The Ultimate Coffee-Table Book

What if you wrote to the Baseball Hall of Fame offering to donate a full set of Mickey Mantle's toenail clippings? Why, they'd be glad to have 'em--even if you are "a Level 4 bed-wetter." Cooperstown is only one of many institutions terrorized in Letters from a Nut, a collection of crazed correspondence by Ted L. Nancy. The name is a pseudonym, perhaps for Jerry Seinfeld, who wrote the introduction. Seinfeld never comes clean, but the yocks sure sound like his material. And the letters have his prints all over them--who else would write the L.A. Lakers posing as a rabid fan who wears pants with a see-through back end, "for medical reasons"? Whoever wrote it, the book's a real lark. Where else can you meet "Pip, the Mighty Squeak," a man who gambles in a giant shrimp costume, or a corn that looks like Shelley Fabares? Only inside the fevered brain of Ted L. Nancy--whether he's Jerry Seinfeld or not.  {from Goodreads}

I was browsing in the humor section of the Public Library yesterday and happened upon this book.  Opened it, read the first letter, and proceeded to {almost} cackle hysterically out loudIn the library.

Needless to say, I checked the book out and spent the afternoon in complete stitches.  It's that funny.

Great book for the coffee table or the {a-hem} "reading" room.

Imagine my excitement when I found out there are 2 additional volumes that have come out:

More Letters from a Nut    and     Extra Nutty! Even More Letters from a Nut

Will definitely be checking into both of them!


A Few Thoughts on Come Back

February 19th 2007 (first published 2006) by Harper Perennial

Paperback, 311 pages

0060859717    (isbn13: 9780060859718)
From Goodreads:
How does an honor student at one of Los Angeles's finest prep schools- a nice girl from a happy, loving home- trade school uniforms and afternoons at the mall for speedballs in the back of a truck in rural Indiana? How does her devoted mother emerge from the shock of finding that her daughter has not only disappeared but had been living a secret life for more than a year?
Mother and daughter tell their parallel stories in mesmerizing first–person accounts. Claire Fontaine's story is a parent's worst nightmare, a cautionary tale chronicling her daughter Mia's drug-fueled manipulation of everyone around her as she sought refuge in the seedy underworld of felons and heroin addicts, the painful childhood secrets that led up to it, and the healing that followed. Her search for Mia was brutal for both mother and daughter, a dizzying series of dead ends, incredible coincidences and, at times, miracles. Ultimately, Mia was forced into harsh-but-loving boot camp schools on two continents while Claire entered a painful but life changing program of her own. Mia's story includes the jarring culture shock of the extreme and controversial behavior modification school she was in for nearly two years, which helped her overcome depression and self-hatred to emerge a powerful young woman with self-esteem and courage.
Come Back is an unforgettable story of love and transformation that will resonate with mothers and daughters everywhere. 
My Thoughts:
An honest look at the devastating effects of sexual abuse, drug addiction, depression and more.  As a reader who has personally been touched {either directly or indirectly} by all of these horrors, it was a memoir that was both difficult and satisfying, heartbreaking and encouraging to read.  As a mother with an 18 year old daughter, it made me unbelievably grateful never to have experienced such things as a parent.
Absolutely not a book for anyone who is ultra sensitive.  I would, however, recommend it to anyone who has ever been touched by abuse, addiction or depression either as a victim or loved one of a victim. Overall an extremely engaging {though not easy} read and a beautiful tribute to the special bond that exists between mothers and daughters.
 My rating: 4 /5 stars


The Lace Reader: Reshelved

Most of the time when reading, I operate under what I like to call The Rule of 50.  In short, this means that approximately 50 pages into a book {give or take, depending on where a chapter ends} I have a pretty good feeling about whether or not I want to continue reading.  If I'm not "feeling" it, I re-shelve it with plans to give it another chance at some point in the future; because I'm fully aware that it's entirely possible I'm setting aside a very good book that deserves at least one more attempt to get into it.  Sometimes a book will pass The Rule of 50 on the second go-round, and I'll realize it didn't work for me the first time because it just didn't mesh with my reading mood at that moment. Some books fail the second attempt, at which point I decide that the book just wasn't my cup of tea.

  I began reading The Lace Reader the other day, and a little more than 50 pages in I could tell that the book wasn't working for me right now.  Could I put my finger on the reason why?  Not really.  Sometimes a story just doesn't grab me, and this was definitely one of those times.

So, for the time being it has been thrown back into the TBR pile.  Eventually, I'll give it another chance and see what happens...

In the meantime, I picked up the other title from my recent impulse buys {ComeBack by Claire and Mia Fontaine} and finished it last night.  No review today, as I've contracted some kind of bug and don't feel like doing much of anything other than curling up in bed with another book until it's time for The Food Network later this evening.  Stay tuned, though... I'll definitely post the review sometime in the next few days.

Enjoy what's left of your weekend!


impulse buys...

One would think I'd have enough sense not to purchase additional reading material when my "To Be Read" list is already quite long.  One might even think that, considering the fact that I still have 2 library books to read as well as a quite healthy stack of purchased books I've yet to tackle, I'd be smart enough to just walk right past the book section in a store without giving it a second glance. Yeah.  One would think that.  But if one did, one would be so wrong.

At least today's impulse shopping only increased the stack by two...

I should really be reading instead of blogging.

Review - City of Thieves

City of Thieves City of Thieves by David Benioff

From Goodreads:

As wise and funny as it is thrilling and original, the story of two young men on an impossible adventure

A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds.

Lev Beniov considers himself "built for deprivation". He's small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter's wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt to find the impossible. A search that takes them through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and the devastated surrounding countryside creates an unlikely bond between this earnest, lust-filled teenager and an endearing lothario with the gifts of a conman. Set within the monumental events of history, City of Thieves is an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

May 15th 2008 by Viking Adult

Hardcover, 258 pages
literary awards
0670018708    (isbn13: 9780670018703)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. I was hooked from the very beginning, and devoured the entire work in two sittings. Author David Benioff takes us on a most peculiar journey with two very likable young men, set against the backdrop of the horrors of WWII and the siege of Leningrad. I found his writing to be beautifully lyrical and his characters well developed and believable. The use of profanity and crude descriptions may well turn many a reader off, but for me {in spite of the fact that I don't necessarily enjoy it} it lent an air of honesty and authenticity to the entire story.

This book took me on my own journey of emotional responses, running the gamut of laughter, horror, fear, suspense, surprise and more. It is definitely not a story for the faint of heart, but then, neither are the experiences of war and growing up.

All in all, one of my favorite reads this year.

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Fall Festival Recipe Exchange

My Friend Amy is hosting her first annual Fall Festival Recipe Exchange!

Since Autumn is the time of year that I enjoy cooking the most, I thought it would be fun to participate.

Besides all the delectable sweets and goodies, soup is one of my favorite things to make and eat all during the chilly months.  I made the following recipe for the first time the other night, and it was so easy and so unbelievably tasty that I thought I'd pass it

Tortellini Soup

3 Tbs. butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 {9 oz.} pkg. dried cheese-filled tortellini
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in 6 quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Cover and cook garlic, celery, carrot and onion in butter for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in broth and water.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Stir in tortellini; cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tortellini are tender.

Stir in parsley and pepper; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Top each serving with freshly grated parmesan.

{makes 10 servings}

To play along, visit here.

Review - Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
May 27th 2003 (first published 1888) by Penguin Classics

Paperback, 592 pages

Tess Durbeyfield, Alec D'Urberville, Angel Clare
United Kingdom
literary awards
Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006/2008 Edition) (1001)
0141439599 (isbn13: 9780141439594)

From the Publisher:

The chance discovery by a young peasant woman that she is a descendant of the noble family of d'Urbervilles is to change the course of her life. Tess Durbeyfield leaves home on the first of her fateful journeys, and meets the ruthless Alec d'Urberville. Thomas Hardy's impassioned story tells of hope and disappointment, rejection and enduring love.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Happiness is but a mere episode in the general drama of pain." ~Thomas Hardy

A fitting quote to sum up the entire existence of Tess Durbeyfield, the beautifully tragic heroine of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Tess reminded me of that sister or friend in your life that you cannot help but love because of her absolute goodness of character, yet at the same time cannot help but become exasperated by due to her constant poor judgment and lack of common sense. She is the embodiment of all that is good and right, but her lack of backbone and ability to think for or stand up for herself is often maddening to the point of distraction. Devotion is an admirable quality in any human being, but at what point does such a trait cross the line to becoming blind obedience? This character trait in Tess had me questioning throughout the entire book whether the pivotal moment of the story...the point at which Tess loses her innocence...was, in fact, a case of rape or just another moment in Tess's life in which she allowed someone to coerce her into her actions.

On the whole, I was captivated by Hardy's beautifully tragic story, despite the fact that I found all 3 of the main characters to be unbelievably exasperating and frustrating to me. The writing was beautiful, and in many ways I found the author's use of purposeful ambiguity in regards to the "main event" to be a masterful move in creating his story. His use of character development gives us many clues as to what could have happened, but in the end we're left to decide for ourselves. Regardless, the culmination of events leads to a heartwrenching conclusion that left this reader pondering the age old themes of Forgiveness, Redemption, Judgment, Pride, Devotion, and more...

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