Monday, April 27, 2009

LET'S PLAY KETCHUP . . . er, CATSUP, um . . .

Well, the inevitable has happened. My nightstand TBR pile fell over on me and no one could hear me scream! It's true! I was forced to read myself out from under. It took days. No, really. It did. And that means . . . it's time to play catch up!

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge all of you who have signed on as Followers. Thanks! And, welcome! It's really nice to open up this blog and see your smiling faces and/or happy icon-thingees. I hope you find the time you spend here to be worthwhile. Many of you can actually take a lot of credit for this blog, either directly or indirectly, because you've been nice enough to share your knowledge and answer my beginner-blogger how-to questions or because I've learned so much from reading your blogs over the past year. So, thank you again!

Secondly, I must say I am floored by the response to the Hachette Giveaway I'm hosting for MADE IN THE U.S.A. by Billie Letts. I set it up to run for 3 weeks because, being such a new blog on the block, I thought I'd need a longer run to spread the word around. As of right now, though, there are 89 comments posted, and that's waaaaay more than I was anticipating -- with still 13 days to go! So, more thank you's to all who enter here . . . Next time, I promise not to make you wait so long for the drawing!

Next, A Sea of Books is the stunned recipient of 2 blog awards. That's right, I'm not even steady on my blog legs yet, and 3 people have been kind enough to bestow these honors on my work. Since I'm so new, I'm going to consider these awards to be votes of confidence, and I hope that over the next weeks and months we'll all come to believe that I've truly earned and deserve the recognition.

Allison of Allison's Attic and Wanda of A Season to Read were both so sweet to award me with the One Lovely Blog Award. Actually, I'll be making improvements to the design of this blog for a long time to come, but I accept this award in the spirit it was given. Thank you, ladies. Your blogs are lovely, too!

Jessica Marie from Books Love Jessica Marie was kooky enough to bestow upon me the Zombie Chicken Award. The standards for receiving this distinctive award include the ability to "regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words." Well, that's my plan. I think it'll be obvious if I let you down. Thank you, Jessica!

And then, as if receiving awards didn't make me giddy enough, a real honest-to-goodness author stopped by and left a comment on my Waiting on Wednesday post about her forthcoming book. My first author visit! No names here, but you can still check out the post if you just have to know . . .

And finally, what it's all about -- I did get quite a bit of reading done while I was trapped in bed, so I'll be playing ketchup with book reviews, too. Over the next few days, you can look forward to my thoughts on the following:



RUBY THE COPYCAT by Margaret Rathmann

O.K. I think I've squeezed out all the ketchup. Anyone have any Grey Poupon?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - TWILIGHT OF AVALON by Anna Elliott

"Waiting on Wednesday"
is hosted by
Jill from Breaking the Spine.

by Anna Elliot

I've risen from my sickbed just to tell you about this book with an absolutely gorgeous cover.
I first heard about it from a member of Library Thing -
and I'm jealous as all get out that she received an ARC!
Due out in May, I can hardly wait to dive into it.

Description (from Simon & Schuster):

Book One in the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy

She is a healer, a storyteller, a warrior, and a queen without a throne. In the shadow of King Arthur's Britain, one woman knows the truth that could save a kingdom from the hands of a tyrant...

Ancient grudges, old wounds, and the quest for power rule in the newly widowed Queen Isolde's court. Hardly a generation after the downfall of Camelot, Isolde grieves for her slain husband, King Constantine, a man she secretly knows to have been murdered by the scheming Lord Marche -- the man who has just assumed his title as High King. Though her skills as a healer are renowned throughout the kingdom, in the wake of Con's death, accusations of witchcraft and sorcery threaten her freedom and her ability to bring Marche to justice. Burdened by their suspicion and her own grief, Isolde must conquer the court's distrust and superstition to protect her throne and the future of Britain.

One of her few allies is Trystan, a prisoner with a lonely and troubled past. Neither Saxon nor Briton, he is unmoved by the political scheming, rumors, and accusations swirling around the fair queen. Together they escape, and as their companionship turns from friendship to love, they must find a way to prove what they know to be true -- that Marche's deceptions threaten not only their lives but the sovereignty of the British kingdom.

In Twilight of Avalon, Anna Elliott returns to the roots of the legend of Trystan and Isolde to shape a very different story -- one based in the earliest written versions of the Arthurian tales -- a captivating epic brimming with historic authenticity, sweeping romance, and the powerful magic of legend.

You can read an excerpt from Chapter One
and an interview with Anna Elliot at the Simon & Schuster website.
I'm going back to bed!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page.

Today's musing is the following:

Coming towards the end of April, we’re a third of the way through the year. What’s the favourite book you’ve read so far in 2009? What about your least favourite? (question courtesy of MizB)

Whew! Glad we're picking "favorite and least favorite" instead of "best and worst." What I think is the best written isn't always the book I like best!

Now that I feel I'm off the hook, how do I narrow things down to just one favorite? I read from several different genres, so sometimes it can seem like comparing apples and oranges. I think I will base my choice on which book would I choose to re-read if I could only choose one. Hmmmm.

My pick for favorite is: THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Sandra Worth. I read this in early January and absolutely loved every minute of it. I'd read it again in a heartbeat. In fact -- I WILL read it again so that I can post a review. And coming in at a close second: HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford.

Least Favorite: Those Who Dream By Day by Linda and Gary Cargill. I think this book fell far short of it's potential, and I was deeply disappointed.

What about you? What did you like best and least?

Sunday, April 19, 2009


To celebrate my 10th post, Hachette Books has authorized me to give away 5 copies of Billie Letts' book, MADE IN THE U.S.A.

Rules for entering the drawing are below. Please read them carefully.

The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS, Billie Letts, returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid attachments -- to people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father.

While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.

* Includes a Reading Group Guide

"A heartbreaking tale about love, loss and survival that will stick with the reader long after the last page is turned." --- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Gripping...unflinching...Letts's best work since her stunning debut novel." --- Associated Press

"Heartfelt...Letts is at the top of her game." --- Dallas Morning News

"Deeply moving and entertaining."--- New York Post

I haven't read this book yet, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will!

Rules for entering giveaway:

  • Leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to win.
  • Include an @ with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com . You must leave an @ in order to qualify.
  • You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.
  • Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.
  • Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link in a separate comment will get you one more entry. (Sorry, right now I only Tweet - Digging, Stumbling, etc. have not yet made it into my repertoire.)
  • Winners must provide a U.S. or Canadian street address. Hachette is unable to deliver to PO Boxes.
  • Deadline for entry is 12:00 midnight, May 10th, EST.
  • If I can figure out how to use, that's what I'll use; otherwise, it'll be entries drawn from a hat!

(Have I covered all the bases? If I've messed up on this, my first giveaway, please let me know!)


I will email the winners shortly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Summary (from USA)

In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential, a revealing and entertaining insider’s tour through top restaurant kitchens, told from the unique perspective of a critically acclaimed pastry chef.Spiced is Dalia Jurgensen’s memoir of leaving her office job and pursuing her dream of becoming a chef. Eventually landing the job of pastry chef for a three-star New York restaurant, she recounts with endearing candor the dry cakes and burned pots of her early internships, and the sweat, sheer determination, and finely tuned taste buds—as well as resilient ego and sense of humor—that won her spots in world-class restaurant kitchens. With wit and an appreciation for raunchy insults, she reveals the secrets to holding your own in male-dominated kitchens, surviving after-hours staff parties, and turning out perfect plates when you know you’re cooking for a poorly disguised restaurant critic. She even confesses to a clandestine romance with her chef and boss—not to mention what it’s like to work in Martha Stewart’s TV kitchen—and the ugly truth behind the much-mythologized “family meal.”Following Dalia’s personal trajectory from nervous newbie to unflappable professional, Spiced is a clever, surprisingly frank, and affectionate glimpse at the sweet and sour of following your passion.

Dare I say it? This book is delicious! Light, but satisfying. Refreshingly tart – not sour and not too sweet. This tell-all memoir of a pastry chef rising through the ranks of professional kitchens hits all the right taste buds!

Author Dalia Jurgensen whet my appetite recounting how, with just a smidgeon of impetuosity, she quit her office job to pursue her dreams of a culinary career. A dash of luck lands her in an entry level position at Nobu, a top-tier Manhattan restaurant, where she practices and surpasses what she learns attending culinary school on weekends. It’s a grueling schedule with late hours, hard physical work, low pay, and little time or energy left for a social life, but her passion and creativity power her through.

The main course delivers the nitty-gritty as Jurgensen moves through various kitchen stations and restaurants honing her skills, always attempting to balance her creative ambitions with her need for rent money and health care coverage. And she needs that health care coverage - Jurgensen suffers her share of cuts and burns and keeps on cooking. There's neither room nor time for crybabies in the kitchen. As palatable as Jurgensen's story is, she makes it clear that there is always plenty of stress and pressure simmering on the back burner.

The spice sprinkled throughout with a judicious hand entices with just a hint of detail about the goings on between Jurgensen and various co-workers. Just as she is adventuresome and creative in developing recipes, she doesn't shy away from a little sexual experimentation. These details aren't essential, more like . . . icing on the cake?

Which brings us to dessert . . . well, that's what the book is really all about, isn't it? Dalia Jurgensen made the gutsy move to carve out the career she wanted. With about 10 parts hard work, a good measure of determination, a heaping spoonful of creativity, and the aforementioned dash of luck, she mixed, molded, and baked her way to the top of her craft. Then she wrote a good-enough-to-eat book about it. Dare I say it? (I do.) How cool is that?


Anyone up for a recipe? There are none in the memoir, but I found this one in an article about Dalia Jurgensen at Also, check out Dalia's website at .

Hazelnut crusted chevre cheesecake with blackberries and creamsicle sauce (one 8-inch cheesecake)
Hazelnut crust:

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6-1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix all of the above ingredients until thoroughly
3. Gently press the crust into the bottom, and one-half inch up the sides, of an 8-inch spring form pan.
4. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool.

Chevre cheese cake:

12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
11 oz chevre, room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using the paddle attachment on a standing mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and the chevre until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Beat in the sugar until incorporated.
4. Beat in the yolks, two at a time, scraping down the sides in between additions.
5. Fold in the sour cream and lemon juice.
6. Pour batter into prepared spring form pan.
7. Bake until batter is set, about 40 minutes. Cool.


3 pints blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1. In a saucepan on low-medium heat, cook berries and sugar until berries soften and juices slightly thicken, about 15-20 minutes, adding more sugar to taste. Cool.

"creamsicle" sauce:

2 cups orange juice
1/2 vanilla bean, split or, 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
1. On medium heat, reduce orange juice and vanilla bean to 1/2 cup. Stir in sugar.
2. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk in butter bit by bit until completely incorporated.
3. Remove from heat and strain. Discard vanilla bean. Reserve at room temperature until needed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday

He's here!

Without a doubt, the best thing I found in my mailbox this week wasn't a book at all! It was Paddy! This cute little guy was handmade by Toni of A Circle of Books , and I was lucky enough to win him in her St. Patrick's Day Giveaway of GALWAY BAY by Mary Pat Kelly, which she hosted for Hachette Books. I really don't know what impresses me more -- the beautiful workmanship of Toni's creation, or her generousity in including him in the giveaway. So, thank you, Toni, thank you! As I told Toni, we are particularly fond of elephants at my house, and Paddy will be well-loved and cared for. I was hoping to post a photo of him with all of his new pachyderm friends, but my photographer is under the weather right now. This photo is from Toni's own blog. I'll post a new shot soon. Thanks again, Toni! You rock!

Here's a list of the books I was also lucky enough to find in my mailbox:

1. GALWAY BAY by Mary Pat Kelly (won from A Circle of Books)

2. ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION by Keith Donahue (through Shelf Awareness, for review)

3. MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH: A NOVEL by Michael Chabon (won from Library Love Fest)

4. THE RED LEATHER DIARY by Lily Koppel (through Book Club Girl, for discussion)

5. JIBBERWILLIES AT NIGHT by Rachel Vail (won from Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central)

6. SPICED by Dalia Jurgensen (through Shelf Awareness, for review - which shouldn't be long in coming - I've just about finished the book!)

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Visit her site to participate and to find other bloggers' Mailbox Monday posts.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Sunday Salon

The Sunday

Happy Easter, Everyone! It's a gorgeous and glorious day here on the Rhode Island coast - absolutely beautiful.

I'll be traveling inland today, though, to my brother's house for our family get-together. There's no ocean there; however his property abuts a state park, so there's lots of forest and several lakes and ponds. Very pretty and peaceful.

The last couple of days I have been reading Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, andWhat Really Goes on in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen. I received the ARC from Shelf Awareness and dove right in! It's a delicious read, and I was deep into it until the early morning hours. I hope to have a little time later today to finish it off. I'll post my review later this week.

Tonight I hope to get some work done on the mechanics of this blog - the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know! (Einstein said "As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.") I have a lot of work to do!

What are you doing today? Whatever it is, I hope you all have a day full of wonder and happiness!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My First Reading Challenge

It's time for me to commit to my first reading challenge. Following my plan to take the development of this blog slowly, I've selected a mini challenge hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews. (One of my favorite blogs.)

The challenge runs from February 1- June 1, 2009, and all I have to do is read 3 books that the Unshelved Bookclub has reviewed.

Here are my choices:
  1. AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway
  2. CORALINE by Neil Gaiman
  3. TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo and Timothy Basil Ering
Have you read any of these books? Did you like them?

If you're not familiar with UNSHELVED, check them out -- you're in for a real treat!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page.
What books came into your home last week?

3 in my mailbox for review:

by Colson Whitehead
(from Shelf Awareness)

by Susan Hill
(Library Thing Early Reviewer)

by Debra Adelaide
(from Putnam)
* * *
I actually thought Mailbox Monday would be an easy post. Two and half hours later, and 35 minutes to midnight, I'm settling for what I've got above and hoping that I understand how to do this better next week. Well, at least it's fun! I'm only stopping because I do have a day job.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book Review #1: THE BALLAD OF WILBUR AND THE MOOSE by John Stadler

We received this book as part of a trio won through the Random House Read and Play Newsletter. At first glance, I thought "Mmehh . . ." However, the kids wanted to read it right away, and it was quite popular with them for a couple of weeks. Then it fell between the bed and the wall and was forgotten. Recently re-discovered, it’s a hit all over again!

I thoroughly enjoy reading this book to my niece (“E” - 5 yo) and nephew (“J” – 8 yo) and even had some additional chuckles as I read it by myself for this review. Written as a campfire song, the balladeer, Whiskers, plucking along on his banjo, delivers the story in a simple but pleasant rhythm and rhyme. Wilbur and his moose pal, Alvin, travel the rugged West in search of pigs to herd because, as Wilbur says, “. . . there's lots of pigs there, And pig-herding’s the best!” For their part, the piggies are happy to join up with Wilbur because he offers them the chance to escape their thankless jobs, for which they have little talent, and instead enjoy the life they're meant to lead: “Of walking round and oinking, And eating like a slob.” Ah, simple though their dreams may be, a dark storm cloud appears in the form of a nefarious gambler and his henchmen pig-rustlers. But don’t worry, Wilbur knows just what to do!

The illustrations in this book are clear, colorful, subtly amusing, and particularly sly in the rustling scenes. Pay close attention to the details for another level of entertainment.

All in all, this book is highly recommended!

SYNOPSIS (from Barnes & Noble)

Meet Wilbur Little, a lime-juice drinking, pint-sized, sombreroed cowboy who herds pigs for a living. Wilbur tackles the villains he meets in the forms of pig-rustlers and gamblers, along with his loyal companion, Alvin (who happens to be a big blue moose), an off-key singing piglet, and a book-loving pig from Yuma. Their hilarious antics and pell-mell are the norm in a wacky western world where creative problemsolving is needed for good to triumph over evil.The Ballad of Wilbur and the Moose was originally published in a slightly different form in 1989 to wonderful acclaim by Publishers Weekly, People, and The New York Times Book Review Children’s Bookshelf. John Stadler recently located all of the original artwork (as well as creating one all-new spread) so that this publisher could bring this book back to the full glory it deserves.

Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
Pub. Date: June 2008

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Robin Corey Books (June 10, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375841741
ISBN-13: 978-0375841743

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins: #118

Thank you Janet for hosting the fun. Come join us here!

Friday Fill-Ins: #118 we go!

1. Angel or not, I will eat deviled eggs.

2. You can't have me any way you want me.

3. As my mother used to say, you're full of pickled onions.

4. I lounge around reading after I'm done working out or doing something strenuous.

5. Even in the most crowded of rooms I can be lonely.

6. A day without caffeine is a day fraught with peril.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a good movie, tomorrow my plans include letting the kids pick the playground and Sunday, I want to read my book!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday . . . and waiting, and waiting . . .

Ah, April Fool's Day, and all our thoughts turn to silly pranks. I've come up with some great ones over the years but, alas, they always fall flat upon execution. So when I heard about SIR JOHN HARGRAVE'S MISCHIEF MAKER'S MANUAL, I thought there's help for me yet! Geared toward "Young Adults" I figured there had to be something in there that I could pull off.

Double alas! It's not due out till June! Once again, the joke's on me.

Product Description From Amazon:
This is the definitive guide to pranking and mayhem. Written in the style of a training manual, but with hilarious illustrations, this book is broken up into five sections. The “Basics” shows kids how to find a pranking partner and how to pull simple pranks like making crank calls. “Prank Moves” explains how to pull pranks at places like home, school, or camp. “Do-It-Yourself” demonstrates things like putting a real worm inside an ice cube. “Experts Only” covers such advanced pranks as how to fake an alien landing. And “Recipes” gives step-by-step instructions on how to bake tuna cookies.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (June 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044844982X
ISBN-13: 978-0448449821

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

No, this is not a joke. I'm not ready. The blog's not ready. And you probably couldn't care any less! But today is the day for fools so . . . I'll just figure things out as I go along.