Category Archives: books

5 Books for Friday!


I’ve got a bit of a mix for you this week! Here’s what I’ve been reading lately…

Modern Romance
by Aziz Ansari (non-fiction, audiobook) – worth a listen

I do really enjoy listening to comedian authors read their own books on audio. Ansari is no exception. Though this book is more sociological than comedic. He does throw in some fun lines in here and there; but he truly did do the research for this book, along with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenburg. Much of their findings are not surprising, but a few things are… and are good to know if you are single out there! I also think Ansari used this knowledge to create his sitcom Master of None, a series which my husband and I had watched prior to listening this book. I liked both. The book made me feel pretty lucky that I didn’t have to marry someone within a 5-mile radius of where I grew up. 😉


Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers
by Debby Maugans
 (cookbook) – DNF


I was so excited to leaf through this cookbook! I am not much of a baker, if only because I can’t have baked goods in the house without them being the only thing that I eat until it is ALL. GONE. I loved the idea of making just a little bit here or there or for a couple of friends coming over. I mean, how cute are those cakes on the cover?! I liked the tip to use a regular (cleaned) 14.5 ounce vegetable can. After I read the intro and the important bits, I started to thumb through the recipes to discover what I would flag and attempt to bake. I set the book aside for a while. When I returned to it, I found I was no longer interested. The recipes made me feel overwhelmed. In the end, I didn’t finish this book before returning it to the library. I should have just taken one really-good-looking, totally-doable recipe from the book and attempted it. At least I’d either have a great recipe I’d make all the time and perhaps return to the library to check out this book again; or I’d know that baking still really isn’t for me.


by Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand
(fiction) – worth a read


My husband I will be visiting Charleston, South Carolina at the end of the month. I wanted to read a book or two set in the city to get a feel for it. This one definitely does the trick for the historic district! I loved the descriptions and looking up some of the streets and learning the areas. The main character is also a dog walker, so that fun little tidbit tied in with a little bit of romance, suspense and mystery made it an enjoyable read.


The House on Tradd Street
by Karen White
 (fiction) – worth a read

Did you know Charleston is also known for its hauntings? When we’ve told people about this upcoming trip, many recommended a haunted ghost tour! It is on our list of things to do. Before picking up this book about an old house in the historic district, I didn’t realize the main character has the ability to sense and see ghosts. This is not usually my type of book; nor one I would pick up, but I loved that I got another glimpse of Charleston in more ways than one.


The Happiness Diet:
A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood and Lean, Energized Body

by Tyler Graham & Drew Ramsey (non-fiction) – worth a read 


If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you’ll know that I hate the term “diet” because today it’s used as a term for a new fad or for a new fix to lose weight. Saying you are “on a diet” is a little silly because your diet is what you eat, whether you are on one or not.

I picked up this book because I wanted to learn the connections between food and mood. Are there any foods can truly improve how we feel emotionally? The answer is entirely yes. I loved that this book went into the science of why certain foods are good for us and make us feel better. However, most of the explanations are pretty complicated. The only way I’d ever be able to reiterate them is if I took a course on this type of nutrition and had to study it for an exam. Instead, let’s just say a lot of it is what we know: real food is what makes us feel good. But not only that… It’s the processed crap that harms us and makes us feel sluggish and down in the dumps.

I did like learning the importance of eating meat and dairy from pastured, grass-fed animals. I also found that some of the produce that’s best eaten organic surprised me, too. Oranges = yes. A dye is often injected to give the perfect appearance when sold. Onions = no. They’ve a natural resistance to pests. Another thing that was interesting to learn, but makes sense when explained is that regular sugar is no better for us than high fructose corn syrup. There is no nutritional value in either. On the contrary, natural sweeteners like honey, real maple syrup and blackstrap molasses have abundances of vitamins in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

There are so many easy, healthy recipes in this book and very few that I wouldn’t make!


Which of these books would you read?


Friday 5: Some of the better books I’ve read lately…


I’ve had a good round of books as of late! Here you go…

I Let You Go
by Clare Mackintosh 
(fiction) – worth a read


I am guessing that I found this book on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Unputdownable list. On my copy from the library, a quote from The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins indicates that this novel has a “killer twist”.

I was drawn to this book, of course, by the blue cover. {I tend to be!} I can agree with Hawkins that there was a twist to this book; but I don’t think it is where you are expecting. While there is a bit of twist at the end; I think the real twist is in the middle. You will be questioning everything you read in the pages prior! For this reason, I don’t think it can ever be made into a movie. Still, I loved reading about the Welsh coast, which would be a beautiful setting in a film.

Truthfully, I liked this book more than The Girl on the TrainI would classify it as “unputdownable”, too. While it did take me about a week to read it, I read the last 60% of the book in one day.


The High Mountains of Portugal
by Yann Martel
 (fiction, audiobook) – on the fence

This book was on my list for two reasons:

1) I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi years ago and loved it and

2) we are considering a trip to Portugal this fall.

I am not sure why I chose the audiobook version of this novel; but I am thinking I may have enjoyed this a bit more if I read the hard copy. I do remember having a hard time getting into Martel’s Life of Pi, but that by the end it became one of my favorite books! The High Mountains of Portugal also took me a while to get into, but I think part of that may have been because of the reader’s voice.

Funny, though, I thought the reader’s voice was quite perfect for this book – almost too perfect. The Portuguese phrases and place names seemed to be so perfectly pronounced, that I had a hard time picturing them in my head. You know how sometimes when you read a language that you don’t know on paper that you can get the general gist because there may be similar spelling or words to a language you already know? I wanted that.

I found my mind wandering during much of the audiobook, but kept up with most of it. This novel covers three inter-related tales. However, I think the symbolism is so profound (much like Life of Pi), that I just might need the Cliff notes. Much of it was over my head. (And the fact that I wasn’t listening carefully the entire time.)

For the record, this is one of the several books that I’ve been reading as of late that mentions Agatha Christie novels, three of which are in this post! (The other is Behind Closed Doors.) Truth be told, I’ve never read a book by this famed author. Maybe this is a sign I should?!


Food, Health and Happiness:
115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life

by Oprah Winfrey
 (cookbook) – worth a read

I learned of this cookbook from Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen. Because of the recent soup craze in our household, Biz had me when she said “I was thrilled that the first 19 recipes are soup recipes!” Not only that, but Biz and I also have in common the tendency to read cookbooks like novels. Plus, Oprah. So this recommendation was a no-brainer.

This cookbook really does read like a novel! Oprah has always shared her struggles with food; but in this book she dispenses the wisdom she has learned through the years and I love the message – real food with people you love.

There are several recipes in this book that I will realistically never make. But I did pull out a few that I will. {Yes, they are soups!} And one of the great food tips I got from Oprah in this book – using (Sabatino brand) truffle zest and truffle salt! Rob and I have bought truffle oil in the past – a very expensive one we didn’t use very often and ended up throwing out and a cheaper one that had a taste of kerosene on the finish. Salt and zest makes much more sense.

I’ve already had some decadent truffle scrambled eggs in the morning with this little hint of flavor and no added calories. Indulgent!


Rules of Civility
by Amor Towles
 (fiction) – must read

This book was also on MMD’s Unputdownable list. And here is another book that took me a week to read, but the last 60% was in just one day! This book takes place over the course of one year – 1938. I wasn’t sure how into it I was at the beginning, but there are so many messages here. I learned, too, that while I shy away from historical novels sometimes, I do like books set in this era. I wanted a word to describe it, so I looked up a few things and realized the “era” that I enjoy is of a much wider range than I had expected. Apparently, I need to brush up on my history!

  • The Gilded Age (1870-1900) – Mark Twain described the late 19th century as the Guilded Age, or as “glittering on the surface but corrupt underneath.” I thought this described the 1930s, but apparently I was wrong…
  • Midnight in Paris – This film takes place in Paris in the 20s. Parts of this book reminded me of this this movie – all of the artists and such.
  • Prohibition (1920-1933) – All the gin-drinking in this novel had me curious about when Prohibition ended. In fact, I thought it lasted just a few years. But 13 years?! I should have remembered this from all of the St. Paul Gangster Tours I’ve been. (The Volstead Act was signed in St. Paul.)
  • The Great Depression (1929 – 1939) – The protaganist in this story acts and speaks as if The Great Depression is over, without actually saying so. This may be because it 1938 was the tail end and such an economic crisis spanned the globe. (Did some of this crisis have to do with Prohibition, I wonder?!)
  • World War II (1939-1945) – Looking up all of these dates put these things in to perspective for me and gave me a bit of a time line.

I really like that this book was set over the course of one year. There is a whole chapter that takes place on birthday in 1938. Oddly enough, it had me thinking about my maternal grandfather. Truth be told, all of my grandparents would have been alive during this time. However, my grandpa shared my birth month and it got me thinking that he would have been 24 at the time. Was his life similar or extremely different since he didn’t live in Manhattan?

It’s times like these that I wish I would have had the maturity and foresight to ask all of my grandparents about their lives during those times before their passing. Why is it now that I find it more fascinating?

By the end of this book, I realized I had to finally start watching the Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything. Zelda Fitzgerald was one of my favorite “characters” in Midnight in Paris. I wanted to see more of her. I have no idea if either adaptation is a true account of what F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife was like; but I find it entertaining nonetheless.

Last piece of note: This is one of the books I’ve read recently that mentions Agatha Christie novels!


my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry
by Fredrik Backman (fiction) – worth a read 

I adored Backman’s A Man Called Ove; but I listened to the audiobook. This was the first of his books that I read with my eyes. 🙂 This is a moving story about the relationship of an “almost-eight-year-old” and her grandmother. The grandmother tells her granddaughter some glorious fairy tales… that sometimes get blurred with reality.

For instance, you see that dog on the cover of the book? They feed this animal chocolate – and mostly sweets all of the time. While reading, I had to google this book and figure out why in the world they would do such a thing. I was so worried the dog would die! But I came across this interview with the author. I guess he’s been asked this question a lot… {Insert angry emails here!}

We, as readers, were meant to use our imaginations for this part because the animal is supposed to be a wurse. But the book’s description of a wurse did not remind me of a dog at all. That, in conjunction with the misleading photo on the front of the book and the fact that none of the other imaginary parts of the fairy tales ended up in reality made me confused. Wouldn’t you be confused by this passage?

Other than that silliness, I really did enjoy this book. In the end, you’ll understand the reason for the fairy tales and how they take shape (just not as literally as the wurse) in reality. It’s worth the read. {Even if you have to get confused about wurses!} Oh… wait. One more thing. Agatha Christie is mentioned in this book, too. I think this is a sign…


If you’ve read Agatha Christie, which book is your favorite?

Which book would tell someone to read first?


5 for Friday: Books I’ve Read (Mostly Cookbooks!)


Yup, it’s that time of the week… 5 more books I’ve read/listened to lately!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (audio)
by Mark Haddon (fiction) – must listen/read


I don’t know if I ever shared the story of how Rob and I met, but there are two short answers – it was in a bar and because of an autistic boy. Sound strange? Well, you’ll have to ask me about it some time. In any case, this book was wonderfully written from the viewpoint of an autistic boy. I’ve had this book on my to-read list on GoodReads for a while.

One day, I received a link to a blog post in my inbox. I recognized the title, not even knowing what the book was about at that time. When the last line of her post read, ” You can purchase tickets online at the Hennepin Theatre Trust and don’t forget the rush seats available for students and teachers!” I immediately thought of my friend Jen, who not only works in education, but also was one of the people that worked with the autistic boy who brought Rob and I together (in a roundabout way).

She said, “I’d love to go. Aren’t you the one who gave me that book to read?”


“Did you recommend I read it a long time ago?”

“No, I’d only heard about it in the last year or so.”

She was almost certain that it was me. The thing is… This book was published in 2003, the year Rob and I met.

Enough about that little background. In the end, we did go to the play with rush tickets. It was so well-done and I walked out of the theater with tears streaming down my face. It is such a heartfelt story.

I still wanted to read the book, but also found it on a list recommended books to experienced on audio. I now know why… The narrator is absolutely fantastic and I felt totally captivated during my commutes. {I confess that my mind can wander if an audiobook doesn’t have me hooked!} Of course, I knew the ending, but I still found myself crying while driving home as the story was wrapping up. I highly recommend this story – in any form – to anyone.


Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants
by Marissa Guggiana
 (cookbook) – skip


By now, you know that I like to read cookbooks like novels. I loved the premise of the book’s title; but truth be told, after the intro, I ended up just flipping through the recipes. It’s still a great book, but from a recipe standpoint, I personally only felt compelled to make two of the recipes myself: Tuscan Kale Salad and a Cheddar Ale Soup. But I haven’t even done that.


by Ann Patchett
 (fiction) – on the fence


This is my first time reading any of Patchett’s books, other than her short memoir/advice on writing. {I know, where have I been all these years?!} She is now a quite famous author with over a dozen books to her name.

I had a bit of a time getting into this book at the beginning and had trouble keeping some of the cast of characters straight… but then things changed and I became engrossed! The entanglement of lives and stories was intriguing; but I felt there was no real climax. But then again, I’m not sure that one would have been appropriate… Or maybe it was that there was a climax, but it was talked about in the past tense over different points in the book, if that makes any sense. I didn’t really care for the ending because it was so gradual and not really finite. However, I don’t care for book endings in general. It is a rare case when I do!

This is a book in wich I liked in the middle, but not really the beginning or end, although both were necessary. This is also the second book I read this year that included the difficulties of aging. That stuff is always tough for me.


300 Sensational Soups
by Carla Snyder & Meredith Deeds
 (cookbook) – on the fence


We’ve really been into soup lately, but this book overwhelmed me. I started by flagging some of the recipes I wanted to try, but there were too many! I ended up deciding to thumb through the rest and put it on my wishlist over at to obtain my own copy.


5 Ingredients or Less Slow Cooker Cookbook
by Stephanie O’Dea (cookbook) – worth a read 


Yes, I’ve been checking out a lot of cookbooks lately! I’ve followed O’Dea’s Year of Slow Cooking Blog because I’m always looking for easy meals. I love the fact that this book makes it even easier – settling for 5 ingredients or less. What I also loved about this book, as she notes in her introduction, that she refrains from making one of those ingredients a cream-based soup. She says that there are already so many slow cooker recipes with cream-of-X soups online and in vintage cookbooks. For the most part, O’Dea sticks with real food, which is what I like to see!

It’s funny, though, most of the recipes I flagged were for me {read: chicken, black beans, etc.}, not for Rob!


Since I’ve only read one, tell me, what’s your favorite Ann Patchett novel?


Friday 5: Books with Cool Covers & Strange Titles


So it just works out this way… I have a few restos I’m sure my husband would like me to write-up, but I find books so much easier! No worries, I’ll get going back to those soon, hopefully… 😉

Here are 5 recent books I read… Some with cool covers, others with strange titles.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
by Jenny Lawson 
(non-fiction; well, mostly) – worth a read/listen


I think that this book helps shed a bit of the stigma of mental illness. Lawson is hilariously candid about things her life circumstances and experiences dealing with depression and anxiety; but also illustrates her difficulties and is serious about that. She shares her own personal coping mechanisms; but also reiterates that everyone is different and not every strategy will work for everyone nor all the time.

I like her over-the-top stories and sense of humor; but don’t be easily offended! She eloquently compares mental illness to other better-known diseases to create a better understanding and help break the stigma. At first, I found the author’s up-speak to be a bit difficult to listen to on the audiobook; but later realized that there would be no one better to narrate it! These are her words, thoughts and experiences… thus her excitement, candor and compassion shines through in just the right places.

I thought the cover of this book was just cute… but then you find out why it’s the cover of this book!


The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion:
Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions
by Christopher K. Germer
 (non-fiction) – DNF


The author said that “This book will not be a lot of work.” I had to go back and look for the quote, because my memory thought he said, “This will not be hard. In fact, it’ll be easier than what you are doing now.” He did go on to state: “The hard work is actually behind you – fighting and resisting difficult feelings, blaming yourself for them and their causes.”

However, I did find this book to be difficult. Although I’m working on meditation a bit, I find quieting the mind very challenging. I had trouble with some of the exercises and felt overwhelmed… and I definitely wasn’t compassionate with myself about that! In any case, maybe it’s just not the right time for this book for me. This one might be better to purchase and work on little by little, rather than check it out from the library with the hopes of completing it when it’s due.


The Fox From His Lair
by Elizabeth Cadell
 (fiction) – worth a read


Truth be told, I picked up this book because the story is set in Portugal. Rob and I are thinking of spending our international vacation there this year. I did a search for guidebooks on Portugal on my library’s website and this book was one of the results. I hadn’t even realized it was written in the 60s until I picked it up. It even had its old check-out card and pocket still fastened on the inside cover!fox-lairThis book is categorized as “romantic suspense fiction”. I didn’t choose it because of that descriptions and would have never considered it a romance novel until maybe the very end. There is just so much more to this story. I think it transcends time, too! I really enjoyed it, although I’m not sure where the title comes in to play. And although the setting is just background, I still enjoyed reading about a location I may soon visit. I also love the cover of this book!


by Roxane Gay (fiction, short stories) – worth a read


Although I am not a fan of the color pink, I just love this cover! Before I read the book, I read a review that the title was not quite fitting. I would have to agree. In this age of “nasty” women, I expected this book to be about women who may be considered difficult, in the sense that they are challenging the norm and making breakthroughs. I expected to be inspired, not having read anything really what this book was truly about.

Instead, it may be said that this is book is about women in difficult situations. It’s a collection of short stories about women. The writing is absolutely fantastic, though the stories are a bit disheartening and sad. I’d say it’s about women and abuse and twins and sex and baths and motherhood and Michigan. If there weren’t exactly parallels in the stories, there were certain elements that were similar.

I’m curious and looking forward to reading Gay’s other works.



The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
by Ann Patchett
 (non-fiction) – worth a read (especially if you are thinking about writing)


I don’t have a Kindle or any type of e-reader, but I do have the Kindle app downloaded on my phone. I don’t like reading on my phone very much at all, but I having a short or less-involved story available on that app at all times in case I end up in a line or waiting room somewhere and haven’t a book with me!

I thought this was a short story written by Patchett; but instead it’s a bit of a memoir. It’s kind of funny to read this having never read any of her books before. {I’m now reading Commonwealth.} While I don’t exactly understand the butterflies on her cover, the getaway car is in reference to her attempt as a novelist to escape a life of waitressing. It’s full of sensible advice to those aspiring to write; but also gives a look into the life of a novelist.


Do you choose books by their covers or titles?

What book do you think has had the best title or cover?


5 Books I’ve Been Reading


Yeah, one day I’ll get off the books on Fridays. It just seems this is where they fall… Here are the five latest books I’ve finished.

The Couple Next Door 
by Shari Lapena
 (fiction) – toss up


I listened to the audio version of this book. I found the narrator’s voice a bit annoying; but really, it probably worked for the genre. It was entertaining, but not something I’d say is a must read that you need to go and check out immediately. I liked it enough to finish it, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. Maybe reading over listening to this one would have been different for me.


Love Poems
by Nikki Giovanni
 (poetry) – worth a read if you like poetry


As usual, unless it is a personal friend who has recommended a book, I can’t figure out where I got the idea to it. To be honest, I don’t always “get” poetry. Many of these poems seemed very personal to the author, too. So it almost felt like I was the odd one out. But, there were a few I really enjoyed. And sometimes, I imagined them being put to music and that made those seem a bit more enjoyable, too. Because isn’t that what songs are – poems set to music?


by Tina Fey
 (non-fiction) – worth a read/listen


I love listening to comedians’ books on audio; so this was no different! It passed the time nicely on commute, Fey forcing me to laugh out loud more than once. I especially liked her section on photoshopping. She compares it to make-up, that we all want to see the best version of ourselves. And that magazines aren’t fooling anyone, so what’s the harm? The only one fooled is your 80-year-old grandma who thinks that really is Sarah Palin posing with a machine gun in an American flag bikini. Fey also predicts that we’ll one day be touching up all of our own photos of ourselves. This book was published in 2011. Um, yes, you were right, Tina. You were definitely right.


They May Not Mean To, But They Do
by Cathleen Schine
 (fiction) – worth a read


This book is a work of art; but I had a hard time reading it – not because of style of writing or a lack of plot – but because of the content. I didn’t want to pick it up again and endure the lives of the characters. I didn’t want to feel what it’s like to age and or for your kids to mean well, but not really come through the way you might have hoped.

I read this book described somewhere as a “different kind of coming-of-age story”. Coming-of-old-age, that is. Although it is inevitable for us all, I don’t want to think what this will be like when my own parents and in-laws get to those stages, nor do I like thinking about what it will be like for me. Schine features both perspectives here. I was a bit overrun with emotions reading this.


The Dead
by James Joyce
 (fiction) –Hmmm…



I don’t always do well with the classics or what feels like overly-flowery language to me. However, I think watching Downton Abbey helped set me up for something written in such times past. I’ve never read Joyce before and I’ve learned that this is actually the last short story in the book Dubliners. Although it was a fine story illustrating what may have been life during these times in Dublin, I wasn’t sure where it was going… and per the usual, I didn’t really think much of the ending. But an ending I love is quite rare.


Is there a book that was difficult for you to read, but you still enjoyed and appreciated it?


5 for Friday: What I’m *Not* Reading Right Now


One of the ways I got back into my love of reading, was by finally telling myself that I didn’t have to finish a book I wasn’t enjoying. I know that seems obvious, but somehow I just felt like I had to finish everything I picked up. Which meant that I was probably holding on to one book for several months without moving on to anything else. Now, if I open a book that was recommended and find out that it’s not for me, I promptly return it to the library. I have so much more wonderful reading in my queue!

There are several reasons I might abandon a book:

  • It’s not keeping my attention.
  • It’s not my style.
  • The timing is off. (I may pick it up sometime later.)

There are several books I’ve not finished (or even started, once they were in my hands):

Here is a list of the books that I most recently abandoned and why:

Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind
by Dan Charnas
 (non-fiction) – DNF


Oh boy, do I love the concept of this book! In cooking, mise-en-place, French for put in place or, in the cooking world, everything in it’s place, is rule #1. It means to gather all of your ingredients and equipment and get everything ready and prepped before beginning. I think I could figure out how to put this to use in real life. However, just opening this book overwhelmed me! All of the theory behind it and charts in this 300-page book with small print. No, thank you.


Bad Dogs Have More Fun: Selected Writings on Family, Animals, and Life from The Philadelphia Inquirer
by John Grogan
 (non-fiction) – DNF


The title of this book Bad Dogs Have More Fun is misleading, as is the cover. I thought it was a book on dogs written by John Grogan, the author of Marley and Me. However, I missed the little subtitle: Selected Writing on Family Animals, and Life from the Philadelphia Inquirer. These are the reprinting of Grogan’s articles from the publication. Only about 1/3 of them are about dogs. The other articles aren’t connected to “bad dogs” in anyway. Still, some of those stories are still heart-warming. But, in the end, I just abandoned it.


Swell: A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life
by Cynthia Rowley, Ilene Rosenzweig
 (non-fiction) – DNF


Who the hell recommended this for me?! I don’t know why I ordered this from The cover may look from 1955, but it was written in 1999. Still, this book is not for me. I was just turned off by it! Maybe I’ll return to it in the future, but reading how to take a frozen dish and dress it up to make it look like homemade for a dinner party… Those kinds of things just bugged me. It might be a right place, right time sort of thing and maybe I’ll get some other sort of tip out of something later in the book. But for now, blech! I have an extra copy if anyone wants it! 🙂


Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
by Shauna Niequist
 (non-fiction) – DNF


I had this book on my library hold list for a long time. I couldn’t wait to read it. But I got stuck along the way. Yes, I could relate to Niequist’s impossible search for the end of the never-ending to-do list as well as many of her other challenges; although I will always state that it’s much harder as a parent, which I am not. This book is more a memoir than a how-to book. If you are in a place where you are frantic and caught up in the busy-ness of life and want to find a way to slow down, make peace and live life rather than just do it, this book might be fore you. I think I abandoned it about 1/3 of the way through because I understood her point and I’ve been working on it my own way. I’m still looking forward to Niequist’s book Bread and Wine, which another blogger once listed as her favorite book of the year.


Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
by Thug Kitchen
 (cookbook) – DNF


I love this no-nonsense potty-mouth way of getting down to the nitty-gritty. Stop eating crap and start living healthfully. It’s not rocket science. I found this book because I followed a link to the blog one day. I read the book’s entire introduction and loved the concept… up until I realized this was a vegan cookbook. I have no problem with the vegan lifestyle. It’s just not for me. I’m sure I could have found a recipe or two that I’d like. I often take recipes from the paleo cookbooks and I’m not paleo either. But instead, I abandoned the cookbook completely, returning it so I could pick up some guidebooks for my next trip.


Lesson learned… Slow down! When finding recommended books on websites, read the synopses and decide if you really want it on your “to-read” list. You may be able to weed out more duds. However, there will always be those you’ll just abandon because it’s not the right time, you’re not in the right mood or it’s not keeping your attention.

And that’s okay.

What book(s) have you abandoned and why?



A Dog’s Purpose


Yesterday, I received a TMZ-released video in my inbox of a dog being mistreated on the film set of A Dog’s Purpose.


The reason I received it?

I replied “maybe” to a invite to a local animal rescue to see an advanced screening for a fundraiser.

I didn’t want to watch the video; but I did in the end because I wanted to make up my own mind.

I had mixed feelings.

The dog was meant to shoot a scene in rushing water, but done in a pool. The dog was obviously terrified to shoot the scene. (S)he did not want to get into the water. It appeared that the handler was trying to force her in. Yes, I felt bad for the dog. But I guess I felt like the “news” was making this out to be something it was not – that someone was deliberately harming a dog on camera for the sake of the movie. {Like forcing it to sit in a hot car until exhaustion while it whines and whimpers.}

I will not post TMZ’s video, not because of it’s content, but because I don’t want to support TMZ. Obviously, this incident happened some time ago during the shoot of the movie. This is just now being “leaked” just in time for the premier. No way. If you want to see it, you can search for it yourself.

One comment I read about the video:

My dogs fight like this to avoid baths, hair cuts and nail clippings. I have to lay on top of the big one to accomplish most of these feats. The dog was never in any real danger. Sometimes animals dont wanna do things they need to do for their own good. Like children. The dog will be okay and I’m sure the handlers regret their treatment in this instance. But people were on hand to make sure the dog was safe the entire step of the way. He had no way of knowing the dog would panic once in the water like he did.

Later, the local animal rescue posted something else:

UPDATE: AMC is happy to let us play a different movie. Right now we are waiting to see if the film makers have any response. But assuming this is video footage from this movie, we will not be participating. We cannot in good conscience support a movie with this type of treatment of animals.

We understand your dog might not want to get into a bath tub and look similar to this dog, but please keep in mind that these animals are well-trained, want to please their handlers, and are selected because they will do almost anything. So for this dog to be that “disobedient” shows me how absolutely terrified he was.

Both, great points.

I have a friend who fosters from this animal rescue. So I know that this is coming from an animal rescue that split up two dogs when they were adopted when they required the foster parent to keep them to together. People make mistakes, I think the animal rescue did, too…

This couple fostered two dogs that the animal rescue required to remain together. When the couple eventually decided to become “foster failures” and adopt the dogs themselves, the animal rescue did not allow it. They said that they needed to be adopted separately. The foster couple didn’t not understand why this would be if they had to foster them together! They also knew the temperament of these dogs and knew it was a bad idea. When the first dog was adopted, they had to experience the utter anxiety and sadness that the second dog went through after the first dog’s departure.


In any case, I am not saying what was done in the video was okay in any way. I do agree with the commenter I quoted that the handlers and people on set are most likely regretful of this incident. We don’t know the whole story or if the producers have yet commented.


What angers me that this was released just before the movie is to premier.

Why not release it immediately if you are truly worried that any harm is being done on set to prevent anything from happening further?


That is just irresponsible and in my mind says that you as the “news outlet” or the leaker of the video are people that do not care about the well-being of animals, but only of your own shock value and pocketbooks.

I’m also angered because A Dog’s Purpose is one of my favorite books of all time. I feel badly that author W. Bruce Cameron is to be associated with this. I really still hope you do read book as well as the sequel, A Dog’s JourneyIt will be hard to separate it from this movie, but please do. It is well worth it.


In the meantime, I’ll be watching for a statement release from the producers about the well-being of the beautiful dog that went through a terrifying experience.