Monday, October 24, 2011

Spooktacular Book Giveaway Hop

I love this time of year. The leaves are turning brilliant colors, the weather is getting cooler, and curling up with a great book is the best way to spend an afternoon. In celebration of fall and Halloween, I am participating in the Spooktacular Book Giveaway Blog Hop sponsored by Kathy at I Am A Reader Not A Writer. There are over 400 blogs participating in this hop and you can see them all here. So get on it right away and enter them all for some fantastic prizes.

Here on my blog I am giving away a $15 gift card and you tell me where you want to spend it. It can be Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, you name it as long as it is for a bookstore. The contest will end at midnight on Halloween night, so enter right away. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere. You must be a follower to enter and then just leave a comment below about telling me the best book you have read so far this year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Dying to Do Letterman

I received a free copy of this ebook on I am participating in a NetGalley Read-a-Thon for the month of October and you can check out more on that here.

About the Book
Steve Mazan's someday was to perform on The Late Show with David Letterman. In his early thirties Steve was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer that spread to his liver. Doctors told him he might have only five years left to live. So Steve did something strange: he started living. In a literal race against time, he decided to chase that childhood dream and turn someday into today—he would perform his act live on The Late Show with David Letterman . . . even if it killed him.
With his confidence in a rut and his healthcare bills mounting, Steve finds himself filing for bankruptcy, receiving rejection after rejection, battling death, and questioning his dream.

About the Author
Steve Mazan. Man? Myth? Legend? Some people say he's none of these. Steve is, however, one of the hottest comedians and speakers in the country and a veteran of the US Navy. Critics have described his act as 'brilliant,' 'goofy,' and 'exceptionally clever.' That reputation has landed him on the most coveted stages and numerous television shows, including The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Steve's journey to try and get on the Letterman show has been made into an award-winning documentary that's been called 'inspiring' and 'side-splittingly funny.' A former writer for Ellen Degeneres, Steve has also appeared on Last Comic Standing, Byron Allen, and The Bob & Tom Show. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Denise, and his dogs, Wrigley and Kuma, and currently travels the country to film festivals where his documentary is racking up critic awards and audience acclaim. For more information on the movie Dying to Do Letterman and about Steve and his latest book, visit and

My review:
I had no idea who Steve Mazan was when I got the opportunity to review this selection. However, I am a huge fan of memoirs and I was anxious to learn about someone new. I was pleasantly surprised by the book as I was afraid it would be more comedy and jokes than it was. I liked that there was a mixture of comedy throughout and that it wasn't over the top. The comedy didn't take away from learning about Mazan as a person and I think that added to his likability and caused me to continue to root for him to get on Letterman. The writing was good, yet at times, it was a little slow moving. I attribute the slow moving areas to certain selections where Mazan goes through a short comedy routine and it just didn't have the same affect on paper as it would to watch it live and the book lost a bit of its lustre for me then. Yet, I am still glad I read the selection.

You can check out info about his documentary below.

Dying to do Letterman - IndieGOGO from Joke and Biagio on Vimeo.

Site for Book Giveaways

I received an email today about a new site that has been started. I went to check it out and joined and thought my readers would be interested. The site is great and simple to use. You simply sign up and select books they have for giveaway that you would like to win. You hook up your twitter account with the Dream site and once the tweet has been sent, you are entered. Go check it out!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Writers Lair Books

In honor of National Book Month, Writer's Lair is having a Pay-What-You-Can book event where you let us know how much you can pay for one of our books and we send you the book for that price! I think everyone should own a book and I couldn't imagine not having any in my own house or growing up. So, in light of a stressful economy, I thought I'd help keep books alive by offering this cool option. The holiday season is also coming up and it would be nice to get some book lovers a gift they'll enjoy. I'd love for you all to also pass it along if you can. Here's the link:

I Heart Taylor Swift!

I like country music but I have never really been a fan of Taylor Swift. I know, I know, I am going to get all kinds of hate mail telling me I must love her music. I do agree that she has talent and I am aware that she is writing most of her songs and I she has made great accomplishments at such a young age. However, I am still not really a fan of her music. I now have a greater respect for her and am starting to love her for the good she is doing in the literary world. I hope you will all go and read the story located through the link below and love her too.

Guest Post: Jodi Thomas

THE COMFORTS OF HOME will be hitting the stands on Nov. 1, 2011 and I’m very excited to see my people of Harmony, Texas come alive. In my mind they already are and sometimes I feel like they’re so real that I could pack my bag and go down for a visit any time I liked.With writing it’s always been that way for me. I don’t really feel like I create characters, I feel like I just meet people and get to know them. If I’m lucky they tell me their story. When I meet people who read and love my books I always like to hug them. After all, we have friends in common. In THE COMFORTS OF HOME I wrote about people who probably live all around us but we never take the time to know. One was Ronelle Logan. She’d lived and worked at the post office without anyone noticing her. She solved the funeral home’s crossword puzzles before she handed over the magazines, but no one complained. Tyler Wright, the funeral director, just brought her a huge crossword puzzle book. He was a kind man who tried to help everyone he came across. In the lives of these people now and then, wonder happens, brightening the world around. I love writing and plan to do it as long as stories come. Writing is hard work and I often think the story will never be as bright at it is in my mind. Then I remember that someone asked Mark Twain about his wonderful stories and he said, “You should have seen it in my head.” So, order, or borrow, or download my story, cuddle up in your favorite chair and come along with me on a journey that will make you feel at home in Harmony.
Jodi Thomas

Book Review and Giveaway: The Comforts of Home

In her third Harmony novel, Thomas takes readers back to that Texas town where a number of romances come to a head after a tornado strikes. Funeral director Tyler Wright struggles to profess his love to Maj. Kate Cummings. Aspiring rodeo star Noah MacAllen keeps returning to Harmony and his best friend (and beloved) Reagan Truman. Reagan, whose “uncle” Jeremiah (he’s her foster father) is dying, wrestles with her feelings for Noah and local firefighter Bran-don Biggs. Meanwhile, shy Ronelle Logan meets angry, lonely Martin Winslow, who helps her emerge from her shell. Despite their passion, Claire Matheson has trouble committing to Denver Sims. The tornado leaves each character wondering if loved ones have survived, and this uncertainty forces them to action. Even for readers new to the series, the intricate relationships be-tween these affable men and eccentric women are easy to follow and even easier to love. Thomas skillfully juggles the many subplots, and the relationship between Ro-nelle and Marty, which inspires both to trust again, is especially touching.

About the Author:
Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today best-selling author of 34 novels and 11 short storycollections. In June 2011, WELCOME TO HARMONY won a RITA, the highest award for contemporary fiction. Jodi currently serves as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

My review:
I was glad to get back to people of Texas that I have come to feel are a part of my life, or rather that I am a part of theirs as I read about their world and become enmeshed in it once again. Jodi Thomas has written this third novel in the Harmony series and I have a hard time waiting on eah installment as I want to continue with the characters upon reaching the last pages. Thomas has once again gone above and beyond expectations in this story line and keeps her writing fresh and the reader engaged. You must go out and buy this series!

I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you. The winner will be chosen on October 23.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans

Title: Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans
Author: Amy Cotta
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Rodale Books (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609611071
ISBN-13: 978-1609611071
I received a free ebook copy for my Kindle via I am participating in NetGalley's October Read-a-Thon and you can too-find out all the details at Red House Books.

We all have a pair: those frumpy, roomy, "fat jeans" we reach for when a few (or more than a few) extra pounds have banished our favorite "skinny jeans" to the back of the closet. Well, get ready to toss those fat jeans, because personal trainer and fitness expert Amy Cotta is here to help you tone up, slim down, and stay motivated until you can shimmy back into those sexy skinny jeans for good.

Cotta believes that the key to skinny jeans success is threefold: diet, exercise, and attitude. Her 6-week eating plan trims fast-burning carbohydrates for the first 3 weeks, ignites weight loss, then reintroduces and manages those carbs for the second half of the plan. Her graduated fitness plan offers three styles of cardio and strength-training exercises that get progressively more challenging to keep you from getting bored or hitting a plateau while you sculpt those curves. Both plans are simple to follow in your own home--no gym, fancy equipment, or expensive food deliveries required--and there are calendars, food logs, and meal plans to help you stay upbeat and organized. Plus, photos and stories of real-life results from Cotta’s clients who are back in their skinny jeans and loving it show how easy it is to regain the trim, lithe contours that make you look great and feel a youthful confidence you thought was gone forever.

Packed with dynamic, down-to-earth strategies, Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans will inspire you to take control of your lifestyle and feel younger, sexier, and fitter than ever before.

About the Author
Amy Cotta is an NSCA-certified celebrity trainer, a fitness writer, and the inventor of home exercise equipment. She is a passionate philanthropist who founded Team TRI Pink, a group of women who compete in athletic events to raise money and awareness for cancer research. She was voted one of Nashville’s 25 Most Beautiful People in 2008. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband and six children.

My review:
Once I started reading this book, I quickly realized it wasn't just another weight loss guide book. Amy Cotta is excited and her passionate voice for this program shines through the words on the page. The suggestions for food and exercise are easy to follow and I like that it isn't a complicated program. It is so easy to get discouraged with new ideas because they require so many different steps or specialty food and exercises to work. However, Amy keeps it simple and shares her own personal struggles and how this program was her saving grace for getting back into great shape. I think this book is great for all that are looking for a simple weight loss program, however, those that need the constant encouragement to keep going will definitely get it from Cotta's "go team" writing style.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I am not sure if any of you use BookPerk but I get emails from them offering great book deals. I received one today about a giveaway for the latest James Rollins book. You can click on my link below to join my team and if our team has the most people we all win a copy.

Team Code: 6778G6

Check out the link below to see the book trailer of the book you can win.


I am always interested in what other people are reading and can't get enough suggestions on what I should read next. I came across this link today that shows bookshelves in various offices and I wanted to share it.

What does your bookshelf look like? Or do you keep a stack on the night stand? I would love to see pictures of the place that you stack your books in. In fact, I am looking for the most creative, unusual, fantastic space that you have and I want you to send me a picture of it. I will post all on the blog for the readers to enjoy. The picture that gets the most comments/votes will win a $10 gift card from me so they can buy another book to put on that shelf. You will have until November 15 to send me your pictures. Please send them to my email address laura.leahj@ gmail dot com.


I have many books that I need to get rid of. My house is over flowing in books. I have been contemplating on what to do with these and thought I might offer them to my readers on here. However, shipping can get expensive, since I do have many to get rid of. I was wondering if any of my readers would be interested in getting a book and only paying me for postage? I was thinking of having a postage fee of $3 and that could be sent to me via paypal or regular mail and then I would send out the book you have requested from my list. Would anyone be interested in this? Or if you have other suggestions, please comment below.


Have I mentioned how much I love NetGalley? Well, if you don't know, I am shouting it from the rooftops today. NetGalley is a great site where hundreds of publishers allow readers to review ebooks that have just been published or are set to be published in the near future. The publishers run the gamut from University presses to the large well-known publishing houses. If you haven't signed up for this site to review ebooks, you should go right now and join and select that first book to read.

It is also Read-a-Thon month on NetGalley and I am participating in reading as many selections from the site as possible this month. Won't you join me?

So far I have read Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans by Amy Cotta. Keep watching for my NetGalley posts so you can keep up with what I am reading from there this month. I would love to have comments on the selections you read from there this month. Also, you can join Red House books and share with them your reading and get entered to win prizes.

Book Giveaway: See Mix Drink

Have you tried mixing a Mojito? What about a Rusty Nail? Or a Cosmopolitan? With SEE MIX DRINK by Brian D. Murphy, the first-ever cocktail book to offer instruction through info-graphics, making the drinks you love at home is as easy as, well, See, Mix, Drink.

This unique, illustrated guide graphically demonstrates how to make 100 of today's most popular cocktails. For each drink, color-coded ingredients are displayed in a line drawing of the appropriate glassware, alongside a pie chart that spells out the drink's composition by volume for intuitive mixing. No other cocktail book is this easy or fun. Instantly understandable 1-2-3 steps show exactly how each drink is prepared, and anecdotes, pronunciation guides, and photographs of the finished drinks will turn newbie bartenders into instant mixologists.

Brian D. Murphy’s favorite mixed drink is the Old Fashioned, having been inspired to try it after watching Mad Men. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Nicole and their three pets Kate, MeowMeow, and Maya.You can learn more about Brian on

Watch my blog for an upcoming review of this book.

Would you like to read an excerpt? Click here.

I have two copies of this book to giveaway. The contest is for US and Canadian residents. Please leave a comment below to enter and tell me your favorite drink! Winners will be chosen on October 29.

Book Review and Giveaway: Recipes For Life

My review:
I really enjoyed this book and Linda Evans' take on life and her sharing of her success and trials. I was a pre-teen/early teenager when Dynasty was on television and I remember watching faithfully each week with my mom. I am a huge fan of memoirs and this one satisfied my quest for that in not only hearing Evans' story, but in her sharing of recipes to go along with her life and those she has met throughout her career. I was pleasantly surprised to read her stories and realize she is a gourmet cook, who even won a very famous cooking competition-you will have to read the book to find out details! The book is comprised of short selections that she provides about her life (each with a recipe) and it keeps the reader engaged in short bursts, rather than a long novel. I enjoyed this as it reminded me of snapshots and gives you the feel of being a papparazzi, without the stalking of course. I can't wait to try out all the recipes in the book and will be sure to post what I think of them.

My Memories

Ever since her dazzling breakout performance in television’s “Big Valley,” gorgeous and gracious Golden Globe award-winner Linda Evans has been collecting recipes from world-renowned chefs, celebrities, and friends, including Barbara Stanwyck, John Wayne, Tony Curtis, and others to share with those she loves. After entering the movie world and starring with leading men such as Richard Burton, Steve McQueen, George Peppard, and of course John Forsythe, in the TV megahit “Dynasty,” Linda continued her love affair with cooking.

Now, in RECIPES FOR LIFE: My Memories (Vanguard Press; October 2011; $25.99), written with her stepdaughter Sean Catherine Derek, Linda Evans candidly dishes stories of growing up to live and play among Hollywood’s royalty, showcasing more than 75 photos of her life and career, many from her private collection, and interspersing her insights from her journey toward empowerment and spiritual peace with more than 40 favorite recipes —all linked to a memorable experience from her life. Both her reminiscences and her recipes include tangy, tart and sweet. Magical memories mix with painful ones, and her sugar-topped dessert Peach Heaven is included with dinners like the flavorful, spicy Puerco Picante. Publishers Weekly calls it “entertaining … a madcap fairy tale filled with magical moments, romantic adventures, friendships with the rich and famous, and personal challenges … with applications far beyond Hollywood and the kitchen.”

Linda Evans has dined with kings, queens, and presidents, been invited to the White House, and met Pope Paul, but as a teenager she witnessed her parents turn to alcohol, and mourned her father’s death when she was 15. She enjoyed great loves but there was heartbreak behind her high-profile romances. She recounts meaningful moments of her inner life, too — how she learned to take the pressure of performance and turn it into excitement, reached for and claimed independence, and found a deeply enriching lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest.

In RECIPES FOR LIFE, Linda includes Mom’s Hot Dog Stew, a staple her mom could serve on their limited budget to young Korean War servicemen her cousin would invite over. She also relates:
• The reluctant non-audition that landed her first acting job, a national commercial, and how the “worst reading” that a director ever heard led to her debut appearance on “The Big Valley” as Audra, the daughter of Victoria Barkley, played by Barbara “Missy” Stanwyck, who became a nurturing figure in her life and acting career and inspired the recipe for Missy’s Hobo Fillet;
• Her marriage to actor/filmmaker John Derek, and their evenings with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and John Wayne (she adds Duke’s Crab Dip), plus her long friendships with the three other ex-wives of John Derek — including Cathy Collins, aka Bo Derek, who was 15 when John fell for her and left Linda, and Ursula Andress, who joined Linda at a Playboy mansion costume party, both women dressed as boxers;
• How she ended up behind the camera, shooting dramatic footage of Evel Kneivel’s famous daredevil jump at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas;
• Breakfast with Richard Burton, who offered his guests tumblers of vodka;
• Her friendship with Nobu Matsuhisa, and why the celebrated chef credits Linda with inspiring his recipe for Hollandaise-like “egg sauce,” plus special dinners with Roger and Luisa Moore, David and Dani Janssen, Leslie and Tony Curtis (with their recipe for Lemon SoufflĂ© with Raspberry Sauce), and others;
• A guest spot on “Circus of the Stars” that ended with the teeth of the 200-pound leopard Sheba in her chest, her somewhat less dangerous winning appearance on the British TV reality show, “Hell’s Kitchen,” working under Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White, and flying with the Blue Angels;
• How Rock Hudson protected her by refusing to kiss her deeply on “Dynasty” when he alone on the set knew he had the AIDS virus;
• The drive with her lively friend Bunky that landed her in jail, sharing her home with Bunky and Ursula Andress, whose regular visitor poolside was Sean Connery, and what happened at the White House when wild Bunky met Dom DeLuise, who was dressed like Count Dracula;
• Loving and living in the moment with musician and composer Yanni, and much more.

RECIPES FOR LIFE is a delicious and delightful look into the world of beloved actress and gourmet-caliber cook Linda Evans, memorably serving up the stories behind the so-called scandals, scintillating soirees, scrumptious steaks, salads, soups, and more.

About the Author
Linda Evans is a Golden Globe award-winning actress who has personified beauty and grace on screen and stage, from her role as Audra Barkley on “The Big Valley,” to the glamorous Krystle Carrington on “Dynasty,” winning the “Hell’s Kitchen” competition working under Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White, and starring on Broadway in “Legends.” She has won five People’s Choice Awards for Best Female Performer, was nominated for an Emmy, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Recipes for Life is her second book. Linda lives in the countryside of the Pacific Northwest. For more information, please visit her website,, and follow her on Facebook.

Excerpt From the Book:

The Part That Didn’t Get Away

THE FIRST TIME in my life that I actually wanted a career was after my second divorce. I had invested in some real estate with Stan while we were married. I didn’t want alimony from him, but I did want to buy a small house in Beverly Hills that he owned and I loved. So I put my investment money toward it. There was still a sizable mortgage, and if I couldn’t make the payments, I’d lose the house. That’s exactly the way I wanted things, because I needed that fire under me so I would fight like hell to get my career back on track. I was counting on the adversity to make me strong, not take me down. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was determined to make it on my own.

One of the first opportunities that came up was huge: an interview with Steve McQueen for a film he was starring in and producing, a true story titled Tom Horn. I was very excited, until Steve opened the door and, looking extremely uncomfortable, immediately told me that he was sorry I came, because I was wrong for the part. Not the response I was hoping for. But then he did soften the blow by saying it was because he thought I was too attractive, and he was looking for a more believable frontier woman. But then he said: “Oh well, you’re here, come on in. ”The old adage, just get your foot in the door, is true. I got the part! This film was very important to Steve, and he really took it over, down to the last detail. He selected every piece of fabric—dowdy and drab—for my wardrobe. He even met me at the dentist when they made my gold tooth (to give me the frontier woman look).

On location, a few days before filming, the unthinkable happened: I got laryngitis because I was so terrified—I needed this job and they had already replaced a few of the actors. Steve was very kind. “Linda,” he told me, “I want you to know I totally understand,” was all he said. He didn’t want me to talk to anyone or speak for any reason for a week so I could get back my voice.

Westerns have always been my favorite: I love being outdoors, the animals, the down-to-earth nature of the wranglers, stuntmen, and cowboys. But Tom Horn holds a very special place in my heart, because acting with Steve was one of the greatest experiences in my career. He was so brilliant when he was performing that I’d get lost in his performance and nearly forget my next line.

It was a wonderful time for me, filled with firsts, including the day
Steve called me aside while on location in Tucson, Arizona, plopped a
plate of mashed potatoes in front of me, and said I was getting too thin.
Believe me, I never thought I’d hear that one in Hollywood. Then again, when I think about it, this might just be a Western thing, because years later, when I did The Gambler with Kenny Rogers, he’d have pizza delivered to my room. No wonder I love doing Westerns!

Even better than I imagined.

TOM HORN © 1980 Solar Productions, Inc. The First Artists Production
Company, Ltd. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

L O S E - Y O U R - F I G U R E P O T A T O E S

In memory of dear Steve, here’s one of my favorite high-calorie and delicious potato recipes. This one is always a huge hit. I like to assemble
the cheese and potatoes several hours in advance and cover with plastic
wrap, keeping at room temperature before baking. If you do this, be
sure to leave the cream mixture covered in the fridge and pour over the
potatoes just before baking.

1½ to 1¾ pounds red potatoes, peeled
Unsalted butter, for greasing
3½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1¹∕³ cups heavy cream
1 small garlic clove, minced (about ½ teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¹∕8 teaspoon white pepper

Put the whole, peeled potatoes in a large pot and add just enough
water to cover. Boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
When cool, slice potatoes ¼-inch thick.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter the bottom of a 2-quart (11½ x 8 x 2-inch) baking dish and
layer in half the potato slices. Sprinkle with half the cheddar and half
the Parmesan. Layer on the remaining potatoes and sprinkle with
remaining cheese.
In a bowl, combine the cream, garlic, salt, and pepper.
When ready to bake, pour the cream mixture over the potatoes and
bake 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve warm.

Linda Evans Purchase Link:

Linda Evans official site:

Now for the really good stuff-you can have your very own copy of this book. Please leave a comment below to enter. I have one copy to giveaway and the winner will be chosen on Saturday, October 15.