NEW BAKING BOOK by Better Homes and Gardens (2004)

PUBLISHER: Better Homes and Gardens, 9/2004
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking

FROM PUBLISHER: Baking Basics chapter provides short course for novices and a good refresher for experienced cooks.

Includes chapters on baking reliables: Cakes, Pies and Tarts, Yeast Breads, Quick Breads, and Cookies.

Specialty chapters such as Baking with Kids, Holiday Classics, Spectacular Desserts, and Old-Fashioned Desserts meet the needs of a variety of readers.

Provides extensive baking tips and question-and-answer boxes throughout.


Please click here to see my review for this cookbook. I’ve got many of my own photos to accompany the recipes.



THE PIED PIPER (Krysař), Directed by Jirí Barta 1986

I’ve just watched one of the most beautiful stop-motion claymation films ever. It’s a Czech adaptation of the old German folklore, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, where a piper leads the rats of a rat-infested town to their deaths, then leads the townspeople’s children away in retaliation for not getting paid.

The films original Czech name is Krysař (The Rat Catcher) and its English title is The Pied Piper. Filming was complete in 1985 and was released in 1986. The ending is different than any previously written versions, as far as I know. It’s dark, haunting, creepy, and so so beautiful.


Please watch the twelve minute making-of below.

KATE GOSSELIN: HOW SHE FOOLED THE WORLD: The Rise and Fall of a TV Reality Queen by Robert Hoffman

PUBLISHER: CreateSpace, 4/2014
ORIGINAL PUB: 2012, e-book
GENRE: Nonfiction/Biography

FROM PUBLISHER: INSIDE KATE GOSSELIN’S ‘HOUSE OF HORRORS’ Conspiracy. Massive Coverup. Lawsuits and Legal Threats. Exploitation. Fraud. Abuse. Animal Cruelty. Lies. Read The Book that two of the most powerful law firms in the country have tried to stop from being published. You’ll never look at ‘Reality’ TV the same again. “She has as much right to this being kept private as anyone,” Gosselin’s attorney, Marc Randazza, told ABC News.

MY THOUGHTS: The author has a burning hatred for this woman, star of TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8/Kate Plus 8. At the time he was a celebrity reporter for a well-known magazine and he happened to live about 10 minutes away from Kate. He stole her trash on more than a few occasions, which had some of her journals in it, and interviewed some of her family members, became friends with her ex husband Jon, and basically stalked her for a few years. That’s where a lot of the material for this exposé came from.

He said Kate was promiscuous as a teen (p. 15) but gave no information to back that up. He said she left home then but didn’t elaborate on it, knowing full well we’d want to know all about it. Does he know more about that but didn’t want to share it or is he saving it for a sequel? The chapter titled The Formative Years was good but could have been so much better, more detailed. It was no surprise to find out in that chapter that Kate really is mentally ill but I never expected that to be made public.

Since the author interviewed some of her siblings it would have been nice to have learned a bit more about Kate’s childhood and when her bipolar diagnosis came about. It must have been before she became famous, maybe as a teenager, since she stopped talking to her siblings then and I can’t imagine her telling any of them her personal business after that.

Self-published books are notorious for having spelling issues and this one is full of those and formatting problems. Too much time was spent on her poor spelling in her tweets and he felt the need to point out twice that she misspelled the word ‘gorgeous’. Without the bad Twitter spelling, contract details, and the repetitiveness of things already discussed this book could have been 200 pages shorter. Much of the material in this is repeated throughout. Better editing on his part would have caught that. I do give him credit for exposing her lies in her tweets.

My complaints about the author: Too much time was spent nitpicking every little thing about her, like her going to get her hair and nails done while the kids were home with a babysitter. He complains that Kate never takes eight kids to the theater when really, who cares? Are they really missing out on anything? He bitches about her using newspaper as wrapping paper with no bows. So what? He complained about Kate not taking her kids to the beach then proceeded to tell us what a great father he is for taking his three kids to one. He toots his own horn quite a lot.

The author went too far in calling Kate racist and even had that word printed on the cover of original e-book version of this book when again he had no evidence to back up that claim. He considers her making ‘Asian eyes’ once to be racist when we’ve all done it, especially as children, and there’s nothing ‘racist’ about it. It’s just people acting silly. Jon’s Korean mother or grandmother would make them Korean food so once on camera Kate called her their ‘Korean food maker’. I took that to mean she’s the maker of Korean food but since the author hates Kate’s guts he chooses to believe Kate is pointing out the woman’s ethnicity, calling her their ‘Korean food maker’. She had an African doctor so she calls him ‘African’, and again, the author thinks that’s racist. If she called a German man ‘German’ or a Welsh woman ‘Welsh’ he’d have never said a word…because they’re white. He’s really grasping at straws when really it’s so unnecessary; she looks terrible on her own without you trying to invent more ways.

I believe all of what the author said was written in her journals and I believe all of what he said her siblings and relatives have told him about Kate. I just wish he had focused less on trivial stuff like bad spelling and salon visits. I do hope that one day there will be a follow-up book. I’ve been a fan of the show since season 1 and even though Kate is very disturbed (she pulled poor Collin up by his hair when he was 2), I’ll continue to watch her show, Kate Plus 8.

You can read a good summary of the book here.

I purchased this book myself.




PUBLISHER: Pocket Books, 12/2015
GENRE: Contemporary Suspense
SETTING: Virginia, USA
SERIES: Audrina, #1
NARRATION: First person

FROM PUBLISHER: Audrina fiercely desired to be as good as her sister. She knew her father could not love her as he loved that other girl, for her sister was so special, so perfect—and dead.

Upstairs in a locked room awaited her sister’s clothes and dolls, her animals and games—and her sacred rocking chair. Now Audrina will rock and rock and rock to reclaim all of her gone sister’s special gifts.

And then finally she’ll learn the secrets everyone else knows but her.

MY THOUGHTS: This was beyond bizarre. The timespan is about fifteen years and the narration is in first person, told from Audrina Adare’s point of view. It was warped, and I  prefer that sort of thing, but this didn’t do anything for me. Child gang-rape, miscarriages, a retarded child, a seriously disturbed relative, ect. Not one bit of it was plausible. The story should have been under four-hundred pages, not over five-hundred. I thought it would never end, seriously. It was mostly monotonous.

Vera- A slightly older ‘relative’ of Audrina’s. She should have been the star because she was so screwed up psychologically. She was, by far, the worst character in the novel and the only one I liked. She was rotten to the core. The rest were bland, especially Audrina. I’ve never figured out who paid for her schooling once she left Whitefern, the mansion she grew up in, along with Audrina.

I didn’t like for feel the need for the characters Sylvia or Billie. I didn’t like that several deaths took place in the same exact way nor did I like the ending.

There was a ghost-written sequel to this 1982 book, published in 2016 called Whitefern but I’m not interested in reading it.

There was also a horrible 2016 Lifetime film based on this novel and the characters of Billie and Sylvia aren’t in it.

There are some really great reviews for this at GoodReads.

Same review here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


PUBLISHER: Forever, 11/8/2016

FROM PUBLISHER: Fall in love all over again with this adult coloring book featuring 45 hand-drawn illustrations inspired by romance novels from bestselling writers Colleen Hoover, Anna Todd, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Jodi Ellen Malpas and more. Sit back, grab your pens and markers, and get ready to explore LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES.

In the pages of this book you will find:
· Designs to help you relax and reduce stress
· Hidden images and book quotes
· Each design printed on a separate page
· Elaborate drawings as well as quickie pages for when you just have a few minutes to color

Illustrations inspired by the works of:

Anna Todd, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Colleen Hoover, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Claire Contreras, Jillian Dodd, Amy Harmon, Tiffany King, R.K. Lilley, Molly McAdams, Tara Sivec, Alessandra Torre, Mia Sheridan, J. Sterling, Katy Evans, Emma Chase, S.L. Jennings, K.A. Linde, Beth Ehemann, Tarryn Fisher, Karina Halle, Helena Hunting, Leisa Rayven, Madeline Sheehan, and K. A. Tucker.

Images of three pages that I colored, with close-ups.
Below, three other pages that I like.
Below are three pages that I don’t like at all. They’re a good example of what the majority of the pages look like- big lettering.

MY THOUGHTS: The book is 9 3/4″ square. The paper is good quality, nice and thick, but the pages aren’t perforated and it’s a bit difficult to rip the pages out cleanly. The pages are too wide to fit fully on a scanner bed, 1″ of the left side gets cut off, which is disappointing if you want to post photos of your finished work online, but the pages are a nice size to work with. I tear out the page I want to use and place it on a clipboard.

The artwork is really good, some of which is really intricate, like the ‘Reel It In’ page above. Unfortunately there are only about ten or eleven pages that are what I’d call feminine, with flowers and such. The rest of the book isn’t attractive at all to me. Almost all of the pages have large lettering, which ruins the look of the finished piece.

This isn’t a coloring book I’d recommend.

Same review here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

ONLY FOR LOVE by Elaine Barbieri

PUBLISHER: Zebra, 8/1994
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: Jamaica, 1772

FROM PUBLISHER: When Gillian Haige’s father dies, his only legacy is a mountain of debts. But never does the eighteen-year-old English beauty dream she’ll end up in the dank hold of a ship bound for the Colonies…as an indentured servant! And now her gentle twin lies desperately ill, and will surely perish unless Gillian takes one daring, irrevocable step.

It is a wild scheme, yet from the moment she meets Captain Derek Andrews and feels desire ignite between them, Gillian sees the bargain she can strike: her innocence in exchange for her sister’s life. But on a journey that carries Gillian from the shores of America to a new life on a storm-swept island, she will be forced to choose once again…to fight for her freedom or to surrender to the man who has possessed her-body and soul-with his liberating passion…

MY THOUGHTS: Gillian, the heroine, is twenty, as stated on page 48, not eighteen, as the synopsis states. This story begins in England, then in Jamaica. Saying that they’re headed for the Colonies made me assume they were talking about the British Colonies in the United States but that’s not what they meant.

We got zero background on Derek and weren’t even told his age or where he’s from. He must have been in his late twenties, at least, since he’d spent some time in prison and is captain of his own ship, Colonial Dawn. He’s rude and possessive of Gillian but not verbally, physically, or sexually abusive towards her. He doesn’t seem too friendly either.

Gillian is feisty and stands up for herself, which I really like in a heroine. I didn’t see the need for her to have a sister since the sister was a pretty weak character and served no purpose to the storyline, as far as I could tell.

I really liked the two main villains: Derek’s ex-lover, red-haired and green-eyed Emmaline Dorcett. She was obsessed with having him though she was married to an older man. She was peppered throughout the story but I wanted more of her. I found her to be very interesting and wanted to see what damage she could have done. I really wanted some background on her but we got none, including her age. Her husband Robert said she was very young to his 50+ so I’m guessing she’s in her twenties.

John Barrett, who’s an agent for the London Transport Company, was in charge of all the indentured servants aboard Derek’s ship. He became obsessed with Gillian and hatched a plan to have her. Gillian hated him with a passion and that ate at him and intensified his obsession with having her. John once called Gillian Madame Uppity Bitch!

Another villain early on was an older prostitute named Maggie, who was always called a ‘vicious whore’ by Jon Barrett. The verbal sparring between them was great! She too became obsessed with Gillian on the ship but I don’t understand why she hated her so much. I thought she was going to do harm to her but that didn’t happen.

This was published in 1994 but it felt like one older. The heroine had a backbone, the hero was rude, there were terrible villains. Though there’s no abuse towards the heroine, I consider this a mild bodice ripper.

The negatives- I wish over half this story didn’t take place on a ship. I wish Maggie’s character had lasted longer and I wish Emmaline and John had teamed up to do some harm. You wouldn’t know by the cover that this is historical and the hero/heroine’s hair color isn’t quite right.



PUBLISHER: Minotaur, 3/2015
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Mystery
SETTING: England, 1667
SERIES: A Lucy Campion Mystery, #3

FROM PUBLISHER: In Susanna Calkins’s next richly drawn mystery set in 17th century England, Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies’ maid in the local magistrate’s household, has now found gainful employment as a printer’s apprentice. On a freezing winter afternoon in 1667, she accompanies the magistrate’s daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured Quaker man to record his dying words, a common practice of the time. The man, having been trampled by a horse and cart the night before, only has a few hours left to live. Lucy scribbles down the Quaker man’s last utterances, but she’s unprepared for what he reveals to her–that someone deliberately pushed him into the path of the horse, because of a secret he had recently uncovered.

Fearful that Sarah might be traveling in the company of a murderer, Lucy feels compelled to seek the truth, with the help of the magistrate’s son, Adam, and the local constable. But delving into the dead man’s background might prove more dangerous than any of them had imagined.

MY THOUGHTS: This was pretty boring, a little slow, and could have been written in about sixty pages less. There weren’t any interesting characters in this at all, not one. There were way too many characters to keep up with, at least thirteen, and I got a bit confused a few times. There should have been some backstory on Lucy but there wasn’t.

The murderer is too over the top in what they’ve done. And they gave a full confession at the end which is very annoying and unbelievable and I wish writers would stop having their villians do that.

There were quite a few times in the story when Lucy made comments, not asked questions, and the author ended the sentences with question marks. A few examples: Surely there is something you can do?, I could talk to them again? See if I could learn anything more?, I could take some tracts to share? While I make some general inquiries?

See my reviews for books one and two in this series.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


HELL-O-WEEN by David Robbins

PUBLISHER: Leisure, 1992
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Horror
SETTING: Colorado, USA

FROM PUBLISHER: Halloween night, two buddies decided to play a cruel trick on the class brain…but the joke was on them.

They only wanted to scare their enemy to death…but their prank went awry and one of their friends ended up dead, her body ripped to pieces.

Soon seven teenagers were frantically fighting to save themselves from unthinkably gruesome ends…but something born in the pits of hell was after them-and they had no hope of escape.

CHARACTERS: Cory Fleming, Wesley Eagen, Leslie Vanderhorst, Jay Thorpe, Stacy Curvin, Scott Miklin, Ann Weatherby, Terri Sheehan, all are seventeen. Wesley and Leslie are dating, Jay and Stacy are dating, and Ann and Terri are best friends. Ann’s very protective of Terri.

DEMONS: The two demons are 7′ tall, muscular, nude, have three toes, red snake-like skin, red eyes, a forked tongue and tail, horrible breath, tapered teeth, ‘fetid’ breath like garlic, and walk upright like humans. They drink from a boiling pool of sulfur-smelling liquid.

MY THOUGHTS: On Halloween night, a group of seventeen-year-old friends go off to explore a cavern called Caverna del Diablo (Cavern of the Devil). They pair up and go off in separate directions and six of the eight get murdered by male and female demons. The synopsis would have you believe that a teen girl was accidentally killed by a classmate but that’s not true nor does Wesley and Scott’s prank have anything to do with anything.

This story was very boring. It was 366 pages of them wandering around in a dark cavern with just flashlights trying to hide from and outsmart two demons. I think the dialogue was both good and horrible at the same time. When they weren’t saying terribly outdated things like going steady, def, bodacious, dork, dweeb, rad, out of sight, make it/do me (as in have sex), to the max, and plenty of other things that were outdated by the time this book was published in 1992, the dialogue was actually pretty good and descriptive. I think the story would have been better with some kind of four-legged creature instead of one not much bigger than a human.

My least favorite character was Stacy, who was very annoying and kept calling her boyfriend Jay ‘honeybuns’. Second least favorite was Wesley, who thought he was above women and even punched his girlfriend Leslie in the jaw.

Favorite/goriest death scene was when a male demon ripped the breasts off one of the girls and ripped her throat open with his sharp teeth. Second favorite is when a girl got both arms ripped off. Third favorite is when the female demon bit off a male’s genitals.

The ending is the worst. It needed a multipage epilogue but it only got not quite a whole page.


LOOSE GIRL: A NOVEL OF PROMISCUITY by Kerry Cohen with Book Trailer

PUBLISHER: Hyperion, 6/2008
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir

FROM PUBLISHER: Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen’s captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction–not just to sex, but to male attention–Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning. Never less than riveting, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment when a girl tries to control a boy by handing over her body, when the touch of that boy seems to offer proof of something but ultimately delivers little more than emptiness. The unforgettable story of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.

MY THOUGHTS: This was very sad and very honest. Kerry (born 1970), from a very early age, 11/12,  has been looking for love and attention from males and would have sex with just about any of them in hopes of becoming their girlfriend. She felt she was unlovable because she didn’t often have a boyfriend but had plenty of males willing to have sex with her. She didn’t use condoms much either and has gotten STD’s.

She comes from a well-off dysfunctional family in New Jersey, felt like she didn’t get attention from either parent, and was jealous of her sister’s relationship with their mother. I’d have liked for her to have interviewed both parents to get their opinions of her feeling neglected. Oddly enough she never mentioned whether or not she was ever depressed, but I would imagine she was, at least back then.

Here’s her speaking at The Mystery Box in 2013.


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