February 28, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter - review

A dear friend has a teenage daughter who happens to have autism.   C adores cooking.  Her specialty is tetrazzini with chicken, turkey or ham.   One highlight of her life is when she met Giada de Laurentis at a book signing.  Giada was very sweet with C.  Another heroine C would love to meet is Paula Deen.

When I first heard about The Kitchen Daughter and its basic plot, I thought about C and jumped at the chance to read it.  

The Kitchen Daughter
by Jael McHenry of the Simmer blog
to be released April 12, 2011
publisher: Gallery Books, Simon and Schuster

Ginny is a twenty-something adult with Asperger's.   Before her parents leave for a long vacation, they make special arrangements to accommodate her shyness and social ineptitude.  For example, a guy leaves the weekly grocery order on the front steps so that Ginny doesn't have to deal with face-to-face shopping.  After the funeral, which is on the first page, Ginny's sister Amanda (De-manda) swoops down and insists the house be sold.  No!  

When stressed, Ginny hides in the closet and mentally runs through cooking rhythms.  A treasure she keeps hidden is her Book of Normal.   Gert, the housekeeper who comes in once a week, gives Ginny some wisdom about grief.  Great characterizations here.   Family secrets too.

I don't especially like books with recipes and ghosts.  The Kitchen Daughter, however,  handles both with finesse, and both are essential to the story.

disclaimer:  received from the publisher for review.  No further compensation.  Reading this fantabulous,  creative, unusual book is more than enough compensation -- unless the author wants to cook dinner for me.

February 24, 2011

Friday Blog Hops - Feb. 25

Crazy for Books  and Parajunkee's View

Jennifer asks:  "Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"  
No,   I like the name -- Reflections with Coffee.  At my old age, I'm always reflecting.  Always did when I was young too.   And coffee!   Don't get me started on coffee!   The stronger and the fresher, the best!

Q from NaKesha. Share your current fav television show! Tell us a bit about it...

Grey's Anatomy.  First of all, I love the pun on the show's title.   Meredith and Lexie Grey are half-sisters; both are doctors.   A few seasons ago it almost jumped the shark with some woo-woo factors, but then it got back to normal and I'm enjoying it even more.   

some reflection:  I have a copy of Gray's Anatomy that belonged to my great-grandfather.  Inside the front cover is his name, the place, and the date in neat cursive writing.  

September 1st 1878

Even though I never met him (I'm not THAT old), will have to do a reflection post about him.

February 20, 2011

my own books

Read Your Own Books Challenge

Jamie over at her Bookshelf has a challenge that I must join!  Books are piled up everywhere here.  I can barely walk into the bedroom because of the books.   

Books must have been owned by 2-17-2011.

Please excuse me now .... I'm heading to my La-Z-Boy to read.  Join me?   No, not on my La-Z-Boy!  Join us in the challenge.

February 17, 2011

Friday Blog Hops - Feb. 18

Today's question from Parajunkee's Follow Friday:

If you are a fan of Science Fiction what is your favorite book?

Book?  Whine.... you mean I have to name ONE?  I'll name the whole series:  Isaac Asimov's robot books and short stories.  The robots had to follow three laws; how they got around these laws add to the plots.  Sadly, the movie I, Robot disappointed me. For those of you who don't know the three laws of robotics, a summary:

  1. No injury of humans, either through action or inaction.
  2. Obey humans, unless it conflicts with the First Law.
  3. Protect self unless it conflicts with the First or Second Law.
Asimov also wrote great mysteries, especially the Black Widowers Club short stories.   He also put himself in as an irritating narcisstic character in Murder at the ABA.  This book and the robot ones are downstairs.  I think I'll go choose one for bedtime reading tonight.
What's your favorite science fiction book/series/author?

punch a dolphin? - review

 Why would anyone want to punch a dolphin in the mouth?  Isn't that animal cruelty?   All the better to read

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth
Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal
published March 1, 2011
preorder here 
Ouch,  I'm not exactly sure these are very good reasons.    But, and there's a little butt* coming, this is a comic book of satire.  All the better to read it with an open mind, a box to tissues to wipe away the tears of laughter, and a friend nearby so you can say, "hey, listen to this...."

Because I've edited many newsletters, I tend to catch errors.   When I proofread our school's yearbook, I caught the misspelling of our governor's name (even after the administration had proofed it).   It is my OCD.   So my favorite comics are the ones that focus on grammatical lessons:
  • Ten words you need to stop misspelling
  • How to use a semicolon
Then there are great hints for internet addicts like you and me: How to suck at text messaging and Facebook.
As a female, I don't know How to Pee Like a Champ.    Inman demonstrates; oops, I mean he doesn't demonstrate in person,  it's a comic!
Coffee is part of the name of this blog.  So I laughed at 15ish things worth knowing about coffee, then I went eeeeew at something he said.   I'm going now to grab a cuppa robusta and some more recent oatmeal.     Even if you don't like to eat oatmeal, you'll enjoy feeding your mind with this.

*You ask where's the little butt coming?   'tis at the bottom of this comic.  Inman's book has 27 new comics not shown on The Oatmeal.

FTC disclaimer:  galley received through Shelf Awareness and NetGalley for an honest review

February 15, 2011

internet addiction - review

Yesterday, Sarah Mae of Like a Warm Cup of Coffee wrote about the internet addiction that affects her, me, and many of you.  If you happen to go read that first, and then decide not to come back for the rest of my post, my feelings won't be hurt - smiles.

I need to cut down, cut back, or even cut out completely.   It is not just the Internet, but things I get from there like  Plants and Zombies.   Internet addiction leads to worse things than waste of time. That is Alexis Singer's memoir.

author: Alexis Singer
source:  Paperback Swap

Alexis says at the opening, "I wish I had known the future when an instant message (IM) popped up."  Alexis was sixteen, solitary and stressed, "in high school, we're all loners, at least from our own perspectives"  
         Teens with eyes glued to a monitor .. "escapism in its most luring form, especially for people who have a hard time being themselves in person.  We all find our niche."  

oooooh,  that IM turns out to be from a man with predatory purposes.   The six word IM leads to cybersex.   Alexis becomes even more solitary and stressed.   I couldn't put down this book ... wanted to see if this creep, stalker, predator (the real word I want to use isn't g-rated) would be caught and punished.  

All females, no matter her age,  with a tendency to look for an escape from loneliness should read Alexis.   I'm now going to shut down this computer and go do other nagging and necessary chores.  How about you?

February 13, 2011

Shine - how many ways? - review

publishing date:  May 2011
source: NetGalley and Around the World ARC Tours

Summary from Myracle's website:  When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

I live just over the Smoky Mountains from Cat's hillbilly redneck crossing.  It is easy to imagine a small place like this -- with drugs galore,  the chewing tobacco juice, the filthy trailer in the woods, and  the gossipy women in the church kitchen.  The place is not just small, but also small-minded.  

Cat retreated from all her friends after the eighth grade.  I almost screamed at the book, "WHY?" but eventually we do find out the reason.   She regrets having pushed  everyone away;  people welcome her back, although some keep their lips sealed during her investigation.  Some characters are likable, others we despise,  and one or two where I wanted to say, "Oh hush yo chatterin'!"  

It is also neat to notice the different ways Myracle uses the word "shine," without being obvious.   For example,  early on, someone said to Cat, "hoped he'd take a shine to you."

While I followed Cat around her environs in order to investigate who attacked her friend, I thought to myself, "This is the best book I've read in ages."  Would like to know what you think about the hillbilly area.

a Beatles song.Not - review

Across the Universe is a Beatles song.
Across the Universe is a movie filmed in 2007 with Evan Rachel Wood.
Across the Universe is a new YA book.

debut author:  Beth Revis  (funny, after I wrote the above three sentences, I find out the author already put the same info on her blog.  Dare I say Great Minds?   No, I could never have her great mind, besides google is my mind-at-my-fingertips.)
published: 1-11-11
source:  Around the World Arc Tours

summary from Revis' website:
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future.
photo from author's blog
Just before Amy is frozen, she overhears the technicans say an extra year will be added to her cryogenic sleep.   We ache with her when she thinks to herself, "I want that year!" 

Alas, Amy awakens too early in the spaceship.   Murders and lies are also passengers.  Amy befriends Elder, a young boy who will eventually rule the ship.  Another main character (if you can call it a character) aren't the people, but the ship Godspeed itself.

This is a great read combining YA, mystery, science fiction, and my current fave: dystopia.   The reversible cover adds great details.   What does Godspeed look like?  The blue cover has a full map.  This blueprint is also on Amazon's site (scroll down to see it.)  Even better is the interactive site about Godspeed, such details!

The other cover is on the right.   Fabulous to have two covers appealing to either gender.    And not to judge a book by the covers, inside is just as super.  I want to re-read this one,  especially before the others coming later in the triology.

Great prizes for one winner at Dystopian February.   Droooool!

February 11, 2011

Truth or Dare

Parajunkee's View has a Truth or Dare contest.   
Dare I join??   
Today's dare:  find a song that reminds you of a book. Could be the latest book you've read, or your all time fav. Tell us about the book and show us the video in a blog post. Has to be a paranormal book BTW.

Goodness, this is a toughie!  I'm deaf so I don't know many songs, but I know books!  My earliest favorite paranormal series is the Half Magic series by Edward Eager.  I especially liked the way wishes had to be phrased.   The beginning lyrics of John Mayer's Half of My Heart fits the stories.
 I was born in the arms of imaginary friends.  
 Free to roam, made a home out of everywhere I've been. 
I have many imaginary friends who are book characters.   Eager's Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha were among my first imaginary friends and they took me half-where everywhere. Now let Mayer entertain you (not halfway) with his video of Half of My Heart.  

Friday Blog Hops - Feb. 11

Book Blogger Hop
Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!

One of my posts is a giveaway of two copies of Putting God Back in the Holidays.  It also gives you a link to 200+ blogs participating in the Follower Love Giveaway.  I've noticed many gift cards galore.


What is your favorite romance hero-type? Stereotype wise. Do you like the strong silent type or the brute macho man?

Rhett Butler of GWTW comes to mind -- because he was my earliest romance hero.  He helped Scarlett but didn't take any flak from her.     As for the type I like, neither the strong silent type nor the brute macho.  I like a guy who isn't silent, who isn't a brute, who has a sensitive side which overpowers any macho tendencies.    Hmmmm, I'm describing my husband! 

February 10, 2011

reflections - debut authors

Today's BTT asks us Which authors have you been lucky enough to discover at the very beginning of their careers?
Kathryn Stockett and her debut novel The Help.  I had just downloaded the Kindle app on my iPhone at the time The Help came out.   Because I'm a G.R.I.T. (girl raised in the South), the book looked appealing; after the first chapter I was hooked and started spreading the word.   I certainly hope Stockett  doesn't end up like Margaret Mitchell who wrote only Gone with the Wind.

reflections - adult learning

When I was 8 years old, my mother took driving lessons and got her license.  She was already 40 years old.  But she did it.
When I was a pre-teen, my mother and I took swimming lessons at Baconsfield Pool.  I breezed through.  Mother had a hard time, she was scared.    It wasn't a life-or-death matter, but she accomplished the basic beginnings!

Adults can learn.   Learning to Swim is about Troy Chance who sees something in the water with a face -- she doesn't think, she dives in.   Debut author Sara J. Henry has signed her book to be given away through Booking Through Thursday.   

Go here to read the review and enter the contest.  P.S.  If you win, can I read it after you?  smiles

February 7, 2011

Love Giveaway - winners

Winners of The Followers Love Giveaway post are Maria R. and MaDonna.   They've been emailed.  Congrats and many more happy holidays for your and your family.

Welcome to the Love Follower Hop organized by Kathy of I Am A Reader, Not a Writer

Two copies of Putting God Back in the Holidays are given away, thanks to Moody Publishers.
Bill and Penny Thrasher
       Holidays stress me out at times.  "Uh oh, it is almost Valentine's Day."    I've been known to still be wrapping Christmas gifts until lunchtime.
      The Thrashers cover several holidays with practical hints on making them holy-days with families.   Just as Christ is part of our everyday lives, not just Sundays,  include Him in our holidays.
       One chapter is "Not forgetting the D word during the holidays."   D =  diligence and self-discipline, not desires, drives, desserts!  In sum,  when we control the holidays, and not let them control us, there is more joy. 
        So how do we find joy?  Flipping the pages to the chapter on Valentine's Day,  there is a chart of negative thoughts about self paired with scripture to show you are special and loved by God.  A practical suggestion for Valentine's Day is to read Matthew 25:35-40 and then visit a nursing home or a homeless shelter to minister as a family.

  • Fill out the form below.   Giveaway has ended.  Both winners will be chosen by random.org
  • Optional extra entry:  +1 follow me on Twitter @bettymc  Leave your twitter name
  • The list of the other 200+ blogs doing the Love Hop Giveaway is here.

February 4, 2011

Friday Blog Hops - Feb. 4

FFF!  I like today's date:  Friday, February four

asks What is the book you are currently 'pushing'? (Pushing means trying to get people to read it)
Easy!  That's One Thousand Gifts, published two weeks ago.  I've been giving it away for birthdays and thank-yous. My review includes a link to an excerpt in the first chapter.

Book Blogger HopToday's Crazy for Books hop asks us what we are reading and why.  I'll answer the why first: because they are for upcoming reviews. Read along with me (click on the titles for excerpts)   
Putting God Back in the Holidays by Bill and Penny Thrasher
You Were Made to Make a Difference by Max Lucado and Jenna Lucado Bishop. 
Both of these books will be given away here on this blog!  Details on the 8th.

February 3, 2011

What for?

“How would a teen-age boy who is going to work with his hands ever use Literature of England in his work?  The age-old How am I going to use this in real life? question."

Immediately, I snap sarcastically: because of the state proficiency exams, Race to the Top, and because the ivory tower legislators say so.   Shudder, this shows how jaded I became the last few years I worked in education.

Backing up, here are some nicer answers:
Max & Galileo
  •  just as practicing basketball improves your skills, reading more helps you read better  (this is the stock answer used with kids who love sports.)
  • while working, no matter what field, ideas and imagination gleaned from reading remain in your mind to think about during the "ho-hum" part of the job
  • you can come up with a creative name for a pet, meet Galileo 8 weeks old.
  • your job and the paycheck isn't the only thing that'll be important in your life, you don't know where you'll be in ten years.  People often change careers.  
    A carpenter named Jerry surprised himself and his family by going back to school.  His manual skills with his hands helped him master sign language.  He became a pastor to the Deaf for 33 years, my pastor.  Jerry went back to school again for a PhD in counseling.  Now he travels the world interpreting at missions conferences and counsels families while at home.
     What reasons would you give for learning "this 'n that"?

    Books obsolete?

    "Books will soon be obsolete in the schools...Our school system will be completely changed in the next ten years"
     Thomas Edison, 1913, speaking about motion pictures.

    I've loved this comment ever since I read it on a technology teachers discussion group back in 1995.  What do you think will become obsolete soon? Doesn't matter if you're wrong like Edison. (and I'm glad he was wrong!)

    February 2, 2011

    Eucharisteo! review

    published January 2011
    source:  bought myself

    Eucharisteo!   I gave a friend a handmade birthday card that said she was full of eucharisteo.  She wasn't sure how to take it until she opened her gift, a book.  
       Then I told her to look at pages 32 and 33. Eucharisteo is a Greek word with many meanings built in.  Here's what the author Ann writes:

    Charis. Grace.
    Eucharisteo.  Thanksgiving.
    Chara. Joy.
    A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.

    Ann takes on a dare to make a list of 1,000 blessings -- one thousand gifts that she already has.   Don't misunderstand, the whole book is not a simple list. The first chapter opens upon a traumatic event in Ann's childhood;  she "snapped shut to grace".    Chapter two  introduces "a word to live...and die by" that is eucharisteo.  The rest of the book is sheer beauty.

    Jesus cursed the town of Korazin in Matthew 11:21.   I walked through there one month ago today and saw a dead town no one lives in.   Ann asks us, "what does Jesus directly do, in the face of apparent failure, when no one responded to His teaching?  He practiced eucharisteo and thanked God.

        I cannot do justice reviewing  One Thousand Gifts.  Some things aren't meant to be described, but best discovered.   I invite you to meet  Ann on her pages, and more importantly explore eucharisteo for yourself.  Do you dare to live fully right where you are?

    P.S.  See the necklace I'm wearing in the photo?    Before the holidays, I emailed the family and told them all I wanted were photos and something from the catalogs Ann mentioned.   My daughter got me some ducks (thank you!) plus this necklace from Jamie's Jewels to remember them.

    February 1, 2011

    Immortal, to be or not to be? review

    review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    author:  Rebecca Skloot
    published: 2010
    source:  bought myself to read for Indie Lit Awards

          Time for another confession.  This blog is getting good at extracting confessions from me.   I hated biology.  My biology teacher in the 10th grade had a list of 31 rules to follow.   In college I postponed biology until just before graduation.  Made a D.  Barely missed graduating on time because of that.  Bleh.

          So when I heard about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and her cells spreading around the world, I went "eh, preposterous, not interested."   Fortunately, I had to read this book to judge it for the Indie Lit awards.

         Am so glad I read it!  Skloot makes the scientific stuff easy to understand, without even talking down to me.  Her website summarizes:
    Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.
    Skloot first learns about the cells in a college class.  Years later, she wants to find the woman behind these cells.  Her writing is full of exquisite description of places and characters.  She sits in a hotel room paging someone every few minutes while watching a huge clock with the letters B-R-O-M-O-S-E-L-T-Z-E-R.     That same clock is mentioned several pages ahead, looking down on a Rolling Stone reporter who was also researching the same story.

    Skloot tells us about many scientists and doctors by describing their characteristics and beliefs.  One researcher who wanted to find a way to preserve "the superior white race" later praised Hitler (shudder).  We are also introduced to Henrietta's family and children who are furious, "If our mother so important to science, why can't we get health insurance?"

    Whether you like or dislike science, history, a study of ethics,  Skloot will lead you for a good ride through Baltimore and  rural poor Virginia, through the science labs and a mental hospital.  Where would we be without the knowledge gained from HeLa?  Thanks, Henrietta, we owe you.