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Tell the Truth. Make It Matter.: A Memoir Writing Workbook by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 210 pgs.
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Tell the Truth. Make It Matter.: A Memoir Writing Workbook by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit, is the perfect workbook for budding memoirists because it provides not only writing exercises but enough room to write inspirations down.  Users can even staple additional pages in the book if they need more room.

What I love about the workbook, other than that it is written by Beth Kephart, is that the illustrations could jog the brain into writing and the exercises vary from writing about a first memory to writing a poem about an event.  Born from her Juncture workshops, Kephart uses those experiences to offer writers exercises that will leave them inspired to tackle that memoir or other writing project they’ve been thinking about.  For example, in the writing about your first lie exercise, there are tips about finding the bigger story in the lie, as well as suggestions to think about the details to make them alluring and to think about who you were before the lie was told and who you were after it was told.

The workbook is broken down in to finding your voice, finding the true you, hunting for memory, navigating your world, using photographs to job memory or inspire, and many other topics.  I love how the exercises help you tease out details for your writing, and by the end of the workbook, you should be prepared to tackle that memoir or other work you’re looking to finish.  Always remember that the truth matters and that your memoir is not just about you!  Very sage advice.

If you’re looking for a workbook full of exercises to get you thinking outside the box, Tell the Truth. Make It Matter.: A Memoir Writing Workbook by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit, is the one, especially if you’re writing a memoir.  Using your imagination, you could also adapt the exercises to suit your fiction writing needs or just get writing in general, if you’re a little rusty.  Kephart has done it again.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Beth Kephart is the author of twenty-two books, publishing memoir, young adult literature, a corporate fairytale, an autobiography of a river, and an essay/photography collection.

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir (Gotham), based in part on Kephart’s teaching at Penn (where she won the 2015 Beltran Teaching Award), won the 2013 Books for a Better Life Award (Motivational Category), was featured as a top writing book by O Magazine, and was named a Best Writing Book by Poets and Writers. Small Damages (Philomel) was named a 2013 Carolyn W. Field Honor Book and a best book of the year by many publications. Going Over (Chronicle) was the 2014 Parents’ Choice, Gold Medal Winner/Historical Fiction and a Booklist Editor’s Choice. One Thing Stolen (Chronicle) was a 2015 Parents’ Choice Gold Medal winner. Kephart’s 2014 Shebooks e-memoir is Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss One Wing at a Time. Her 2013 middle grade historical novel, Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent (Temple University Press), was named a top book of the year by Kirkus.

Kephart is a National Book Award nominee and a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize. She writes a monthly column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is a frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune, has given keynote addresses on the state of literature and teaching, and served as a judge for the National Book Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts, and PEN. 

Kephart was one of 50 Philadelphia writers chosen for the year-long Philadelphia’s Literary Legacy, exhibited at the Philadelphia International Airport. Excerpts from her Love: A Philadelphia Affair were the subject of a six-month Airport exhibit. She is a Radnor High Hall of Fame.

Kephart’s most recent book—This Is the Story of You—was published by Chronicle and is a Junior Library Guild and Scholastic Book Club selection, on the 2017 TAYSHAS list, a VOYA Perfect Ten, and a Top Ten New Jersey Book.

Kephart will release two middle grade books with Caitlyn Dlouhy of Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. She is the co-founder of Juncture Workshops, offering memoir workshops and resources to writers across the country.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 528 pgs.
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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, available at HarperCollins, is a stunning and intricate look at the network of female spies during WWI (and later, in WWII) and how integral they were to many of the triumphs and near misses that occurred to bring down the Kaiser (and later, Hitler). Eve is just one of those spies, but the intersection of her story and that of Charlie St. Clair happens just after WWII as a pregnant young woman comes to England in search of the one woman who might know what happened to her cousin Rose. Both women carry extreme guilt for those they were unable to save and both have been broken by those failures.

“It was why she’d been hired, her pure French and her pure English. Native of both countries, at home in neither.” (pg. 25 ARC)

In a world in which men were called to war by posters seeking identical soldiers who would follow orders without question, Eve’s call to arms came in an unexpected way as she typed letters in other languages in an office. Her unassuming stature and her stutter rendered her nearly invisible and an outcast at once, and this is exactly what Captain Cameron sought in recruits. But she would need more than the ability to be invisible, she would need to transform into another person and be able to lie without being detected, even among those who were proud of their lie detecting abilities.

Both Charlie and Eve are women who face the double-standard — groomed to be or expected to want nothing more than to be mothers and wives but having the ability to be much more. Charlie, a walking adding machine, is searching for the cousin she loved like a sister who disappeared during WWII, and she bails on her mother’s hope for a brighter marriage. Eve is reluctant to join the search until a name from her past creeps up and her unfinished business rears its ugly head. Quinn has researched the network of spies well, but what she also has done is delved deep into the hearts of these patriotic women to uncover their desires, their fears, and their uncertainty in the face of the unknown.

Eve is real, a woman who should have lived during WWI and gained the respect of military men for her unwavering bravery, and Charlie is more than that wayward boarding school girl acting out. These women have experienced great loss and are forever changed by it. But together they realize that a future can still be had for the both of them, if they can only survive the past. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is a sure winner and a “best book of 2017.” It’s a book you won’t want to put down but sad to see end because you don’t want to leave these heroines behind.

RATING: Cinquain

I was happy to participate in a TLC Book Tours online Junket with Kate Quinn. Please check out the video below:

Blogger Junket Video:

Photo by Kate Furek

About the Author:

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

New Authors Challenge 2017

WWII Reading Challenge 2017

Mister Darcy’s Secret by Barbara Silkstone

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 181 pgs.
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These could be read as standalone novellas, as I even read these out of order. I do think it might be a richer read in order.

Mister Darcy’s Secret by Barbara Silkstone is the third novella in the comedic mystery series in which Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet in the modern world where Darcy is a man of mystery and Lizzie is a dog psychologist. The novella opens with Lizzie taking Darcy and his sister, Georgiana, to their Christmas gift — a hot air balloon ride — but things don’t go exactly as planned for either Lizzie who hates heights or Darcy who is struggling to win her affections. This is not your usual angst filled relationship, as Silkstone peppers her novella with comedic missteps and downright hilarity.

“I could feel the tension mount as I became a bug drawn to a Venus flytrap.”

Lizzie is still helping Darcy with his dogs, but she’s looking to expand her business to new clients. Luck would have it that there is a new client waiting for her in Darcy’s own building. As the mystery about the surrounding area and a development project continue to press in on them, Darcy has to reveal a secret that put his sister and the woman he loves in danger. Will Lizzie accept his truth and be by his side? Is she ready for the danger the lies ahead, or will she merely stumble into more trouble than she’s ready for?

This modern Lizzie and Darcy are a bit goofy, but Mister Darcy’s Secret by Barbara Silkstone is a fun read.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:
Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series that includes: Wendy and the Lost Boys, London Broil, Cairo Caper, Miami Mummies, Vulgarian Vamp, Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set. Her Criminally Funny Fables Romantic Suspense series includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters; Wendy and the Lost Boys.

Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 90 pgs.
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Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone, book two in the comedic mystery series, has Dr. Elizabeth Bennet, who wants to be the dog psychologist to Buckingham Palace’s corgis, spending Christmas eve with her employer, Mister Darcy at his penthouse.  First she and her sisters want to get a little shopping done, but they stumble across a young girl and her dog near an alley.  It’s blistering cold outside, and they don’t want to return her to a home where verbal and physical abuse seems to be occurring at the very moment they try to return her.

Silkstone draws heavily on the Annie motif for her own Christmas story, but there are enough plausible differences to make this story a worthwhile read.  Lizzie is still unsure about her feelings for the mysterious Mr. Darcy, but it is clear that he’s fond of her.  Meanwhile, Caroline comes on the scene and she’s seeing red — she’s made it her mission to attract Darcy and she’s none too pleased to see he has eyes for Dr. Bennet.

“The pajamas were filed in an alcove on the rear wall.  A six-foot framed mirror on a pivoting stand stood to the left.  An organdy and ribbon-decked dressing table in shades of soft pastels commanded the center of the room.”

Through the eyes of Mary we see a bit of Scrooge and other classics, but Silkstone’s Darcy is not afraid of using his connections and wealth to help those who need it, even if it means doing so in front of others.    It’s also clear he dotes on his younger sister — perhaps a little too much.  Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone is a tale about charity, family responsibility, and love at its core.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series that includes: Wendy and the Lost Boys, London Broil, Cairo Caper, Miami Mummies, Vulgarian Vamp, Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set. Her Criminally Funny Fables Romantic Suspense series includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters; Wendy and the Lost Boys; Zo White and the Seven Morphs.

Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 179 pgs.
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Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone is a modern take on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship.  Lizzie is a dog psychologist starting her own business, while Mr. Darcy is a man of mystery.  After helping her sister Jane out of a jam at a dog show, Mr. Darcy ends up as her client with his two adorable Basset hounds Derby and Squire.  The dogs take an instant liking to her and demonstrate their dislike for a certain red-head — Caroline.  Bingley seems to be chauffeuring people around in this one, at least until his eyes land on Jane.  Lizzie begins to see that Jane is smitten, with her nervous ticks and giggling.  She just wants her sister to be happy, even if all she wants is to focus on her career despite the distraction of Mr. Darcy’s chocolate brown eyes and handsome figure.

“With a noticeably deep sigh, he regained his broom-up-the-butt composure and hooded his eyes.”

Lizzie is hired to help Mr. Darcy ready his dogs for a faux fox hunt in which dogs chase the scent of a fox but are not allowed to kill a live fox under government rules.  She’s a bit out of her element and has little to no experience with fox hunts or riding horses.  Silkstone’s Darcy is still haughty, but by the end he softens toward Lizzie, even though she wants to remain a steadfast career woman.  Even George Wickham makes an appearance here to stir up trouble for Darcy and the Bennets.

Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone is a fun romp in the fields with two basset hounds and their master, as Darcy strives to uncover the true nature of the fox hunt.  Lizzie is along for the ride and hopeful that this chance with a new client will lead to more business.  Silkstone has modernized the story and left a lot of room for humor.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series that includes: Wendy and the Lost Boys, London Broil, Cairo Caper, Miami Mummies, Vulgarian Vamp, Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set. Her Criminally Funny Fables Romantic Suspense series includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters; Wendy and the Lost Boys.

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors by Leslie Heywood

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 104 pgs.
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Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors by Leslie Heywood explores how trauma can affect those in the same family in the generations that follow the event.  From the death of grandparents in a violent murder-suicide to the abusive relationship between an alcoholic father and his daughter, the poems explore the patterns of behavior that occur through time and repeat from one generation to the next.

“a cry stuck between/Growling and the most bereft sense of loss” (“Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors” pg. 15-16) is the initial sense readers will have with these poems, but what lies beneath is a deep exploration of how emotional response is innate, as Heywood draws parallels between humans and animals.  Heywood’s poems will rip out your heart as you follow the generational grief down the line and the hope that even a cheery paint color could possibly be a shield against the darkness of their patterns.

In “Fire Breathing” near the middle of the collection, we see a narrator who is determined to keep going, getting back up no matter how many times they fall or are pushed down by their alcoholic father or the kids at school.  Is that the light?  Is that the hope? Is that the perseverance that will break the cycle? It seems like a way out, until it doesn’t as the narrator laments, “Because I am not weak,/Because I need to stand up/Run faster than the voices/No one else hears because if I don’t/I’ll fade away behind them,/My body disappearing in the heat.” (pg. 56-7)

Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors by Leslie Heywood cautions that “grief is a second body” (“Parasite”, pg. 72-3) that can take control if you let it, and when dealing with a person consumed by it, treat it like a wild animal.  Stand clear, protect yourself.  But by the final poems in this collection, it is clear that to deal with grief, break the cycle of abuse, and move forward, the affected must learn to pause, breathe in that moment of beauty and hold it close.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Leslie Heywood is Professor of English and Creative Writing at SUNY-Binghamton, where she was a 2009 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities. Interdisciplinary in focus, her areas are creative writing, gender studies, sport studies, science studies, and environmental studies.

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 80 pgs.
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The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali is a collection of poems in which a journey toward enlightenment is not what the narrator expects.  The Far Mosque is a place where enlightenment can be reached.  Many of these poems are not about a journey to a place but a journey within the self.  Ali plays with language in these poems, with many relying on homophones to carry a dual meaning.

From "Night Boat" (pg. 19-20)

Unfurl your hands to say: You will no longer here
The trees are rapt with silence

The burning bird settling in the rocks
Stand ever among the broken vowels:

You will no longer hour

The silent groundswell, the swell of silence.

Silence is a pervading theme throughout as the narrator tries to quiet his own beating heart to enjoy the silent moments of nature in “One Evening,” or when Yogis open their mouths to drink rain, rather than speak in “Rain.” The journey has taken this narrator many places, but many of these trips have done little to achieve peace or calm. The narrator is looking for a way to separate from the known self, to find that inner place (“The River’s Address”) where he can return again when the world or his state of mind requires re-balance.

The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali is a meditation of its own, with poems evoking ties to nature and its quiet beauty, but also its tumultuous moments and chaotic presence. Some of these poems will require greater meditation from the reader.

RATING: Tercet

About the Poet:

Kazim Ali is an American poet, novelist, essayist and professor. His most recent books are The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press, 2009) and Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (Wesleyan University Press, 2009). His honors include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. His poetry and essays have been featured in many literary journals and magazines including The American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Barrow Street, Jubilat, The Iowa Review, West Branch and Massachusetts Review, and in anthologies including The Best American Poetry 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

Footprints in the Forest by Jeannette Katzir

Source: giveaway win from Diary of an Eccentric
ebook, 247 pgs.
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Footprints in the Forest by Jeannette Katzir, which I received from a giveaway and is an advanced reading copy, tells the tale of Chana Pershowski a young girl not yet fifteen who’s family is forced into a ghetto in Poland during WWII. Her brother Isaac loses his new wife and child, and that becomes a catalyst for the life they eventually live among the partisans. Fleeing Poland has to be the hardest decision Chana is forced to make, though she really doesn’t make it. As a young girl, she has little choice but to follow the orders of her mother and follow her brother into the wintry forest.

Her brother vows to protect her, as does his childhood friend Saul, who Chana views as strong. She’s had a crush on him for a long time, but he sees her as a little sister, and nothing in the forest is certain when the Nazis are looking for you. Running under cover of night and breaking camp when the Russian partisans decide to whether or not everyone is present makes life unpredictable at best. Being sent on missions when you don’t know how to shoot or make bombs can be deadly, even when you have protectors around you.

“I worked with gunpowder and straw, and was amazed to find how fearless I felt.  In a strange way, putting together a bomb reminded me of making sugar cookies with Mama.”

Katzir takes the reader on a journey through the forests with Chana the partisan and in the United States after the war with Chana the young woman finding her way in a world she still fears. Paranoia left over from the war threatens to keep her from happiness, and readers will wonder how far her PTSD will hinder her. Along the way, she learns to trust some of the partisans even against her mother’s ingrained advice, and she even learns to love.  But the war is far from done with her, and she needs to prepare herself for the ultimate sacrifice.  Chana is equal parts strong and weak, child-like and mature, and it is her makeup that leaves her at the mercy of others on a few occasions, especially when she makes rash decisions.

Three things bothered me to prevent a 5-star review: one that she wore a red coat in the snow-white forests when more than likely it would have made her a target, the resolution at the end seemed too rushed, and I’m hoping that many of the typos and grammatical and story line errors I saw were corrected in the final book.

Footprints in the Forest by Jeannette Katzir provides readers with a well-rounded look at what life in the forest during WWII looks and felt like for a young girl who hasn’t had time to find herself, let alone dream of how she wants her life to be in the future.  It also doesn’t gloss over partisan life and how women were perceived in those freedom fighting bands.

RATING: Quatrain

 

 

 

 

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth by Jennifer Joy (audio)

Source: Giveaway Win
Audible, 8+ hrs.
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The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth by Jennifer Joy, narrated by Nancy Peterson, is the second of Meryton Mysteries and while you could read it alone, it would be best to read The Honorable Mr. Darcy first.  Darcy and Elizabeth may have successfully helped solve the murder of Lt. Wickham and come to a tenuous understanding in the previous novel.  However, despite their continued miscommunications and misunderstandings, they are again forced to face forces beyond their control.

In the latest mystery, a secret held by the ladies of the town leads to the ultimate tragedy, devastating the Bennet family.  Adding to their pain, Lady Catherine makes an appearance in Meryton, and she has quite a bit to say about Darcy’s duty to her daughter and Miss Bennet’s place.  In a war of words, she makes bodily threats to one of the Bennets, but Darcy cannot merely dismiss his aunt’s concerns given the state of his cousin Anne’s health.

As the magistrate, who has a tumultuous past with Lady Catherine,  investigates, so do Darcy, his brother, and Elizabeth.  Amidst the sadness and fear, however, the Bennet family has something to look forward to, a wedding for one of the youngest Bennets.  Joy has crafted a twisted mystery that will leave readers guessing for the better part of the novel, but she doesn’t skimp on the romance and tension of those uncertain in the feelings of the other.

The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth by Jennifer Joy, narrated by Nancy Peterson, shows Elizabeth at her strongest, even in her most darkest hour.  and it is through this dark time Darcy learns how to support her without taking control.  He grows into more than just an honorable society gentleman; he becomes a man that any lady would want by her side when tragedy strikes.

**I cannot wait for the next book in this mystery series.**

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite characters, she is teaching English, reading, perfecting her doughnut recipe, or going to the park with her family. She currently lives in Ecuador with her husband and 2 beautiful kids. All of them are fluent in Spanglish. Visit her Website.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Source: Public Library
Audio, 3 CDs
Hardcover, 152 pgs.
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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which was our May book club selection, is a no-holds-barred look at the construct of race in America.  Through letters to his 15-year-old son, Coates attempts to demonstrate how his views on race changed over time, from the hard streets of Baltimore where posturing and violence against other blacks was expected to the intellectual and spiritual questioning he experienced at Howard University.

I first listened to the audio as read by Coates, but it became clear to me that I was missing some of what he was saying.  My second read in print was much more in-depth, allowing me the additional time to reflect on what I had read as I went along and re-read certain passages.

This is not a book providing solutions to a son or the world, but it is a call to action.  It’s a plea for everyone to be more mindful of our actions and the societal norms that allow certain people to do even the most mundane things without fear, such as listening to their music loud.  What’s most prominent here is the failure of our education system to help those who need it most and to raise up those heroes in all communities, regardless of the violence they met or didn’t meet head on.  While we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., there is often little talk about the violence endured by those in the civil rights movement and the perpetrators of that violence who were allowed to get away with it.

“America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and the terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization.”

Like Coates discusses, the American myth of exceptionalism does not allow for mistakes, though many were made in the birth of this nation, from the reliance and continued use of slaves to the ravaging of entire Native American populations in the name of progress.  Becoming successful through struggle, however, should not be taken so far as to mean we purposefully make it harder for certain groups to achieve success of any kind and that we have the right to bulldoze others in order to achieve a goal.

While Coates is very negative toward the world (and has a right to be), this book should probably be read in spurts so readers have time to sit with what each letter is and how it plays out on the whole.  Reading it in one sitting without time for reflection can become a heavy endeavor, as any great work that requires empathy can do.  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates explores one man’s individual struggle growing up black in America against the backdrop of an America that continues to bury its dark past and make excuses for the perpetual prioritization of perceived “safety” above justice in which all are held to the same standards.

**My one qualm with the style is that it seems very academic, which may limit its audience and that would be sad because more ‘Dreamers’ need to wake up.**

RATING: Quatrain

What the book club thought:

Most of the book club found the biographical parts of the book the most interesting.  Some suggested that his arguments vacillated from one side to the other over the course of the book, and often got muddled with internal arguments that he seemed to have with himself.  There was a debate about the point of the book and whether it was supposed to be solutions provided by the end.  There didn’t seem to be any solutions presented.  There were debates about whether he focused too much of the text on anger toward the police and whites, while others thought some of the examples may not have been the best ones to prove his points about racism.  Many agreed that the book was eye-opening if not well organized.

About the Author:

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues for TheAtlantic.com and the magazine. He is the author of the 2008 memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. His book Between the World and Me, released in 2015, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Coates received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2015.

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews

Source: Tandem Literary
Hardcover, 224 pgs.
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The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews has the best tagline ever: “easy, breezy recipes with a southern accent.”  This cookbook includes all of Andrews charm and humor with some fantastic recipes that can make you feel like you live at the beach. Whether looking for some fruit-flavored drinks for an evening of conversation and board games or looking to make a dessert that will have the neighbors talking, Andrews has the right recipe for your summer gatherings and beyond.

For book club weekend, I made pig candy, which due to some work in the kitchen at the same time ended up being burnt!  The parts that weren’t, however, were delicious!  You knew they would be — bacon and brown sugar — and that kick of cayenne pepper.  Perfect little treat.

My drink of choice was the Prosecco Sippers with strawberries (I love strawberries), which was delicious.  Think summery, slightly sweet and bubbly white wine with ice.  Delicious for the summer months.  It was super easy to make and delicious.  I also made marinated shrimp, which can be served cold with greens or as an appetizer with toothpicks.  I served it in a dish from which everyone could sample some and it seemed to be a big hit with everyone who tried it.  I even enjoyed it and I don’t like shrimp much.

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews has a wonderful collection of recipes for every occasion and has stories to accompany her recipes.  I love that she included family photos and more with these easy to follow recipes.  This is definitely a cookbook that I will use again; there are some yummy desserts I can’t wait to try.  Perfect way to kick off Memorial Day weekend.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Mary Kay Andrews graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1976.  She worked as a reporter at a number of papers, and spent 11 years as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before leaving to write fiction full-time in 1991.  She published ten mystery novels under her own name between 1992 and 2000, and since 2002, she has authored a number of best-selling books as Mary Kay Andrews.

Ageless Bride: Famous Designers Dress, Inspire & Celebrate Brides Over 50! by Gigi Schilling

Source: Jeryl Brunner
Paperback, 123 pgs.
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Ageless Bride: Famous Designers Dress, Inspire & Celebrate Brides Over 50! by Gigi Schilling offers an inside look at designer’s creative process in creating timeless dresses for brides over age 50.  Gigi Schilling says that brides of this age who are marrying for the first time or are embarking on a new marriage often view their wedding as a more sedate affair, but she says that these women should live out their fantasy wedding because it will be a time they will always cherish and remember.  Part of that is the dress, and designers are holding nothing back for these brides, who know who they are and are less insecure.

From Isaac Mizrahi and Zac Posen to Betsey Johnson and Ines di Santo, the dress designs run the gamut of whimsical to sophisticated.  Each has a special take on these ageless brides and how they want their dresses to look and feel.  Schilling does a fantastic job of asking just the right questions of these designers.  It will give brides and others a sense of what an ageless bride is looking for and how she wants to feel on her wedding day.  One thing I noted from the sketches was that the male designers (not all) tend to either leave off the heads in their sketches or use faceless heads, while the female designers’ sketches are more whimsical and detailed in the features of the bride.

Schilling also includes five different wedding ceremony scenarios, including one for the first time bridge who is over age 50.  There are ceremonies for the encore bride, the remarriage, the city hall ceremony, and the elopement as well.  Each of these has a central message, do not deny yourself the wedding of your dreams.  There is no reason to.  The final section of the book discusses the veil and whether ageless brides will use them and why or why not.  From the traditional veil to the veil attached to a fashionable hat, Schilling offers insight into all of them with help from various brides and designers.

Ageless Bride: Famous Designers Dress, Inspire & Celebrate Brides Over 50! by Gigi Schilling is a look at how romance can happen at any age, and for those brides over age 50, it can help you overcome those out-dated traditions for older brides.  A romantic wedding of your dreams awaits.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Gigi Schilling is the Founder of SoAgeless. She aspires to inspire you to Act your Ageless! Gigi is 58 and considers herself ageless. She loves to laugh, wear high heels, and be a curvaceous size 10.

Born in Brazil to European parents, she views herself as nomad living in multiple cultures. Gigi has lived in many places: Miami, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, the Bahamas, Buenos Aires, and Patagonia. Educated in Rio de Janeiro, she received a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Her greatest legacy is her 19-year-old son Alexander.

In 2010, Gigi created a community on Facebook called, Over 50 & Irresistible, based on the paradox she coined, “Too old to live at 50 – yet, too young to die at 50?” In 2016, she decided to do away with the number and SoAgeless was born.

In 2017, Gigi published her first book, Ageless Bride, to inspire the over 50 woman to shed outdated rules and allow herself to enjoy the magic and romance of being a bride. Visit her website.

New Authors Reading Challenge 2017