Thursday, December 31, 2009

Recently Finished (and Recommended)

Intellectual Devotional (Original) by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim

Well, technically I won't be done with this book until tonight, but close enough. I went out of order in reading the Intellectual Devotionals - I recommended the American History one earlier in October. This one had a much wider focus, looking at issues all over the world and from all sorts of areas of study. Religion and music, art and science, history and philosophy, with so many tidbits of information ranging from people to ideas. More interesting than your gradeschool history book and offered up in page-sized bites, it's a smart way to end the day.

Check back tomorrow to see which one I plan on starting for the new year!

Notes from the playlist: "Baby, I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Recently Finished

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

The woman of Fever Series fame (starting with Darkfever) started out with pure, delicious romance. Was I in the mood for some romance? At the time, not really. In fact, what really spurred me on was that everyone reading the Fever Series claimed that a character in it (Jericho Barrons) was actually Adam Black from the Highlander Series. This series. And he's not the only potential character crossing over.

I decided I was missing something important.

So I made it my mission to read these books (in order!). Here we have lucious Hawk (nickname) who ends up falling hard for a woman tossed back in time, all thanks to the Fae and their nasty little mindgames. Adrienne's been chucked 500 years into the past, and with her man issues, has to resist Hawk at all costs. But of course, we all know how that's going to end...

Read the Epinions review here!

Notes from the playlist: "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recommended for Kids (and kids at heart)

I Spy: Christmas by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick


Yes, I'll probably recommend each and every I Spy book that I own because I just love them all so much. The pictures are simply amazing, all the little details from sprigs of holly to miniature reindeer figurines, sparkling baubles to glittering snow. The themes are always so much fun and it's hard not to love the ideas that Jean and Walter have come up with in this book, as well as the others.

My only wish is that they would make more I Spy books like these. Hope your holidays were merry!

Read the Epinions review here!

Notes from the playlist: "All Through the Night" by Lifescapes

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recommended for Cooks, Bakers, and Sugar Lovers

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor

Need some goodies for the holidays? These desserts are for the serious sweet tooth only - and Jill isn't joking. These recipes are indeed chewy, scrumptious, finger-licking, sticky sugary messes. It's ridiculous in some respects. The very first recipe is "Heart of Darkness Brownies" and oh yes, they are dark and delicious and dangerous. Dedicated to all things gooey and soft and mouth-watering, you'd better be ready to stock your kitchen with carmels, chocolates, ice cream, milk, eggs, sprinkles, toasted nuts, candy bars, marshmellows (both whole and fluff), sugar (white and brown and dark brown), corn syrups, cinnamon, vanilla, and all manner of exciting morsels that would make Willy Wonka himself proud. What's more, this book is put together in almost a scrapbook-like fashion and, simply put, it looks fantastic. The pictures practically dance off the page with happy, chipper colors and quaint accents.

I adore this book. And I've been marking little stars after each dessert I try, five being the best. And oh my, are those five-star recipes to die for. Many of these will take time, patience, and careful planning, but if you manage to get them right, it's well worth it. If you like cookies, bars, cakes, puddings, and little surprises, then flip through this and indulge.

Notes from the playlist: "Amazing" by Josh Kelley

Friday, December 18, 2009

Recommended for Everyone!

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I honestly cannot believe it took me this long to recommend this series. I suppose it's because practically everyone has already read it. However, if you're one of the few that hasn't, now isn't a bad time to start.

Harry Potter, boy wizard destined to face down the evil Lord Voldemort. Their showdown and everything that leads up to it takes place in our world. Harry and all the wizards and witches he knows live in a separate place from us muggles though. We don't know about all that magical stuff, and they make sure it stays that way. The series starts with Harry at age 10, following him year after year and one adventure after another until book #7, the final installment. Naturally, you should begin with The Sorcerer's Stone. That one is second only to the third book (The Prisoner of Azkaban) in terms of my favorites of the series. Kids - enjoy! Adults - be a kid again and enjoy!

Read the Epinions reviews here!

Notes from the playlist: "Seeing is Believing" from The Polar Express

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recommended for Writers

Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan

While in the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program, I was in a class where this book was recommended for those looking to better their description. At the time, I was struggling with description and getting it *just right* so I bought this book.

Good recommendation! I now pass it on to you, other writers having trouble with description. Rebecca McClanahan offers up all sorts of good idea to use, as well as several exercises for some practice. She focuses on all the senses, from smell to touch, and points out different ways to get inspired as well. I read through the book, did some of the exercises, and am now much more confident in my description skills. Hooray! So for those needing an extra boost, crack this open, and get to work!

Notes from the playlist: "Forgiven" by Within Temptation

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Currently Reading

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

I remember when this came out. We simply could not keep it in stock. In fact, the publishers ran out of copies and had to bust their asses to print more. I'm not sure how that all happened. Speedy word of mouth, no doubt. After all, how do you not discuss a book with friends when it takes a Jane Austin classic and throws a bunch of zombies into it? Kind of hard to avoid. I know a bunch of us had a good laugh over the idea and kept sneaking peeks into it. So I made one of my many mental post-it notes to read it. Now I am. It's quite interesting really. I've read the original, and this basically is Grahame-Smith taking Jane Austin's story and shoving zombies into it. In some ways it's kind of awkward, but I think I'll get the hang of it at some point. Shelved in the teens section, I don't doubt that teens will indeed get a kick out of this.

Notes from the playlist: "Living Sculptures of Pemberly" by Dario Marianelli

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Currently Reading

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

I've waited over a year to read this. This is the fourth book in the Fever Series which starts with Darkfever. The ongoing saga of MacKayla Lane and her destiny to destroy the darkness that is now coating the world takes a very startling turn in the beginning, thanks to what happened to her in the previous book. Now she's out and about, killing Unseelie and figuring out new ways to take them down. Very exciting, and I am thoroughly looking forward to see what this volume has to offer. I don't doubt that I'll be done in a few days more. (still don't know why this whole series is stuck in the romance section, but I blame the publishers for that, as this is more urban fantasy that, in many ways, borders on horror).

Read the Epinions review here!

Notes from the playlist: "Wishing on a Star" by Miriam Stockley (The 10th Kingdom)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Recently Finished (and Recommended)

The Plucker by Brom

I read this in one day. I should have read it long ago, like when I first saw it on the shelves, but naturally I didn't. My reading list is long. Either way, now I've read it, and it was exactly what I thought it would be, and a little more. Brom's illustrations are dark, but lovely, as is the story. It's an illustrated novel, and hard to miss on the bookshelves. If you want a bit of dark fantasy, this is it. A badass Jack-in-the-Box sets out to kill an evil spirit sucking the life out of toys (kind of like Toy Story meets Hell) and hopes to rescue his beloved Snow Angel in the end. Don't read this to kids unless you want to give them nightmares or teach them swear words. Adults only please.

Read the Epinions review here!

Notes from the playlist: "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...