanessa and son Olly were more appealing to me. Kudos to Kelsey for portraying such a positive gay relationship in Stanko and Mike.

The ending was left undefined and left me feeling unsatisfied. I think I'm in the minority here as a lot of my fellow bloggers really enjoyed this book. For a different viewpoint check out Kathy's review, Stacie's review and Elizabeth's review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BoneMan's Daughters - Ted Dekker

Creepy cover eh? And an equally terrifying story.

Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker releases today from the Hachette Book Group.

Ryan Evans is a Naval Intelligence officer dedicated to career and country. He has spent numerous years away from his wife Celine and his daughter Bethany. When he returns to the US he is determined to repair his relationships with his family. But when he arrives he finds they no longer want him in their lives. His place as husband and father has been usurped by the local District Attorney Burt Welsh. Welsh attained his position by successfully prosecuting the serial killer nicknamed BoneMan. BoneMan kidnaps young girls, looking for a daughter.When they don't fit what he is looking for - he kills them by breaking every bone in their body. But then BoneMan is released on a technicality and resumes the search for a new daughter - and he picks Bethany. What follows is Ryan's search to rescue his daughter and become the father he wants to be. But the authorities believe that Ryan himself is the killer.

On one level this is simply a story of a father fighting for his daughter's love and life. And on that level, it's a heck of a good tale, keeping me turning pages late into the night. It's a well written, suspenseful thriller, with a great twist at the end.

But in a bigger sense, BoneMan is a battle between good and evil. It is also a story of needing to be wanted, needing the love of a parent. For even though the BoneMan is disturbing, despicable and horrendous in his actions, the impetus for his actions is the desire to be loved.

I think every reader will take away something different from this book - a gripping read or perhaps a bit more - a look at some deeper values, second chances and some interesting ethical questions.

Gotta tell you though, Noxzema will have different associations for me from here forward!

Read an excerpt from BoneMan's Daughters in this absolutely unique format!

Or you can listen to Ted Dekker talk about BoneMan's Daughters in this video.

Ted Dekker blogs too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Linen, Wool, Cotton - Akiko Mano

Linen, Wool, Cotton is being released April 14th from Random House Canada. Written by Akiko Mano it showcases the Japanese Craft style.

It's true - I am addicted to fabric. And nothing beats natural fabrics - especially cottons.

Wool is a natural insulator. Natural cotton breathes with your body. Linen products can last generations, becoming softer after each use. Why wouldn't you want to sew with natural fibres?

Mano feels the same way..."As I handle each fabric, I try to think of what the most suitable use for it might be. I'm pleased when I can find that use, when I can make something without changing the nuances of the cloth even if I change it's form, when the essential nature of the material remains."

She has produced patterns for items using each type of material. In the wool section, there are instructions for blankets, socks and a unique Mary Jane slipper. Mano gives us ideas for linen aprons, duvet covers and pillowcases. I hadn't considered pillowcases of linen before, but I bet they would be incredibly soft on your skin. In the cotton section, she uses many different weights, producing patterns for items such as floor mats, shoe bags, jumpers and lunch bags. At the end there are notes on preparing your fabric and equipment needed, as well as some online resources.

All of the 25 patterns included in the book are accompanied by clear, concise instructions with diagrams. Each project is also photographed in colour. The photographs underline the clean, spare lines of Mano's designs. The are simple, yet beautiful, echoing the Japanese craft style. Beginning and experienced sewers would be able to reproduce the patterns shown.

This is the first time this book has been offered in English. I found it fascinating to read a craft book from another country and especially enjoyed the photographs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

PIERCEd- Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

***A quick short little post today as I have had to send my beloved laptop away for repair. :( I will now be forced to sneak in some time on my gamer son's computer.....***

~ A Zits Close Up~

Zits is my favourite comic strip. It details the life and times of teenager Jeremy Duncan, his parents and his friends. This compilation deals with his friend Pierce, who loves his piercings, tattoos, his pet rat and not conforming. But looks can be deceiving. To quote the authors " Beneath that face of silver lies a heart of gold.

Borgman and Scott have brought the joy and angst of raising a teenage boy to the public for over ten years now, appearing in over 1500 newspapers. There are many, many strips I've cut out and laid at my son's place at the table. Learning to drive, being cool (or not), girls, a band, embarrassing parents, messy rooms and lots more capture real life with a humourous twist.

Haven't heard of it? You can read it or get your daily strip online.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet and Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook - Dr. Peter Gott

Well, I'm still on my quest to lose a (clears throat again) few pounds. It's all about information, making choices and finding what's right for you. Here's another great set of books to help you make some decisions on weight management.

Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet was on the New York Times bestseller list in 2006.
Dr. Gott is a medical columnist and practiced family medicine for over 40 years. His belief that " The seriousness of the health consequences of being overweight cannot be underestimated and adding insult to injury, obesity places enormous social and psychological stresses on individual's lives."

His diet is just what the title says -you don't eat flour or sugar of any kind. All types of flour- wheat, rice and corn, refined and concentrated sugars such as honey, syrup, molasses etc. are taboo.

"My No Flour, No Sugar Diet works because eliminating flour and added sugar from your diet, without making other changes, reduces the number of calories you consume." "Replacing those empty calories with nutrient-dense ones, you can eat enough to remain full and satisfied even while you shed unwanted pounds."

That's not to say that he doesn't advocate exercising in conjunction with this program as well. The first part of the book deals with what your body needs to thrive and his reasoning behind this diet. He includes information you've probably read in other places - keeping a food journal, portion control, reading labels, support, exercise and planning. A shopping list for foods that should be in your cupboard is included. He also includes his views on weight loss and some common diseases/ailments. I found his section on diabetes interesting.

The second half of the book gets down to business. What to eat and what not to eat lists are included. I am a bread addict, so the section on satisfying carb cravings without flour was informative. (Lettuce leaves for wraps and tacos!) Meal plans for two weeks are included, as are a selection of recipes.

Read an excerpt of Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet.

Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook starts off with a recap of the program. There are 175 new recipes, broken down into categories - quite a few sent in by readers. Many of them look delicious and you wouldn't even notice they are missing flour and sugar. My only problem was that many of the recipes feed 4-6 people. There aren't as many single serving recipes included.

Read an excerpt of Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook.

My main criticism of Dr. Gott's program is the use of artificial sweeteners. When I was pregnant with my son, my doctor told me not to use aspartame, as the effect on unborn children was uncertain. Dr. Gott's take on artificial sweeteners left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

" Some people have taken me to task for allowing the use of artificial sweeteners in my diet since, regardless of their being FDA-approved, there are some concerns about their safety. My theory is that many of the people who need to lose weight are not going to be successful without using sugar substitutes. Being obese, or even moderately overweight is an undebatable, serious heath risk that takes precedence over the possible dangers of reasonable use of artificial sweeteners. Lose the weight first , then cut out artificial sweeteners if you can."

I think both of these books contain some good information. Want a chance to read for yourself? Enter my giveaway for both books of Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet.

Giveaway - Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet

That's right - you have a chance to win both books! I am giving away 3 pairs of books - Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet AND Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet Cookbook, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group.

Here's my review.

From the publisher:

All you need to do is eliminate flour and added sugar from your diet. That means no bread, bagels, cookies, or cakes, but it doesn't mean you can't still enjoy lean meats, rice, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and fruits. It doesn't call for counting calories or grams of food, it allows you to choose from a wide range of food (once you hit your goal weight, you can even reintroduce some items with flour and sugar back into your diet), and it's totally affordable.

So if you swear you've bitten the ears off a chocolate bunny for the last time, this book might be for you! Simply comment to be entered. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Giveaway ends Tuesday April 28 at 6 pm EST. Winners will be chosen using Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Winner - Giveaway - Galway Bay

And the very, very lucky winner (chosen by of a copy of Galway Bay, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group is:


Congratulations - you're in for a fantastic read! Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

An Offer You Can't Refuse - Jill Mansell

I admit it - I LOVE chick lit - and I think British chick lit is some of the best! I am so excited that Sourcebooks is bringing Jill Mansell's titles to North America! An Offer You Can't Refuse is being released today.

Seventeen year old Lola Malone is madly in love with Dougie Tennant. But Dougie's mother Adele is less than enamoured with Lola - she wants her out of Dougie's life. She offers Lola a large sum of money to do just that. Lola is horrified, but when a family situation necessitates a large cash influx, she is reluctantly forced to accept Adele's offer.

Fast forward ten years - Lola is back in Britain and the manager of a bookstore. I loved Mansell's choice of occupation for Lola.

"She craved a proper bookshop like an addict craves a fix. There wasn't much that could beat that gorgeous new-book smell, touching the covers and turning the pages of a book whose pages had, just possibly, never been turned before."

Or the customer who wants a book about insects that might have a pig in it. (Keep guessing - I'll tell you the title at the end of this post)

When Lola suddenly meets up with Dougie again and finds she is still madly attracted to him, she hopes that maybe, just will work this time around. But when Dougie hears about the payoff, he wants nothing to do with her. She promised to never reveal the reason she needed the money, but how is she going to win Dougie back when he thinks she is nothing but money hungry?

Lola is an absolutely endearing character - someone you wish you had as a friend. The supporting characters are just as captivating, as are their story lines. Gabe is the male neat freak best friend, who through circumstances ends up living with Dougie's sloppy sister Sally. Lola's mom Blythe is a free spirit in love with a rumpled bear of a man who adores Monopoly. What will happen when Lola's real dad shows up again after twenty something years? Will any of them find true love?

An Offer You Can't Refuse is a fresh, funny, charming read that will have you rooting for Lola, her friends and family and love until you turn the last page. The writing is warm and witty. Mansell's About the Author end note gives you some idea...

" Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually, that's not true; she watches TV, eat gum drops, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marveling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she's completely run out of ways to procrastinate does she write."

An Offer You Can't Refuse was #4 on the London Sunday Times bestseller list in the summer of 2008. I'm sure it will be a hit here as well. I'm looking forward to reading Mansell's next title, Miranda's Big Mistake , when it releases in June of this year.

Read an excerpt of An Offer You Can't Refuse. Love the Shopaholic series? You'll love Mansell too!

Oh - that book title - Lord of the Flies!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Still Life - Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding's latest book Still Life has just been released by Random House Canada. And like many of her previous novels, it's sure to be a bestseller.

Casey Marshall is 'that' girl. Beautiful, wealthy, successful in everything she attempts - business and love, with a great life and wonderful friends. She is leaving a restaurant after lunching with friends when she is hit by an SUV that flees the scene. Miraculously Casey isn't dead - but she is in a coma.

Here's the great twist - she can hear everything going on around her, but can't respond, verbally or physically. Once Casey had thought it would be great fun in life "to be able to eavesdrop, to listen in on private conversations, to find out what people were really thinking, to discover their deepest secrets, witness what they did when they assumed they were alone."

But then she hears the detective in charge of her case say that it may not have been an accident, it may have been an attempt on her life. Who could want her dead? Her loving husband, her troubled sister, her two best friends, someone from work?

"How bitterly ironic... that her main reason for living had come down to finding out who wanted her dead."

The entire story is based around Casey - what she can hear and what she learns about those closest to her. We learn the back story through her memories.

If you're looking for a terrifically entertaining read this is definitely a good choice. Not an overly elaborate whodunit and the characters are a bit formulaic, but a satisfying page turner, perfect for a bit of escapist reading on the beach or on a rainy day.

Read an excerpt of Still Life.

Fielding is a Canadian. I just found out about this promotion that took place over the weekend. The National Post newspaper gave away 10,000 paperback copies of Fielding's previous novel Charley's Web this weekend to subscribers in the Toronto area! Pretty good insert eh?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Winners - The Engine 2 Diet - Rip Esselstyn

And courtesy of the Hachette Book Group, the three lucky winners of a copy of The Engine 2 Diet , chosen by random. org are:

1. Helen
2. deedleweedle
3. Kathy

I'll be contacting you by email for your mailing addresses. Congratulations and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

The Zombie Chicken has landed... a Bookworm's World. Thank you to Marie of The Burton Review for passing on this fun award! I'm very flattered.

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all..."

Now I'm not one to tempt fate or zombie chickens, so I pass this on to.....

Melissa at Melissa's Bookshelf
Jo-Jo at Jo-Jo Loves to Read
Shel at Write for a Reader
Marie at Daisy's Book Journal
Tricia at Library Queue

If you haven't visited these blogs yet, I encourage you to!

A Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick

I stayed up past my usual time last night, as I couldn't put down Robert Goolrick's latest, A Reliable Wife, newly released from Harper Collins Canada.

I was going to put down my thoughts first thing this morning, but was at a loss to put into words how amazing this book was.

It is set in 1907 rural Wisconsin, most of it during the harsh winter. Crime, mental illness and disease seem to be part of the accepted landscape. Goolrick in his end notes cites Michael Lesy's book Wisconsin Death Trip as having a 'profound influence on the structure and genesis of his novel.' The darkness and madness of the surrounding town is referred to often, adding to the overall tone of the novel.

Ralph Truit is the patriarch of the town that bears his name. He owns everything and nearly everyone works for him. He has money and power, but not the thing he craves the most, that which he has denied himself for twenty years. Female companionship - a wife. He advertises in a newspaper for ' a reliable wife.'

" He had wanted a simple, honest woman. A quiet life. A life in which everything could be saved and nobody went insane."

Catherine Land answers that ad, describing herself as 'a simple, honest woman'. Ralph sends for her and she arrives to become his spouse. However Catherine is not quite what she has represented herself to be.

"She knew a good deal more about what was to happen than he did." " She knew the end of the story."

I don't want to give away any more of the plot. But it is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Two wounded hearts, both longing for what they can't or don't have, bring these two people together, isolated in a small pocket of madness, for better or worse.

The story itself is captivating, but it is the language that mesmerized me. Goolrick's writing is raw and powerful. Ralph's discourse on his wants and desires are simply beautiful. Catherine's disquistion on her life, desires and how she came to be what she is, is brutal in it's honesty.

Read an excerpt from A Reliable Wife.

I don't know what else to say, other than I was caught up in the story from first to last page. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Giveaway - How Not to Look Old - Charla Krupp

I am thrilled to be hosting a giveaway for 5!! copies of How Not to Look Old by Charla Krupp, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group!

Why am I so excited? Well the subtitle definitely caught my eye! -~Look 10 years younger, 10 pounds lighter and 10 times better. ~ And it's geared towards ages 30+. Any tips I can get, I'll take!

Synopsis from the publisher:

"How Not to Look Old the 15-week New York Times bestseller is now in paperback updated with over 150 new Brilliant Buys!Charla Krupp knows that aging sucks! So she's here to help. It's every woman's dream: looking hip, sexy, fresh, and pretty--whether you're in your 30's, 40's, 50's, or 60's. Now it's every woman's necessity: looking younger will help you hold onto your job and your partner--particularly when everyone around you seems half your age. It's about making the ultimate "to-do" list of LITTLE beauty and fashion changes that pay off BIG TIME.Charla Krupp, beauty editor and expert, known for her real woman's approach to looking fabulous, offers brutally frank and foolproof advice on how not to look old."

You can read an excerpt here.

This giveaway is a bit different as I haven't had a chance to read and review it myself yet. I'm would love it if the winners would send their thoughts along once they've read it and I'll include those with my review. So leave a comment to be entered, open to both US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Giveaway runs until Friday May 1 at 6 pm EST. And for those of you who read all the way to the end, check out my other Boomer Beauty giveaway here.

Giveaway - Bobbi Brown Living Beauty - Bobbi Brown with Marie Clare Katigback

Okay! I am very excited to be hosting a giveaway for 5!! copies of Bobbi Brown Living Beauty, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group. Why am I so excited? Living Beauty is geared towards women 40+. (that's me!)

Synopsis from the publisher:

"Bobbi Brown began the trend toward natural-looking cosmetics with a simple philosophy: Women want to look and feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident. Today, top editors at elite fashion magazines--including In Style, Vogue, Allure, and Harpers Bazaar--revere her, and celebrities and millions of regular women throughout the world swear by her beauty advice. Now Bobbi Brown has written THE book redefining beauty for women over 40, BOBBI BROWN LIVING BEAUTY. In this refreshing look at beauty and aging, Bobbi offers specific makeup tricks for a stunning face--showing how makeup can solve most of the flaws that many women go under the knife to fix. In fact, the right makeup can create an even skin tone, lift the cheeks, plump a smile...even take years off any woman's face. The key is to use makeup to enhance each woman's best features and showcase her natural beauty. With step-by-step makeup instructions and quotes from beautiful women like Marcia Gay Harden, Vera Wang, Susan Sarandon, and Lorraine Bracco, Bobbi Browns natural, celebratory approach to aging will enlighten and inspire women everywhere. "

You can read an excerpt here.

This giveaway is a bit different as I haven't had a chance to read and review it myself yet. I'm would love it if the winners would send their thoughts along once they've read it and I'll include those with my review. So leave a comment to be entered, open to both US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Giveaway runs until Friday May 1 at 6 pm EST. And for those of you who read all the way to the end, check out my other Boomer Beauty giveaway here

The Cradle - Patrick Somerville

I think the cover of Patrick Somerville's first novel The Cradle, newly released, is beautiful, as is the story itself.

Matt's wife Marissa is eight months pregnant. Out of the blue one morning, she insists that she needs the cradle she remembers from childhood for their child. She thinks the cradle may have ended up with her mother - who walked out on Marissa and her father when Marissa was young. With little information to go on, Matt strikes out on a journey to find and bring home the cradle. In another story line, written ten years later, we meet Renee, whose son is leaving soon for Iraq. Matt's pilgrimage leads him on a personal journey of discovery as his and Renee's story meet in very unexpected ways.

I enjoyed the character of Matt very much. He is a thoughtful, patient man with a distinct set of values, despite an unsettled early life. He is someone you could count on to do the right thing. Unfortunately I did not like Marissa at all. She is not written as straight forward as Matt. In the beginning I found her to petulant and unreasonable, determined to have her own way. Although she is somewhat redeemed later in the book, I still found her to be manipulative and never really connected with her character.

Renee's storyline, although integral to the plot, dragged for me. The writing seemed slow, ponderous and unnecessarily drawn out. I found myself skimming through some of these paragraphs.

"She looked at the dark monitor of the computer. Screen saver, stars. She heard the furnace all the way down in the basement creak to life. The high pitched pulse of the doorbell startled her. She looked over her shoulder...."

Some of the metaphors used, although beautiful, seemed to overpower the idea the author was trying to present.

This is a quiet, unassuming narrative on the true meaning of love, family and parenthood that will leave you thinking about your own relationships. To qupte Matt;

" What he felt was gratitude. Something in him, though , told him that whatever the reasons, for their existence, it had to do with this same feeling. Gratitude."

This would make an interesting selection for a book group. A reading group guide can be found here. Or you can read an excerpt here.