Monday, October 10, 2022

Review & Giveaway: Crafting Jewish by Rivky Koenig

I'm not sure what I did to get on Mesorah Publications' mailing list, but boy, am I glad I did it! Back in December, I reviewed Kosher By Design Lightens Up! and shortly after that I received a new book from them, Crafting Jewish. It's a lovely book and I have had a great time looking through it. I'm not Jewish and I have to admit that many of the holidays and celebrations in this book are completely unfamiliar to me. I had never heard of a succot, but now I have a great menu if I need to bring something to a potluck Succah Hop. I was similarly unfamiliar with Tu B'Shevat, but if you are planning a party to celebrate this spring holiday, the book includes recipes for linzer flower cookes and directions for making a beautiful decoupaged fruit tray to serve them on. There are lots of projects for kids in this book - a lulav and etrog wall hanging, an "I (heart) Pesach" painted trivet, a beautiful mezuzah covered in stained glass shards, and popsicle stick flowers for Shavuot. The introduction includes special instructions for kids, as well as a list of all the craft supplies and tools you may need. There are costumes for Purim, recipes for Chanukah and lovely handmade items for gift-giving and everyday use. Making your own gifts is a great way to both save money and give an extra measure of love to the people closest to you. My favorite project in the book was a Glowing Glass Menorah - it's very different from other menorahs I have seen, and I think it would look beautiful on a holiday table or sideboard:

And now the Giveaway:

I want to be able to pass these books on to others who will be able to really use them, so I am having a very special giveaway. I will be giving away my hardcover copies of Kosher by Design Lightens Up and Crafting Jewish. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, I can only open this contest to readers in the United States. To enter, leave a comment (make sure I have your email address) after this review. You don't have to be Jewish to enter, you just have to enjoy crafting and cooking! Entries are open until Friday, January 30th at midnight EST, and I will announce the winner Saturday morning. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This place is closed!

My blog has moved. You should be automatically redirected. If not, click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

If you're looking for my review, it has been moved to my new website! Check me out at Minds Alive on the Shelves.

Review: Pirate Latitudes by Michael Chrichton

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My New Website!

If the comment moderation was the bad news, here is the good news: I've got my own website! For quite a while I have wanted to move my reviews to my own website, and now I've got the chance. Come on over and check out my new digs:

You can find all my old reviews at the new site, but they are better organized - there's a reading list with links to each review and I've revised my tags and categories so you can find the reviews you're interested in more easily.

I'll be posting reviews in both places for a while and I am planning some giveaways to christen the new site. Come on over and make sure you're on my RSS feed!

I hoped it wouldn't come to this...

Sadly, I have had to turn on word verification for the comments on this blog. After having to go in twice today to delete the same get-rich-quick spam comment, as well as deleting multiple comments from a Japanese porn site that likes my book reviews, I'd had enough.

We've got one major spammer going to prison, let's hope others end up in the same place. I would love to see an internet free of spam and malware.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A lovely idea for the holidays: The Dewey Tree

Those of you who frequent a number of book blogs may be familiar with Dewey, a well-known blogger who passed away this time last year. She was a force in the on-line community - sponsoring and supporting a variety of the events we all participate in. Lisa at Online Publicist came up with a lovely idea to comemmorate Dewey and spread the charitable spirit around the holidays.

Here's how it works

"Here's what you do: Gather up the books you can live without. It can be 4
books, 10 books, or 20 books! Find a worthy group you would like to donate your overflow books to. It can be your local library, a literacy campaign (mine will go to the literacy center I volunteer for), or overseas. There's a great list of
book donation sites here on the ALA. Find a charity that speaks to you!*Then take a picture of your donation and email it to me (onlinepublicist [AT] gmail [DOT] com). It can be a pic of the mailing label on your package, one of your kids giving a box of books to a librarian, or you handing books over to your literacy center. Be creative and have fun!"

I will definitely be pulling together a pile of books. I can think of several local charities that might be able to use them (my local library is kind of funny about donations). I sometimes forget that although I consider books a necessity, for others they are a luxury, a luxury they set aside when there is barely enough for food and shelter. I hope these find their way into the hands of someone who will really enjoy them.

For more information, check out Lisa's post on The Dewey Tree.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Win a Free Book!

Okay, you know I love contests and this is one to get you in the holiday spirit! The nice folks at St. Martin's Press are offering you the chance to win a signed of Augusten Burroughs' new book, You Better Not Cry. It's a story about Christmases past and present, and if the trailer is any indication, it's going to be very funny: Now, to enter, just click on the link below and fill out the information. I know that I'm hoping there's a copy in my Christmas stocking - how about you? You Better Not Cry Sweepstakes Good Luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review: I Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death and New Jersey by Paul Rudnick

Paul Rudnick is one of those names that I was complete unfamiliar with, until I read his book. As he told his stories, I kept thinking “oh! I remember Sister Act!” “I’ve heard of Allan Carr!” “He wrote The Addams Family? I never knew that!” It was part discovery, part reunion, full of funny bits, a little gossip, and some entirely fictional chapters that were, perhaps, my favorite parts. It is wickedly funny, even — maybe especially — when recounting the worst stories. All in all, it was a pleasure to read.

I Shudder isn’t exactly a memoir, although it’s full of funny stories about his family, his Hollywood contacts, the plays he’s written and the people he’s met. Between these stories, there is also a (hopefully) fictional memoir, “An Excerpt from the Most Deeply Intimate and Personal Diary of One Elyot Vionnet.” Elyot is a bizarre character, a semi-retired substitute teacher living in a perfect studio apartment that almost overlooks Gramercy Park. One worries about what he might be teaching those impressionable young minds:

As this is my most deeply intimate and personal diary, I am assuming that it will one day be introduced into evidence at my trial.

Surely I can’t be the only one who goes to the movies but never remembers the name of the screenwriter. Paul Rudnick was involved with some very funny movies, but I had never heard his name. Frankly, even if I had, it might not have helped. There is a long chapter devoted to his involvement with Sister Act, but his name does not appear when I check my source for all things movie-related, Still, he tells great stories about bringing the original treatment of Sister Act to producer Scott Rudin and how they originally met with Disney, and snagged Bette Midler in the lead role. A host of meetings later, this nice Jewish boy was on his way to a convent in rural Connecticut for some hands-on research.

In the end, Bette Midler didn’t star, Whoopi Goldberg was very funny as Deloris, but Rudnick has never been able to bring himself to watch it.

Renting a wonderful Gothic apartment that was once the retreat of John Barrymore inspired a play, I Hate Hamlet, about a young actor living in the same apartment, working on the role of Hamlet and being visited by the ghost of John Barrymore. The downfall of the entire play is choosing Nicol Williamson – an unfamiliar name but a very familiar face — to play Barrymore. Rudnick makes Williamson’s utter disintegration both funny and tragic. He gives Allan Carr much the same treatment — Carr is a flamboyant, extravagant character, and Rudnick knows him in both high times and hard times.

In between chapters full of stories so funny you wonder if they’re fiction, you’ll find some actual fiction. The story of Elyot Vionnet is the very best sort of dark, sarcastic humor. His campaign to make Hallie Tesler stop talking on her cell phone is utterly ruthless — and it does not have quite the intended effect. His stint as Mr. Christmas (and his various holiday visitations) require a certain sense of style:

I instantly donned my tuxedo, a garment which still appears sleek and fresh, although it has been passed down through over eighty generations of Vionnet men, and, of course, Great Aunt Vestra Vionnet, who wore the family tux to bewitch half the women of Bucharest. No, Vestra was not Europe’s first lesbian postmistress, but she was the first one to get it right.

In I Shudder, the fiction and non-fiction go well together. The stories are great — his mother and her crazy sisters, his partner John, his time at the Chelsea Hotel. Chapters sped by and I laughed often enough (and loudly enough) that people at the airport asked what I was reading. I always think that’s a good sign.

My copy of I Shudder: and Other Reactions to Life, Death and New Jersey by Paul Rudnick was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays!

Good morning! It's Tuesday, so it's time for another little tease from a book I'm currently reading. You know the rules: Open your current read and choose two teaser sentences. No spoilers, please, and don't forget to tell us about the book!

This teaser comes from I Shudder: and Other Reactions to Life, Death and New Jersey by Paul Rudnick. Rudnick is one of those Hollywood types you never heard of, but he wrote screenplays for movies like Sister Act, The Addams Family, and In & Out. So, kind of a funny guy. Really liked the book (look for my review today over at When Falls the Coliseum or later this week here on the blog) and I liked this quote because it's so seasonal:

Santa's appearance is a cruel prank: red velvet on a fat man, with a wide black patent leather belt to provide some stab at a waistline? the beard and the boots? Over the centuries, Santa has begun to dress like an effeminate, drunken lumberjack...

Okay, maybe my idea of a fun, seasonal quote is a little off the norm but admit it - it made you laugh. I know it did.

What's teasing YOU this week?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New to my library...

It has been a banner week for new books at my house! First, some great stuff came in while I was in Houston (including one surprise book). Then, my favorite bookstore (Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cleveland) had their Member Appreciation Day. For a very reasonable membership fee, you get bonuses and coupons and discounts, plus they make donations to a charity of your choice from their list. Today, I had pages of coupons and so really, I had to buy books, didn't I? How could I resist? Too bad they don't sell bookshelves.

So, here are the new acquisitions - I can't decide which one to start with!

Now, that's a pretty good haul, don't you think? I cannot wait to dig in to this pile of new books!