Sunday, April 25, 2010

Top 10 Books

If you had to pick your Top 10 favorite books what would they be? Comment below with the answer.

(My favorites in no particular order as it is just too hard and I know there are not 10 - Gone with the wind, Heidi, Little Women, Harry Potter series)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: 101 Glam Girl Ways to an Ultra Chic Lifestyle

A Cheeky Book with Tidbits of Advice for a Glamorous Lifestyle
By: Dawn Del Russo

What this book is about:
In 101 Glam Girl Ways to an Ultra Chic Lifestyle, author Dawn Del Russo provides quick, cheeky tips to living the swank life even when your bank account is busted. Throughout the book, each one-liner of advice is illustrated by Barbara Ann Scarrillo with charming, fashionable sketches. Del Russo is a high profile fashion stylist has been featured in print like US Weekly, Life and Style, InStyle, Glamour, Real Simple, and on Fox 5 NY for her style advice and a contributing writer for multiple online publications.

Did you like this book: This book is a delicious and breezy walk through updating and improving all areas of your life. From getting a properly fitting bra, cleaning out your closet and looking good in jeans this book is a fast read and has it all. It was a cute and quick read that was the perfect afternoon pick me up full of good advice.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi"

The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English
By Chloe Rhodes

What this book is about:
"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar." -James D. Nicoll
Chloe Rhodes is a tour de force of information in her latest book about the origin of foreign words and how we use them. From amok to debacle and paparazzi (Italian for mosquitoes), Rhodes delights and intrigues a solid book.

Did you like it:
This book is beautifully presented with decorative hardcover and gift tag on the inside making it the perfect book to use as a gift. I found it interesting and I was surprised at how many words that we use in everyday life have their origins in other countries. I was taken aback to learn ketchup, the all-American condiment, began life as koechiap in seventeenth century China! Full of fun, surprises and insights this book is an organized, easy read. For each word, Rhodes not only gives the origin of the word, but also how they became included in our language.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: Trial and Heirs, Famous Fortune Fights

By Andrew & Danielle Mayoras

What this book is about:
In the past years, we have all watched the estate battles of celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Princess Di, Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger, Ray Charles and Rosa Parks play out in multi-million dollar celebrity tabloid slugfests. In thier new book, Trial and Heirs, Legacy Expert Attorneys Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras delve beyone the saucy headlines and are your guides to an entertaining look at one of life's more unsavory discussions. This easy-to-follow guide is complete with Tips to Avoid a Family Fight and Ideas to Spark Family Discussion.

Did you like it:
This book could be called Estate Planning for Dummies because it makes learning the details about wills, trusts and legacy planning easy and entertaining. How they managed to make a book about protecting your assets and seeking assistance in legacy planning fun is a mystery to me. I loved it and flipped right through the book. There is also a companion website, ,for those seeking more information.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: Home Before Dark

A Family Portrait of Cancer and Healing
By: David, Kate, Michael & Sam Treadway

What this book is about:
What if your entire life changed in an instant? It happened to David Treadwell when he awoke in the middle of the night with a pain in his shoulder. Days later when he learned he had Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a 25% chance of survival, both he and his family dealt with the news in different ways. As the treatment of the disease raged war in his body, Treadwell’s instinct as a successful psychologist was to prepare his wife and children for his death. What resulted was a family writing project and a compressive look at one family and their journey into the unknown that is cancer. David Treadwell beat the odds and has been enjoying life in remission since 2006.

Did you like this book:
A poignant portrait of a family struggling with a serious illness, this book weaves a rich tale that will strike a chord with anyone who is part of a family. The story is told in alternating chapters from the point of view of David (the father transitioning to patient facing his own mortality), Kate (the mother, wife and doctor faced with losing her life-long partner) and their two children. You are left with a complete and vibrant view of the family’s march through the fog, navigating life post-diagnosis. Dealing with the stress of a holiday when it could be the “last” one you have together to adult children balancing blazing their own path in the world with the knowledge that their father could be slipping away and any time with him is precious, it is a story anyone who has loved and been afraid to lose can relate to. It was beautiful and uplifting. Your priorities will completely change when you read it and it will be a well needed reminder to enjoy every day and every minute with those that you hold dear. It is the story of the journey of a family and many will be able to relate to it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Author Interview: Peter Begley Author of The Finger Prince

Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up on the lower east side of New York City where at the ripe old age of 2 I did my first drawings. I continued to draw my way into different art schools and eventually became an art director for and award winning advertising agency, working on TV commercials and print ads. In my spare time I worked on screenplays, TV shows ideas, even comic strips. One of those comic strip ideas turned into the children's book . It never dawned on to write a children's book. I have never been married and have no children, unless you count my 48 year old parrot Giba. Who I've had since she was 6 months old. But a children's book was what this idea was best suited from. The Finger Prince was born.

Tell us about your book

The Finger Prince is the story of a little finger print who is looking for his identity. The story touches upon the importance of self worth and self esteem for every young child. As no two fingerprints are alike, no two children are alike. Each must find their way and discover their own uniqueness.

Where did you come up with the inspiration for your books?

Everywhere, It's all about being observant and listening to your inner voice. The key is not to have any preconceived ideas. Be as open as a child.

What question do you get asked in regards to the book?

I can only remember the very first question i was asked as I read the book to a group of children for the first time. I was a little nervous knowing that kids could be brutally honest. To my relief their first question was, when are you going to write another one?

What prompted you to begin writing?

I always loved to draw and my playfulness took over from there. While in the ad business I worked with very talented writers and found out that putting words and pictures together was what I really liked doing.

What is your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part?

My favorite part is in coming up with the idea for the book. Then its the writing and drawing. My least favorite part would be finalizing of all the details like checking the spelling. I'm the world's worst speller.

What are you working on next?

The next Finger Prince book will be a musical. The story will be told in a song that will have music for voice and piano.

If you could not have been a writer what do you think you would want to be?

In the last 7 years I've learned to sing and I've done so in both large and small choirs. I just love it. i find enormous joy in it.

What do you wish I would ask you?

We'll how about, do I ever get writers block? The answer is yes and no. We all get stuck sometimes but it happens less often. The Finger Prince was originally an idea for a comic strip called The Finger Prints., but it was never finished. After dropping it for many years I realized, by accident, it was really a children's book. So now I'm always working on multiple projects. If one of them stalls I move to another and later go back to the stalled project. There's an old saying that if you keep watching the pot the water never boils. It works the same for ideas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi"
By Chloe Rhodes,
Author of A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English

Picture this scenario: You're having a tête-à-tête with an old friend from your alma mater, who is a wine aficionado. So you pick an al fresco table at a chic little café, and order from the a la carte menu. However, your companion won't stop exchanging double entendres with the woman in the sarong at the next table. So you're stuck listening to the klutz of a waiter droning on ad nauseam about the soup du jour. At that point, you're ready to say hasta la vista -- but you don't want to seem like a diva.

Try to say all that in "English." You probably wouldn't change a single word. How else would you describe such a scene if it weren't for the thousands of foreign words and phrases we've snuck into our conversations over the years? We all use them without a second thought. But how much do you really know about the origins of the borrowed words and phrases you use every day?

Did you know, for example, that when you place an order for apple pie a la mode, that you are using a phrase that dates back to the days of King Louis XIV? His court became such a standard of good taste that the British aristocracy wanted to do more than dress in French fashion; they wanted to use their phrase for it, too. In the seventeenth century the term was anglicized to become alamode -- a light silk used to make scarves. And at some point in small-town America, the combined flavors of cooked apple, sweet pastry, and cool, creamy vanilla represented the very latest in fashionable, cutting-edge gastronomy, giving the term its modern meaning of "with ice cream."

And there's hundreds of other examples from France: laissez faire, joie de vivre, fait accompli, faux pas, I could go on but you'd only become blasé. And with good reason; English speakers have been word collectors since the fifth century, when the dialects of Anglo-Saxon settlers, Celts, and Norse invaders were cobbled together to create Old English. When the Norman conquerors arrived in 1066 it must have seemed natural to steal some of their vocabulary, too. By the end of the thirteenth century, more than 10,000 French words were absorbed into English -- and we still use 75 percent of them today.

But we've done more than add a French lilt to our lingo. Those Normans also introduced us to Latin. In medicine, we have words like post-mortem and placebo, while in legal language, Latin phrases such as in camera and quid pro quo are still bounced around the courtroom. And others have crossed over into broader use; an agreement or contract signed in good faith is said to be bona fide. However, in everyday use, the phrase has become interchangeable with the word genuine and usually describes someone or something whose authenticity can be trusted.

More foreign phrases joined the fray during the marauding, seafaring days of our English-speaking ancestors, who filled their boats with strange Asian spices, exotic fabrics, and loads of new words for all the animals, garments and foods they had discovered.

Even ketchup, that favorite sidekick of French fries, is an import, starting life as a spicy pickled fish sauce in seventeenth-century China. The word is a Westernized version of the Malay word kichap, which came from koechiap, meaning fish brine. The sweet red version we love with began to take shape when American sailors added tomatoes, which are excellent for preventing scurvy. In 1876 John Heinz launched his infamous tomato ketchup and the rest, as they say, is history.

And there are stowaway words in your wardrobe as well as your pantry; your pajamas, dungarees, and even your bandanna have their origins on foreign shores. Bandanna comes from the Sanskrit word bandhana, meaning to tie, from the tie-dying technique used to decorate scarves and handkerchiefs in India. The anglicized "bandanna" was incorporated into the English language during the days of the British Raj, though they're now more popular with wrestlers and cowboys who want to give their look a certain panache.

And while the Brits went abroad to gather additions for their dictionary, in seventeenth-century North America, words were coming to the English language by the boatload. Soon words from Italy, Poland, German, and Eastern Europe were leaping off immigrant ships and landing in the American English lexicon. To uncover the backstory on some of these, from alter ego to zeitgeist, explore the pages of A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi -- The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes, published by Reader's Digest, and voilá! Soon you'll easily be able to schmooze with everyone at the next cocktail party without making a single faux pas.

© 2010 Chloe Rhodes, author of A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English

Author Bio
Chloe Rhodes, author of A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English, is a freelance journalist who has worked for The Telegraph, Guardian and The Times as well as numerous other respected publications. She lives in North London with her husband.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: Be the Noodle: Fifty Ways to Be a Compassionate, Courageous, Crazy-Good Caregive

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews:
Be the Noodle: Fifty Ways to Be a Compassionate, Courageous, Crazy-Good Caregiver

By: Lois Kelly

What this book is about:
This book is based on the author's journey of being a caregiver through her mother’s terminal illness. Be the Noodle, chronicles the crazy things that happen during the twists and turns of the caregiving journey.

Did you like it:
Lois Kelly has written a book that every caregiver should be given. From dealing with guests that stay too long, unhelpful family members and all that banana bread, she has you covered. From the serious to the silly, she bares all. Many caregivers are thrust into the role of a lifetime with no training and they just have to sink or swim. Unfortunately, most don't ask for help or know where to turn. Kelly has throws back the curtain with fifty bite-sized tidbits that will have you laughing one minute and becoming misty eyed the next.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Giveaway

Come and join the fun! Author Linda Weaver Clarke is having an Author Interview and Book Give Away on Linda's Blog. For those who enjoy a good history lesson about how we received our freedom and being entertained by fictional characters, come visit and read the interview.

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: Just Don't Call Me Ma'am

What this book is about:
Anna Mitchael has a few tales to tell about her twenties and they are hilariously touching. Join her as she gets her first Brazilian wax, dumped and left alone in her New York apartment, navigates endless stints as a bridesmaid, explains to her Texas grandmother why she is a vegetarian and finds herself along the way.

What did you think of this book:
The only word I can think of to describe this book is delicious! I could not wait to finish the book. The writing is divinely rich as Mitchael tells a variety of tales of her loves, lessons and adventures that made up her twenties. The stories are conveyed with wry humor, but they weren’t too heavy on the sarcasm and I thought the blend was just perfect. If you are in your twenties, then you will see the book as a companion guide as you attempt to find yourself. If you have moved on from your twenties you will find yourself wanting to reminisce your own twenty something adventures with Michael over a few good drinks, even though you know her stories will trump yours. Overall, a great read and the type of book that gets passed around your circle of girlfriends. You know the type of book where you just hand it to your friend, completely unsolicited, and say you have to read this? This is one of those books.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview with Linda Weaver Clarke

Tell us a little about yourself.

I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. They need to be proud of their ancestors. I teach people how to put their stories down in an interesting way. I love what Leon Garfield said, “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” That’s what I do. I teach people how to paint their stories, how to be a storyteller.

Tell us about your new book.

“Anasazi Intrigue” is the first in a mystery series. It’s about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full.

Where did you come up with the inspiration for your book?

It came from a true experience that really happened right here in my little valley of southern Utah. In 2005, our small five-foot-wide river grew and grew until it was as wide as the length of a football field, and it was taking everything in its path. The flood was a terrible disaster. About two hundred homes were seriously damaged and twenty-five were completely destroyed. In three days time, it had dug into the earth’s surface, carving away at the banks, creating ridges as high as forty feet deep. In fact, the river was moving at ten feet per hour, just like a plow pushing the dirt and trees down the river. Several weeks later, a man found his car thirty miles downstream from his home. During this time, everyone worked hard to help the residents remove what they could from their homes before the flood hit, but there were those who escaped with only the clothes on their backs. The experience of charity and compassion by the people was incredible.

That wasn’t the only inspiration behind my book. I was really interested in the Anasazi Indians who settled right here in my valley. Where did they come from and how did they live? Indian art painted or engraved in rock gives us an idea who the Anasazi were, their beliefs and lifestyle. Many people wonder why the Anasazi Indians disappeared, leaving behind their belongings and valuables. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to find out about it. Did you know that an ancient funeral pit can be sold for $60,000 on the black market? Not to mention all the pottery, baskets, and pendants found by looters. It’s a very intriguing subject to me and I enjoyed learning so much in my research.

What question do you get asked the most about in regards to your books?

Many people ask me how much research I do. I love research and learn a great deal. While writing this novel, I learned the importance of a Kiva, that it represents the journey of life (birth, death, and the hereafter), and that it’s a place for spiritual instruction. I also learned that archaeological thievery is growing every year. Theft at the Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico is a big problem. The damage to these sites is estimated at almost $42,000 in two year’s time.

What prompted you to begin writing?

It all started with my ancestors’ stories. Their experiences were so interesting that I decided to write their stories down. After I finished, I couldn’t stop writing, so I turned to fiction.

What is your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part?

My favorite part is developing my characters and learning more and more about them. I begin to fall in love with them and understand them more fully. My least favorite is trying to think up just the right amount of suspense for a mystery to hold my reader.

What are you working on next?

I have always been intrigued with the Mayan culture. Who were they, what were their beliefs, and why did they abandon such magnificent buildings in southern Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula? My second mystery in this series is called “Mayan Intrigue” and will be released in about four months. In this mystery series, there will be four books that deal with similar subjects.

If you couldn't be a writer (or have anything to do with writing) what do you think you would want to be?

An archaeologist!

How important do you think writing is in a child’s life?

It’s very important because it works on their creativity. Writing helps to express one’s innermost feelings. Many times, writing can be a healing process. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, if children learn to write, they can learn to express themselves much better. In fact, one library asked me to teach a group of troubled teens, ones who had problems. These kids were so interested and interacted with me so well. It was a wonderful experience.

What do you hope that your readers gain from your books?

Entertainment and a little education! My goal is to uplift others and bring a little joy into their lives. To read an excerpt from each of my books, visit my website at

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review: Immortal in Death

By: J.D. Robb

I have slowly begun to start over with the "In Death" series. I have loved it for a long time and started at the beginning of the series and found it to be great. While J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts is a prolific author - they don't seem to come quick enough for me.

As I have moved to more audio books (the joys of having an infant) I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to start over and see how the relationships of everyone that I have grown to get to know have changed. And I have to say it was refreshing. Had I forgotten about how Mavis and Leonardo got started? Or even how things started out for Rourke and Eve. When/how did Peabody join the picture (it sure seemed like she had always been around)?

The series itself is great. The fact that it is set in the future only adds to the appeal (though I did have a stray thought coming in to work today - why doesn't Roarke hook Eve up with some sort of homing beacon - she sure does have bad things happen to her where they can't find her all the time).

With all of that in mind - I definitely recommend to whoever is interested - picking up this book or set of books. I will be listening to book 4 as we speak.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: Is He Lying to You? An Ex-CIA Polygraph Examiner Reveals What Men Don't Want You Know

By: Dan Crum "The Dating Detective"

What this book is about:
Do you know the two biggest signs that you are being deceived? Do you know the two magic ways to trap a liar and the main reason we miss deception? Have you been lied to? Does your love life need a detective? If so, Dating Detective Dan Crum has you covered. In his new release, "Is He Lying to You", former CIA Polygrapher Crum lays out an impressive how-to guide to spot and deal with those in your life who stretch the truth.

Did you like this book:
This book should be on every woman's nightstand. Sorry guys, but ladies don't waste any more time being disappointed by bad dates, misbehaving husbands and shameful boyfriends. I really like that this book not only gives you more detail than you ever thought possible to spot a liar, but it delves into what is going on in your head that might make you bias and more likely to believe these lying liars. You can also visit the companion website, for more information.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: The Founding

by Cynthia Harrod Eagles

Press Information:

The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The first book in the epic bestselling Morland Dynasty series which spans from the Wars of the Roses to Queen Victoria's long reign, where war and famine, peace and plenty, love and loyalty, greed and envy spread the lines of the family throughout the country—into the courts of kings and the salons of the Regency, onto the battlefields of Culloden and the Crimea and beyond.

In The Founding, seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is not only appalled at being forced to marry a mere "sheep farmer," but is secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York. Yet, in time, this apparently ill-matched union becomes both passionate and tender, the foundation of the Morland Dynasty, and sustains them through bloody civil war which so often divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home.

Special thanks to Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks for providing this.

I love historical fiction and this one is no exception. Finding a nice mix of history and flare so that you don't feel overwhelmed with detail, is something that is a special trait in authors.

Additionally the time in history is one that doesn't seem overwhelmed with books about it. So a fresh perspective with interesting characters is intriguing.

I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series and recommend the same for anyone else who likes this type of novel.

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Interview with Meredith Cagen, author of Size Eight in a Size Zero World

What prompted you to write this book?
I went back to school years after completing my MBA. It was daunting. The first time I sat down to study for an exam, I had these funny ideas racing through my head. I couldn’t concentrate until I wrote down all those random thoughts.

Random thoughts, you didn’t intend to write this book?
I live in NYC. Half the population state they are going to write a book someday or are currently working on a book. 45% of the population state they have at least one book in them and someday they will write it. 4.9% don’t care about writing a book or a reading a book I fall into the 0.1% who wrote a book without meaning to.

How long did it take you?
If the book wasn’t published, I would still be working on it. I tweaked it all the time.

Is the book about you?
The basic structure of the novel a working wife and mother with two children, husband and dog living in a Manhattan hi-rise apartment building is my life. But everything else is a figment of my imagination or poetic license. I wish I had devoted friends and a fairy tale godmother/aunt like Pamela.
Lindsay is an every woman. Chances are you see some of yourself in her. She is not perfect, but tries hard. Eventually her desire to please takes a toll on her.

Are the school mothers as superficial and cut throat as you wrote them?

I was kind to the group. But like with every social situation with women there are good ones and not so good ones. To some people in New York City, social standing is everything, which means being at the top. I have a ringside seat, a unique almost insider’s look at the competitive and cutthroat silly nature of Manhattan society. From 5th Avenue to South of the Highway, the one ups-womanship never stops amazing me. There is a even a pecking order for the nannies.

Who is “The Man Upstairs?”
He is a product of my imagination, 70% is based on one bachelor in New York City. The other 30% is based on horrific boyfriend stories I heard. There are men of a certain age who value their autonomy and do not want to be tied down. Dating is like dining at a smorgasbord. Men have no biological clock and can chose to get married and start a family according to their timetable. I think these men are looking for perfection in a woman, when they find a flaw they move on. Perfection only exists in online dating profiles.

Have you heard from any of your ex-boyfriends?
Three or four exs (Yes, that many!) called to congratulate me on the novel and ask if they are in the book. Two insist that they are the character of the Man Upstairs. They are flattered to think that they had a profound influence on my life and I wrote a book about them. Talk about egos!

Who is the 70% bachelor?
He is a fixture in the New York City social scene. I doubt he would remember meeting me as I was insignificant to him.

What else are you asked?
People want to know what is next for Lindsay. I tell them, I’m thinking about it.

Book Review: Within the Hollow Crown

By: Margaret Campbell Barnes

When you are in a position of power many people want to take advantage of you and convince you that what they think is the right way. And when you are king it is very evident that this is something that happens on a daily basis. How do you protect yourself against everyone in your life. Can you live a life like that where there is no one who really is someone you can trust because you believe that everyone who is in your life has ulterior motives?

For King Richard II he has a life to live and a country to rule. He has a love for Anne of Bohemia and many who want his crown. All he wants out of life is to be a good king and rule for the people.

This book is another great example of a time in history that you don't read a million books about (ie. Henry VIII) but has an interest to those that are not all history buffs. It is a great period of English history. And this book takes you there so that you can see what it is like. Definitely a great read for those who love historical fiction.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book Review: Bailey's Day

by Robert Haggerty
Illustrated by Bobbi Switzer

A cute children's book that lets a child see what the day of Bailey (a real life dog) is like. The first half is fun and illustrated of Bailey talking about what he does on an average day - treats, swimming and all sorts of fun.

Then the second half of the book is photos taken of the real-life Bailey still doing what it is that he likes to do.

I am sure that children will like the comparison of a real life dog being in a book (and in drawings).