Monday, November 30, 2009

Musing Mondays - Reading/Blogging During the Holidays

If you'd like to play along on Musing Mondays, just click the button above.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading/blogging during the holidays…

How does your reading (or your blogging) fare in the holiday months? Do you read more or less? Do you have to actively make time to read?

I don't know if the holidays really make a difference to me. I'm always struggling to manage my time between reading and blogging, not to mention other things in life. It seems to me that I never have enough time or at least not the amount of time I'd like to have. I'm just not very good at time management and it always seems that I bite off more than I can chew.

My latest addiction has been to games on Facebook which is eating up valuable reading time. If only I could stop!

I'm sure there are many others out there with the same problem. How do you manage your time?

Mailbox Monday - November 30th

I haven't posted a Mailbox Monday in a long time because I haven't been receiving any books in the mail - no need to feel sorry for me since my TBR numbers in the 1000's. LOL However, this week, I actually received a book that I got through Paperback Swap.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Clare Cosi’s coffeehouse, the Village Blend, is hosting a huge party to celebrate a new line of jewelry called “Java Jewelry”. The jewelry is created by Lottie Harmon and inspired by the Village Blend. Of course the coffeehouse makes the perfect backdrop to introduce the public to this new line of fashion accessories as Fall Fashion Week in New York City begins.

Unfortunately, things take an ominous turn when one of Clare’s employees serves up a lethal latte and is immediately arrested for murder. Clare is certain her employee is innocent and intends to prove it. She quickly discovers there’s more here than meets the eye and she’s certain her friend Lottie is the real target. Nobody believes Clare and she decides it’s up to her to prevent Lottie being murdered, not to mention she has to find a way to get her employee out of jail before it’s too late.

Against her better judgment, Clare teams up with her ex-husband and current business partner to track down the killer. Now if she can just stop herself from falling for him all over again.

This is the third book in Cleo Coyle’s coffeehouse mysteries. I’ve enjoyed all three books, so far. Ms. Coyle always throws in twists and turns to throw readers off the track and she succeeds very well. Her characters are wonderful and, as often happens with cozies, they become old friends. I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

For reading challenges…

Amateur Sleuth Reading Challenge
Mysteryreader café Reading Challenge

Sunday Salon - One More Reading Month To Go!

I'm continually amazed that time flies and we now have just one more month before the end of the year. So far, I've read 95 books so, for the first time in several years, I think I'm going to make it to 100. I'm happy about that, but first let's see if any of the December craziness hampers my reading time. I'll do a November wrap up later in the week.

Right now, I've been in a cozy mystery mood and I'm finishing up Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle. I'm loving this one. After that, I think I'm going to read as many Christmas mysteries and romances that I can. I love reading holiday books during this time of year.

In the past few weeks I've discussed the stresses of completing reading challenges. For now, I'm not going to sign up for any. I'm going to have to have open heart surgery in January, which will mean a couple of months of recuperating. I'm sure I'll get much reading done, but I don't want to commit to any type of book. I'll probably just go with whatever hits my mood.

As for the reading challenges I host, I'll keep the Patterson ones going, but I don't think I'll be starting a new one for the Harlequin/Silhouette books. I don't know, we'll see.

Now, back to finishing Latte Trouble. I hope everyone has a great week!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

On a very cold day, the workers at a library in Spencer, Iowa found a surprising item left in their after-hours book return slot, a beautiful ginger cat. The poor thing was cold, hungry and very scared. The author of this book, Vicki Myron, had been the library director and chose to take the cat in and care for him. It wasn't long before this kitty became the center of the library and touched everyone's lives. They named him Dewey Readmore Books.

Ms. Myron particularly grew attached to Dewey. As a single parent and suffering from her own illnesses, Dewey brought something special to her life. Dewey wasn't only part of the library's family, but part of Ms. Myron's as well.

She tells us of the people who traveled miles to see this beautiful cat and the lives he touched along the way. Ms. Myron gives us heartwarming stories, as well as a few inspirational ones as well. If you are a cat lover, even if you're not, this story will touch your hearts. It touched mine.

For reading challenge...

What an animal II

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fill-In #152

If you'd like to play along with Friday Fill-Ins, just click the button above.

1. Wait! Wait, don't forget the dessert.

2. The big Thanksgiving meal followed at once by a nice nap.

3. The trouble is the stores are too crowded today to get any shopping done.

4. My brother is many miles away.

5. With a faint pop my dreams of becoming a millionaire vanished.

6. The stormy day is shadowy and ominous.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on TV and reading, tomorrow my plans include grocery shopping and more catching up and Sunday, I want to go to dinner with my husband for my birthday - the big 5-0!

Hope all who celebrate it had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Book Giveway at Suko's Notebook

Several months ago I interviewed Linda Weaver Clarke. Her book
"Jenny's Dream" was just reviewed by Suko's Notebook.

What a wonderful review! Please visit her site and write a comment to win the first book in this family saga series. Good Luck Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Coming Soon: Review of CSN Bookcase

I'm thrilled that I've been asked by CSN Bookcases to review one of their lovely bookcases. I'm really excited about this as I've been looking for a nice bookcase for awhile.

They have a great selection and I've chosen the ORE 5 Tier Book Shelf in Black

As soon as I get it and put it together, I'll let everyone know about it. My books are going to look so good on this shelf!

In the meantime, you should really check out their great selection of bookcases.

The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Sophie Winston is a domestic diva! Her family expects the perfect Thanksgiving dinner from her and she aims to please.

During her Thanksgiving shopping, she meets up with a man trying to give her a homeless cat. She turns down the offer, but soon feels bad. After she’s finished shopping, she tries to find the man with the cat, but instead finds the man’s dead body. She takes the cat, but is shocked to learn that the police found her picture in the man’s car. Suddenly she finds herself as the number one suspect of a murdered man she didn’t even know.

Sophie tries to put this incident aside so she can create a happy festive holiday for her family, but somehow she ends up with more guests for dinner than she anticipated including her ex-husband Mars and his fiancée, Natasha. Natasha is Sophie’s main competition in the annual Stupendous Stuffing Shakedown contest, as well as both women having domestic advice columns.

Several contestants find themselves the victim of having their ingredients tampered with and when Sophie finds the sponsor of the contest dead, all eyes turn toward her as the lead suspect in two murders. With a little help from her family and friends, Sophie sets out to prove her innocence. It’s just a shame the sexy detective in charge of the investigation also thinks she’s a murderer.

This is the first book in a brand new cozy mystery series, “A Domestic Diva Mystery”. I could not put this book down. The story has a wonderful array of characters. Each one has their own special qualities that come alive throughout this book. I practically devoured this one. I can’t say enough good things and I loved every minute of reading this one.

Krista Davis is a “new-to-me” author that I’ll be watching out for. I already have the second book in this series and the third comes out in February 2010. If they are anything like the first one, I have quite a bit of great reading ahead.

I can’t help but give this my Socrates’ Great Book Alert medal.

For reading challenges:

Amateur Sleuth Reading Challenge
Mysteryreadercafe Reading Challenge

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - November 24th

If you'd like to play along on Teaser Tuesdays, just click the button above.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I just started reading Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle.

"Men are pigs. They should die!" ........

It wasn't that I disagreed with Tucker about men. When they acted like pigs, I wanted blood to speak.

And that's just on page one!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Salon - Happy Thanksgiving!

It's amazing how quickly the time flies, isn't it? It feels like yesterday when I was putting together which reading challenges I was going to do for 2009 and getting all my books together. Now, we're almost at 2010. I can't believe it.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have a four day holiday weekend and some extra time to catch up on my reading, but I'm not sure yet.

This week, I've "re-discovered" mysteries and cozy mysteries. I read Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine - a great series and a fun mystery story. I love her books. Now, I'm reading "The Diva Runs Out of Thyme" by Krista Davis. As soon as I'm finished, I'll write and post a review but I have to say...this book is wonderful! It's also set at Thanksgiving and I love to read books set in whatever time of year we happen to be in. This book has been in my TBR for over a year and I wish I had read it sooner, but I guess the important thing is that I'm reading it now and loving it.

This has totally put me in a cozy mystery frame of mind. The weather outside is getting cooler and there's nothing better than lying in bed wrapped up in a warm quilt and reading a cozy mystery. For me, those things make for a winning combination.

Anyway, for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing holiday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Swapping Lives by Jane Green

Genre: Chick Lit

Victoria Townsley is the features director of one of England’s top magazines “Poise”. Her deepest desire is to marry and raise a family, but none of her relationships are cooperating in attaining her dreams.

Amber Winslow, a married woman with two children living in the United States, is bored. She wants more out of life besides being a wife and mother, especially when she has a nanny to care for her children. She spends most of her time hobnobbing with her wealthy friends.

Vicki comes up with a great idea, to swap lives with a married woman and get a taste of the life she so craves. After reading the entries of many married women, Vicki comes across Amber’s entry. She’d not only be living Amber’s life, but she’d have to go to the United States to do it. Both women are sure this is one adventure they can’t turn down.

Amber’s husband and children aren’t quite on board with the idea, but realize they don’t have much choice. The swap is made and each woman gets a taste of the life they want so much. However, is the grass really greener on the other side? The women are about to find out.

I listed to the audio version of this one. It’s another fun read. I enjoy listening to the audio versions of chick lit. It makes a great diversion on my way to work and helps me to unwind at the end of the day, too. I just have to remember to concentrate on the road. LOL

I’ve never read anything by Jane Green, but I’ve heard a lot about her and she’s definitely an author I’ll be watching in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine

Genre: Mystery, Chick Lit

Laura Levine is back with another Jaine Austen mystery. I love the Jaine Austen series. They are good for a few laughs. They are sort of a cross between chick lit and cozy mysteries.

In this one, Jaine is hired by a former high school classmate, Patti Devane, to write wedding vows for Patti’s wedding. These aren’t just ordinary wedding vows, though. Patti is planning to turn her wedding into a Shakespearean production complete with Patti as Juliet and her fiancé, Dickie, as Romeo.

Patti had always been one of the “cool” girls in high school and Jaine…well, she wasn’t. Jaine had always been the target of their cruel jokes. Things haven’t changed much over the years, Patti is still the spoiled brat and is now a spoiled Bridezilla, incurring everyone’s wrath including her own mother. So, it’s no great surprise when Patti doesn’t approve of anything Jaine writes and constantly calls for rewrites.

To make matters worse, Jaine is obligated to accept Patti’s invitation to the wedding, if she wants to collect her $3,000 fee.

The wedding turns into a huge fiasco when Jaine is taunted by her old high school classmates into bringing her fiancé…a Frenchmen who happens to be a neurosurgeron. The problem is, Jaine doesn’t have one of those and where is she going to find one on such short notice?

The event ends when Patti (aka Juliet) plunges off the balcony to her death. Jaine immediately realizes that this is no accident. Someone put them all out of their misery by “Killing Bridezilla”, but who? There’s certainly a long line of suspects, with Jaine being on the list as well.

The book takes a few twists and turns giving the readers a run for their money, not to mention a few laughs along the way. I completely enjoyed this one. The personalities of each character come through each page so clearly. I feel like Jaine is an old friend of mine. The next book is Killer Cruise, but I’m waiting for the paperback edition to be released. It looks like another good one.

I’m also giving this the Socrates’ Good Book Alert Medal.

For reading challenges:

A to Z Reading Challenge
Suspense and Thriller Reading Challenge
Amateur Sleuth Reading Challenge

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - November 17th

If you'd like to play along on Teaser Tuesdays, just click the button above.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I'm currently reading "Killing Bridezilla" by Laura Levine. A fun mystery series which stars her heroine Jaine Austen.

I turned and, to my horror, saw that it was coming from Walter's toupee. Good heavens, I'd set Walter's hairpiece on fire!

Suddenly flames starting shooting from the matted fur.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Musing Mondays - Gifts for the booklover

If you'd like to play along with Musing Mondays, just click the button above.

This week's question...

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your bookshelf…

With the holiday season now upon us, have you left any hint – subtle or otherwise – for books family and friends might buy you for Christmas? Do you like to receive books, or do you prefer certificates so you can choose your own?

This one is easy, if anyone is going to get me a book-related gift, a gift certificate is the best. Not only can I get whatever I want, but it's an excuse to browse my favorite bookstores. Nothing makes me happier than browsing the aisles and seeing what's new and exciting.

I've been given books, as gifts, in the past and they always seem to be books I either have already or have no interest in. I always felt books were a person type of gift because everyone has different tastes.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Salon - The holidays are coming!

Happy Sunday Fellow Bloggers!

Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving already? Where did this year go to? I was book shopping last week and there were so many holiday reads out - yes, I bought many of them. I can never resist holiday romances and mysteries. I'm probably all set for the next few years of holiday reading. LOL

I'm still working on some of my challenges. I was contemplating quitting them, but I decided to keep going and see how far I get with them. I know I said I wasn't going to join anymore, but I'm already thinking about joining a couple. I just won't go overboard with them next year :)

As for reading this week, I finished The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney, which I loved. I already posted my review. I'm now reading Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine. It's a humorous mystery and I'm enjoying it. I always love reading this series. The heroine's name is Jaine Austen, how can I resist?

The weather is miserable here in New York, but it's the perfect reading weather. Of course, now that I said that I won't get much reading done :)

Hope you all have a great week!

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If you'd like to participate in The Sunday Salon, click the button at the top of this post.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney

The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney

Genre: Cozy Myster, “A Cats in Trouble Mystery”

Jillian Hart is too young to be a widow, but when her beloved husband suddenly dies, all she has to keep her company are her three beautiful cats, Syrah, Chablis and Merlot. They make their home in a small town in South Carolina where Jillian has her own business of making quilts. When she returns from an overnight business trip, she finds her home has been broken into and her precious Syrah has been cat-napped!

Jillian turns to the police for help, but when they hear nothing but her cat was stolen, they don’t offer much help or concern. Basically, they don’t take her seriously at all. She asks for assistance from a local private investigator who installs a new alarm system and it doesn’t hurt that the P.I. is a sexy hunk as well.

With the help of a newfound friend, police officer Candace Carson, they conduct their own investigation but continually run into dead ends. Jillian is convinced she knows who did it, but when her suspect turns up dead, she becomes the number one suspect herself. Jillian races around the clock to prove her innocence and find her beloved Syrah before any harm comes to her.

I absolutely adored this story. I’m a huge cozy fan and if you toss in a few kitties, all the better for me. I fell in love with all the human characters, as well as the furry ones. The characters were well-developed, the story moved along at a fast pace and it kept you guessing until the end. It had everything I love in my mysteries. The next book in the “A Cats in Trouble Mystery” will be out in the spring. It’s already on my shopping list.

For reading challenges:

Amateur Sleuth Reading Challenge
2009 Suspense & Thriller Reading Challenge
Cat Sleuth Reading Challenge
Mysteryreader Café
What an animal II challenge

I'm also giving this the Socrates' Great Book Alert Medal

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fill-In #150

If you'd like to play along with Friday Fill-Ins, just click the button above.

1. The last band I saw live was Strawberry Fields (a Beatles tribute band).
2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is the food! (if you don't celebrate thanksgiving, insert your favorite holiday)
3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is not even started.
4. Thoughts of the weekend fill my head.
5. I wish I could wear summer clothes.
6. Bagpipes are loud.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on TV, tomorrow my plans include grocery shopping and catching up on more TV and reading and Sunday, I want to sleep late!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Booking through Thursday - Life too short?

Click on the button above to join in Booking through Thursday!

Today's Question:

Suggested by JM:

“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.

That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.

Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

My answer...

Do I think life is too short to read bad books? Absolutely! Do I follow that motto? Nope :) Once I start a book, I always feel like I should finish it. Maybe it has to do with spending the money for a book and not wanting to waste it. I'm not sure, but I always feel compelled to finish. I know when I borrow a book from the library and don't like it, I don't feel compelled to finish it. So, I guess it is about the money for me. LOL

There have been times if I didn't like a book that I'd put it to the side and try again at a later date. A couple of times the book turned out to be something I loved. Since I'm a moody reader, there are times when a book isn't really bad, it's just that I'm not in the mood for it.

Overall, I try t finish what I start, but it doesn't always work out that way :)

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Night’s Edge by Maggie Shayne, Charlaine Harris, and Barbara Hambly

Genre: Paranormal Romance

These three stories made the perfect Halloween read. They were all well written, fast-paced and scary. It’s been a long time since I read a Maggie Shayne book, but this reminded me of how good she is.

“Dancers in the Dark” by Charlaine Harris

Dancer Layla Rue Le May’s past is about to destroy her present. With the help of her dance partner, a 300 year old vampire, Sean McClendon she desperately tries to keep the past away. Who better to help than a sexy vampire?

“Her Best Enemy” by Maggie Shayne

Journalist Kiley Brigham has made a career of debunking psychics. As far as she is concerned, they are all fakes. When ghosts appear to have invaded her home, she has no choice but to call one of the psychics to help her. She’s even more shocked to discover Jack McCain isn’t the fraud she believed him to be. In fact, she is falling in love with him.

“Someone Else’s Shadow” by Barbara Hambly

Tarot card reader Maddie Laveau becomes deeply concerned when her young dancer roommate, Tessa, is missing. Maggie fears something might have happened to Tessa in the old Glendower Building where the dance studio is located. She asks for help from a mysterious tenant in the building, but can he be trusted? Someone threatens Maggie and she fears it could be him.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

When Daniel X was only three years old, his parents were brutally murdered. He vowed to avenge their deaths and, at the same time, finish the work of his father.

He discovers his father’s list of names of aliens and he plans to methodically kill each one. In particularly, the alien called “The Prayer”. The one who murdered his parents.

Daniel X has a few powers of his own. He has the ability to create things and people to help him in his mission. When he gets lonely he creates his parents to be with him as well as a group of friends willing to fight the aliens along with him.

This is a fast-paced thriller which brings magic to each page. It’s paranormal and fantasy mixed together, unlike the usual James Patterson books I always enjoy. I was totally captivated by this book. I couldn’t put it down. The next book is already out and I have the audio version of it. I can’t wait to listen to it.

For reading challenges: A to Z Reading Challenge, The James Patterson Reading Challenge

Teaser Tuesdays - November 10th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Click the button at the top of this post to play along.

This is from "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon...

Getting up once in the dark to go adventuring is a lark. Twice in two days smacks of masochism.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Tales of Thanksgiving Food and Friendship

In September I did a review of The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel. It's a wonderful book and I thought you'd all be interested in reading this article.

Tales of Thanksgiving Food and Friendship
By Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel,
Authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

For some people, Thanksgiving evokes warm feelings triggered by memories of a close-knit family gathering, where relatives share traditions and a home-cooked meal.

For others . . . it's the beginning of a holiday season stuffed with lunatic relatives, family dysfunction, bitter recriminations, and heartburn.

We heard a wide range of Thanksgiving Tales this year while traveling around the country for our Recipe Clubs. Inspired by the plot and structure of our book, Recipe Clubs are storytelling and friendship circles in which women gather to share true-life food-related stories along with recipes. Recipe Clubs are not about cooking; they're about creating community and fostering friendship . . . they're about laughing and crying . . . they're about honoring our own lives and the lives of others. They show us how the simplest, sweetest, or funniest tales about food can turn into deep revelations about our lives.

Just about everybody has at least one quintessential Thanksgiving food memory that perfectly captures the complicated feelings surrounding the holiday. Here are some of our favorites:

One Recipe Club friend recalls the first time she ever cooked a Thanksgiving meal on her own. Her mother, who traditionally did the meal, was recovering from surgery. Her father was working. And her sister was flying in just in time for the meal, but not early enough to help cook.

So our friend rose to the challenge, proclaiming that she would do the entire meal, on her own. No problem -- until reality set in. She woke at dawn, shopped, chopped, and soon realized her oven was half the size it needed to be. By the time the turkey wanted basting the chestnut stuffing required baking -- and the brussel sprouts were definitely not cleaning themselves!

But things really went south when it came time prepare her grandmother's famous pumpkin pie. This was the pie recipe that had been handed down through generations. If it didn't come out perfectly, our friend knew she'd feel like a failure.

Of course, nothing went right. The pie crust was too wet, then too dry. There was too much nutmeg, not enough ginger. With every crimp of the dough her head swam with the imagined voice of her southern grandmother: "A woman is judged not just by who she is, but by what she can bring to the table."

When the pie came out of the oven, the crust was too brown, and there was a giant crack running down the middle of the filling. Our friend fought back tears, took a deep breath, and set the pie out to cool, knowing more clearly than ever that neither it -- nor she -- was, or would ever be, perfect.

But when it came time for everyone to gather at the table, something shifted. Her parents and sister praised her hard work and loved the meal. And our friend realized she had somehow been carried on the wings of the generations of women who had cooked before her, without complaining, to serve a Thanksgiving meal to their family. She felt truly thankful for all the work that her mother, grandmother, aunts -- indeed all the women she'd known through her life -- had accomplished each holiday. Triumphant, connected, and happy, she understood that food cooked with love is its own kind of perfection.

One Recipe Club friend recalled her first Thanksgiving after her divorce.

Since carving the bird had always been her ex-husband's job, she delighted in finding a new, turkey-free recipe. She settled on an apricot-glazed ham, and went to work cooking a glaze of brown sugar, cloves, and apricot nectar (an ingredient that gave her extra pleasure knowing her ex-husband detested it.)

When her grown children came for dinner, they were childishly upset not to have their usual 12-pound bird. But it was delicious, and in the end each one complimented the chef. On her way out, the youngest daughter told her mother, "maybe we all need to learn how to gracefully accept change."

For this new divorcee, serving ham became a way of asserting her independence, showing her children there was life after marriage, and teaching the whole family to find new ways to be together.

The truth is, we don't pick our relatives. So if the Thanksgiving gathering of the clan is an annual emotional challenge, you aren't alone.

In a recent Recipe Club circle of old friends and new acquaintances, we met a woman who admitted that for most of her life she dreaded Thanksgiving; all it evoked for her were memories of family fights. The contrast of what she knew Thanksgiving was "supposed" to be, versus what it was in her home, always made her feel ashamed and disappointed. And yet every November she felt compelled go home for a family Thanksgiving meal.

But one year, that changed, when her parents and brother decided to have Thanksgiving away from home. They journeyed together to Nantucket, where they ate dinner at a seaside inn. The inn served a New England clam chowder, rich with cream and warm on a cold autumn night. And they discovered that a new location, with new foods, away from the house where memories were often more fiery than the jalepeno cornbread, turned out to be just what the family needed.

Now, every year, back at home, they have a new tradition: serving New England Clam Chowder at their Thanksgiving feasts, each spoonful bringing back fond memories of a peaceful and loving family holiday.

Finally, a little tale of food and friendship.

A reader of our book told us that she had a choice this year. She could invite Uncle Tim and Aunt Zoe, the way she does every year, and spend the entire holiday worrying about whether or not the perpetually complaining couple were happy. She could include cousins Beth and Sean, knowing they would be competitive, putting down her choice of food, her way of cooking, her table setting. She could extend an invitation to her brother and dreaded sister-in-law, who would sit in silence the entire meal and pick at the food.

Or . . . she could shake things up and do something entirely different: invite only friends. True friends. People she enjoyed being with. Who made her laugh. Who spoke truthfully. Who shared her passions for good books, good wine, and good music.

She took the leap. She dumped the whiners, broke with tradition, irritated several family members -- and never looked back. The moral: good food and good friends are the perfect combination. Sometimes it's a good idea to trim the guest list before you serve the bird with all its trimmings.

©2009 Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel, authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

Author Bios for The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
Andrea Israel is a producer/writer for ABC's Focus Earth. She was a producer/writer on Anderson Cooper 360, Dateline, and Good Morning America (which garnered her an Emmy Award). Her story In Donald's Eyes was recently optioned for a film. Ms. Israel is the author of Taking Tea. Her writing has appeared in many publications.

Nancy Garfinkel is co-author of The Wine Lover's Guide to the Wine Country: The Best of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino(Chronicle Books, 2005). A creative strategist, design consultant, writer, and editor for magazine, corporate, and non-profit clients, she has won a host of graphic arts and editorial merit awards. She has written extensively about food and graphic arts.

For more information please visit The Recipe Club Book

Musing Mondays - Your Bookshelf

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your bookshelf…

Does your house have a communal bookshelf? If not, is your bookshelf centrally located so everyone has access to it?

It's just me and my husband at home...he's not a reader. I'm the only reader and it's not a's a book room. LOL I didn't mean to but somehow my books just kept multiplying all by themselves :) I have those Rubbermaid tubs filled with books (they are also in my den). There are some older books that I've actually already read and just never got rid of in the basement. Overall, my books are overtaking the house, but that doesn't seem to stop me from adding to my collection.

What's your bookshelf like?

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Salon - November has begun!

I'm just back from a week on vacation in sunny Florida and had a wonderful time. I know I've been rather neglectful on my blog recently, but I'm hoping that will change now that I'm back.

October wasn't a great reading month for me...only 6 books.

13 1/2 by Nevada Barr
92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laura Viera Rigler (audio)
Sliding Into Home by Joanne Rock
Heat Wave by Richard Castle
Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber (audio)

All were really good books.

November is off to a good start, but only because I've been on vacation. I've already read Night's Edge by Maggie Shayne, Charlaine Harris and Barbara Hambly; The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson and I'm finishing up The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney. Reviews will be posted soon.

I've pretty much decided to slow down with the reading challenges and just read what I want. If they happen to fit in with any of my remaining challenges, that's great. If not, so be it. They were fun at first, but then they became too stressful, which is silly since this is a fun thing. Not something to stress over. Next year, I don't think I'll be joining up with any...maybe...we'll see :)

Hope you all have a great week!

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