Archive for August, 2010

August 23rd, 2010

Review~ 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman

by Gwen

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman

An edible history of five immigrant families in one New York tenement

Special note: Do not read this on an empty stomach or when your cupboards are bare.

Looking for a read that deals with food history, cooking, immigration in the 19th and early 20th century, New York tenements, the Potato Famine, and the expansion of unorthodox Judaism? Congratulations, you can find it all with 97 Orchard!

Ziegelman starts with the Glockner family in 1863 and follows the tenents through the Baldizzi family in 1935. It is such a cool way to look at the history, from the viewpoint of one particular address. The building itself was also somewhat unique because it was built by immigrants for immigrants. Most tenements on the East Side were built by wealthy natives for use by people of the lower class. Lucas Glockner built the building and with his family, lived in it for over a decade, renting out the other apartments. Eventually, his son married the daughter of a tenant and moved back in with his family.

I mentioned that the book will make you hungry. Right off the bat there is a recipe for hasenpfeffer, a ragout made from wild rabbit and one for veal stew. Later, while looking in on the Rogarshevsky family, there is a recipe for challah and I have already tried the Baldizzi family’s zucchini frittata and it was fabulous. The stories are mixed in with the evolution of food in the immigrant families.

It is hard to imagine how people could live and thrive in tenement buildings. There was no running water, often no bathrooms, you had to use a privy outside, times were hard and children were many. However, these families did thrive and many left their story to be told through the foods they brought over with them from their homelands.

97 Orchard was easier to read than your run of the mill nonfiction because the pace kept moving and it didn’t get mired in day to day details. There was a lot of information and that kept me interested….and hungry. I may just have to feature a recipe or three in an upcoming post.

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Smithsonian; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)

ISBN-10: 0061288500

ISBN-13: 978-0061288500


August 22nd, 2010

YA Shout Out ~ The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

by Gwen

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Oh, the Young Adult genre, how we turn up our noses at you and your readers. You are too brief, slim on plot, deal with problems that we adults no longer face, tend to focus on sparkly vampires or attractively attired werewolves, or the basically undead and/or freakishly paranormal. You know you have had similar thoughts at one time or another. People feel the hate so much so that they need to write posts defending their reading of the genre.

I am here today to change your mind. Well, to tell you to read The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller and she will change your mind.

NEVER has a book had me so glued to its pages. A bomb could have gone off and I could not have put the darn thing down. Dinner? Let them eat leftovers! Laundry? Tomorrow is another day. Shower? Who needs a stinkin’ shower?

Haven Moore is a 17 year old misfit in a small town in Tennessee. She has visions and the whole town thinks she is possessed by a demon. Let me hear ya say Amen. The thing is, these visions are not of death and destruction. They are visions of another life, another time, a fatal fire, and a love so strong that Haven just has to unravel the mystery before she goes batty. They just don’t talk about things like reincarnation in the backwoods of Tennessee, heck, even the snake handlers are outsiders. If she starts talking about past lives, they are going to lock her up in the looney bin.

Her search for the truth behind the visions leads this small town girl to the bright lights of New York, gray men, true love, murder, and a whole cast of seemingly normal, but no where near normal characters.

Is Ethan, her true love? Her murderer? Is he trying to save her or trying to kill her all over again? Who murdered Constance Whitman and are they trying to kill Haven Moore before she learns the truth?

This is Young Adult on steroids with deep characters, a thrilling and ever changing mystery and poses some interesting questions. Is there such a thing as reincarnation? Does love at first sight really exist?

I will give you a passage that hit me in a way that no other ever book has. I have issues with faith and religion and was surprised to be so touched by a piece of dialogue from a fictional snake handling preacher.

The problems come when it’s time to put our faith in things other than the Lord. There’s no doubt that other people can be tricky. But once again, it’s all about listening to your heart. That don’t mean you should ignore what your head’s telling you. But your heart will do a much better job of helping you figure out who’s good and who ain’t. Who deserves your faith, and who doesn’t. If you judge solely by evidence, you could wind up making some big mistakes.

Love and faith go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. And as we all know, taking that leap of faith ain’t always safe. Sometimes you judge poorly, and you land right on your face. But unless you make the jump, you’ll never know what’s on the other side. You just gotta find the guts to do it.”

I am a big believer in following my heart and jumping, maybe it is time we stop judging and jump into the vast pool that is the Young Adult genre. I know I will and trust me, with writers like Kirsten Miller leading the change, we won’t regret it.

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Hardcover: 416 pages

Publisher: Razorbill (August 10, 2010)

ISBN-10: 1595143084

ISBN-13: 978-1595143082


Have you read a book that knocked your socks off lately?


August 19th, 2010

Review~ Paula Deen’s Savannah Style

by Gwen


I have been in a major decorating slump ever since moving last Spring. We moved from a large house on an acre to one that is about half the size on a 1/4 acre. Just fitting in the house has been a challenge and decorating it? Don’t even go there.

Slowly but surely, I was coming around though and reading Savannah Style put me right over the hump. Luscious, warm, inviting, and homey are the thoughts that came to me while reading this book.

Paula Deen teamed up with her stylist, Brandon Branch for this book and they are such a good fit. The main text is all Paula sharing the stories of her family and the city she loves Savannah. The beautiful pictures are mouthwatering and Brandon Branch adds his own thoughts on how to get the looks in your home if you have a smaller budget or live in another area.

The book is broken down by Seasons and includes a beautiful section on Holidays. Not every house featured is the historic townhouses we all envision when we think Savannah. There are many shots of fishing cabins, sleeping porches, and dock areas.

Brandon’s Style Secrets have made me a huge fan with tips like

Remember, slipcovers are a cheaper way to change the look of furniture than buying new or reupholstering.

Don’t be afraid to use old lawn furniture that is rusty or has chipped paint. Courtyard furniture shouldn’t be mint perfect. A worn look is very good!

Instead of throwing out that old chest of drawers you’ve had since college, add old knobs and paint it an outrageous color. It will add a touch of whimsy to your rooms.

Take a tip from bookstores and display some of your more beautiful books face out, rather than spine out. They become a conversation piece and a focal point of the space that way.

If you know Paula Deen style and love what she cooks up in the kitchen, you will enjoy her down home tales of Savannah. She tells her story while winding the unique history of Savannah’s style in a way that makes you feel like you are sitting down together having coffee or that she is touring you around that beautiful city.

My decorating burnout is completely gone and I am ready to tackle my new cottage with a new attitude thanks to Paula Deen’s Savannah Style. If ya’ll don’t see me for a while, I am off painting!

You can browse Savannah Style at Amazon.


Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for including me in the great book tour! Now if they could just get Paula Deen to cook for me, I would die a happy gal.


August 18th, 2010

Show Your Love of Books ~The Library

by Gwen

Yesterday, I posted my review of Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library and today that got me thinking of the cool library inspired finds I have collected lately.

So, without further ado…..


Be Kind To Books WPA Print, by Roosevelt, $15


Library Card Notebook, by Crab Apple Designs, $6


Librarian Charm Bracelet, by A Likely Story, $31.95

The Librarian Necklace

The Librarian Necklace, by Tilly Bloom, $27

Now you have no excuse not to get your inner Librarian on!


August 17th, 2010

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library

by Gwen

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Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Let me see the hands of all of you that are just dying to know the zany secrets behind your local library? That is what I thought, most of you. I have never met a book about Libraries that I haven’t liked. Well, except for those dour tomes about the Dewey Decimal system or how to get more of your community involved in your reading programs. Those books that I had to read for my Library Tech degree were boring, this one is he-larious.

Don Borchert fell into working at the library on his road to becoming a writer. He needed a job and a friend suggested that civil service was the way to go. How hard could it be? People check out books, People put them away right?

Twelve years later, Borchet tells us that the library isn’t quite what it used to be and certainly isn’t what you thought it is. Between gang bangers storing their drugs in the bathroom vents, random cab drivers dropping off lemon bars, breaking up fighting moms in the parking lot, the lady with 6 last names and late fees to go with every one of them, and more. Seriously, I laughed, coke flew out of my nose at one point and I even shed a tear or three.

Borchet’s style is much like my own. He finds humor in the wacky situations, rules and traditions of the library, like why they make children actually sign for their own card.

“Her children have already signed the forms, which we require, although we know full well that a juvenile can’t enter into a legally binding contract. They can’t go out and buy refrigerators and plasma screen televisions. They can’t cosign for a car. Their signatures mean nothing in a court of law. But we require it because we believe……hell, I’m at a loss to tell you what we believe. I don’t know why we require it. I guess it’s like college hazing rituals. It’s certainly illegal, but that’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s tradition. We’re fiddling on the roof.”

He tells it like it is and at one point left me speechless with his thoughts on Christian fiction.

“Christian Fiction.

It’s getting to be big business, this Christian fiction, but it is mostly second-rate crap with generic plots, innocuous =, pastel cover art, and two-dimensional characters hawking nondenominational, two-dimensional beliefs. It is the next big thing in the library, a genre that was non-existent just 5 years ago. If you are currently unemployed or behind in your rent, you would be advised to start writing Christian fiction, and you should probably start doing it before everyone else does. “

The above is about the only point in the book where he may have gone a bit too far, but don’t let that part scare you. A later chapter where they are realize that a little girl ran to the library rather than call 911 because at the library she felt safe, will melt your heart.

I don’t usually rate books, but if I did, this would really high.

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

· Paperback: 224 pages

· Publisher: Virgin Books (March 9, 2010)

· ISBN-10: 0753515016

· ISBN-13: 978-0753515013

For another Library related read, check out my review of This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson.