Review: Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs by Jen Knox
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Memoir
musical chairs

Blurb: Musical Chairs explores one family's history of mental health diagnoses and searches to define the cusp between a '90s working-class childhood and the trouble of adapting to a comfortable life in the suburbs. In order to understand her restlessness, Jennifer reflects on years of strip-dancing, alcoholism, and estrangement. Inspired by the least likely source, the family she left behind, Jennifer struggles towards reconciliation. This story is about identity, class, family ties, and the elusive nature of mental illness.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It brought reality down to earth, and reminded me how blessed and safe and sheltered I am.

Jen’s story is not something that can really be summed up in a quick explanation, it is something that needs to be seen in the whole. Her story was absolutely addicting in a sad, scary, painful way, and it gave me a whole new respect for recovered alcoholics, ex-smokers, and those who have been through other awful situations like Jen has, such as rape, strip dancers, the homeless, and those shuffling from one job to another.

I rate it high for writing and prose (it’s always nice to read a novel by someone who knows how to write!), Jen told her story clearly and well. Obviously as it is a memoir I'm not going to say anything about the plot ;) however the pacing of the book was very good—i didn’t feel any dragging at all, at the same time it wasn’t too fast either. I would have given it five stars but it was a bit depressing at times, and sometimes I had to stop and take a break and read something sappy and lighthearted. (but that’s probably just me.)

The end of the story, where Jen’s life is turned around and she starts really living, is beautiful. I felt proud of her. I grew very connected to the people in her story, to the point that it almost felt that I knew them personally.

this book is not for people who want a light quick read—it’s the opposite. Musical Chairs is not a book to read if you’re trying to lift your spirits, but it’s not extremely depressing either. It makes you think, it makes you grateful, and it gives you hope.

Recommendation: Ages 16+ (for language and some sexual content.)

**Thank you to Jen for providing my review copy**



Happy Reformation day!!!

Reformation day is October 31—Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the wall of the catholic church. the 95 Thesis were things that the Catholic church said were true but that the Bible said wasn’t, and Luther put  them on the door (!!!) sparking the protestant reformation. it is the reason we can go to whatever church we want to today. Thank you Luther!

(btw in case you’re wondering, i have nothing against Halloween. i think it’s fun. but i’m not allowed to celebrate it … still a minor. sigh.)


Review: can God be Trusted?

Can God be trusted—Finding faith in troubled times. by Thomas D. Williams, Lc, ThD.God be trusted 

Blurb: If trust is essential to our relationship with other people, it is even more so with God. Without trust, we cannot take a single step forward in the spiritual life. Where habitual doubt and distrust make our spiritual loves  stagnate, trust is the rich soil in which our spiritual lives flourish.

My Review:
Can God be trusted is an uplifting book that dives into the trust that we can have in Christ Jesus. Williams explains the virtue of trust and how it is something lost in our culture, how people are wary to trust because they don’t want to be let down. He talks about different reasons to trust God, and backs them up with Bible verses. He talks about how trust in God is a gift to us, and about how to handle the betrayed feeling when God “lets you down.” the whole way through the book Williams tells us quotes from many people on their opinions and beliefs about trust.

Recommendation: Anyone interested in the topic. I won’t put an age on this, because it was very easy to understand. the writing was clear and concise (unlike, say, John Bunyan. ever read his work? Geez.) and a child ages 6+ could understand it reasonably well. Not all of it, but some (though it does not feel like an elementary read).


Review: Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Rating: no numbers for this one. you’ll have to decide for yourself

hush hush
I read this book saturday/sunday, and i’ve waited a while to write the review. i wasn’t sure what to say.

obviously, everyone has heard about the Hush, Hush phenomenon. it’s everyone’s new favorite book, it’s everywhere, it’s popular. well people, there’s a reason for that.

this review is going to be different than my others in that I’m breaking my usual format. short and sweet—this will either be your new favorite book, or the dumbest book you’ve ever read in your life. I’m on the favorite side.

I mention the other side because of the twilight phenomenon. people either love it or hate it. same with Harry Potter.

My opinion: I’ll never regret spending $12.00 on this book (I bought it discounted). I’ll read it again and again and i loved it. (but remember that Patch is already taken *coughhesminecough*)

I will say this, though. I’m so excited for the sequel Crescendo. there is no cliff-hanger in this though, rest assured. I just want more of Patch ;)


Review: Japan took the J.A.P. out of me

Japan took the JAP out of me by Lisa Cook

Rating: 4/5



Summary: Lisa and her husband Peter are newlyweds—like, they were married four days ago—and they are moving to Japan. Lisa tells the first year of her life in Japan, and how she goes from a Jewish American Princess (JAP) with fancy cars and money and really good food to a housewife and a teacher who cooks and cleans. Lisa tells a heartwarming story of the first year of a beautiful marriage and hilarious adventures in Japan.

Thoughts: This book was really cute. I really liked it a lot. she used the f-bomb quite a lot, but i was able to overlook that and enjoy the story. Lisa is the kind of girl who at first seems to be the epitome of a princess—perfect body, favorite past time is shopping, cries when she breaks a nail. she seemed a bit shallow at first. but as the story went on and i got to know her, and see how see saw things and come to love the people she loved, i realized what kind of sweet girl she was.

One of my favorite parts of the story was when Lisa was so overwhelmed with teaching English, and her husband was being a typical guy and gave her a really pathetic gift for her 30th birthday. she got really upset and went to a bar with one of her Japanese friends, and they stayed there until about 3:00 am. she got home and Peter freaked out about her, and she just told him that she didn’t want to hear it right now. they didn’t talk for three days. she describes the tension between them, and the forgiveness after it, and you can see their marriage healed and continue to get stronger.

Characters: my favorite character was Peter. he was such a sweet guy willing to do anything for his wife whom he truly loved. It was a very good picture of marriage, too. both Lisa and Peter made sacrifices for each other, ranted about work and stupid things, sat on the balcony and had a beer, and once in a while complained to each other.

Plot: As this book was a memoir, I can’t really critique the plot, but i will say that I liked the way the book was organized—instead of chapters, there were six sections that divided up the book: Laundry, Cooking, Shopping, Cleaning, Transportation, and Intermission.

Recommendation: I sat down and read the whole second half of this book in one sitting. it was a light easy fun read, and a laugh to the last page. (my sister will testify. she was trying to write her book and I'd laugh and she’d yell “Haley be quiet!”) I recommend this book to ages 16+ (only because of the use of language and occasional sex.) and to anyone who needs a good laugh.



Blog Tour—Japan took the JAP out of me


Japan took the JAP out of me by Lisa Fineberg Cook


Blurb from Pocketbooks:  a funny and insightful memoir from debut author Lisa Fineberg Cook that takes readers along on a journey to a new home and a new soul. Just a week after her wedding, Lisa is thrilled about her husband’s job relocation to from Beverly Hills to Nagoya Japan. Lisa, a self proclaimed J.A.P. (Jewish American Princess), cannot wait to start her new and exciting life, filled with glamour, intrigue and, of course, shopping. But Nagoya is a far cry from the big city Lisa imagines. Faced with loneliness and boredom upon moving to Japan, Lisa struggles to find a place for herself. To deal with the culture shock and the turbulence of her new marriage, she decides to get out of the house and gets a job teaching in a girl’s school. What Lisa gains there will change her attitude and help her to understand and appreciate her new home.

I’m going to have to post the review later on in the week because I just got this book a few days ago, and didn’t get a chance to finish it ;) but it’ll be soon.

check out the rest of the tour:

The Life (And Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:

The Neverending Shelf: http://neverendingshelf.blogspot.com

Drey’s Library: http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com/

A Sea of Books: http://aseaofbooks.blogspot.com/

Libby’s Library News: http://www.libslibrary.blogspot.com/

Bookin’ With Bingo: http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/

Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/

That’s A Novel Idea: http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com

Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/

Just Another New Blog: http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/

Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com

My Friend Amy: http://www.myfriendamysblog.com

Chick With Books: http://www.chickwithbooks.blogspot.com/

Book N Around: http://booknaround.blogspot.com/

My Book Views: http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/

So Many Books, So Little Time:

Keep on Booking: http://keeponbooking.blogspot.com

Reading at the Beach: http://ilratb.blogspot.com/

Found Not Lost: http://jmomfinds.amoores.com/

Brizmus Blogs Books: http://brizmusblogsbooks.blogspot.com/

I Read: http://sumanam.wordpress.com/



New Novel Monday

here’s what I got Oct 19-Oct 25:


For Review:
Chocolate—A Love Story by Max Brenner (cookbook!)

The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox (blog tour, keep your eyes open on November 27th!)
magic warble

How to roast a lamb 
 roast a lamb 



Russell falls in love with Lea and ultimately persuades the wary young girl to marry

him. They begin a new life in America and attempt to build a relationship on the

foundation of their original bargain. As Lea learns to love and trust Russell they must try

to form a marriage in the face of strains caused by the demands of his career and both of

their emotional scars.


Jack’s dreams come to life: a kids book about a dog named Jack.

Japan took the J.A.P. out of me: a funny and insightful memoir from debut author Lisa Fineberg Cook that takes readers along on a journey to a new home and a new soul. Just a week after her wedding, Lisa is thrilled about her husband’s job relocation to from Beverly Hills to Nagoya Japan. Lisa, a self proclaimed J.A.P. (Jewish American Princess), cannot wait to start her new and exciting life, filled with glamour, intrigue and, of course, shopping. But Nagoya is a far cry from the big city Lisa imagines. Faced with loneliness and boredom upon moving to Japan, Lisa struggles to find a place for herself. To deal with the culture shock and the turbulence of her new marriage, she decides to get out of the house and gets a job teaching in a girl’s school. What Lisa gains there will change her attitude and help her to understand and appreciate her new home. The tour will be Tuesday, October 27th.

Afterlife (signed :D)

triangle of deception 

Triangle of Deception, a story about the joining of CIA and Mossad forces on the one

hand, and the confrontation of rival terrorist groups on the other, will fascinate and entice

both those familiar with Dan Gordon's acute intelligence and cunning and those new to

his complex missions and riveting escapades.

The Hunt for Atlantis
hunt for atlantis

from Paperbackswap.com:
Touch the Dark
touch the dark

A Great and Terrible Beauty

great terrible

Bought (it was on sale at books-a-million ;D)

Hush Hush (I found it discounted for $12 at sam’s club—I couldn’t resist ;)
hush hush

What did you get?


Review: How to roast a lamb

*How to Roast a Lamb—new Greek classic cooking

by Michael Psilakis

roast a lamb  

Description from Hachette:

A rising star in the food world, Michael Psilakis is co-owner of a growing empire of modern Mediterranean restaurants, and one of the most exciting young chefs in America today. In How to Roast a Lamb, the self-taught chef offers recipes from his restaurants and his home in this, his much-anticipated first cookbook.

Ten chapters provide colorful and heartfelt personal essays that lead into thematically related recipes. Gorgeous color photography accompanies many of the recipes throughout.

Psilakis's cooking utilizes the fresh, naturally healthful ingredients of the Mediterranean augmented by techniques that define New American cuisine. Home cooks who have gravitated toward Italian cookbooks for the simple, user-friendly dishes, satisfying flavors, and comfortable, family-oriented meals, will welcome Psilakis's approach to Greek food, which is similarly healthful, affordable, and satisfying to share any night of the week. 

Click Here to read an excerpt of this book.

Review: this is a beautiful (huge! like, 2 inches thick.) book bursting with incredible pictures that make me crave salad like i never have before and make octopus actually look edible (and appealing), information that I never would have known or thought about about the ingredients, and fantastic (and some… interesting…)recipes. A typical recipe will include a beautiful full page photograph, description of the food, very easy to read and easy to follow instructions, extra ideas and variations, and little notes and tips and pieces of advice.

There are eleven categories: My Father’s Garden, Open Water, Dinner family style, My First Recipes, The hunting trip, a Lamb and a Goat, Psilakis Birthday Dinners, Kefi—A time to dance, Big party cooking, Anthos—the new world, and The Aegean Pantry. the back of the book includes recipes by type of dish and even metric conversions.

Each section is headed off with a two or three page story about Michael’s life and lots of photographs. some of the stories are sweet, like him remembering cooking for his parents for the first time. some are things i can relate to, like the thrill and pride of learning to dance. (though I never learned to dance on an empty glass beer bottle.) and some stories are sad and sweet, like him telling the time he watched his father kill the lamb that was his friend for Easter dinner.

a quick sampling of the recipes, some that sound fantastic:
*Warm Feta with Tomato, Olive and pepper salad
*Whole Spit roasted lamb
*Grilled watermelon and grilled manouri (which sounds discussing but the photograph looks incredible)
*roasted scallops with cauliflower, tart dried cherries, and capers in brown butter sauce
*Steak with bone marrow htippiti
*Dumplings with sausage, dandelion greens, sundried tomato and pine nuts

Now I’m hungry.

Recommendation: anyone who enjoys cooking really good food, gourmet, beautiful photographs of really good food, or just loves cooking in general.


About the Author:
Chef Michael Psilaki
Michael Psilakis, the son of first-generation Greek immigrants, grew up on Long Island, where his first foray into the restaurant world was waiting tables at a T.G.I. Fridays. He now co-owns, with Donatella Arpaia, four restaurants in Manhattan—Anthos, a showcase for his modern take on haute Greek cuisine; Kefi which serves the classic home cooking her grew up on; Mia Dona, an Italian restaurant with Ga Greek accent; and Gus & Gabriel—as well as a new Greek restaurant, Eos, and the Viceroy hotel in Miami. In March 2009, in honor of Greek National Day, Psilakis was the first outside chef invited by the Obamas to cook at the White House. He lives in Long Island with his wife, Anna, and son, Gabriel.


*Thank You to Anna Balasi from Hachette for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Review and Tour—Over the Holidays

Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper
Rating: 2/5

over the holidays 
Summary: Vanessa is experiencing craziness from the holidays like she never has before: her husband’s relatives (who are extremely annoying) are visiting and taking over her holiday while he is out of town until Christmas eve, which means she has to entertain them, her sister is acting like she’s unrelated because she’s so wrapped up in her art (which she’s struggling with) and she’s trying desperately not to have an affair with the hansom playwright she’s working with…

My thoughts: It was really hard for me to see what the point of this book was, but i think it centered around holiday traditions, gifts, really weird relatives, and baking your pies instead of buying them from a store. there was no focus on the meaning of Christmas (Christ. hence, Christmas.) and i felt like the character’s decisions were not made based on what was right and the reason behind why it was right, but only to keep their dignity. the book seemed shallow in that sense. I really have a hard time understanding what these people were celebrating during Christmas—if you’re not celebrating the baby Jesus, what are you eating turkey for anyway?

The Plot: this book was a path through Christmas and New Year celebrations, so it took the four most important characters (Vanessa, her sister Thea, mother in-law Patience, and Patience’s daughter Libby) and told their Christmas stories from each of their perspectives. there were parts of the story that were really surprising—for instance, i didn’t expect what happened with Neil or Cal, and was very anxious to find out what happened.

The Characters: there were so many new characters all thrown at you at once in the beginning of the book, it’s a little tough to keep up with. Vanessa seemed to have her head on reasonably straight, which i liked. Thea though, out of all the characters, was the one who had the best grip on reality (maybe that’s just because she and I are both crazy temperamental artists, though). Patience (who was not patient) seemed trivial and silly and a little ditzy, which was perfect for her. I don’t think i was supposed to particularly like her. at least, i hope that’s the case. (because i didn’t.) Libby seemed melodramatic and had an overrated view of sex. but her love for her cousins made her endearing.

The Writing: there was a lot of swearing in this book. a lot. which really doesn’t bother me that much, because when i’m reading i skip over it and don’t really register it, but it might bother other people. the writing style in general seemed very casual, and some things were over described—i really don’t care if the toilet that she peed into was stainless steel or porcelain, and i don’t really want to know every detail of a woman’s Christmas shopping.

Recommendation and rating: I gave this book a 2 out of five, if you look on my side bar you see that I wrote “you might enjoy it, but you're really not missing anything if you skip it.” I rated it that way because I personally didn’t connect with this book (probably because of my view of Christmas being centered around Christ, not pie.) and would have lived to see tomorrow if I hadn’t read it. however, if you look below, there is a list of other blogs on this tour, and other people may tell you that it was fantastic. I guess this one just wasn’t for me. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light quick fun read, ages 16+

check out the rest of the blog tour:

*Rundpinne: http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com
*Frugal Plus: http://frugalplus.com/
*The Life (And Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:

*Drey’s Library: http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com/
*Wendi’s Book Corner: http://wendisbookcorner.blogspot.com/
*Opinionated? Me? : http://readingwatchingliving.blogspot.com/
*Me, My Book and the Couch:

*Libby’s Library News: http://www.libslibrary.blogspot.com/
*Bookin’ With Bingo: http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/
*Books, Movies, and Chinese Food:
*Psychotic State: http://www.psychoticstate.blogspot.com/
*Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/
*That’s A Novel Idea: http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com
*All About {N}: http://www.bookwormygirl.blogspot.com/
*Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/
*A Sea of Books: http://aseaofbooks.blogspot.com/
*Just Another New Blog: http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/
*Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com
*My Friend Amy: http://www.myfriendamysblog.com
*Cheryl’s Book Nook: http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/
*One Person’s Journey Through A World of Books:

*I Read: http://sumanam.wordpress.com/
*So Many Books, So Little Time:

*Keep on Booking: http://keeponbooking.blogspot.com
*Reading at the Beach: http://ilratb.blogspot.com/
*Found Not Lost: http://jmomfinds.amoores.com/
*Brizmus Blogs Books: http://brizmusblogsbooks.blogspot.com/
*Book Reviews by Buuklvr81: http://www.buuklvr81.blogspot.com/

Thank you to Sarah Reidy  from Pocket Books for providing me with my review copy.


Craft Wednesday—bookmark

Hey, remember that fantastic Jacket we made a few weeks ago? got any left over denim? here’s an awesome project you can do with your scraps.

Denim Bookmark. 

bookmark bookmark2
(Close Up)

1. gather your scraps. you can use scrap fabric too, but it will shred. shredded denim looks awesome, though. to get a raw edge, make a small cut in the fabric and tear the rest. tear the denim to the length and width you want.

2. gather scraps of fabric, ribbon, or silk flowers.

3. Using needle/thread (or hot glue if you’re really anti-sewing) sew the things you gathered onto the bookmark in whatever way you want. fill it up, or make strips, or go crazy.

4. you can sew buttons or beads onto one end (or both ends, if it’s a long bookmark). you don’t want buttons or beads in the middle, because it will be too thick to be a good bookmark.

here’s another picture, but this one I didn’t make.
bookmark one

beautiful. again, not much sewing/craft experience necessary here. Post your picture and the instructions on your blog!


New Novel Monday

I bought/received so many books this week—35 books. I’m only posting pictures of the ones I’m going to review ;)

For Review:

musical chairs boar digger princess the pony 

over the holidays leviathan-by-Scott-Westerfeld

3 children’s books by Margaret Merry (Princess the Pony, The Wise Old Boar, The Lonely Digger) Musical Chairs by Jen Knox, Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (won from Pulse It)

Bought at goodwill/library sale (:D)

A Soldier’s Oath, The Turning (blood ties book one), Wizard’s Daughter, Star Keeper, Heaven Sent, The Warrior, he Sword of Truth, the Constant Princess, Possession, The Reluctant Suitor, a Case for Christ, A Million little pieces, In the Woods, The Historian,  Tuck Everlasting, Compromised, the Beach House, Jack and Jill, Medicus, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, All the pretty horses, the temptation of the Night Jasmine, One Last Look, Paris Underground (own my own copy now, instead of borrowing it!)

Lady Vernon and her Daughter
Strange Angels
*Leviathan (audio book)

phew. when am I going to have time for schoolwork?


*prize from Pulse It

blink, blink, blink—WHAM!

I almost died today.


I almost died. that would mean that you’d never get your reviews on any of those fantastic books, you’d never get any of the promised prizes, and you’d never win a scarf from my winter contest. (which is coming along nicely, i must say. it’s almost done. picture coming soon ;D)

I was riding my bike. for those of you who don’t know, I’m a biker. not a bicyclist, a biker. there’s a difference. (bicyclist—rider who rides a bike. biker—someone who loves the blood, sweat, tears, and more sweat of riding and goes at 25mph for the sheer thrill. I’m a biker.)

it was about 6:30-ish, and I was on the highway. which I’ll admit wasn’t brilliant, but it wasn’t the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, either. (we won’t talk about that.)

in NC (possibly everywhere,) It’s illegal for a biker to be out at night unless they have lights on their bike. I have a fluorescent light that blinks on the front, and a red light that blinks on the back. i look like a blinking police-bike. I'm not invisible. i was even wearing my neon orange DEAD MAN WALKING shirt.

and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a car right next to me tries to turn. i kid you not, i was 1 inch away from getting squished at 20 miles per hour. that would have sucked. (sorry…)

but I'm ok. i turned with the car (and managed to stay out of the ditch and on the road and not die!) and after the initial shock/adrenalin rush was over, i was ok. (my legs were shaking a little bit there.)

sigh. people need to watch out for blinking bikers.

on a lighter note, i got three books in the mail today ;) they are kids books written and illustrated by Margaret Merry. reviews coming soon :)


ever almost gotten killed on the road? post your comments below.


Craft Wednesday—Decoupage Journal

So I’m a crafty person (if you haven’t already figured that out.)
so here’s my craft for Wednesday:

Decoupage journal.

journal front

1. go to www.digiscrapdepot.com and find some cute elements, paper, frames etc. they’re easy to download and free as free gets. they’re for digital scrapbooking.  open up your favorite on a Microsoft publisher page and print some out. you’ll have to resize them ;)

2. find an old journal, a composition notebook works really well.

3. cover the outside of the journal in the scrapbooking pictures. you can use tape or glue, but glue stick and hot glue works best. use pens or markers to decorate and add words if you like. i put pieces of my favorite songs.

4. glue a ribbon on the inside front and back so you can tie it shut.(optional)

5. cover the entire outside in clear packing tape.

journal two

(here’s the whole thing opened up.)

option b—use photographs to cover the notebook, and keep a journal for a year. bury it in a box and leave a map somewhere in your house. who knows who will find it 100 years from now…

ta-da! lovely. use it as a journal, a book-journal, a school notebook, whatever. the best part is, it’s incredibly cheap! all you need to buy is the notebook and the ribbon and the packing tape.

Make your own journal! then post the instructions on your blog with a picture of what you made, and leave it in the comments! or, tell me what you think of this project. do you have any suggestions for what you could use a journal like this for?


P.S. remember that every comment y0u post from now until November 30 counts for the Winter Contest! sign up if you haven’t already!

The Agency—A Spy in the House

Countdown to The Agency! There are almost 6 months ’til the US launch of A SPY IN THE HOUSE. Win a copy now at www.yslee.com.

book-side_agency_spy-in-the-houseyou guys know how much i love spy books by now ;) (as if writing my own spy series isn’t enough to convey that.) so go to www.yslee.com for your chance to win this book !!!



A South Carolina high school freshman has been expelled from school for possession of a butter knife.

A six-year-old tried to eat lunch with his camping utensil, but it had a knife on it so he’s facing reformed school.

A boy gets suspended for breaking the dress code—he wore a plaid shirt to school instead of a “plain” one.

honestly. why do people have to live by the letter of the law and not the spirit? read the articles if you have time—it’s amazingly ridiculous. the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland made more sense than that when he said “Mustard, don’t let’s be silly. Lemon that’s different.”



Contest: Girl On Top


Win a copy of Girl On Top by Nicole Williams!

Girl on top

some praise for Girl On Top:

"Nicole Williams is both frank and funny. She's full of witty advice that's not only relatable­­-but doable-for the girl who's just getting started or the woman, like me, who's on her second time around in the career game.
Here's my advice to you about GIRL ON TOP: Read it. Laugh. Learn."
-Veronica Webb, model

"Only Nicole can make career this much fun. Sassy, relevant and packed with great advice. It's a must-read for any woman looking to get ahead."
-Liz Lange, founder, Liz Lange Maternity

"GIRL ON TOP is a sensational book. In the most delightful and hilarious way, Nicole Williams serves up loads of excellent advice for anyone wanting to get ahead."
-Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, producers, Milk

"Every girl should have this-the little black book for career success!"
-Susan Cohn Rockefeller, author, Green at Work

"GIRL ON TOP is a fabulous read. It's chock full of actionable insights and laugh out loud advice for any woman (of any age) who is serious about getting to the top of her career. I highly recommend it."
-Julie Cottineau, vice president brand, Virgin USA

This book sounds cute, funny, and interesting. I can’t wait to read it

Valerie from Hachette Book Group has given me Five (5) copies to giveaway!  So enter below.

*USA and Canada only
*No PO Boxes (sorry!)
*Contest ends
November 10th

to enter:
leave your e-mail address in the comments below

extra entries:
+1 new follower
+2 old follower
+2 posting on any social networking site (i.e. twitter, facebook, myspace, etc. No limit—post away!) (leave link please)
+2 post on your sidebar
+5 posting on your blog in a separate post (leave link please)
+5 post my button (see right hand side bar) on your blog/website

so comment away!

note—if you enter this contest, you get 5 extra points in my winter contest!


Contest: A Climate for Change

**Contest closed**

Win  A Climate for Change by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley!   climate for change

(Blurb from Hachette:)
Global warming: it's one of the hottest scientific and political issues of today. And yet we've all found ourselves asking . . .

- It's freezing outside--where's global warming now?
- Climate is always changing--how do we know this isn't just a cycle?
- Why should Christians care about global warming when we know the world won't end that way?

For all the talk about climate change, there's still a great deal of debate about what it all means, especially among Christians. A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE offers straightforward answers to these questions, without the spin. This book untangles the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming. Authored by a climate scientist and a pastor, A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE boldly explores the role our Christian faith can play in guiding our opinions on this important global issue.

I’m looking forward to reading this book because I’m studying global warming in school right now. it should be interesting! I’ll post my review as soon as I get the book.

Valerie from Hachette Book Group has given me Five (5) copies to giveaway!  So enter below.

*USA and Canada only
*No PO Boxes (sorry!)
*Contest ends
November 10th

to enter:
leave your e-mail address in the comments below

extra entries:
+1 new follower
+2 old follower
+2 posting on any social networking site (i.e. twitter, facebook, myspace, etc. No limit—post away!) (leave link please)
+2 post on your sidebar
+5 posting on your blog in a separate post (leave link please)
+5 post my button (see right hand side bar) on your blog/website

so comment away!

note—if you enter this contest, you get 5 extra points in my winter contest!


how to make THE COOLEST jacket on earth.

this idea was inspired by a character in my novel But Now I See, a story about a girl who falls in love with a blind boy and is nearly ostracized by her peers. it’s a coming-of-age book, and a light read. It’s complete, so if you’d like to read it you can contact me by e-mail (see my profile) or go to www.butnowisee.webs.com to read an excerpt. The character who wears this jacket is named “Daze.” To find out why she calls herself Daze, you’ll have to read it.  When I wrote this book, I saw this jacket on Daze. and it stuck! so i just had to make Daze’s jacket. here it is.



Have fun and make your own jacket! it takes no sewing ability at all. The total cost to make the project depends on how many old pairs of jeans you have around your house, how much you want to spend at goodwill for old jeans, and how much you’re willing to spend on all purpose thread or colorful embroidery floss.  

1. find a jacket, a button up shirt, or an old sweater that you don’t mind trashing.

2. get a few old pairs of jeans. goodwill is the best place to look, because the denim is worn out, usually stained, and you’ll get all sorts of stuff and it’s cheep. look in the child’s section, too. they make really cute jeans for little kids! jewels, appliqués, etc.

3. cut the jeans up into pieces, some large and some small. save the pockets! they’re cool.

4. using brightly colored thread (go to Walgreens and get one of those 12-packs with different color small spools), stitch the denim pieces onto the soon-to-be jacket (shirt/jacket/sweatshirt) until there is no more original fabric showing. you don’t have to sew it nicely—messy stitches and frayed edges look good here. just make sure you make knots in the thread before you cut it!

5. use paint, fabric markers, beads, pins, buttons, embroidery, appliqué, or trim to decorate.

6. show it off! and take a picture, and *post it (and the instructions) on your blog. if you post it, comment with your link in the comments!

*if you post this on your blog, please post the info about my book, too! thanks.*


Review: Anything but Typical

Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin  anything-but-typical

Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary: Jason is Autistic. Letters define his life, and he thinks in full complete sentences, no contractions, and perfect grammar. Every morning, a word pops into his head. He says it out loud while he brushes his teeth. He has been able to spell any word he has ever seen perfectly since the age of four, but he has no control over his body. When he gets stressed out, his hands start to fly away from his body, and his head begins to buzz, and feels like it’s going to fly away. He can’t keep his body together. He can’t talk to people very well, if at all. He can’t look at people’s faces, and he doesn’t respond to questions. He has no social skills. But, his mind is full of everything in the room—the sound of the air conditioner, the smell of his teacher’s shampoo, the light in the room, the echo of slamming doors… Jason has permission to come home from school when he needs too if he can’t handle it. Jason’s outlet is writing. He writes stories online at storyboard. He meets a girl named PhoenixBird online, and she loves his stories. They become friends. That’s a huge thing for Jason—they start talking about things like school drama and pets instead of grades and story ideas. She tells him that her name is Rebecca. They’re real friends now. But then Jason finds out that he has to meet his friend at the storyboard convention, and he’s afraid Rebecca won’t like him anymore because she will think he’s weird, just like everyone else who has met him. It’s the end of his world. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy looses girl. Isn’t that the way all the stories go?

My Thoughts: My brother is Autistic. Or rather, he has Aspergers syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum. I thought I understood autistic kids pretty well. I was wrong.

From the first page I could hear Jason’s voice, the way he spoke, the way he thought. It was all very clear—and fascinating. I can’t really say much about this book, simply because it’s something you have to read for yourself and understand. You have to get inside Jason’s head and listen to what he has to say, and learn from him. He’s a brilliant person, and personally I think he understands some things better than most “normal” people.

The Characters: the characters were the most important aspect of this book. I could feel Jason’s confusion over little things that set him off and his stress about meeting his would-be girlfriend, and his wandering mind that went from one thought to another. Most people wouldn’t connect thoughts the way Jason did. But while I was inside his head, I understood that connection a little better. All the characters were very well developed and strong, too. Mother had her quirks and was technology-illiterate. Dad was quiet but wanted everyone to be happy. Little brother worshiped the ground Jason walked on and had his own little compulsions. Jason was my favorite character, though.

The Plot: the plot didn’t really matter in this book. Although it was very well thought out and executed, the point of this book was Jason and his mind, not what happened. With that in mind—the plot was very plausible, realistic, and easy to follow. There was a little bit of jumping around, from past tense to present, telling a story from his earlier experiences, but not much. Jason’s life is very interesting, because every day things mean different things to him than they do to us. Every little thing that we experience is special or different or scary or exhilarating for Jason.

Writing: This book is written in first person, so I was able to get inside Jason’s head from the very first sentence: “Most people like to talk in their own language.” The words were beautiful, and I was wrapped up in the immediately. I loved it.

Recommendation: I would want everyone to read this book—everyone. If you can read, you should read it. If your kid can’t read, read it out loud to them. If your grandma is blind, buy the audio book. It’s fantastic, enjoyable, and perfect for any age group.

This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read in a long time. I’m going to make my mom read it, and all my friends read it, because it was so fantastic. Maybe now I can understand my autistic brother just a little bit more.



Review: I can’t keep my own secrets

I Can't Keep My Own Secrets

I can’t keep my own secrets

(by teens like you!)
Rating: 5/5

My thoughts: I won this book from The Shady Glade, and I didn’t know if I wanted to review it or not.

I started it. I couldn’t stop.

It’s a collection of six-word memoirs by teens all over the place, and it’s fabulous. Some were inspiring, some were depressing. i sat on my bed and whispered them aloud to myself for thirty minutes. (it’s a short book.) it was enthralling.

Here are some of my favorites:

“Music and God are my constants”
~Aubrey H

“Rather be alone in my room”
~Anais V.

“found the “one” scared he’ll run”
~Ashleigh B

“I never got my Hogwarts letter”
~Deanna H

“Autistic Brothers give the best hugs”
~ Kristen C (note from Haleyknitz—this is so true!)

“He said I wasn’t worth it”
~Diana H.

“Called me stupid, I’m only dyslexic”
~Noel B

“Asperger’s does not define my life”
~Mary Ellen M

“A boy wizard saved my live”
~Rebecca G.

“hair’s pink to p*** you off”
~Stephanie N.

“The exits were entrances in disguise”
~Shannon B.

“almost graduated and I’m scared s**tless”
~Chelsea U. (note from Haleyknitz—same here, girl...)

“Views on life, love, universe: TBA”
~ Charlotte T

“I’m seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant”
~Delaney P

“Always the friend, never the girl”
~Kristy D

“Found God in a bucket of paint”
~Alex W

“Virgin is not a dirty word”
~Erin C

“My life story: to be continued.”
~Cassie H

“ “help us fill these two pages.” If you’re between the ages of 13 and 19, send your six-word memoir to smithteens@smithmag.net and you could be featured in the final version of this book.”


So with that in mind…
I love this book too much to give it away—sorry! But: send your six-word memoir (if you’re the age) to the e-mail address above, and/or write your own six-word memoir/life story and leave your first name and last initial in an anonymous comment bellow. You can change your identity for this if you would like. you can be any age for this. I want to put them on a post here, so tell me if you don’t want it posted.

if you leave a memoir  —five extra entries in the Winter Contest! also, because i said you can change your identity for this, please go back to the winter contest page and tell me you participated in the “six-word life story” post, and i’ll add your points (even though on that post i said you didn’t have to do that.)

you can comment on the review also, but make sure you sign or leave your e-mail address for that! because you get points for the winter contest for that, too.


Review: Gateway to Dreamworld


9781608605330-Perfect.indd Gateway to Dreamworld
by Brenda Estacio
Rating: 3.5

My Summary: Jean and Brad have a wonderful life with wonderful kids. But through several awful things that happen to them, like the car accident that put Pete in a wheelchair for his life and the depression that Brad experienced from it, the family has slipped apart. Jason, the oldest son, goes up into his hideout in the Lighthouse to try to escape the stress of his family falling apart. While up there, a stroke of lightning hits the lighthouse and creates a magical Gateway from the real world to Dreamworld, a place that only the pure of heart can access in their dreams. Jason has to decide whether or not he wants to stay in Dreamworld for the rest of his life, where everything is perfect and nobody gets sick or dies, or whether he wants to stay in the real world with his family. When Jason finds out that his mom is pregnant and ill, he is sure she is going to die. Then Jason finds out that he can save his mom and heal his brother by taking his family to Dreamworld—but he has to do it before the Gateway closes up forever…

My thoughts: Gateway to Dreamworld is an interesting yet odd read. It’s fast paced, covering a whole beginning of a relationship, two births, a death and a few other major events in the first few chapters and moving through important story lines very quickly—almost too quickly. I wished the author had slowed down and taken more time developing the story line in the first 100 pages, rather than just telling it all so fast—the first ten chapters or so felt rushed, as if she was in a hurry to get it over with and explain it so she could move on to what she wanted to write about. The pdf that I read from was 358 pages, and it got really interesting on chapter 13, page 118. That being said, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the first 100 pages, they were very interesting and showed the life of a realistic family.

The only thing about this book that I didn’t like was that it had what I call “happy-land” syndrome—everything is working out perfectly, or is resolved too quickly. The father slipped into depression, and it was totally expected and realistic, however he was jerked out of it too fast (Maybe only people who have experienced depression can testify, but it doesn’t go away that quickly—it takes months of talking, treatment, and sometimes medication, not one talk with a pastor and a few tears.). When the grandma died, the character’s reactions were realistic—but family members “got over it” so fast that it left me frowning. This was all in the earliest part of the book, again I felt that the author just wanted to be done with the explaining part so she could move onto the interesting part.

Plot: this was a science fiction book, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read a sci fi. I loved getting lost in the idea of Dreamworld and The Gateway and the fear of the Unknown was horrific. During one of the crucial moments at the end of the book I could feel my blood speed up as I read it. The end of this book was a bit of a shock, not at all what I expected. I’m not sure if I was disappointed or satisfied, but it was certainly intriguing.

Characters: I personally didn’t connect with the characters very well because they were two adults and two young children, however my favorite character would have to be Pete, the little brother who gets paralyzed. He’s such a brave kid, trusting of his brother, and loving to his parents.

The Writing: The writing seemed very formal—I don’t think there was a single contraction in the whole book, and the character’s lines were detailed, specific, honest, and humble— they almost felt like robots the way they were never greedy, never mean. The word that came to mind as I read it was “quaint,” because it was told from third person omniscient perspective, and there wasn’t a lot of dialogue.

Recommendation: I think ages 9-14 would enjoy this book a lot more than I did (not to say I didn’t) because of the young characters and the science fiction aspect. However, there were a few scenes of husband and wife relationship that were not detailed, but were not suitable for an eleven or twelve-year-old either. It’s hard to place a specific age on this book, but I will say that anyone who read and enjoyed Madeleine L'Engle’s Many Waters (A Wrinkle In Time series) will enjoy this book as well.

All in all, I immensely enjoyed this book and found myself needing to finish it, I couldn’t stop in the middle. It was highly addicting and exciting, and I look forward to more from this author.

Thank You to Brenda Estacio for the e-book to review! to purchase a copy of this book, click here.



Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.