August 31, 2010

Ban This! 2010

Tomorrow is the first day of September and also the month when the American Library Association's Banned Book Week happens and when Bites begins its month-long banned book awareness. 

I encourage everyone, bloggers and readers alike, to participate, whether it be reading banned books, posting reviews and, in general, raising awareness and celebrating those books that are still being banned, even today.   Simply click on the link above, or located in my sidebar, to go to Bites' site for further information and to sign up in support. 

We have it in our power to begin the World over again.

Thomas Paine
Father of the American Republic and Author of the Declaration of Indpendence

Teaser Tuesday: August 31, 2010

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!

" But William's irritability and the lack of Elizabeth's company did not trouble her as much as the prospect of spending the day with Miss Bingley, who had arrived, along with the Hursts, the previous day.  Miss Bingley would, as always, be most attentive to her, and she would have to tolerate her insincere compliments, which were as troublesome to her as Miss Bingley's demeaning remarks about everyone was was neither a Bingley nor a Darcy." 

~ p. 94, To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog).

Happy Reading!

August 30, 2010

Giveaway: Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin

Synopsis:  In the bestselling tradition of "Rescuing Sprite" comes the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

Thanks to the lovely Anna Balasi at Hachette Book Group, I have two copies of this sure to be heartwarming tale to give away.  If you are an animal lover like me, as you read the synopsis you probably felt your heart tug and a jumble of overwhelming emotion overtake you, giving you a strong desire to ascertain for yourself that Oogy's story ends happily.  I know I did.  So don't hesitate!  My copy is on the way to me - - you too can own a copy of Oogy

To enter, simply leave me a comment with your name and email address. NO EMAIL ADDRESS, NO ENTRY! U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes. Winners are  subject to the one copy per household rule. 

Contest to end on Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winner drawn on Sunday, September 19, 2010.

Good luck!

August 29, 2010

Jane Austen is My Homegirl: New Reading Challenge

Because you can never have enough Jane Austen and Austen inspired books and spinoffs, and most particularly due to the fact that I will read any and all of them, I was delighted to find The Book Buff's Jane Austen is My Homegirl Reading Challenge

Click on the link above for details, or the the link on my sidebar, if you are a Janeite and would love to have yet another excuse for delving into JA-inspired fiction and JA-related nonfiction.  The Challenge runs until July 2011 (so a nice long time to immerse yourself in Regency England) and by participating in the Challenge, The Book Buff is also giving entrants a chance to win books!  You can't get much better than that.

Happy Reading!

August 28, 2010

And The Winner Is . . .


Doretta is the lucky recipient of a brand new copy of David Rosenfelt's New Tricks, a mystery for pet lovers.  Congratulations, Doretta!  If you will forward me your mailing address, I will see that your new book gets out to you. 

Thank you to all who visited my blog and entered this giveaway.  I do appreciate each one of you taking the time to visit and post here.  I hope you will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews. 

Thank you again to Valerie Russo and the Hachette Book Group for making this giveaway possible.  My review of this fun little mystery is coming soon!

Compliments to for selecting the lucky winner.

August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop Friday


In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list at Crazy For Books!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event! And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added! There are over 300 links every week!!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.


1. Enter your book blog link in the Linky List at Crazy For Books. 

In your link, please state the main genre that you review: eclectic, contemp. fiction, YA, paranormal, mystery, non-fiction, etc. Please do not list every genre you review - if you are review a variety, please put eclectic! The Hop gets jumbled up if the title is too long, so please limit to one genre. I will be limiting the number of characters in the title to ensure the Hop doesn't look messy! Thank you!

Example: Crazy-for-Books (literary fiction)

NOTE: You no longer have to enter the length of time you've been blogging, but do let us know if this is your first time hopping with us!

2. Post about the Hop on your blog. Spread the word about the book party! The more the merrier! In your blog post, answer the following question (new question each week!). If you have a question that could be used in a future Hop, leave it in the comments! Thanks!

This week's question comes from:

Books Are A Girl's Best Friend

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

My answer:   No, I do not use a rating system for my reviews.  I initially used a grading type system (i.e., A+, B, etc.) but I felt that was limiting and preferred to just express my opinions on what I loved, what I found good, what I found disappointing and allowing others to decide whether to read the books and what their opinions were. 

3. Visit other blogs in the Linky List! Make new friends! Follow new book bloggers! Talk about books! Rave about authors! Take the time to make a quality visit! Check out other posts and content, make a new friend! Don't randomly follow someone if you never intend on actually following them! No spamming please! (Please do not leave your link and not visit other blogs - it's just not cool and not in the spirit of the Hop!)

And just as an FYI - this event is not something you should feel that you have to participate in every week. If you want to join in and link up once a month, GREAT! It's up to you how often you participate!

So, have fun HOPPING and enjoy your BOOK PARTY weekend!!!

August 26, 2010

Throwback Thursday: August 26, 2010

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife:  Pride and Prejudice Continues
by Linda Berdoll
Originally published in 2004

Description:  This sexy, epic, hilarious, poignant and romantic sequel to Pride and Prejudice goes far beyond being a Jane Austen sequel. It's Tom Jones meets Jane Austen meets Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, with essence of Scarlett O'Hara and the Wife of Bath thrown in.

Every woman wants to be Elizabeth Bennet Darcy-beautiful, gracious, universally admired, strong, daring and outspoken-a thoroughly modern woman in crinolines. And every woman will fall madly in love with Mr. Darcy-tall, dark and handsome, a nobleman and a heartthrob whose virility is matched only by his utter devotion to his wife.

Their passion is consuming and idyllic-essentially, they can't keep their hands off each other-through a sweeping tale of adventure and misadventure, human folly and numerous mysteries of parentage.

The book was self-published in 1999, with more than 10,000 copies sold.  (from Booklist)

This cheese stands alone, based on the Booklist endorsement, because I found Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife to be not so much Pride and Prejudice continued as it is a new take on a beloved classic.

Writing a sequel to such a beloved classic, with such endearing characters as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, is a hard task for any writer and I struggled with Linda Berdoll's version.  

Is Ms. Berdoll attempting to write a campy parody? Or guilty pleasure trash? I'm not sure and I don't know if Ms. Berdoll was either.

While she expresses clearly that Darcy and Elizabeth have an obviously very happy and mutually pleasing marriage, the constant sex, sex, sex gets old. I like a nice juicy novel as much as the next person, but the constant references to their overabundant sex life, and Darcy's exceptional endowment got so repetitive that it got boring.

Ms. Berdoll was attempting to write in Austen's style, a venture that I found bumpy.  The words at times feel forced and there is none of the lightness and humor that was so present in Ms. Austen's literature.

I also did not like the liberties that Ms. Berdoll took with some characters, most particularly Bingley. It's bad enough to be subjected to verses about how Jane is apparently not as sexual as her husband (or obviously Elizabeth), but then to read further assaults upon Bingley's character.  No! 

On a positive note, Ms. Berdoll does give storylines to smaller characters of Pride and Prejudice, notably Colonel Fitzilliam.

But overall, I was heartily disappointed with Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.  None of the wit and fun was present in Elizabeth that engrossed Pride and Prejudice - - she seemed merely to be present in Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife to rhapsodize over their lovemaking and Darcy's endowment. Darcy's character was explored more in this book, but I didn't find him more likable for it.

If you are a Jane Austen purist, and a fan of the original Pride and Prejudice, this book may not be your cup of tea and you may find it disappointing. 

FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.

August 25, 2010

Guest Post: Author Elle Newmark

Today I am pleased to welcome author Elle Newmark, author of the vibrant historical mystery The Book of Unholy Mischief, to Psychotic State. Welcome, Elle!

Self Publishing, Bone of the Dead Cookies and Winston Churchill 
by Elle Newmark

The issue of my age came up shortly after Simon and Schuster bought The Book of Unholy Mischief. After I sent my new agent an overly-excited email, she asked, "How old are you?'

OMG, should I lie? No.

I shot back, "I'm sixty. Is that a problem?"

My agent is younger than my children. I considered emergency plastic surgery. I panicked because, frankly, I'm shocked to be over sixty. I feel like I'm thirty-five, only smarter.

I'm smarter, because I've lived. I've had jobs, marriages, lovers, friends, children and grandchildren. I've visited every continent and lived in on two of them. I've survived divorce, single parenthood, life-threatening illness, and even teenagers. And through all those heaving life experiences, I kept writing without ever publishing a word.

By fifty-five I had an epic collection of rejection letters, but I needed to write. At fifty-six, I finished my third novel, and I remember the surge of elation when that book caught the attention of a reputable agent who said, "This is a gold mine." It was finally happening!

Then it didn't.

One black day, I accepted that my work would never be published. It was crushing, and I spent weeks wallowing in the tragedy of my crucified ego. On my 60th birthday, I sulked on the sofa in rumpled pajamas and ate cold pizza.

Then I got angry. I'd given away control of my destiny, and the world had shrugged and given it back.

Fine. I'd do it myself. I took the humble route of self-publishing, because I thought just holding my book in my hands would be enough. I risked money and went through endless edits, and then my literary baby made its debut to a shrieking silence and a riot of apathy.

The book languished on Amazon, and that's when I decided that it wasn't only about holding a book but knowing that people were reading it.

One night, slumped in front of the TV, watching a glitzy book launch party on Sex in the City, I got an idea.

I gambled on a do-it-yourself website, took on an Internet marketing course, and threw a virtual book launch party. It was designed to generate a surge of sales on Amazon and catapult me onto the bestseller list.

I brazenly asked droves of website owners to help me. I sent letters, homemade cookies, and signed books marked on the page where those cookies appear in the novel. The cookies are called Bones of the Dead and so, with an aching back, I spent long days in the kitchen, shaping bone cookies -fifteen hundred of them.

Two days before my virtual party, my son said, "Mom, why not invite agents to your party?" Well, that would be a ballsy move indeed, but I figured I had nothing to lose. The night before the launch, I wrote personal invitations with a link to the party site to 400 agents.

By noon the next day agents were clamoring to read my masterpiece, asking me to overnight books to New York. Within 24 hours, I had offers from several impressive agencies-including William Morris, with whom I made an agreement at whiplash speed.

I did hit the Amazon bestseller list. Not that it mattered anymore.

Two weeks after my virtual party, my book went to auction. Bidding was due to start at 11:00 a.m. EST, but at 8:00 a.m. the phone rang. My agent said, "Are you sitting down?" I said yes, though I wasn't. She said, "Two book deal, Simon and Schuster." Then I sat down.

In the following heady days, the foreign sales started. It was a global feeding frenzy. As of this writing The Book of Unholy Mischief will be published in a dozen languages.

In all the excitement, I remembered a famous quote from Winston Churchill-with the sky over London littered with falling bombs and the city in rubble, the sixty-eight year old Churchill growled, "Never, never, never, never give up."

I didn't give up. That's really all I did. I have spent my life pursuing what I love, and every word I wrote was necessary to find my voice as a writer. And success is better later than early. Can you think of anything more depressing than peaking at the age of 25? Then what? Also, I feel profound gratitude, which I probably wasn't capable of twenty or thirty years ago. Being older makes it sweeter.

But here's the ironic part: Now that I'm published, I finally understand that the deepest satisfaction is in the writing itself. The best part is not holding my book or having other people read it-the best part was writing it. Writing is my passion, and passion is our consolation for mortality. Real success is finding something you love, and then doing the hell out of it.

My new book, The Sandalwood Tree, will be out in April 2011, and then I get to write another. And I am old enough to appreciate the hell out of that.


Elle Newmark is an award-winning writer whose books are inspired by her travels. She and her husband, a retired physician, have two grown children and five grandchildren. They live in the hills north of San Diego.

For more information on author Elle Newmark, please visit her website

Thank you, Elle, for stopping by Psychotic State today and taking the time to share your thoughts with us.  Best of luck with The Book of Unholy Mischief and I look forward to The Sandalwood Tree's release!
To read my review of The Book of Unholy Mischief, please go here

August 24, 2010

Review of "The Book of Unholy Mischief" by Elle Newmark

Synopsis:  In a world of violence and intrigue, who guards the truth?

It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors about an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist's dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it.

As a storm of intrigue and desire circles the republic that grew from the sea, Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef's rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets. It is not long before Luciano is caught up in the madness. After he witnesses a shocking murder in the Palace dining room, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and that no one can be trusted. Armed with a precocious mind and an insatiable curiosity, Luciano embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.

Rich with the luxurious colors and textures of Venice, The Book of Unholy Mischief delights the senses and breathes fresh life into an age defined by intellectual revival and artistic vibrancy. A luminous and seductive novel, it is, at its heart, a high-spirited tribute to the fruits of knowledge and the extraordinary power of those who hold its key.  (from Barnes & Noble)

If you are a reader that is looking for a fast-paced, quick to it book, The Book of Unholy Mischief is not for you.  If,  however, you are looking for a book that simmers slowly, builds with an exotic, leisurely scent of savory spices and peels back, layer after layer, as a succulent orange or oversized onion does, you won't be disappointed by this visual masterpiece. 

I loved the colorful depictions of Venice in the late fifteenth century.  So vivid was author Elle Newmark's writing and characterizations, even after finishing the book, I can still easily visualize Venice in my mind and the wonderfully written Luciano and Chef Ferraro.  I can feel the squalor and grime under my feet of the poorer calles that Luciano strolled and can sense the aromatic herbs from Chef Ferraro's private closet.  I can feel Bernardo rubbing my leg with his head, feel his purrs and smell his wet fur, as well as hear the various cries coming from the street merchants, the sailors and the prostitutes. 

That alone would make The Book of Unholy Mischief a worthy and fantastic read.  After all, aren't the best writers capable of allowing their readers to not only see in their mind's eye the location and the characters but to hear and even smell the story?  Ms. Newmark allows the reader to use all his or her senses and to a fabulous extent. 

But let's not shortchange the story which, if you allow it time to build, is phenomenal on its own.  Historical fiction lovers will delight not only in the day to day accounts of Renaissance Venice but also with the mystery surrounding the infamous book of the title, which not only supposedly holds the key to immortal life, wealth and riches but brings about grief, death, murder and ties to Jesus' crucifixtion and resurrection.  Readers who prefer their books with little or no objectionable language and sexual situations will be satisfied with The Book of Unholy Mischief as there are only brief descriptions of slight violence, mostly relative to street living, and one torture scene. 

The Book of Unholy Mischief was a fascinating read and has stayed with me, even after turning that last page and closing the book.  I felt vested in the characters, so much so that I experienced both joy and sadness throughout the book and into its conclusion.  The mystery over the book built slowly and paid off greatly in the end.  Portions of the book dealing with cooking and succulent descriptions of food will leave your mouth watering and your stomach rumbling.  And on a purely shallow note, the cover is subtle, understated and yet still luscious and inviting.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend The Book of Unholy Mischief to one and all and I would love to see this flavorful story on a movie or t.v. screen, as I do think the story would certainly be justified on film. 

The Book of Unholy Mischief is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble

For more information about author Elle Newmark, please visit her website HERE

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

Be sure to stop by Psychotic State on Wednesday, August 25, when author Elle Newmark will be sharing her story on being a published author over the age of forty and how not giving up put her on the bestseller list.  It's not to be missed!

August 14, 2010

Review of "Damaged" by Pamela Callow

Synopsis:  Haunted by the death of her sister and wounded by her ex-fiancĂ©'s accusations, Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.

When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it's just another custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn't only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl's death.

Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm's charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career, for her reputation—and for redemption.

Unwilling to live with the damage she may have caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chilling facts.

Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy.

Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically skilled hands of the Body Butcher.

(From Barnes & Noble)

Damaged, author Pamela Callow's freshman effort at legal mystery/suspense/conspiracy thriller, started slowly but if you are patient, you will be rewarded by what became a page-turning, perfect summer read.  It builds slowly, while painstakingly laying the groundwork on central character Kate Lange, her former fiance, Detective Ethan Drake, Kate's employer, and its partner, Randall Barrett, plus a bevy of supporting characters. 

I found the murder mystery and conspiracy aspects of the story to be especially fascinating, having not guessed far ahead of time the connections and the "solution" before Kate (one of the bigger disappointments for me with mysteries/thrillers).  I also appreciated the resolution, as it didn't stretch reality to unnatural boundaries and it seemed the natural course by the end of the book.

I liked the character of Kate by the conclusion of Damaged although I was a bit neutral about her throughout much of the early story.  I always like a tough, determined character with some humanity and all three traits were in evidence as I flipped that last page.  I was particularly pleased to note that Ms. Callow will have a new mystery featuring Kate releasing next year and I hope that we will learn more about Kate on this next venture.

By the same token, I hope that we will receive additional insight into the characters of Ethan Drake and Randall Barrett, who both seemed to be yearning for additional literary time.  I felt that both characters still have a wealth of information to share and excellent storyline potential.

I also hope that we will see Kate's neighbors again, the elderly sisters Muriel and Enid, who I found engaging and pleasing.  Is it possible that these two have secrets themselves or is it just the conspiracy buff in me at work?

Damaged, considering its subject matter, isn't heavy on the gore or violence, although it may have a few objectionable words.  There is no sexual matter, although a brief innuendo, and some mentioned drug use.

In all, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Damaged  to fans of the mystery, thriller and/or legal genre, all of whom are sure to be satisfied by this debut work that packs a powerful little punch.

Damaged is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon

For more information about author Pamela Callow, please visit her website HERE

Damaged counts toward my progress in the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

August 11, 2010

Review of "The Jaws Log" by Carl Gottlieb

Synopsis:  To coincide with the 30th anniversary of the now-classic Steven Spielberg film, a new expanded edition, in hardcover for the first time, of one of the best "making of" books of all time.

Steven Soderbergh, Bryan Singer, Rod Lurie, John Landis, Steve Martin, and Rob Reiner are among the many filmmakers who concur, more than 30 years after its first publication, that The Jaws Log by screenwriter Carl Gottlieb deserves an enduring place as a "modern classic" on filmmakers and filmmaking.

The only book on how 26-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's #1 bestselling novel into the phenomenal movie it became, Gottlieb's chronicle of this extraordinary year-long adventure was first published in 1975, generating 17 printings and selling more than 2 million paperback copies. Long out of print, a new, expanded paperback edition was published in 2000 to mark the movie's 25th anniversary, featuring a 22-page behind-the-scenes photo album, a new afterword by Gottlieb updating readers on the fates of the filmmakers, and an introduction by Peter Benchley.

Now, on the occasion of the movie's 30th anniversary, The Jaws Log is available for the first time in an affordably-priced hardcover edition with a new foreword by the author.

Duh-DUH.  Duh-DUH.  DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH!  Don't go in the water! 

If you're like me, you consider the 1975 film Jaws  to be one of the best motion pictures of all time.  Before the age of CGI and various special effects, then novice director Steven Spielberg had to depend on an often irritable and uncooperative mechanical shark, underwater film footage, phenomenally well cast actors and a superb script.  And the rest, they say, is cinematic history.

Carl Gottlieb, one of the screenwriters on Jaws, recounts the several years long battle not only to get this iconic movie made but also the bumps and problems encountered along the way.  Particularly fascinating, in my opinion, was that with the exception of one notable scene, Jaws was shot on the ocean.  Fantastic for film viewing but not so much for the overtaxed crew who had to deal with sinking boats, choppy waters, weather and passing sailboats.  And remember, this was a time when movies were primarily shot at the studios (or a water tank at the studio).  And that aforementioned scene?  That was the infamous "Ben Gardner's head" shot with Richard Dreyfuss . . . and that scene was shot at editor Verna Fields' pool (with help from a little milk to make the water look murky). 

Also fun was reading about the two mechanical sharks (jovially nicknamed Bruce by Spielberg, who coined the moniker after his lawyer's first name) and the many difficulties they brought to the film set.  Their problems were our reward in the end, as not seeing the shark, or only seeing quick glimpses, made it that much more frightening. 

Spielberg is presented in a warm and extremely creative light by Gottlieb and his longstanding tradition of never being on set for the final day of filming is explained here (and started with Jaws).  Interesting to note, as well, that Spielberg was not the first choice as director and was convinced throughout much of the filming that Jaws would be dead in the water and would bury his Hollywood career (which consisted of one film up to that point).  Ah, how the tides turned. 

The chapters on the casting of the central characters made for informative reading.  Only Murray Hamilton as Mayor Larry Vaughn was the first choice actor cast with all others being second or lower choices.  Could we really imagine anyone else but Roy Scheider as Chief Brody or, especially, anyone but Robert Shaw as the tough old Quint? 

Gottlieb also shares behind the scenes friction between Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, which translated well into their characters' animosity on film, as well as Shaw's well reported drinking and flying to Canada on off days to avoid taxes. 

And remember Roy Scheider's famous line "You're gonna need a bigger boat?"  Per Gottlieb, that line wasn't scripted but was improvised by Scheider. 

Of particular interest is how the film was received upon release and how long it was in first run at the theaters (from June 1975 well into December 1975 - - unheard of today).  In case you didn't know, Jaws  was the first ever summer blockbuster, making over $100 million.

Gottlieb also provides updates on many of the central characters who are still with us - - you will be happy to know that Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner) still resides at Martha's Vineyard and is still acting in the local theater group and Jeffrey Vorhees, who played her son, Alex Kintner, owes a sandwich shop on Martha's Vineyard that serves an Alex M. Kintner meat sandwich.

I would recommend The Jaws Log to any film lover or anyone who wishes to have a companion to the phenomenal movie.  You can't go wrong.

The Jaws Log is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.

From 1975, here is the original Jaws trailer.  Enjoy!

August 10, 2010

Review of "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" by Alison Arngrim

Synopsis:  For seven years, Alison Arngrim played a wretched, scheming, selfish, lying, manipulative brat on one of TV history's most beloved series. Though millions of Little House on the Prairie viewers hated Nellie Oleson and her evil antics, Arngrim grew to love her character—and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her.

In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, Arngrim describes growing up in Hollywood with her eccentric parents: Thor Arngrim, a talent manager to Liberace and others, whose appetite for publicity was insatiable, and legendary voice actress Norma MacMillan, who played both Gumby and Casper the Friendly Ghost. She recalls her most cherished and often wickedly funny moments behind the scenes of Little House: Michael Landon's "unsaintly" habit of not wearing underwear; how she and Melissa Gilbert (who played her TV nemesis, Laura Ingalls) became best friends and accidentally got drunk on rum cakes at 7-Eleven; and the only time she and Katherine MacGregor (who played Nellie's mom) appeared in public in costume, provoking a posse of elementary schoolgirls to attack them.

Arngrim relays all this and more with biting wit, but she also bravely recounts her life's challenges: her struggle to survive a history of traumatic abuse, depression, and paralyzing shyness; the "secret" her father kept from her for twenty years; and the devastating loss of her "Little House husband" and best friend, Steve Tracy, to AIDS, which inspired her second career in social and political activism. Arngrim describes how Nellie Oleson taught her to be bold, daring, and determined, and how she is eternally grateful to have had the biggest little bitch on the prairie to show her the way.

If you haven't read Alison Arngrim's Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, run, run, run out right now and get yourself a copy, whether you buy, borrow or steal it (not so much that last part, okay?).  It is that good.

I was a child of the 1970s, who grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and "hating" mean old Nellie Oleson.  Wasn't she one of the cruelest child characters ever?  Bless Alison Arngrim and not only her acting skills (because Arngrim herself was nothing like mean spirited Nellie) but her incredible wit and humor.  She is one of the funniest people you may never meet. 

She spills all, and I do mean all, in Prairie Bitch, from her early beginnings being born into a showbiz marriage, to her father's unspoken but accepted lifestyle, to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother, to the life-changing audition for the iconic role of Nellie, to her life beyond the prairie, on the stage as a stand-up comedienne and her tireless activism for AIDS awareness. 

I loved everything about this book and read it in under two days.  Arngrim shares behind the scenes tales of Little House, including the aforementioned Michael Landon's aversion to underwear while in costume as Charles Ingalls, to the then 10 year old Melissa Gilbert's precociousness and all knowing information of cast and crew, to Melissa Sue Anderson's strikingly different real life personality versus that of her role as sweet Mary Ingalls, to the immediate and devoted love she felt for her co-star and television husband Steve Tracy.  I was fascinated with the recountings of what really happened behind the scenes of some of my more favored Little House episodes, as well as the fact that Arngrim and Gilbert were best friends, despite playing mortal enemies each week in front of the cameras. 

Her chapters on the abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother were tragic and could be hard to read, but Arngrim's strength powers through each page and this reader was encouraged that Arngrim did not fall victim to the drugs/alcohol/crime/early death cycle that many child actors do.  Lindsay Lohan, among others, could take a page from Arngrim's book and learn a lot. 

Perhaps most touching were the sections recounting Arngrim's initial meeting with actor Steve Tracy, their enjoyment working together, their loyal friendship and his final days.  I know I will never be able to watch another episode of Little House featuring Nellie and Percival without a sadness in my heart at the loss of Tracy, as well as a special happiness knowing that neither Arngrim nor Tracy were acting in those scenes showcasing Nellie's and Percival's happiness.

Many celebrities and former child actors have written memoirs, some very well done, some for a quick buck, but I would certainly place Arngrim's at the top of the list without hesitation.  You simply cannot go wrong with Confessions of a Prairie Bitch and I promise you will gain respect for Arngrim in the process.

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

To follow Alison Arngrim's Twitter page, go HERE

FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.

Review of "Great Taste, No Pain!" by Sherry Brescia

From the Great Taste, No Pain website:


Quick Description


With more than 1 out of 3 adults in the US (70 million) taking OTC or prescription pills for digestive disorders and the pain associated with them, as a nation, we have serious health problems. And we're spreading our problems around the world.

What most people are frustrated with is that even if they eat how most health professionals consider to be healthy, a large percentage of people STILL experience digestive problems. And so most people resort to drugs, surgery or eating bland foods. Or they just continue to suffer.

That's why the Great Taste No Pain System was developed -- to help slash some of the $42 billion dollars spent on those pills in the US alone.

This simple eating system is designed to dramatically reduce the acid pH measure in a person's entire body -- not just in the stomach. It does so by increasing the ratio of alkaline forming foods eaten and by showing you how to combine foods in a way that radically decreases the amount of acid digestive juices in the stomach and small intestines required to break down foods. With me so far? Hope so, because this is important stuff.

One of the primary components of the Great Taste No Pain System is the science of food combining, which was first introduced into the US in 1911 by Dr. William Hay, a New York surgeon who used it to cure his Bright's Disease, a kidney disease which was often fatal at that time. In fact, among the many thousands of lives it claimed was Teddy Roosevelt's first wife, who died of Bright's Disease at just 22 years of age.

A basic knowledge of Junior High chemistry is all it takes to see the logic behind this science: Mixing foods that require alkaline digestive enzymes with foods that require acid digestive enzymes slows and can even stop the digestive process. It can and does delay digestion by as much as 10 hours and more. This is incredibly bad for the body. The Great Taste No Pain System alleviates this problem, speeding food through your body, allowing it to absorb nutrients from foods at a much higher level.

In addition, one of the manuals in the Great Taste No Pain System, 'Foods That Create Acid, Foods That Take It Away,' is as clear as I've ever seen this data presented. Follow this simple guide and your body will use a minimum of energy in the digestion process, which leaves more energy for healing and other daily functions your body carries out.

This is a timely set of guides, because with our society's addiction to the convenience of processed foods, in many respects our health challenges are far worse than they were in 1911.

Great Taste No Pain author, Sherry Brescia, was a former Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferer herself. In fact, in 1991, she spent 7 days in the hospital with bacterial colitis.

As a health insurance researcher and Chief Underwriter, she was able to research the benefits of an alkaline- balanced body and over the next 15 years perfected the system she now calls Great Taste No Pain.

She meshed a number of philosophies proven to help alkalize the body to create this simple system that anyone can follow regardless of where they are or what food choices they have available to them.


What I Like:


Taste: Unlike most restrictive diets, Great Taste No Pain cannot actually be called a diet, because it allows you to eat even great volumes of luscious, delicious food as long as you combine it according to a few simple guidelines. It truly requires very little willpower. Perhaps the greatest news for people who love to eat is that the 176 page recipe book in the system is stuffed with breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that are unbelievably tasty. No rabbit food. Gourmet all the way, yet the meals (if you like to cook) only take between 15 and 30 minutes of prep time and make tons of yummy leftovers. So you can throw away the belief that you can't eat healthy on a super-busy schedule.

Speed: I love that you don't have to read 300+ pages before learning what to do. In the first guide, 'How To End Stomach Pain Forever, Even If Your MD says, "No Way,"' it provides a brief background on the science and then quickly moves onto the step-by-step 'how to.' I really love that.

Simplicity: The second Guide in the GTNP System is 'What To Eat With What.' This is a massive compilation. Every kind of food that you could possibly put in your mouth is listed, along with the corresponding foods that combine with it for easy comfortable digestion, and those foods that don't. This guide is so complete and so easy to follow, if you screw this up, it's back to pre-school for you.

More Simplicity: Traveling is the one thing that can ruin even the healthiest eaters. But in Great Taste No Pain, Sherry gives you a 'Pocket Guide For Pain-Free Dining Out.' This tool is phenomenal. You can store this little baby with your credit cards and, until you understand what combines with what, all you have to do is pull out your pocket guide and quickly note the rule, so you can eat and enjoy the rest of your day, pain-free.

Would you believe that you could eat McDonald's food and not suffer gassiness and reflux? Now you can!

Meat: While meat is not something people with digestive issues usually tolerate well on a daily basis (hence the daily pain), the problem isn't so much the meat as it is what you eat with the meat.

That is why each of the Guides in the System, including the recipe book, lists every possible food you can combine with meats without suffering. Most people will suddenly be able to eat beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, venison and any other type of meat they want. As long as you combine it right... no pain at all! And broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers and other veggies that can create havoc suddenly will not. That I love.

Fruit: Ask anyone that suffers stomach problems about fruit and you'll hear horror stories. So sadly, the most perfect food on the planet is shunned by a huge part of our world's population. No longer. Because you will soon learn why fruit causes you trouble and how to easily change that. You CAN eat fruit again, even if it now makes you turn blue! It's true!

While each Guide in the System is detailed and complete, they are "dumbed down" in the clearest language possible. So I don't doubt Sherry's claim that any 11 year old could teach it. This I really love.


Things To Watch For:


The one thing you want to be careful of is that once you start eating as prescribed in Great Taste No Pain, you could quickly begin to feel all powerful. You might start to think you are "cured" of your digestive problems since they went away so fast and since you have so much extra energy.

That would be a mistake.

Because technically there is no "cure" for most digestive problem, because technically they are not diseases at all. They are maladies brought on by eating the wrong foods and by eating them in the wrong combinations. So the principles in Great Taste No Pain is not a "cure," since people with sensitive stomachs will always be sensitive. GTNP is merely a way to make all symptoms go away forever and give you a lot more energy.

For example, let's say you've got it bad and have Diverticulitis or Crohn's. Great Taste No Pain can help you get rid of your symptoms very quickly.

But a year later, if you start eating like you used to, guess what? Yep, the symptoms will come back. You see, the principles that Great Taste No Pain is based on are sound. They work for everyone. But if you think that because you've been symptom-free for a long time, you've been "cured," think again. Go against these principles of easy digestion, and the problem can come back with a vengeance. Remember, good health comes from living a healthy lifestyle, not a"do it once and you're fixed" approach.

Another thing you might want to be prepared for is that since Great Taste No Pain cleanses your digestive tract, initially you could get a little diarrhea. If you experience constipation on a fairly regular basis, you might get a little "looseness" at first, but it will end soon.

Also, due to the detoxing going on, you might get a runny nose or get some other cold-like symptoms at first. It's nothing to worry about. If you do, while it might not be fun, it does mean it's working. It means your body is becoming purer and the toxins are leaving. And that is a very good thing.




When I began following the system, I personally was amazed at the amount of energy I had, even late into the evening. I had no discomfort, no bloating, I didn't feel the need to eat again within an hour and no need for caffeine after meals.

Professionally and personally, my strong recommendation is that for anyone who wants more energy, sounder and longer sleep, migraine headaches to stop almost immediately, pain from gastritis and acid reflux to stop almost instantly, and the pain of digestive problems to stop or be reduced dramatically, get over to: now and get the whole system. You will be thrilled.

And frankly, it won't take a full day for most people to feel a major difference in their bodies. Often it just takes one meal. After you have been following it for a week or more, feel free to let me know how you like it. I personally believe that anyone who adopts this simple, enjoyable food combining method will reap gigantic health benefits. So if that is what you are looking for, get over to and get started today.

Lori's Final Word:  Listen to your mother.  Why?  Because my mother recommended this System to me.  I had been suffering from acid reflux that not only affected me 5 nights out of 7, but sent me to a doctor, who gave me several different prescriptions for medication that caused headaches, backaches and nausea, in addition to the acid reflux that didn't always dissipate.  I was also told that I would have to give up tomato based foods - - absolute torture for someone who loves Mexican and Italian foods - -  and chocolate.

Since beginning this program back in May, I have only had one acid reflux incident (and that because I went to bed too soon after eating, more so than what I was eating), have dropped 1-2 clothing sizes and lost 15 pounds.  I don't feel as if I am on a diet, I am not ravenous and I don't have the 2 p.m. sleepiness I used to have.  And yes, I still eat Mexican and Italian foods, as well as chocolate and with no adverse effects.

I cannot recommend this program, and the manual and cookbook, enough to anyone who either suffers from a digestive ailment or who would like to eat a bit more balanced without feeling restricted, while gaining energy and vitality.

Great Taste No Pain is available through the above links and at the link located on my right sidebar.  Please feel free to visit Sherry's website and print out a free report, giving you a sample four day menu.  You won't regret it!

August 9, 2010

Review of "Unchartered TerriTORI" by Tori Spelling

Synopsis:  Welcome to Los Angeles, birthplace and residence of Tori Spelling.

It’s not every Hollywood starlet whose name greets you on a Virgin Airways flight into la-la land. But Tori Spelling has come to accept that her life is a spectacle. Her name is her brand, and business is booming. Too bad when your job is to be yourself, you can’t exactly take a break.

Tori finally has everything she thought she wanted—a loving family and a successful career—but trying to live a normal life in Hollywood is a little weird. With the irresistible wit, attitude, and humor that fans have come to love, the New York Times bestselling author of sTORI telling and Mommywood is back with more hilarious, heartwarming, and candid stories of juggling work, marriage, motherhood, and reality television cameras.

Tori comes clean about doing her time on jury duty, stalking herself on Twitter, discovering her former 90210 castmates’ "I Hate Tori" club, contracting swine flu, and contacting Farrah Fawcett from the dead. Like many mothers, she struggles to find balance (Stars, they’re just like us!)—only most women don’t have to battle it out with paparazzi at the grocery store. She talks openly about the darker side of life in the spotlight: media scrutiny over her weight and her marriage to Dean McDermott, her controversial relationship with Dean’s ex-wife, and her unfolding reconciliation with her mother.

Having it all isn’t always easy—especially when you’re a perfectionist—but with the help of her unconventional family and friends, an underwear-clad spiritual cleansing or two, and faith in herself, she’s learning to find her happy ending. Because when you’re Tori Spelling, every day brings uncharted terriTORI.***

Just when you thought sTORI time was over, the beloved Hollywood starlet has so much more to say. ***"My life has changed dramatically in the past several years. I married Dean; we moved several times; we had two children; we created a show that has gone into its fifth season on the air. I have love. I have a family. I have a home. I have work. It’s all I ever wished for. But trying to be a perfect wife, mother, and mini-mogul has its challenges, especially if, like me, you want to be perfect at all of them at the same time."from uncharted terriTORI

I am an unapologetic Beverly Hills 90210 fan (the original, that is).  There, it's out in all its embarrassed and shameful glory.  As such, I am also a fan of Tori Spelling as well as her now defunct series So NoTORIous and the current Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.  Don't judge.

I enjoyed Tori's first book, sTORI Telling.  I found it to be much like So NoTORIous - - refreshing, able to make light of her own celebrity, laugh at herself and appearing honest.  Tori is humorous and it came through in spades with sTORI Telling.

Not so much with this effort.  Not that there is anything wrong with Unchartered TerriTORI.  The writing style and the tone keep in step with her first tome and there are some very humorous sections in this one, including the opening chapter with Tori on an airplane, headed back to Los Angeles (or better known as "the birthplace of Tori Spelling!").

I liked the portions of the book that dealt with Murray (although keep a tissue handy), with the reliable and beloved Patsy and even the chapter on how Tori's former 90210 co-stars currently feel about her today. Just like high school, indeed.

But truth be told, I could have done without the jab at Mary Jo Eustace, Dean McDermott's former wife.  They are divorced, have been divorced, and I think it's high time that Tori refrain from reminding us that Dean left her and the state of their sex life at the time.  It makes Tori appear petty and churlish.

And if, like me, you watch Tori and Dean's Oxygen network reality show, much of the book will no surprise to you, as you've already seen it, from the cross country trip in the RV, to Dean's motorcycle accident to Mama Lola.  That was likely the biggest disappointment to me - - that the book felt like a rehashing of what was previously aired on Oxygen.

But like her previous efforts, Unchartered TerriTORI was a quick and breezy read, as light as cotton candy and ultimately as filling.  The book is a cute read while immersed in it but you might be left thinking that Tori wrote about a whole lot of nothing by the last page.

I would recommend it for Tori Spelling fans and for a light and pleasant beach read but would probably encourage a library rental versus a purchase.

Unchartered TerriTORI is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

FTC Disclosure:  This book was borrowed from my local public library.  I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.     

Giveaway: "New Tricks" by David Rosenfelt

Synopsis:  Attorney Andy Carpenter is about to represent an adorable Bernese mountain dog puppy, whose owner was brutally murdered, in a custody fight. Few can rival Andy's affection for dogs, and he's determined to keep Waggy from falling into the wrong hands. But this playful pup possesses a valuable secret that some people will resort to violence to obtain. It will take more than Andy's usual courtroom theatrics to save Waggy, including help from the lawyer's golden retriever, Tara. Andy soon discovers that everyone around him is in danger, including his longtime girlfriend, Laurie--and only some high-risk new tricks will save those he cherishes most.

Thanks to the lovely Valerie Russo at Hachette Book Group, I have a copy of the paperback edition of this canine-themed mystery to give away.  I have not read this yet myself but my copy is on the way and a review will be upcoming. 

To enter, simply leave me a comment with your name and email address.  NO EMAIL ADDRESS, NO ENTRY!  U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes. Contest to end on Friday, August 27, 2010 at 11:59 P.M. EST and the lucky winner drawn on Saturday, August 28, 2010.

Good luck!

August 5, 2010

Review of "Georgia's Kitchen" by Jenny Nelson

Synopsis:  At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding.

Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes?

An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home.  (from Amazon)

I wanted to read Georgia's Kitchen initially merely for the Italian connection. I have never been to Italy but I have long dreamt of travelling there and I counted on this book allowing me to live out my passport-laced fantasies. Georgia's Kitchen did that and more.

The book was a scrumptious treat from start to finish, between the descriptive and mouth watering foods described to the warm terracota of Tuscany to the desire for Georgia to open her own restaurant.

I loved the character of Georgia, from the funny way her parents met and she was conceived to her troubling relationship with her mother to her devotion to her deceased grandmother to her loyal friends and adorable dog. I was invested in Georgia and her story and author Jenny Nelson deserves praise for accomplishing this task.

I also appreciated that Georgia had to struggle and work hard not only during her stay in Tuscany but also in order to accomplish her dream, owning her very own restaurant. It wasn't an overnight process and it made the story much more relatable.

The supporting characters in Georgia's Kitchen were a delightful mix of flighty, fun, sarcastic and stuffy, from the Marco employees to the kitchen staff in Tuscany to the New York investors.

I enjoyed my stay, albeit a too brief one, with Georgia and I think women of all ages will too. I hope that Ms. Nelson will allow us to catch up with Georgia again in the future.

Georgia's Kitchen is available for purchase at major booksellers including Barnes & Noble and Amazon

For more information on Georgia's Kitchen and author Jenny Nelson visit Ms. Nelson's website here

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

Endnote:  My apologies to Ms. Nelson for the delay in getting this review up and posted this morning.  I am in the midst of a cross-country move and having computer difficulties but please bear with me!