Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

I blame Stephanie Pellegrin.

She just had to to tweet pics of her Coca-Cola cake. The cake looked so gooey and delish, it got P.J. Hoover and I talking about cake-offs, which led to tweets about blog recipes, which led to tweets about books and recipes which led to THIS:

#DESSERTEDREADS = Cake Recipe + Book Review +

Friday June 22 = EPIC BLOGNESS

Who’s in? Who’s up for a whole day dedication to decadent reads paired with sugary, iced perfection? If you are, join us by blogging a fave cake recipe with a fave book review. Bonus street cred for blogging about a stellar ‘deserted/desserted’ book that’s been out for awhile, but hasn’t quite gotten the love and attention it deserves. Any cake. Any book. Tweet it up at #DESSERTEDREADS before and all day Friday, June 22. Steph, P.J., and I would love to post a link to your luscious post, so keep those tweets and linked comments going.

Help us make this celebration ridiculous fun and SUPER SWEET!

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I’m honored to have author Scott Selby answer a few questions about his fabulous new book, FLAWLESS, which investigates one of the greatest jewel heist in history. For more on the book and its authors,  visit the book’s website

1. Your background as a scholar is impressive. (Scott is a graduate of UC Berkeley, Harvard Law School, and Sweden’s Land University, where he wrote his master’s thesis on diamonds.)  Can you elaborate on how your studies inspired and/or influenced FLAWLESS?

Thanks.  From law school, I learned about the importance of research. I worked as a research assistant in college as well as law school so that helped tremendously.  I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to such great schools.  My masters thesis in particular enabled me to study the diamond industry which was tremendously helpful in writing Flawless.

2. In tackling a book on the heist, what was your plan of action? In your investigation of the facts, which avenues did you pursue first?
The first thing was to write everyone who knew anything at all about the Antwerp Diamond Heist. Next, we tracked down each additional source of information that we could be it a document, court case, blue print, or person.

3. What aspect of the project do you find most irresistible or intriguing?
I loved the mysteries at the heart of the story. My co-author Greg Campbell and I had to work hard to dig up as much as we could to try to solve such mysteries and in the process we ended up finding out that things that originally looked straight forward were anything but.  For example, the more we found out about the combination dial on the vault door, the more of a mystery it became. The manufacturer and the locksmith who worked with it both explained in detail why it would be virtually impossible to film the combination being entered.  Before we did this research, we had believed like many others that it could have just been recorded surreptitiously.

4. The book does an excellent job of putting the reader in Leonardo Notarbartolo’s point of view. How were you able to grapple with such a difficult task, considering his reluctance to discuss the unadorned facts of the case?
My co-author Greg was able to meet with him face-to-face in a Belgian prison.  Unfortunately, Mr. Notarbartolo was not willing to discuss specifics without being paid, which we were not willing to do. He was however kind enough to permit one of his closest friends to accompany us during our research in Turin.

5. What tools for non-fiction writing do you find most helpful? Are there any resources you turn to again and again in your own writing?
I think the most important thing is to do your research and then once you have written something, continue to edit it over and over again. Greg and I, along with our editor at Sterling Iris Blasi, revised our book countless times.  The main resource I’d say are my friends who have been kind enough to read my work and give me much needed feedback. The track changes function on MS Word is a lifesaver.

6. Do you have any advice for writers (non-fiction or otherwise)interested in creating a flawless (or perhaps a less flawed) narrative?

Buy a few of the more popular books on how to write a proposal and how to write generally. Think about what you admire in others writing. And keep working on your own projects as long as it takes. If one book doesn’t work out, then start another one and try to learn from what you’ve done before. Good luck!

Literary mashups are taking over the world.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

And now…be still, my heart…the undead hordes have finally(!) smiled upon the GREATEST BAND in the UNIVERSE.

It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

They’ve been going in and out of style, But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile.

So may I introduce to you, the act book you’ve known waited for all these years…

PAUL IS UNDEAD: THE BRITISH ZOMBIE INVASION by Alan Goldsher

Oh. Mylanta. My life can now be complete on June 22, 2010.

Why isn’t there a youtube book trailer for this? For the love of McCartney, somebody get on this one, stat!

Although you can’t nab copy of Paul is Undead for awhile, you can read about the brain munching escapades of John, Paul, George, and 7th Level Ninja Lord Ringo Starr here and here.

Hungry for more? Try my Happiness is a Warm Bundt Cake. When the undead come for your brains, lob a few sweet slices their way as a distraction.

2 sticks butter
3/4 cup chocolate syrup
8 (reg. size) Milky Way Bars, cut up (plus two more for later)
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 12-cup Bundt Pan.

In 4-quart microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, syrup, and nougat bars. Heat 5 to 5 1/2 minutes, whisking once. Whisk until smooth. Add sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract and eggs. Stir in the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.

Pour batter into pan. Bake 1 hour 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen cake from pan; invert onto rack to cool.

Melt some more Milky War bars w/ more milk and more butter. Pour goo over warm cake.

BINGE!

Book Fair Bliss

Posted: September 8, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

It’s Scholastic Book Fair week at my school library. I just came home from our evening parent event.

Yep. I’m tired.

But happy.

Usually, I lead a small skeleton crew on Book Fair night. We assume battle positions, marshalling the stamina to withstand a standing room only assault. “Can we add these to bookmarks to the total?” “Oh, I decided I don’t want that.” “What are these springy things on the end of this pencil?” “Are you sure you don’t have any more copies of Spongebob on Mars?” “I want a refund. We don’t allow books with wizards.” Ugh.

Tonight was different.

I had a slew of dedicated parent and staff volunteers to work the event. Instead of ringing up purchases all night, I actually got to enjoy my book fair. I watched parents reading to their children. I helped with reader’s advisory. I shared cookies with co-workers. I laughed.

It was Book Fair Bliss.

From my relaxed position in the trenches, I also marked the trend in book sales. The books flying off the shelves had much in common.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, and Dude: The Book of Crazy Immature Stuff sold well. The kids couldn’t get enough titles with booger jokes and lunchroom rants.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Mary Downing Hahn’s All the Lovely Bad Ones sold equally well. Adventure with thrills and chills drove kids to the checkout counter. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that Rick visited our school when The Lightning Thief first came out; my students still haven’t forgotten it.)

Our biggest book fair hit? The 39 Clues. This series sold like hotcakes. At IHOP.  If you haven’t read them, catch up with the Cahills quickly. The fifth installment, The Black Circle by Patrick Carman, hit stores this past month. Each new caper enchants with history, mystery, and interactive adventure.

Fun. Thrilling. Interactive. This is fast becoming the new mantra of fresh fiction. All of the bestsellers at the fair either made readers laugh, made them shiver, or made them participate. The 39 Clues series wins the trifecta of 2.0 reader engagement by accomplishing all three.

Here’s  our 10 second “Get a Clue, Buy a Book” promo for the fair. Gee, isn’t that a good looking kid in the video? I wonder who his mother is…


Ah, Book Fair Bliss. Tonight, I enjoyed the transactions at the fair. I didn’t witness the richest ones at the cash register.  Instead, I saw the exchange occur between the smiles of young readers and the words on the page.

Here’s the  recipe for my Bliss Bars. We enjoyed these oo-ey, goo-ey sweets at the fair. They’re yummy and (blissfully) easy to make.

Bliss Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup real butter

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup milk choc. chips

1/2 cup semi-sweet choc. chips

1 cup coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup Heath or Skor toffee bits

Melt the butter, pour into a 9 by 13 pan. Layer the rest of the ingredients in the order above. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy the bliss.

Binge.