“The Happy Vegan” by Russell Simmons

51SMARDTY0L._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_I’m trying to stand as tall as I can and at a vertically challenged sixty inches, that’s all I have to offer, because I need to give hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons a big huge, gigantic, massive

APOLOGY.

Why?

I misjudged him.

When I was sent his book, The Happy Vegan, to read and review, I thought it was going to be another superficial and chichi vanity publication written by a “famous person” in order to jump on the trendy new “vegan” bandwagon.

I admit that I started to read it with a closed mind.

I’ve been a vegan since 1970 and confess that I’m kind of a vegan snob, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong!

Yes, you heard me correctly; I was WRONG. (This doesn’t often happen haha)

This is a thoughtful, mindful, compassionate, and informative read about Russell Simmons’ journey and his guide to living a long, healthy, and successful life.

His writing style is down-to-earth, relatable, and I truly feel like he cares very much about getting his/our message out about the health benefits of a vegan life.

Not only is he a big name in hip-hop and a fashion entrepreneur, he’s a devout yogi, and for nearly seventeen years, Russell Simmons has been a vegan.

In The Happy Vegan, Simmons clears up misconceptions people might have about veganism and lays out reasons adopting a vegan lifestyle is in everyone’s best interest.

If Mr. Simmons can hear me…”I’m sorry. I was wrong to have misjudged you. I wish I could have met you when you were recently in SoCal. The Happy Vegan is an awesome book!”

Wondering what to give (or get) this holiday season?

I 1000% recommend The Happy Vegan, authored by Russell Simmons and Chris Morrow.

Namaste.

P.S. The moral of THIS story? One should never judge a book by a preconceived notion.

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Book Review: Drowning by Jassy de Jong

book review cover

With my broken toe limiting all sorts of athletic activity, I cracked open my e-reader ‘cos I accepted a request to review an advance copy of Drowning by Jassy de Jong.

Hand to heart, I didn’t stop reading until I finished it at 1:30 a.m.

That’s how much I enjoyed reading Drowning by Jassy de Jong.

I admit to a certain amount of anxiety about the setting — a lodge in South Africa  –because I didn’t want to discover that I’d be immersed in a sub-plot about hunting, but I was relieved and SO pleased that the characters (and the author) are advocates for conserving and protecting animals from poachers. Yay and double yay!

Drowning won me over with an intriguing story, great dialogue, and an ending that left me wanting more.

Don’t you love it when you turn that final page and wish it went on and on because you’ve become emotionally invested in the characters?

Me too!

Here’s a short description to whet your appetite:

Erin Mitchel doesn’t remember drowning, or how a mysterious, brilliant and handsome stranger saved her life. Forgotten, too, is her bleak marriage to an abusive husband. Now, stranded indefinitely at the luxurious Leopard Rock Resort with her impossibly irresistible savior, she’s faced with a dilemma: remain faithful to a man she vowed to love forever or give in to wild lustful desires in the steamy heat of South Africa.

Author Jassy de Jong was inspired to write her first novel, Random Violence, after getting hijacked at gunpoint in her own driveway. She has written several other thrillers including Stolen Lives and The Place for Fallen Horses. De Jong also edits a hair and beauty magazine. She lives in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg with her partner Dion, two horses and two cats.”

One more thing…Most reviews never address the nuts and bolts of publishing, but I’d like to offer kudos the proofreaders and editors for doing such a great job. With a discerning eye like mine, I’m always the one who can pick out spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors — I’m happy to report this book seemed to be error-free!

RATING: Drowning by Jassy de Jong 5 Louboutins out of 5. 

louboutin

Amazon: http://amzn.to/10jRnom

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1xwZLPm

Astor+Blue: http://bit.ly/1u8LJk5

 

 

Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards…S-E-X-Y Book Review

9781938231476[4][3][63]Confession time ‘cos well, that’s what Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife does from time to time…

Here I am, home alone, my handsome tugboat man far, far away floating on the big blue ocean, and what do I love to do?

Besides shopping, I mean…

Give up?

I LOVE to read. I read ALL the time and if I’m sent an advance copy to read and review, so much the better, ya know?

Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards is an enchanting and sensuous series about an actual historical figure, the notorious Lola Montez, who changed Europe through her beauty and strong, sexually liberated personality.

A young, beautiful dancer, Lola Montez, charms her way into the upper ranks of society using only her wits and her signature whip and fan.

Set in the 19th century, this hot tamale attracts trouble and finds herself in desperate situations that send her on jaunts all over Europe.

I was hooked from the beginning.

I LOVE novels that open with dialogue; I’m drawn into the characters right off the bat. (It’s a great device —  I need to remember and use it more often in my own writing.)

I don’t want to give too much away, but you might NEED a fan to cool you down after some of the super sexy bits!

Spying —  clandestine meetings — sexy interludes — AND a true story.

Whether you have a completely empty nest like me, or you’re just looking for a good read, I recommend Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards.

Have you read any good books lately? Let me know!


Astor + Blue Editions presents, Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards (ISBN: 978-1-938231-47-6; Trade Paperback; Romance, Historical, Women’s Fiction; US $14.95 CAN $14.95; February, 2013), the rollicking first installment of a new series by debut author, Kit Brennan.  The Whip Smart series begins during the historic week that marks the actual birthdate of Lola Montez. (February 17). 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kit Brennan is a nationally produced, award-winning playwright, and teaches writing and storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

The Victorian era and its personalities have always been of major interest to Brennan. Her play Tiger’s Heart explores the life of Dr. James Barry, who was actually a woman living a double life disguised as a man in order to practice medicine, which was not an option open to women at the time.

Kit divides her time between the vibrant city of Montreal and the quiet lake wilderness of Ontario alongside her husband, Andrew, and a variety of animal friends.  Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards is her debut novel.

Visit her online at www.kitbrennan.com.

Buy Whip Smart now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1nwgjg5

Buy Whip Smart now from Barnes and Noblehttp://bit.ly/1mh9tL5

Visit Astor and Blue Editions: http://astorandblue.com/

Coming THIS October: The third installment of Kit Brennan’s series! 

 

 

Build Your Running Body: Book Review

“This is so good. Honestly, I think this is the best running book ever.
–Bob Anderson, Founder of Runner’s World

Every so often I’ll accept an emailed request to read and review a book and it was that quote that caught my eye.

I’ve always wanted to run, but I don’t have great lung capacity. It’s no problem for me to hike ten miles and I regularly do high intensive boot camp-style training, but I don’t have the stamina for long distance running.

This easy-to-navigate book authored by Pete Magill, Thomas Schwartz, and Melissa Breyer, is full of valuable advice about training, healthy nutrition, and recipes.

I’m super motivated to start slowly and work my way up to at least a 5K.

Whether you’re a miler or an ultramarathoner, if you want a fit, fast, and injury-resistant running body, there’s a better way to train than relentlessly pursuing mileage.

This easy-to-use workout manual draws on the latest research in running physiology to target all the components that go into every stride—including muscles, connective tissue, cardiovascular fitness, energy production, the nervous system, hormones, and the brain.

With the breakthrough whole-body training program in Build Your Running Body, runners will improve their times, run longer and more comfortably, and reduce injury.

With more than 150 workouts—from weightlifting and cross-training to resistance exercises and plyometrics—fine-tuned to individual skill levels and performance goals.

buildyourrunningbody

Photographs © Diana Hernandez, 2014

• 393 photos that make it easy to follow every step of every workout
• 10 training programs to help runners of all levels integrate the total-body plan into their daily routines
• Interviews with leading runners, exercise scientists, and coaches—learn how elite runners train today
• Race strategy for the crucial weeks leading up to the competition and through to the finish line
• Exercises to prevent injury and rehabilitate common running ailments
• Seasoned insight on barefoot running, the pros and cons of stretching, and other hot-button topics
• Nutrition guidance on carbs, proteins, fats, and weight loss
• More than 30 recipes to speed recovery and cement fitness gains
• Beginners‘ guidelines every step of the way
• Valuable tips on proper apparel, tracking your progress, and more!


I give Build Your Running Body 5 out of 5 Louboutans

louboutin(Not running shoes LOL)

 

Credit line: Excerpt from Build Your Running Body: A Total-Body Fitness Plan for All Distance Runners, from Milers to Ultramarathoners—Run Farther, Faster, and Injury-Free © Pete Magill, Thomas Schwartz, and Melissa Breyer, 2014

 

 

The Best Books to Read This Summer

If you’re fascinated (like I am) about the what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood with BIG DEALS and BIG MONEY, you will love these books.

I’m talking about the kind of book you can’t put down; the kind where you’re in limbo-time, in a trancelike state — and where you are so invested in the characters that you hope the book never ends — but you can’t wait to get to the last page to see how the author ties everything up — only to discover that there’s a sequel to the first book.

And it’s just as awesome.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I live an Enchanted Life on the edge of fantasy. Reality for me is, at best, a road not taken.

Although reality can and does rear its ugly head at odd and unexpected moments, that’s the best time for a well-written chick lit novel or two to transport me on a magic carpet ride back to the Land of Princess Rosebud and all that is sparkly.

According to Wikipedia, Chick lit is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.

Although this is definitely chick lit, it’s so well written and the characters are so well fleshed out and alive, you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

(My Ph.D. DIL was as obsessed as I was, so it’s not just me.)

Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare met and became a fantastic writing team. Clare is the author of Love: A User’s Guide and Catching Alice.

Mimi was the director of development at Gracie Films, the company responsible for Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets.

They draw upon their own real life experiences for a riveting behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in Hollywood.

I loved reading these novels and I hope you will enjoy them too. Even though they came out a few years ago, it’s still fresh and relevant.

Read The Second Assistant FIRST:

thesecondassistant

Read The First Assistant NEXT:

First Assstant

An Enchanted Book Review: “where we belong”

One of the few joys I look forward to as an on again-off again single woman when my tugboat man goes out to sea is the freedom to read in bed as long as I want, without being told to “turn the light out and put the book down.”

That’s why I was soo excited to find a new Emily Giffen novel.2012-WhereWeBelong

where we belong (click on the title to read a chapter preview), is a radical departure from her other novels, and I’ve read them all:

An Emily Giffen story is usually so fun and captivating —  it’s like comfort food with the classic story structure: action, background, conflict, development, and the ending — with a happily ever after.

I want, I want, I want...

I’m pretty easy to please when i read chick lit. I don’t ask for much — a little romance, a little fashion, a little roadblock to the romance, some witty repartee, conflict resolution, and a happy ending with a huge diamond.

But not this time. What a disappointment this was!

[Spoiler alert]

Giffen’s character development was flat, stereotypical, and full of cliches.  The entire premise was kind of hard for me to believe. A teenager (Marian) gets pregnant, tells her mom but no one else — not the teen’s dad nor the teen’s boyfriend (Conrad); they conspire to hide her away somewhere until she gives birth and subsequently offers up the three-day-old child for adoption, and immediately gets on with her life to eventually become a successful producer of televison shows. Eighteen years later, the child (Kirby) searches for her birth mother and father, and ultimately all four parents attend her high school graduation. The reader is left with the hint that the bio-parents still have the hots for each other.

That’s it!

That’s all I got out of it the 372 pages.

My overwhelming feeling is that Giffen is looking to cash in on another series — will they or won’t they act on their feelings? Even the Reading Guide hints at this: “What do you think happens after the last page in this novel is turned? What future do you see for Kirby, Marian, and Conrad?

Sorry Emily Giffen, I’m not a fan of this one.

Have you read this one? Let me know what you think about it.

Book Review: “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”

hedgehog-erinaceus-europaeus-tiny{Spoiler alert if you haven’t read the book yet. Save this post for another time so you can share your thoughts with me.}

I read it. Twice. I read it all the way through really fast like I do and then I read it again to allow the flavor of certain phrases and thoughts to mellow and grow.

I loved it. I hated it.

The ending didn’t change the second time I read it, and for that I am really, really upset! The last scene is forever indelibly etched in my brain.

I was rooting for both of the major characters. I wanted Paloma to find her power as an intelligent and witty young girl and want to live, and I urged Renee to realize how brilliant she was and how she deserved love, and that even in our fifties, we can feel special.

What I didn’t expect was the end. I never saw it coming, just like Renee never saw the drycleaner’s van before it hit her. And that’s it. No hospital, no recovery, no happy conclusion with all the loose ends tied up in a pretty pink polka dot bow. I like my stories delivered to me with happily ever afters. I don’t like to fall in love with a character who feels like a real person and then have her torn away from me!

Paloma contemplated suicide, but will blossom like the camellias Renee grew. Renee died the moment she found a reason to live.

It was released as a film, “The Hedgehog” in 2011. It’s on Netflix and I’ll watch it tomorrow, ‘cos tonight’s “Downton Abbey“. It’s not like I don’t know how it ENDS!

FINAL THOUGHTS: I loved it. I hated it. It was totally worth reading. Twice.
What did YOU think?

Parts of the following synopsis is partly from The New York Times By CARYN JAMES and is partly by me.

By Muriel Barbery and translated by Alison Anderson, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” was a best seller in France and several other countries. The novel’s two narrators alternate chapters, but the book is dominated by Renée, a widowed concierge in her 50s who calls herself “short, ugly and plump,” a self-consciously stereotypical working-class nobody. She is also an autodidact — “a permanent traitor to my archetype,” as she drolly puts it — who takes refuge in aesthetics and ideas but thinks life will be easier if she never lets her knowledge show.

Her unlikely counterpart is Paloma, a precocious 12-year-old whose family lives in the fashionable building Renée cares for. Paloma believes the world is so meaningless that she plans to commit suicide when she turns 13.

Renée’s story is addressed to no one, while Paloma’s takes the form of a notebook crammed with what she labels “profound thoughts.” Both create eloquent little essays on time, beauty and the meaning of life, Renée with erudition and Paloma with adolescent brio.

Both skewer the class-conscious people in the building: Paloma observes the inanity of her parents and her sister while Renée knows that such supposedly bright lights never see past the net shopping bag she carries, its epicurean food hidden beneath turnips. Both appreciate beauty. What Renée calls “a suspension of time that is the sign of a great illumination,” Paloma experiences while watching a rosebud fall.

The sharp-eyed Paloma guesses that Renée has “the same simple refinement as the hedgehog,” quills on the outside but “fiercely solitary — and terribly elegant” within.  The lives of both characters perk up when the rich, mysterious, charmingly attentive Mr. Ozu moves into the building. Not only does he completely renovate his apartment, he does virtually the same to Renee, bringing her new clothes, a new friendship, and a raison d’etre.