Friday, April 24, 2015

Foodie Friday: Picture Perfect Parties by Annette Joseph

Title: Picture Perfect Parties
Author: Annette Joseph
Publisher: Rizzoli
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
ISBN: 9780847841035
Number of Pages: 224
How I Got It: from author
Format: Hardcover

My Review:
Annette Joseph's Picture Perfect Parties combines menus, recipes, and party planning in one gorgeous place. After years of friends suggesting she write a book to share her talents, she did just that and we should all be thankful. In her introduction she states what she wishes this book to accomplish:
"With this book, I want to share with you what I have learned styling and hosting hundreds of dinner parties--my 'tricks of the trade' for planning and setting the stage for a party, choosing the tastiest (and easiest) dishes to serve, and giving parties that are as fun and lovely for you as they are for your guests."
From suggestions on pantry essentials to styling secrets for each of the sixteen seasonal parties she features, Joseph will help you create a lovely event for you and your guests. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet but I only just received this book. I'm going to try my hand at a few and I'll be sure to add to this post when I do. This book has also greatly inspired me to begin taking my photography a bit more seriously. I love to snap photos on my iPhone and post to Instagram, etc., but I don't ever use my "real" camera...except today! The photo above is by yours truly, not too bad for a beginner if I do say so myself. Picture Perfect Parties is bound to inspire you as well, whether it be to try a new recipe, a new centerpiece, or invite over a few friends and try one of the great party themes Joseph suggests. Just don't forget to send me my invite!

Author info:

** Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review and Giveaway:: The Cruel Country by Judith Ortiz Cofer

** Disclaimer :: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Title: The Cruel Country
Author: Judith Ortiz Cofer
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
ISBN: 9780820347639
Number of Pages: 240
How I Got It: Lindsey Harding
Format: Hardcover
Inside Flap: 
“I am learning the alchemy of grief—how it must be carefully measured and doled out, inflicted—but I have not yet mastered this art,” writes Judith Ortiz Cofer in The Cruel Country. This richly textured, deeply moving, lyrical memoir centers on Cofer’s return to her native Puerto Rico after her mother has been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.
Cofer’s work has always drawn strength from her life’s contradictions and dualities, such as the necessities and demands of both English and Spanish, her travels between and within various mainland and island subcultures, and the challenges of being a Latina living in the U.S. South. Interlaced with these far-from-common tensions are dualities we all share: our lives as both sacred and profane, our negotiation of both child and adult roles, our desires to be the person who belongs and also the person who is different.
What we discover in The Cruel Country is how much Cofer has heretofore held back in her vivid and compelling writing. This journey to her mother’s deathbed has released her to tell the truth within the truth. She arrives at her mother’s bedside as a daughter overcome by grief, but she navigates this cruel country as a writer—an acute observer of detail, a relentless and insistent questioner.
My Review: As a UGA graduate, it didn't take me longer than a second to agree to review this release. This memoir is written in the style of a personal journal with each entry numbered but not dated. Cofer's memoir is as touching and crushing as any child documenting their parent's death but is more haunting and lyrical than any I have read before. With a majority of this type of memoir written by white women in the United States, Cofer's Latin heritage and her return to Puerto Rico provides diverse insight to a generally inevitable life experience. These women's differences and similarities may be specific to themselves but are relatable to mothers and daughter everywhere. The cultural divide that the women experienced in their lives is especially interesting making this a vital addition to the memoir genre.  
Be sure to visit her Facebook author page and enter my giveaway below:

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Addressing the Bloggy Blahs and 4 Books I Loved During the Slump

**Disclaimer:  I received a copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews **
I had a bit of a bloggy slump in March. Between the weather and family sicknesses, I got a bit behind and overwhelmed with "promised" reviews. I've learned from this experience to be clear in each of my review requests received from publishers to state that I will "consider the release for review." That important word: consider. I can't do them all. I am also going to only request releases that I am truly interested in. No more "being nice." I was getting too far from the original reason why I began blogging...because I love reading! When I started dreading reading I knew something was wrong. I really wanted to get to some books in my TBR and would drag my feet because I didn't want to have to read books A, B, and C so I could get to it. I got behind and then I was frustrated with being behind (can you see the cycle here?) So here are four releases that I loved and want to make sure to share with my book and bloggy buddies. They deserve longer reviews but I'm afraid that if I don't recognize them now they are going to slip off my radar and I don't want that to happen. I added links to their Goodreads pages so be sure to check them out for more information. 

Title: The Half-Brother
Author: Holly Lecraw
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
ISBN: 9780385531955
Number of Pages: 288
How I Got It: from publisher
Format: Kindle and paperback
I loved/hated the stream of consciousness writing and masculine tone but was intrigued throughout the novel with the detailed dynamics of the narrator's family, friends, and students. The academic setting made me wish I would have read this in the autumn but I really can't stop thinking about the prose. I will probably be dissecting this one in my mind for quite a while.

Title: Splinters of Light
Author: Rachael Herron
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
ISBN: 9780451468611
Number of Pages: 464
How I Got It: Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity
Format: paperback 
Single mom finds out she's dying? I wasn't ready for another FIVE DAYS LEFT (that book ripped my heart out!) This novel wasn't as emotional (still some heart-wrenching scenes) as it was thought provoking. I found myself often drifting off (like the main character but a little different) thinking about how I would want particulars handled if I were in the same situation. It would be a great "ice breaker" or book club selection to discuss bucket lists, end of life wishes, etc. 

Title: Migratory Animals
Author: Mary Helen Specht
Publisher: Harper Perennial 
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
ISBN: 9780062346032
Number of Pages: 320
How I Got It: Requested from author
Format: Kindle and paperback
This book caught my attention last autumn and I was so excited to read it that I skipped over others in my TBR. Totally not like me at all but I loved every page of this novel. A female scientist returns to the States from Nigeria and faces the impending loss of her sister. She believes herself to be one woman in Nigeria but quickly digresses to her previous self when returning to her family. I related with this schism of others' expectations and your true self. This novel was beautiful and I would label it as a non-traditional "chick-lit" book with an intelligent main character and diverse cast of characters.

Title: The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows
Author: Marjorie Sandor
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
ISBN: 9781250041715
Number of Pages: 576
How I Got It: from publisher
Format: paperback
This is another book that I felt I would have loved reading at a different time of year.  I think I will revisit it this October when I'm ready for a little "scary" since I don't really read horror but want a little something unsettling.  This collection is massive but perfect for a nightly short story. This will be on my nightstand all of October.