Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Sunday Salon and All's "Fair" in Love and Summer... or the annual Bridgewater Country Fair


Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news! So, find a comfy chair, grab a cup of joe and relax! Let's talk books... or "End of summer and books..."

August is a special time of year in Connecticut. It's an ending and a beginning. It marks the end of summer here, but also, towards the end of August, it marks the beginning of fall. Just a hint of fall starts to come in the early mornings, when the temperatures start to bring a little chill in the air and we find ourselves turning off the air conditioners and opening the windows at night. I love summer, but really my favorite time of year is fall. When I was young, fall also marked the beginning of school, and I can still feel that anticipation after many years away from a classroom. One of the many traditions around here is the Bridgewater Country Fair. It is an agricultural fair and it's always about 2 weeks before the start of school. And last Sunday, we got in the car and headed towards Bridgewater...

Bridgewater is a beautiful little rural town, well known for a few things... If you are a chocolate lover, it is the home of Bridgwater chocolate (OMG, what great chocolate!). It's also known for some wonderful working farms (where you can buy your meats direct) and it's also known for being the last  "dry town" in Connecticut, which eventually did changed in 2014. And this year, the first year since 1935, you could actually buy beer at The Bridgewater Country Fair. Have you ever been to an agricultural fair? Here's what you'll see...

First thing we had to do was scope out the whole fair, see what vendors were there and see what activities were going on. First thing we watched was the chainsaw sculptor, who made these bears and animals out of huge logs of wood. Next we went to watch the oxen pull. It's amazing what these animals can pull. Two oxen are yoked and brought up to a sled that has been piled with cement squares ranging in weight, beginning at 4500 pounds. The oxen themselves weigh anywhere from 1200 - 3000 pounds themselves and are generally tame. To see the way some of the handlers, some of which are father's and sons, interact with these large beasts is interesting. Ever consider having a 1200 pound pet? Of course there are always some who don't see these animals as pets and I don't like seeing the way they treat them. 


It started to rain during the oxen pull, so we missed part of the competition and raced into the poulty tent. Yup, poultry as in chickens. Do you know how many different species of chicken there are? Plenty! My favorite chickens are the Polish chickens. They have this feathery mop on their head and I think they are adorable. That mop on their head also makes it hard for them to see very well. They are pretty tame too, and make good pets. They do lay eggs, but are more "decorative" then productive. All the chickens in the tent are raised, generally, by the children, and compete for best examples of their "types". Besides the Polish chickens, you'll fnd Silkies, Bantams, Leghorns, Brahmas, Phoenix Bantams and Orpingtons to name just a few. After the rain stopped it was time to move along to see some other "country fair"....

We found some delicious locally made honey from Jim's Honey and Goatboy soap, which is made with all natural ingredients including goat milk and shea butter and is to die for! I have sensitive skin and tried the unscented bar and my skin never felt so soft and actually glowed (not glow in the dark glow, but looks radiant). On to some food, which had to be a roast beef sandwich, a traditional food for the fair, and a birch beer. Then some more wandering, looking at all the blue ribbon cows, eyeing the antique tractor pull and seeing my first Highlander cattle whose origins are from Scotland (also known as the hairy cow), which has this long fringe like coat. I took a photo of Elroy, but this wasn't his best side...


And at the end of one of the tents, lo and behold, something for the book lover in me...Tractor Mac!


Yes, a guy selling his children's books featuring a farm tractor named Mac. And what wonderful books! There are wonderful lessons to be learned living on a working farm, and these can translate beyond the farm too! Maybe it's because my paternal grandparents use to have a farm that there's that love of rural living still in me, but these books are delightful! These books stem from author & illustrator, Billy Steers stories that he told his own children. I bought the first book in the Tractor Mac adventures, Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm, and simply loved the story of how Mac came to the farm and helped "mechanize" some of the laborous work, and ultimately it's a story of friendship. I'll be reviewing this book later this week, but suffice it to say, I loved it! Beautiful illustrations and a wonderful story.  And there are 12 books in the series so far! And it was nice meeting and talking with author Billy Steers too! He graciously signed my book!

 Enjoy Going to Fairs? Ever been to an Agricultural Fair?

Weekly Wrap-up...

This week was a reading week. I finished quite a few books that I'll be reviewing on Chick with Books in the coming week or two.

  • Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm by Billy Steers (sheer delight in children's book form!)
  • In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett (memoir of all those great years on TV)
  • Not A Star by Nick Hornsby (tongue in cheek and so funny! in a novelette)
  • Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley (make sure you have a box of tissues for this one!)

That about does it for this week. Hope you enjoyed your visit! Share your fair memories and all those books you read this week!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Sunday Salon and The Dog Days of Summer... or 3 Great Books featuring Dogs!


Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news! And it is officially the end of The Dog Days of Summer... or is it?!

 THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.......

Summer is typically referred to as The “Dog Days” of Summer because it’s so hot that it’s not fit for a dog. But where did the phrase really comes from? Well, the Dog Days refers to the period of July 3 through Aug. 11 when the Dog Star, Sirius, rises with the Sun. As a result, the ancients felt that the combination of the brightest luminary of the day (the Sun) and the brightest star of night (Sirius) was responsible for the extreme heat that is experienced during the middle of summer.... So technically it is the end of "The Dog Days of Summer", but is sure is still HOT and Dogs are on my mind. (And that cute guy reading the eBook in the photo is my one and only, BJ, who loved to read with me). For "The Dog Days" and everyone who enjoys great reading with a dog... or about a dog, I'm taking this Sunday to share some great new books that revolve around dogs...

Lily and The Octopus by Steve Rowley... From Kirkus Reviews: A lonely writer and his aging dachshund confront a mythic enemy. If it wasn’t for one thing, Rowley’s debut novel might be viewed as a lightly fictionalized, heart-wrenching account of the author’s last six months with his adored 12-year-old dog, Lily, who succumbed to a brain tumor. That one thing, however, is pretty big. It’s the “octopus” of the title. “It’s Thursday the first time I see it. I know that it’s Thursday because Thursday nights are the nights my dog, Lily, and I set aside to talk about boys we think are cute.…We get into long debates over the Ryans. I’m a Gosling man, whereas she’s a Reynolds gal.” The thing Ted notices that fateful Thursday is an octopus. It “has a good grip and clings tightly over her eye.” For almost all of this novel that thing over Lily’s eye remains an “octopus,” an evil eight-legged sea creature that snarks and schemes and wages battle. Even Ted’s best friend and therapist give in and call it an octopus, and a good deal of plot is built around pretending that it is, in an elaborately developed, magical realist way. This is not the best thing about the book. In fact, it becomes a little much. But more than balancing it are the portrait of Lily in all her bedclothes-burrowing, ice cream–eating, stubborn dachshund glory and the intensity of this particular interspecies bond. The octopus talks to Ted, but Lily does too, for example when she’s licking tears off his face: “THIS! EYE! RAIN! YOU! MAKE! IS! FANTASTIC! I! LOVE! THE! SALTY! TASTE! YOU! SHOULD! MAKE! THIS! EVERY! DAY!” As anyone who has a dachshund knows, this is exactly how they talk. If you have an older dog, or any dog, he or she is going to be licking plenty of eye rain off your face through the final chapters of this book. In his funny, ardent, and staunchly kooky way, Rowley expresses exactly what it’s like to love a dog.

This gem of a book received many accolades prior to publication, and it has since had many rave reviews. It is now on my nightstand waiting for the right moment. And if you like dog stories it should probably be on your TBR list. It was released by Simon & Schuster the beginning of June.
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Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff... Jonathan Trefoil’s boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling, and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him—only richer and with a different sense of humor. He doesn’t remember life being this confusing, back before everyone expected him to act like a grown-up.

When his brother asks him to look after his dogs, Jonathan's world view begins to shift. Could a border collie and a cocker spaniel hold the key to life, the universe, and everything? Their sly maneuvering on daily walks and visits to the alluring vet suggest that human emotional intelligence may not be top dog after all. A funny, wise romantic comedy set in Manhattan, Jonathan Unleashed is a story of tangled relationships, friendships, and dogs. Rosoff’s novel is for anyone wondering what to be when they grow up, and how on earth to get there.

This looks like a fun romantic romp. I love the cover, but of course we are not suppose to judge a book by its' cover are we?! (Who made that rule anyway?!?) It loosely reminded me of a kind of Must Love Dogs story, but won't be sure until I've read it, and it's on my wishlist. Published by Viking, it was released at the beginning of July.
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Free Days With George by Colin Campbell... After Colin Campbell went on a short business trip abroad, he returned home to discover his wife of many years had moved out. No explanations. No second chances. She was gone and wasn’t coming back. Shocked and heartbroken, Colin fell into a spiral of depression and loneliness. Soon after, a friend told Colin about a dog in need of rescue—a neglected 140-pound Newfoundland Landseer, a breed renowned for its friendly nature and remarkable swimming abilities. Colin adopted the traumatized dog, brought him home and named him George. 

Both man and dog were heartbroken and lacking trust, but together, they learned how to share a space, how to socialize, and most of all, how to overcome their bad experiences. At the same time, Colin relived childhood memories of his beloved grandfather, a decorated war hero and a man who gave him hope when he needed it most. Then everything changed. Colin was offered a great new job in Los Angeles, California. He took George with him and the pair began a new life together on the sunny beaches around L.A. George became a fixture in his Hermosa Beach neighborhood, attracting attention and giving affection to everyone he met, warming hearts both young and old. Meanwhile, Colin headed to the beach to rekindle his love for surfing, but when George encountered the ocean and a surfboard for the first time, he did a surprising thing—he jumped right on the board. Through surfing, George and Colin began a life-altering adventure and a deep healing process that brought them back to life. As their story took them to exciting new heights, Colin learned how to follow George’s lead, discovering that he may have rescued George but that in the end, it was George who rescued him. 
Free Days with George is an uplifting, inspirational story about the healing power of animals, and about leaving the past behind to embrace love, hope and happiness.

For the people who have read this book, it's a big hit, but I just kind of ran across it one day while I was online. But what rave reviews! Almost all 5 star reviews! And there are a lot of reviews! Of course, who wouldn't melt about a boy and his dog, but this book seems to be special. Two lost souls finding a life filled with love after finding eachother. Published by Anchor Canada at beginning of May. Colin tweeted tuesday that Free Days With George was on sale half price at Amazon and I went for it ($7.37). Amazon changes their prices frequently, but you can check to see if Free Days With George is still on sale and want ot read it too.

Other great oldies but goodies...

* The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein
* A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
* Marley & Me by John Grogan
* Finding Mr. Right by Emily Carmichael (I LOVED this! It's a romance with an interesting dog twist!)


Do You Like Books with Dogs in the Story or Telling the Story?

Weekly Wrap Up...
   * Memoir Monday ... was a review for Rosalie Lightning, a graphic novel
   * Monday ... also shared what came In My Mailbox. Some GREAT books coming out soon!
   * Friday... First Line Friday highlighted a book I hope EVERYONE gets a chance to read!

I hope your Dog Days of Summer are filled with great weather, great books and a great dog or two (either a real one or one from a book!) Let me know if you have any great "dog" books to share! You can leave them in the comments below!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh, illus. by Yuko Ota... A Review

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh, illus. by Yuko Ota...

Loved this! I only wish it were longer, because I wanted more of Penny...

What'a a girl to do when she loses her job and then her apt in the same day?! Start living in your best friends' storage unit, of course! Penny's a true romantic at heart (or at least she reads romance) and she's not going to give up on life too easily! She meets a great guy, plays some D & D (yup, you read it right), adopts a cat (or does the cat adopt her?) and foils some bad guys. But that's all I'm sayin'... you need to read this sweet romantic comedy all for yourself. It's about dealing with what life throws at you, which can be alot sometimes! Rom-com/Slice of Life. The artwork is great, kinda reminds me of Scott Pilgrim, and Penny herself is a wonderful character, who you can't help but like. All in all a terrific graphic novel aimed at YA's, but I'd say it's for us girls (no matter what our age). Short and sweet, but worth it! Fun, fun, fun!

Published by Oni Press and just released this past March. It originally started as a web comic (you can still read it in that form at Johnny Wander), had a fantastic kickstarter and the rest is history... or at least this published book.

Monday, August 15, 2016

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox... I've received some great books last week! And I decided I would join in on the fun sharing them with you and the other bloggers participating in Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday is a weekly event for bloggers to share what books arrived in their mailboxes. Mailbox Monday was originally created by Marcia of To Be Continued and is now hosted by Vicki, Serena and Leslie at Mailbox Monday's own blog.

The weather in Connecticut has cooled off, with temperatures in the 80's today! But the books I've received in my mailbox are HOT! Here are the eGalleys I received in my eReader...

The Rain In Portugal by Billy Collins... From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering nearly fifty new poems that showcase the generosity, wit, and imaginative play that prompted The Wall Street Journal to call him “America's favorite poet.”

The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he's not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins's ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical—“the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they're in Minneapolis”—to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, here Collins contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. 

I love Billy Collins! I'm so excited to have gotten an eGalley of his upcoming release of poetry from Random House Publishing! Mark your calendars, the release date is Oct. 4, 2016! Here is a sample poem from The Rain In Portugal...

On Rhyme

It's possible that a stitch in time
might save as many as twelve or as few as three,
and I have no trouble remembering
that September has thirty days.
So do June, November, and April.

I like a cat wearing a chapeau or a trilby,
Little Jack Horner sitting on a sofa,
old men who are not from Nantucket,
and how life can seem almost unreal
when you are gently rowing a boat down a stream.

That's why instead of recalling today 
that it mostly pours in Spain, 
I am going to picture the rain in Portugal,
how it falls on the hillside vineyards, 
on the surface of the deep harbors

where fishing boats are swaying, 
and in the narrow alleys of the cities
where three boys in tee shirts 
are kicking a soccer ball in the rain,
ignoring the window-cries of their mothers.
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In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett... Comedy legend Carol Burnett tells the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of her iconic weekly variety series, The Carol Burnett Show. In Such Good Company delves into little-known stories of the guests, sketches and antics that made the show legendary, as well as some favorite tales too good not to relive again. Carol lays it all out for us, from the show's original conception to its evolution into one of the most beloved primetime programs of its generation. Written with all the charm and humor fans expect from a masterful entertainer like Carol Burnett, In Such Good Company skillfully highlights the elements that made the show so successful in a competitive period when TV variety shows ruled the air waves. Putting the spotlight on everyone from her talented costars to her amazing guest stars—the most celebrated and popular entertainers of their day—Carol crafts a lively portrait of the talent and creativity that went into every episode.

This book is Carol's love letter to a golden era in television history through the lens of her brilliant show which won no less than 25 Emmy Awards! Get the best seat in the house as she reminisces about the outrageous tales that made working on the show as much fun as watching it.

As I was growing up, Carol Burnett had a place in our home once a week. I remember so many of those wonderful shows and sketches! OMG, the sketch about Gond With the Wind! I have started reading this and it is wonderful! If you lived through this era, this is a must read for you too! Published by Crown Publishing, it has a release date of Sept. 13, 2016!
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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue... A novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future. However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' façades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende's job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

I started reading this and loved the writing! Published by Random House, it will be released August 23, 2016!
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The Book Of The Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison... When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it. A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

This won the Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction. This sounds fascinating to me! I like to delve into science fiction once in a while and should really enjoy this, with  what promises to be a great female protagonist. Published by 47North, it will be released Oct. 11, 2016.

Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart... A Review


I can only imagine what it must be like losing a child. Tom Hart and his wife had to live through that nightmare. Their daughter Rosalie died unexpectedly before her second birthday and this graphic memoir is about how Tom and his wife lived through it.

Raw, touching, sad, Rosalie Lightning will have you hugging your child a little harder next time they wrap their arms around you. It's hard to put into words about this memoir except that it may serve as solace to other parents going through the same horrible experience, to know that all the questioning, the anger, the despair is part of the grieving process. This memoir also may help anyone who has lost a loved one, because in reality no one is immune from the grief, no matter what the relationship, and the feeling of not being alone in the despair can be comforting.

Visually, Rosalie Lightning is loose and flowing, as Tom Hart navigates putting on paper those raw moments. The lettering is in his own handwriting, and I like that far better than a computer generated font. Although, he created a font based on his own handwriting to be more consistent and this is what is used in the final book.

Have some tissues ready for reading Rosalie Lightning, but read it because it's thought-provoking and pure.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Keeping Cool with Macaroni Salad and a Book



Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!

The heatwave in Connecticut is still raging and I can't get enough of the word "cool"! The glass above was filled with Sweet Tea made by hubby, who is a true Southerner and knows how to make it perfectly. Last night all I wanted was something cool to eat, so I thought about macaroni salad. Cool, yummy and I had no idea how to actually make it, but I found out! There are a few tried and true cooks (and sources) I trust when I look up a recipe... Alton Brown, The Barefoot Contessa, and Cooks Illustrated (though not a cook, but loads of great recipes!) to name a few. When I googled "macaroni salad" pages and pages came up. That's when I saw a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I love cookbooks (It's a book, right!?!) and I have one of Ree's cookbooks on my cookbook shelf, so I thought I'd see how she made it. 3 things she said about her recipe that made me forget the other recipes...



  Here’s what I do like: Macaroni salad that’s creamy but still light.
         Here’s what I don’t like: Macaroni salad that’s overly vinegary.
    Here’s what I do like: Macaroni salad with a sweet/tangy/spicy kick.

So, along with some Southern fried chicken (not cold), we had The Pioneer Woman's "Macaroni Salad" and we both loved it! Here's the recipe, courtesy of Ree's website, ThePioneerWoman.com...

The Best Macaroni Salad Ever

Prep: 10 Minutes Level: Easy

Cook: 15 Minutes Serves: 12

Ingredients...

4 cups Elbow Macaroni
3 whole Roasted Red Peppers, Chopped (more To Taste, Can Also Use Pimentos)
1/2 cup Black Olives, Chopped Fine
6 whole Sweet/spicy Pickle Slices, Diced (about 1/2 Cup Diced)
3 whole Green Onions, Sliced (white And Dark Green Parts)
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Or Distilled Vinegar
3 teaspoons Sugar, More Or Less To Taste
1/4 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
 Plenty Of Black Pepper
1/4 cup Milk (more If Needed)
 Splash Of Pickle Juice (spicy Sweet Pickles)
 Extra Pickle Juice To Taste

Preparation...

Cook the macaroni in lightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.

Mix together mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Splash in enough milk to make it pourable. Splash in pickle juice for extra flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside. 


Place cooled macaroni in a large bowl and pour 3/4 of the dressing. Toss and add more dressing if you'd like. (Dressing will seem a little thin, but it will thicken up as salad chills.)


Stir in olives, roasted red peppers (or pimentos), pickles, and green onions. Add more of any ingredient if you'd like more stuff going on! At the end, splash in a little more pickle juice and stir. 



Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with sliced green onion to serve!


What's Your Favorite HOT Weather Recipe?


*Molly, from My Cozy Book Nook, told me about her family's favorite Pasta Salad recipe that she shared on her blog this week! Here's the LINK! Thanks Molly for sharing! It looks delicious and I love the story behind it too!

What other "cool food" cookbooks are there out there? Here are a few I discovered recently...

The Peace, Love & Potato Salad Cookbook by Zack Brown... What happens when you appeal to Kickstarter to fund your first attempt at making a bowl of potato salad? Well, if you’re Zack Brown, you end up raising $55,492, a story that goes viral, a charity-minded “PotatoStock” Festival, and, eventually, a potato salad cookbook for the masses. The Peace, Love & Potato Salad Cookbook is the result of one man’s attempt at making potato with the help of the world. Featuring 24 delicious and wide-ranging potato salad recipes, this fun and engaging cookbook is the result of the generous support of the backers who elevated Zack Brown’s crowdfunding appeal from a simple, good-humored joke to philanthropic levels covered by Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, and the Huffington Post. In an effort to do “the most good that he can,” with the Kickstarter funds and his new found fame, Zack’s new cookbook will continue to spread the word about “peace, love, & potato salad.” Best of all, this tasty collection of potato salad recipes represents the positive change we can accomplish – even from the smallest ideas -- when we all work together.

Potato salad is another one of those summer staples. Although, I guess I'm picky about my potato salad too, because I don't like all potato salads either. This cookbook, which is the real result of a Kickstarter joke, is for real. Zack is a professed "VERY average"cook, but Teresa Blackburn, whose name is in little print below Zack's is the real woman behind the cookbook, or so it would seem, as well as some other "collaborators". Teresa is a food stylist and she and Zack were brought together when Zack was approached about creating a real cookbook about potato salad. Gorgeous photography and what looks to be some interesting recipes too! Here's a link to Classic Potato Salad that Teresa Blackburn developed for the book, and is posted on her blog, food on fifth. On my wishlist now! 


POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella...

  Cool + Sweet + Refreshing = Pops!


This innovative book gives the ice pop a flavor makeover, providing more than 100 recipes and variations for irresistible concoctions you’ve never tasted before. You’ll also learn fancy

techniques for making whimsical pops that look as fun as they taste. Kids will enjoy the juicy pops and flip over the soda fountain and pudding pops. Grown-up kids will dig the energy-boosting coffee, tea, and healthy energy pops and delight in the sophisticated cocktail pops. And for the do-it-yourselfers, this book provides instructions for making your own pop molds from recycled housewares and even silicone. When it comes to pops, the possibilities are endless—and so much fun!

Ever make your own ice pops? This book will show you how from healthy to "adult beverage".  No special equipement needed except something to put the mixture in and a "stick" to hold it when it's done. I haven't tried any of these recipes yet, but it is on my cookbook shelf.


 How are you keeping cool during the hot summer months? 



Reading any Cool books? On my nightstand, breakfast table and tote is Homegoing my Yaa Gyasi. I can't put it down. A sweeping novel about two half sisters born in Ghana in the 18th century and the two very different lives they have. Not only about the two young girls, but the generations that follow. I can't believe how fully developed the stories of each generation are. But besides that the writing is truly breathtaking. I am almost done and even though I took this out of the library, I'll be buying a copy to put on the shelf so I can revisit these characters again and again. 


                Weekly Wrap-up...
  *Memoir Monday with I'm Suppose To Protect You From All This by Nadja Spiegelan
  *Tuesday a Book Review of A Guise of Another by Allen Eskens
  *Wednesday a Review of a Book of Poetry, Saris and a Single Malt by Sweta Srivastava Vikram
  *Thursday a Guest Post by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, My Mother's Voice

Hope you've found something here to keep you cool! I'd love to hear what you've been reading these hot summer night too! Share it in the comments!


Happy reading... Suzanne


*P.S. Check out the Giveaways on my sidebar! They are courtesy of Shelf Reader and are 3 great books! Just click on the photo and enter!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Guest Post with Sweta Srivastava Vikram... My Mother's Voice

Sweta Srivastava Vikram has been featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning writer, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Amazon bestselling author of 11 books, writing coach, columnist, marketing consultant, and wellness practitioner who currently lives in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University, she also teaches the power of yoga, Ayurveda, & mindful living to female trauma survivors, creative types, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. Sweta is also the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife, which helps you attain your goals by elevating your creativity & productivity while paying attention to your wellness. Sweta's most recent collection of poems, Saris and a Single Malt, which we reviewed yesterday, is a moving testament to the bond between mothers and daughters. Chick with Books is thrilled to have Sweta Srivastava Vikram stop by today and share with us a bit of herself and her mother! Join me in a warm welcome to Sweta!
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My Mother's Voice

My mom has been a big influence on my writing life, but I didn’t realize the extent of it until she passed away.

My argument with my mom about writing and reading went on for many moons. To be honest, my mother didn’t always read my published essays, poems, or stories. I, sometimes, found her trying to read my books  — mind you, she tried reading my works in all the three genres — her brows furrowed together and her glasses sitting on the tip of her nose. Intently. Deeply. Confusedly. In one of my artistic and emotional moments, I asked her why she didn’t read my books. She said in a soft and frustrated voice: “I try. Very hard. But I don’t always understand. You use words that are too complicated.”

That was the day my relationship with writing changed. If my own mother, who spoke English and was a college graduate with global experiences, couldn’t understand my writing, how could I expect others to understand my work? I didn’t mean to write in an inaccessible way; somehow, my boarding school upbringing had trained me to believe that big words meant I was a better writer. Also, in some instances, I used big words to shy away from the real issue. I started to make an effort to simplify my writing. Shorter sentences. Clean language. Simpler words.

My mother was so excited to read my poetry collection, Wet Silence, that came out in the summer of 2015 and became an Amazon bestseller. Mom believed in the power of those stories, told as poems, in the book. When I was younger, she feared for my safety; when I got older, she said to never let go of my desire to help other women.

Mom would often complain that I didn’t write about her. How often I would roll my eyes, “Ma, it’s only people on a writer’s shit list that appear in their works.”

The universe always pays close attention, especially when you are not noticing. In the summer of 2014, my mother passed away, suddenly. Her sudden demise shook my world. The only thing that could keep me sane through of all this: poetry. Inside of a week — this was from the time she was admitted in the hospital to the time she died — I wrote an entire collection about my mother: Saris and a Single Malt. It looks me thirty seconds to decide the title of the book.

Up until my mom passed away, I didn’t understand how loss works and that it has a mind of its own. It’s not the poet who always decides what he or she is going to write about; sometimes, it’s the poems that select the poet.

Writing Saris and a Single Malt changed me. It’s been my mentor and confidante. I grew up writing this book.

The book, in its pre-order stage, became #1 on Amazon’s list of Asian American poetry, as well as #1 on Amazon’s death, grief, and loss section. Honestly, I didn't write Saris and a Single Malt for anyone but myself. Who wants to read about someone else's grief, you know? But I didn't realize that grief is universal even if the stories are personal. People have been reaching out to me from all over the world and telling me how the book has moved them, or helped them heal from their losses.

There you go, Ma ... I might not know how to wear a sari or like having a single malt, but the book about you and the values you have taught us is bringing people together.

*******************
Thank you Sweta for stopping by Chick with Books today! If you haven't read my review of her latest collection of poetry, Saris and a Single Malt, you can click on this Review Link to find it. And if you'd like to learn more about Sweta, you can connect with her via the following places...

Visit her website: http://swetavikram.com/

Saris and A Single Malt
Published by Modern History Press in August 2016
Kindle and Paperback; 46 pages
ISBN: 9781615992942

Available now for your Kindle, Paperback, or Nook.

About the Book:
Saris and a Single Malt is a moving collection of poems written by a daughter for and about her mother. The book spans the time from when the poet receives a phone call in New York City that her mother is in a hospital in New Delhi, to the time she carries out her mother’s last rites. The poems chronicle the author’s physical and emotional journey as she flies to India, tries to fight the inevitable, and succumbs to the grief of living in a motherless world. Divided into three sections, (Flight, Fire, and Grief), this collection will move you, astound you, and make you hug your loved ones.


Today's visit from Sweta is part of her August Blog Tour with Poetic Book Tours! 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Saris and a Single Malt by Sweta Srivastava Vikram... A Review


Heartfelt, raw, honest and thought-provoking are all words that come to mind when thinking of Saris and a Single Malt by Sweta Srivastava Vikram. A moving collection of poems written upon the illness and unexpected death of Sweta's Mother. Ms. Vikram allows us to join her in her journey of grief, as she shares with us from the very beginning a journey she does not want to make, but ultimately we all must sometime in our lives. 

What is a daughter, but a reflection of her mother. We are born of her and raised by her, and she is an intimate reminder that it is because of her we are here. But what happens when our mother's leave us? As a child I clinged to my mother as she left me that first day of school. And as life has shown it's many colors, my mother has always been there. And she is still in my life today. But what will happen when she is not here any longer? I try not to think of it, but as I read Saris and a Single Malt, I was drawn to the poems that voiced the words that I know I would feel too. Lines that I could feel deep inside me as I read them silently... 




                                                        "I think it is a bad joke---- Mumma isn't sick
                                                         I had spoken with her two days ago
                                                         And promised to cook, Kalam Polow
                                                        When I see her next..."
                                                                                      from: Friday, May 30, 2014

                                                       "the rain beating
                                                        tells me a story
                                                        about the loss I'm not willing to hear"
                                                                                      from: Looking For Signs... 

                                                        Crashing
                                                       "I can't be a Zen wave in the ocean---
                                                        crashing into the shore
                                                        pretending 
                                                        you never returning is okay."

Saris and a Single Malt is a deeply effecting work, that will resonate with readers long after the last page is read. It is a gift to a mother who will always be in a daughters thoughts. A wonderful collection of poetry that is fitting on any daughter's shelf. A collection that will help others deal with the loss of their own loved ones. Page count is 46 pages, and now available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle book. (and the Kindle book is a bargain at $2.51 right now!)

Stop by tomorrow as we welcome Sweta Srivastava Vikram to Chick with Books as part of her Poetic Book Tour for Saris and a Single Malt! She'll be doing a guest post! If you'd like to get to know Sweta a little better in the meantime, you can follow the link to her webpage at swetavikram.com


*BTW, I received a copy of Saris and a Single Malt from Poetic Book Tours for my honest review. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens... A Review

Into an "edge of your seat" kind of thriller with a few "OMG, omg's!" at the finish? Then put The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens on your TBR list!

In a nutshell, disgraced Minnesota detective Alexander Rupert is battling for his career as he's under suspicion of corruption and is doing it after being transfered to the Frauds division. He accidentally lands an innocent looking case of identity theft that explodes into so much more... Cheating wife, sexy witness, cold-hearted assasin, and a race to finding a piece of incriminating evidence first make this an incredible page turner! I had just read Allen Eskens debut novel, The Life We Bury, couldn't put that down and wanted more of him! Could he capture my attention that way again? HE ABSOLUTELY DID with The Guise of Another!

I really enjoyed Allen Eskens writing. His characters were all well developed and engaging, the plot was great and the twists at the end were even better! Both his books were not your typical police procedural and because of this, I think that readers who don't typically read this genre will really enjoy them.

I've now added Allen Eskens as a favorite author. He'll be coming out with a new novel in October of this year called The Heavens May Fall. It looks like there will be reaccuring characters in his books, one of which is detective Max Rupert, Alexander Rupert's brother. And, from reading these two books, they both can be enjoyed without reading the other.

I would definitely say give The Guise of Another a try if you enjoy a great story with a nice twist at the end. You will not be disappointed.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Memoir Monday... I'm Suppose To Protect You From All This by Nadja Spiegelan

A memoir of mothers and daughters—and mothers as daughters—traced through four generations, from Paris to New York and back again.  

For a long time, Nadja Spiegelman believed her mother was a fairy. More than her famous father, Maus creator Art Spiegelman, and even more than most mothers, hers—French-born New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly—exerted a force over reality that was both dazzling and daunting. As Nadja’s body changed and “began to whisper to the adults around me in a language I did not understand,” their relationship grew tense. Unwittingly, they were replaying a drama from her mother’s past, a drama Nadja sensed but had never been told. Then, after college, her mother suddenly opened up to her. Françoise recounted her turbulent adolescence caught between a volatile mother and a playboy father, one of the first plastic surgeons in France. The weight of the difficult stories she told her daughter shifted the balance between them.

 It had taken an ocean to allow Françoise the distance to become her own person. At about the same age, Nadja made the journey in reverse, moving to Paris determined to get to know the woman her mother had fled.  Her grandmother’s memories contradicted her mother’s at nearly every turn, but beneath them lay a difficult history of her own. Nadja emerged with a deeper understanding of how each generation reshapes the past in order forge ahead, their narratives both weapon and defense, eternally in conflict. Every reader will recognize herself and her family in this gorgeous and heartbreaking memoir, which helps us to see why sometimes those who love us best hurt us most. 

I happened upon I'm Suppose To Protect You From All This by Nadja Spiegelman and wanted to know what Nadja Spiegelman was suppose to be protected from. The title made me curious. And so, I read what it was about and was fascinated. I opened up the preview and started reading and could not put it down. Aren't we women fascinating?, and the relationship between mothers and daughters is fascinating... and complex. This book looks like one of those books every daughter should read. Just published August 2nd by Riverhead Books and On my Wishlist!
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Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Sunday Salon and... Runaway Girls



Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!

And the news this week includes Harry Potter and Oprah. First, have you heard about the new Harry Potter book? Of course you have, but is it really a "Harry Potter" book? Actually, yes and no. I am a huge Harry Potter fan! I loved that first book as soon as I picked it up at the bookstore, way before the Harry Potter craze. And I would love more! The new book is actually the screen play for the London production of the play, written by the playwright Jack Thorne "(and based on an original story by Ms. Rowling, Mr. Thorne and the director John Tiffany)". I've heard a lot of mixed reviews. The negative being that it doesn't have the depth and imagination that J.K. Rowling created in the original series. Can a screen play compare to an actual novel? The positive is that fans get to read more about Harry. I would love to see the play, because it is suppose to be amazing visually( and a good play), and I will probably eventually check out the screen play, but I didn't go to a midnight release party because it's just not the same "Harry" for me. What do you think?

How do YOU feel about the NEW Harry Potter book? Yes or No?

Now for Oprah... Oprah's newest Book Club selection explodes on the seen. And it's such a cool secretive mission for bookstores to order and have the selection ready when the announcement is made. Basically, bookstores "blind purchase"the book...


"Under the long-standing protocol for Oprah’s Book Club, a publisher solicits orders from booksellers without divulging the title, the author or even the imprint. To conceal the book’s identity, the publisher creates an ISBN labeled “Untitled by Anonymous.”" jennifer maloney, wall street journal

Lot's of guessing among book sellers, but ultimately we all found out it was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Originally scheduled for a Sept. 6th release, Oprah asked to publisher to release it in August, which Doubleday did, along with increasing the print run from 75,000 first run copies to 200,000. 

Oprah's Book Club does not have any schedule for picking a book. Basically, when Oprah finds a book that she enjoys and wants to share, she'll make an "official" selection. When I previewed the book, I thought that Colson Whitehead's writing was good and it captured my attention, so I ordered a copy. The story is about Cora, a young slave, who runs away and starts an adventure to freedom. But the underground railroad is not just a metaphor in this book, it is a reality... Sounds like such a great story with a nice twist. But, Colson Whitehead isn't the only author to write about a runaway girl. In my TBR pile I have two other books that deal with girls running away from slavery, that have their own interesting twists...


Grace by Natashia Deon.. For a runaway slave in the 1840s south, life on the run can be just as dangerous as life under a sadistic Massa. That’s what fifteen-year-old Naomi learns after she escapes the brutal confines of life on an Alabama plantation. Striking out on her own, she must leave behind her beloved Momma and sister Hazel and takes refuge in a Georgia brothel run by a freewheeling, gun-toting Jewish madam named Cynthia. There, amidst a revolving door of gamblers, prostitutes, and drunks, Naomi falls into a star-crossed love affair with a smooth-talking white man named Jeremy who frequents the brothel’s dice tables all too often.

The product of Naomi and Jeremy’s union is Josey, whose white skin and blonde hair mark her as different from the other slave children on the plantation. Having been taken in as an infant by a free slave named Charles, Josey has never known her mother, who was murdered at her birth. Josey soon becomes caught in the tide of history when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaches the declining estate and a day of supposed freedom quickly turns into a day of unfathomable violence that will define Josey—and her lost mother—for years to come.

Deftly weaving together the stories of Josey and Naomi—who narrates the entire novel unable to leave her daughter alone in the land of the living—Grace is a sweeping, intergenerational saga featuring a group of outcast women during one of the most compelling eras in American history. It is a universal story of freedom, love, and motherhood, told in a dazzling and original voice set against a rich and transporting historical backdrop.

I read the beginning of this book and loved the fact that Naomi was narrating the book. Even though she was dead, they couldn't kill her spirit and she was going to watch out for her baby no matter what.  This novel received many praises for Deon's writing and the story itself. Natashia Deon is interesting herself. She's a insurance defense attorney, a writer, founder of Dirty Laundry Lit and a mother of two, one of which is disabled. She's won a few awards for her writing too. Check out Grace... here's the link for Kindle version , and the Nook version.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin... The historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre–Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine. Featuring two remarkable, unforgettable heroines.

This is a book published in 2013, and already on my Kindle. I love stories that travel back and forth in time. When I read a bit of The House Girl, I enjoyed Tara Conklin's writing style too. Right now, the eBook versions of this book are at a bargain price of $1.99! So if this sounds like something up your reading alley, now's the time to put it on your eReader! Here's a link to the Kindle version, and the Nook version.

And finally about that Oprah book... 
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead... Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds on each leg of her journey. 

Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors of black life in pre-Civil War America. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Here's a link to a reading sample of The Underground. Right now the Hardcover is 40% off at Amazon, and I think that Barnes and Noble will be featuring it next week for 30% off in stores and if you're a member there, you'll get an additional 10% off discount. 

If you're interested in Oprah's Book Club, there is an official Goodreads group . There you can join in discussions and look to see what all the books are that Oprah has chosen.

I don't specifically seek out the Oprah Book Club selection, but how can you not hear about it if you are anywhere within 100 miles of a bookstore...

Do you follow Oprah's Book Club picks?

Weekly Wrap-up...
I finished a few books last week and I've started a new one (before reading The Underground Railroad).

Review for ... Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. It took me a while to finish this book because of its' slow pace, but when I finally hit some traction, I couldn't put it down. Quirky characters and a heartwarming story. Fans of Fredrik Backman will not be disappointed. I really enjoyed it after finally finishing it, so click on my review to decide for yourself.   

I spent a few weeks with Allen Eskens... literally that is. My reading group selection for August was The Life We Bury by Eskens and I enjoyed that so much I read his next book, The Guise of Another. If you enjoy police procedurals with a literary bend, pick up either of these books. Great stories with great twists at the end. I'll be reviewing both of these books next week.

Now reading.. Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee. I had read so much buzz about this YA coming of age book about,  "Twins Clara and Hailey, 17, are as close as it gets—conjoined at the lower back, entangled internally, sharing lower body sensations—but each harbors different dreams." that I had to check it out. The first two paragraphs of the book made me want a little more...

About four years ago, when I was thirteen and still prone to crying spells, my mother liked to show off her so-called wisdom by telling me that every teenage girl sometimes feels like a freak of nature. She claimed that every adolescent worries that everyone’s staring at her, and every girl at some point has believed that no one likes her and that she’ll never belong.

Ans sometimes I would just listen and try to believe her, but then this one time (I guess it was the last time she gave the speech) I said, “And does every teenage girl sometimes feel like she has a super-ugly ninety-pound tumor sticking out of her butt?”

A little snarky, huh? Well, I'm halfway through Gemini and love it. Sonya Mukherjee does a great job creating an authentic coming-of-age story while dealing with Clara and Hailey as individuals, as conjoined twins without being... "freaky"? It's hard to put it in words, but what I thought might be a story revolving primarily around the girls being conjoined and maybe them being kind of a "side show" turns out to be a story of two 17 year olds trying to navigate those "feelings" about boys and growing up just like any normal teenagers, their disabilty there, but you sometimes forget about it as you're reading. Hailey and Clara are great characters. I'll probably be finishing Gemini this next week and reviewing the following week, but right now it's at least a 4 star book for me. 

What have you been reading this week?! Hope you found something here today that you found interesting! Stop by next week for those reviews, including one on a poetry collections!

Happy reading... Suzanne




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