Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday - Shadows Walking

I received the book "Shadows Walking" from Douglas R. Skopp, the author. It is an historical fiction about Nazi doctors that I wanted to read because I have often wondered WHAT they were thinking(!) I finished reading it this week, and I am going to do a full review, but I flagged a couple words for Wondrous Words Wednesday. Wondrous Words Wednesday is a meme sponsored by, where we feature new-to-us words and what they mean!

My words were "mensa" and "Boche."

You may be thinking, "I know what mensa is. It is the high IQ society."

And, that is the dictionary definition...along with a definition that, interestingly, has to do with constellations. But, when I google GERMAN mensa it turns out that it is a dining hall for students, which makes sense in the context it is used in this book.

On page 231, a German who has seen combat in WWI flips out and starts screaming, 'The Boche! The Boche!' I looked this one up, and it turns out to be a derogatory term that the French called the Germans in WWI. But, this guy WAS, why would he be using a derogatory term about Germans? The answer might be that he was, literally, stark raving mad.

The good thing is I got this book directly from the author. So, I am going to write and ask him, and I will let you know the answer in another episode of WWW!


Hello, Elizabeth,

Thank you for your kind words about my novel, Shadows Walking. I look forward to your review on your blog.

Yes, Pelcher’s scream, “The Boche!” is indeed what the French called the Germans, during World War I and afterwards.

Here’s a dictionary definition:
“Boche [bɒʃ] n Derogatory slang (esp in World Wars I and II)
1. a German, esp a German soldier
the (usually functioning as plural) Germans collectively, esp German soldiers regarded as the enemy
[from French, probably shortened from alboche German, from allemand German + caboche pate]”

I meant Pelcher’s delusional scream to be an accusation against his own kind, the Germans, a despairing cry from a would-be German physician in a novel about medical experimentation and cruelty. You, as far as I know, are the first one to even pick up on his scream, Elizabeth, and what I intended it to convey. Thank you! But I suspect that it’s too obscure or arcane a reference, among many others of my little efforts to make Shadows Walking a more nuanced rendition of the horrors of World War I and the ensuing era that I describe.

One more point, I went out of my way to never use the term “German” when I believed “Nazi” would be more appropriate. I don’t want the reader to think that I believe that Nazi brutality was just another facet of German civilization, or that all Germans were Nazis. On the contrary, to think in these “racial” categories is to do exactly what the Nazis did when they denigrated, say, the Jews. Such racist thinking led, I believe, directly to the indifference at the heart of Nazi atrocities.

I hope this helps. Thank you so much for your question.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mrs. Tuesday's Departure

"Mrs. Tuesday's Departure" is high in my TBR stack! (FTC disclosure: I have been sent a free ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest review.) I have just finished reading "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson and this will kind of pick up where that left off. Also, it has a bit of a "Sophie's Choice" air about it although, thankfully, it sounds less dark. Below is a description -- what do you think?

Hungary's fragile alliance with
Germany kept Natalie, a renowned children's book author, and her family out of
harm's way for most of the war. Now as the Führer's desperation grows during
the waning years of the conflict, so does its threat. Natalie's younger sister,
Ilona, married a Jewish man, putting both her and her young daughter, Mila, in
peril; Natalie's twin sister, Anna, is losing her already tenuous hold on
reality. As the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi
soldiers, danger creeps to the doorstep where Natalie shields them all.

Ilona and her husband take the last
two tickets to safety for themselves, abandoning Natalie to protect Anna and
Mila from the encroaching danger. Anna's paranoid
explosion at a university where was once a professor, sparked by delusions over
an imagined love triangle, threatens their only other chance for escape.
Ultimately, Natalie is presented with a choice no one should ever have to make;
which of her family will she save?

An inspirational story of faith and
family, strength and weakness, and the ultimate triumph of love over
hate. Mrs. Tuesday's Departure demonstrates the power of faith
to light even the most harrowing darkness.

... faith is the evidence of things not seen.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Religious / Historical Fiction
Rating - PG
More details about the author

Connect with Suzanne Anderson on
Twitter & Facebook & Pinterest
Check out where this author will be talking about her latest release!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Full Nest

I hand wash the dishes because the dishwasher leaves a film on everything, which leads to the kids insisting that the glasses are dirty. So, its simpler to just wash them.

While I wash, I look out the big window over the sink at my green yard and lush hedges. I smile at two squirrels and a cardinal. But then, dammit, I see a European starling carrying a huge bit of yellow straw.

I don't even have to watch him to see where he is going. I already know that he is headed for Starling Heights, a new birds-only development on MY front porch. God, there are already about ten nests in the rafters. And, I can hear LOTS of cheeping babies. Why oh why is he taking more nesting material there? Isn't nest-building over? And, aren't the babies half grown?

I can't even use my porch, because the starlings get pissed if I hang out there. On the other hand, I am not some sadistic bird Nazi who is going to kill a bunch of babies and nesting mothers. So, my plan is just to wait until everyone flies the coop, so to speak, and then power wash all the nests down. And, then I will look on the internet and see how to discourage nest building next year.

Now, however, I am the one who is discouraged because this particular starling looks as though he is engaged in Nest Building Part Two. Do they even DO that?

I continue to indulge the kids by polishing each glass and ensuring it is spot-free before putting it away. I continue to indulge the starlings by avoiding my porch. I wonder if one day, I will miss all the cheeping?

This has been written for A Writer Weaves a Tale, Sandra's Writing Workshop Hop (Button at your right.) Our prompt: Write in the close first person point of view.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend Cooking in Venice!

I just read "A Thousand Days in Venice" by Marlena de Blasi.

She is a middle-aged food writer and chef. She is visiting Venice for work and - get this - a man sees her in a restaurant and calls her. The waiter tells her there is a call for her on the land line and she goes and takes the call. The Italian man on the other end has fallen in love with her at first sight.

The next day and the next she goes back to the restaurant and he calls and calls again.

They meet. They fall in love. (Well, I guess SHE falls in love, since he had already.) And, they get married. She uproots her entire life in the States and moves to Venice.

And, this book is her story.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

Throughout the book, Marlena, being a food person, is cooking, eating, shopping for food, and describing all of this to us. At the end of the book are sumptuous recipes. I have tried one and am sharing it here today, but I am going to try two others - Fresh Pasta with Roasted Walnut Sauce and also A Gratin of Leeks. But here today, I have made her recipe for:

Lemon Gelato with Vodka and Sparkling Wine

1/2 pint lemon ice cream or sherbet
4-6 ice cubes
4 ounces vodka
1 cup sparkling wine (in the Veneto, it's the ever present Prosecco)
shredded zest of lemon

Place the ice cream or sherbet, the ice, vodka, and wine in a blender and whirl until it's thick, creamy and barely pourable. Transfer it to iced wineglasses, sprinkle on the lemon zest, and serve with small spoons.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Phantasmagoric Juggernaut - Trifextra Writing Challenge

Phantasmagoric juggernaut.
Bejeweled, bespangled chariot.
Yellow, orange, green and flaming pink.
Pushes its bearers to the brink.

Deities, icons, inamorata.
Gilded trunks of elephantata.
Propelled along on giant wheels.
Purples, indigos, and teals.

Transcendental grows the crowd.
Swirling, dancing, bright and loud.
Phantasmagoric juggernaut.
Bejeweled, bespangled chariot.

I am entering this post in the Trifextra Writing Challenge. If you are interested in writing, click the link and check it out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday - A Tricky One

I just finished reading "Glamorous Illusions" by Lisa T. Bergen. I will be doing a review on it soon. (FTC disclosure: I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

As I was reading, I was on the look out for words to use in Wondrous Words Wednesday...but, there weren't any! It was a good book about a young woman living in Montana in 1913 who gets swept away on a Grand Tour of Europe. I was lamenting fact that there were no hard words, when I realized there actually WAS a word that was throwing me off! But, it was so simple...or was it...?

The word is Bear. Don't laugh! Let me tell you how they are using it. They are referring to their Grand Tour guide as their "Bear." It is not like a simile or metaphor, meaning that the man is big or hairy or something! In fact, all Grand Tour guides are being called Bears.

I looked up bear in the dictionary and did NOT find a definition where a bear is a tour guide.

So, I googled "Grand Tour Bear," and found this from Wiki:

A bear-leader was formerly a man who led bears about the country. In the Middle Ages and Tudor times these animals were chiefly used in the brutal sport of bear-baiting and were led from village to village. Performing bears were also common; their keepers were generally Frenchmen or Italians.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, a bear-leader was a colloquialism for a man who escorted young men of rank or wealth on their travels, such as young gentlemen on the Grand Tour. The role of bear-leader blended elements of tutor, guardian, chaperon and companion. A late example in literature can be seen in the ambitious Oxford tutor hired to keep an increasingly alcoholic young man out of harm's way -- and out of the way -- in Brideshead Revisited.

So, a bear-leader originally took actual BEARS around, but over time he become someone who led tours!!

If you are following, or interested in, the 2012 Book Pilgrimage, Parolediscribacchina has an AMAZING post on a recent trip to Lisbon! Check it out!

I prepared this as part of Wondrous Words Wednesday at

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giant, Huge, Amazing Book Club!!!

It is 1book140's Birthday!

Apparently, there are tens of thousands of people in The Atlantic's Twitter-based book club, which is just turning 1 year old.

Did you guys know about this? Why didn't I know about this? This sounds so cool!

So, this June is Who Done It month and right now all the members are deciding what book to read.

This seems like fun!

Are you in?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Cooking - We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Post...

This week, I postponed the lovely post that I was GOING to share with you, because I found something REALLY funny - and it involves books and food!

I bring you...The Gallery of Regrettable Food!!

Here are a few excerpts. On the site that I am going to give you a link to, there are categories - many based on an old cookbook. Within the categories are pictures from that book and then the web administrator's rude little (funny!) remarks about the food, as follows:

There was an audible sigh of relief from the men when you brought this out. They had been told breakfast was part of brunch. They had seemed confused when nothing resembling breakfast was on the table. Then this! Sausages dipped in raw pancake batter. Now you’re talking, sister. Hey, this brunch thing’s lookin’ up . . . .

Ah, the life of a cosmopolitan. Late-night guests arriving at the SINFUL hour of ten PM, looking for food and drink. Not to worry - you're ready. You're dressed in a white tuxedo. Your wife has been preparing for just such an event by studying her Good Housekeeping Ten PM Cook Book, which spells out the precise means for pacifying groups according to their age and gender.

In the next few pages, you will be exposed to lurid, suggestive food imagery, so be warned. But that's what you have to expect when you're a night owl - when you're a Ten PM cook.

Slowly, the tiny alien approached the dish, hovering without a sound, ready to pounce.

The thing about meat is this: if you know it’s meat but you don’t know exactly what kind of meat, you’re still assured that it’s meat, and you know it’s meat.

No one knows what this is right away. Gradually, your eyes adjust, and think: peppers? Asparagus. With a coating of Lemon Pledge.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

It’s a core sample from a geological age where VEGETABLES RULED THE EARTH.

When you have some time and need a laugh, go to the Gallery of Regrettable Food! You may not want to read the section called Meat Fisting because it is about the home slaughter of animals and there are pictures that may bother some people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday - 1000 Days in Venice!!

I am reading "A Thousand Days in Venice," by Marlena de Blasi. It is an auto-biographical story about a mature woman who falls in love at (almost) first sight and leaves behind everything in America to move to Venice and marry a relative stranger!

The text contains some Italian here and there, which is mostly all translated. But, I came across this on page 2, "...and embark on a boat that moves pian, piano up the canal...."

What are pian and piano? I remember when I played piano a loooong time ago that the term "piano" meant something besides the instrument. But, I do not remember what, or if it has anything to do with this. So, hang on a sec while I look it up...brb...

Hmm...Wiktionary says this:

pian piano
little by little, slowly

They make it look like a phrase with no comma in the middle... So, I kept look and found this:

What does this phrase mean:

Mentre il mondo pian piano spariva lontano laggiu

The part I am having trouble with is "pian piano"?


Dana French
Welcome to the forum.

It means "little by little" , "slowly" , "gradually"

So, again, it is a phrase, not two separate words with a comma in the middle. Could this be a typo? Not saying that it is, but now I am wondering.

Also, I checked to see what the term piano means in music, and it means to play softly. That would seem consistent with the above definition for pian piano, because both are the opposite of boisterous barging around!

I have prepared this post for Wondrous Words Wednesday at

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trifecta Writing Challenge - We Got Trouble

She did not think that it was a big deal that he had a blue collar job. He was obviously a good father - he had custody of his kids. And, actually, she thought it was great that he was so handy! On their third date, he had installed three ceiling fans in her house and FINALLY hooked up the damn automatic ice maker in the freezer!

"I'd like to see a pencil pusher do THAT!" she thought to herself.

It was good to have a man around for the boys. She would watch him play with the four little boys - his two and her two. And, it felt right.

They were married.

But, within a few years, the trouble began. When they met, she had not been out of grad school long. But, then she got a promotion and then a new job, and within those first years, her salary was double what hers - and his - had been in the beginning.

It caused trouble in their marriage. She was not the one that had the problem with it. She still respected him. But, he could not respect himself.

"I WORK for a living!" he would blurt out, out of the blue. "I don't sit around in an air conditioned office!"

He had always spanked the boys, and she had been alright with it. They were a boisterous mob, ages six through ten, and a spanking once in a while was fine. She had been spanked as a child.

But, now he started to get really rough with the kids. It was as though he were full of anger, and if one of the boys added one more drop to the bucket, he would overflow in a raging torrent.

In the end, she had to take the kids - all of them - and go.

I have prepared this for the Trifecta Writing Challenge! Click over and take a look - its a lot of fun, and a great bunch of people!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review - "Crazy Dangerous" by Andrew Klavan

I guess what really struck me about this book was the feeling of being inside a seriously ill mind. (I realize that I just opened myself up to a lot of jokes there, and you can feel free to leave them in the comment section, but I am going to continue the thought, because I think it is important!)

The star of this book, "Crazy Dangerous," by Andrew Klavan is Sam Hopkins. But, his co-star is definitely Jennifer Sales. Jennifer has schizophrenia. She tells us about what she sees and feels in the first person, and it comes across as very realistic. I see in the acknowledgments that Mr. Klavan consulted with mental health experts and read books and articles on mental illness. I guess you can always tell when someone has done their homework, because Jennifer's inner dialog comes across as very believable.

The only other book that I have read that was a first person account of schizophrenia was Mark Vonnegut's (Kurt's son) book. And, I can see similarities, although Jennifer seems to suffer more acutely.

Alright! Enough of all the cerebral (get it?) stuff! This is an action book! Big time! Because while Jennifer is literally dealing with her own demons, Sam is accosted by young thugs - after a harrowing game of chicken with a train - and dragged to an old barn.

He starts hanging out with some bad kids, but when they attack Jennifer and he sticks up for her, those kids become his enemies...and Jennifer his strange new friend. But,those bad kids are not going away. Actually they are getting worse and worse, and the story moves very quickly to an exciting conclusion.

I think this is a book for teenagers (although I liked it!). There is discussion about doing the right thing, even when others might oppose you. It teaches morals without being at all "preachy." I actually really enjoyed it!

FTC Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is Schizophrenia Awareness Week - SAW2012 - learn more!!

@AndrewKlavan's Crazy Dangerous $100 Visa Cash Card Giveaway! RSVP for
#Facebook Party {5/29}!
Celebrate with Andrew Klavan by entering his Crazy
giveaway and connecting with him during the Author Chat Party on

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $100 Visa Cash Card
  • A copy of Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan for YOU and
    5 of your Friends!
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at
noon on May 28th. Winner will be announced at the "Crazy
Dangerous" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/29
. Andrew will be hosting an Author Chat, testing your survival trivia skills, giving away books and gift certificates to
iTunes and! Don't miss a second of the "danger"!

Grab your copy of Crazy Dangerous and connect with Andrew on the evening of
5/29/12 for an author chat and lots of giveaways.

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP
and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weekend Cooking from Marshall Fields for Mom

The grand Marshall Fields department store on State Street in Chicago was bought out by Macy's in 2005 and re-named to Macy's in 2006. But, for my mom, "Fields," as they called it, lives on in the form of the "Marshall Fields Sandwich."

She and my dad have one at least a couple times a week. So, in honor of Mother's Day, I bring you The Marshall Fields Sandwich. (From

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)



Source: Deborah Loeser Small, Lake Magazine
The Walnut Room. Marshall Field's Special Sandwich. Some things cannot be improved upon. In the 1970s I learned to make "Field's Specials" at a part-time job in the kitchen of Field's Old Orchard store, Skokie, Ill. These "sandwiches" are in fact mountainous, delightful salads. Two or three outside corporate owners later, the Special doesn't appear on any Field's menu (although the Walnut Room will make them on request)--but here is the step-by-step way to make it at home. I've also included my personal recipe for Thousand Island dressing. FYI: This is fantastic use of after-Thanksgiving turkey.
One fresh, crispy head iceberg lettuce
Three to five thin slices of freshly roasted turkey breast (white meat only), room temperature
Three-fourths cup thousand island dressing (recipe to follow)
One thin slice of aged Swiss cheese
One fresh slice of Jewish or other mild (but flavorful) rye bread
One to two teaspoons butter, softened
Two slices of your favorite bacon
Slice of hard-boiled egg
Slice of tomato
Olive and parsley garnish

Butter rye bread and place on a large cold serving plate. Cover bread with Swiss cheese slice, followed by one or two slices of turkey. Take a nice large outer lettuce leaf from the head of iceberg and set aside. Slice the iceberg lettuce in a few large sections and arrange a section on top of the turkey and Swiss cheese.
Cover the open-face "sandwich" with big lettuce leaf. Top with several slices of turkey. Pour a very ample amount of dressing over the lettuce, allowing it to puddle slightly all around the plate. Place a slice of bacon and an olive on either side of sandwich mound. Place tomato slice and egg slice atop mound with parsley sprig. Serve immediately.

Yield: one Special Sandwich

Yield: One entree-size serving

Thousand Island Dressing

One cup real mayonnaise
One-half cup Heinz chili sauce
Two tablespoons sweet pickle relish
Two large green olives, pitted and finely chopped
One-half teaspoon dried tarragon
Dash Tabasco
Dash Worcestershire sauce
One hard-boiled egg, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Serve.

Yield: One and three-fourths cups dressing


Did you gape when you saw that you put 3/4 cup of Thousand Island on each sandwich?!? We don't use that much. After all, my parents are still ALIVE and they are in their seventies!

Here is what it looks like after the butter, cheese and first turkey layer have been added.

Now we have added the multiple lettuce and turkey layers.

And Voila!

While searching for this recipe, I found out that Fields also had a famous chicken salad recipe, a famous meatloaf with red pepper sauce recipe, and several other specialties. Apparently, there is even a Marshall Fields cookbook!

I also found famous recipes from other department stores - many now defunct - from across the nation. This is what the 'ladies who lunch' ate while shopping. This is what the Mad Men's wives had for lunch!

So, Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there and to all you sons and daughters of mothers too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Trifextra - About a Mother

"We're going to lose this baby!!"

"Just do it without the anesthesia."

He cuts. I don't move.

Forceps in.

Grinding like a molar being pulled.

I allow myself to scream.

I'm a mother.


I have prepared this post for the weekend Trifextra Writing Challenge. We have to use exactly 33 words and the word 'mother' in honor of Mother's Day. This is the story of the birth of my third son. I actually went on to have two more kids after this...because I am obviously nuts. The photo is actually the son of that son, but they look virtually identical.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trifecta Writing Challenge - The Job Offer

Being petite is just the thing in high school...but, only if you are a girl. So this little, bird-like guy with the frizzy, seventies fro did not interest me in the least.

He had shown up at my friend's house with her college student brother, Joey. And, he was from the tough streets of Gary, Indiana. He was an enigma in our middle-class, white bread subdivision.

I was sitting in a recliner. I was in my Cubs phase; I had a crush on one of the players. I was seventeen.

As I watched the game on TV, the little guy and Joey murmured by the stairs, and then Joey gave me a side-long look and left. The little guy came over and started talking over the game.

"Hey! How ya doin!" he enthused. He was trying to come across as confident, but I could tell he was nervous.

"Good." I answered politely. We are very polite in the Midwest.

"So, I don't know if anyone told you," he went on. "But, I am a pimp in Gary."

Ever well-mannered, I replied, "Oh, well, that's nice. Is it going well?"

"Well," he answered, looking even more nervous. "You're really pretty, and I want you to come and work for me."

"That's nice of you. But, I have school, you know, and a job at McDonald's, which is going pretty well. Plus, you know, I'm a virgin or whatever, so it probably would not be a good fit. But, it's nice of you to ask," I told him, genuinely flattered to have been offered the hooker job.

He reached forward and awkwardly patted me on the knee. "Well, Joey can get in touch with me if you ever change your mind," he said. He swaggered out of the room.

I went back to watching the Cubs.


This post is part of the Trifecta Writing Challenge...why not click over and give it a try!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Witchy Wondrous Words Wednesday

I just finished reading "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane." It was a good book! I went to the (great) website where the above link leads, and found a Witchipedia widget to install that gives you the witch word of the day on your blog. I thought it would be PERFECT for WWW. I tried to download it and it just was not there. I think that may have something to do with fact that the book came out in 2009 and I bought my copy recently from a $4.99 bin at the grocery story, so the widget is probably out of date.

So, my great plan was foiled. But, not wanting to give up so easily, I found THIS witch dictionary at the Burkittsville site. You may remember Burkittsville from the Blair Witch Project.

You will know a lot of the words there. Here are some goodies though...

Cense - To purify with incense (makes sense - haha!)

Clairaudience - A psychic ability in which individuals can hear sounds and voices not heard by others.

Oneiroscopy - The interpretation of dreams.

I prepared this post for Wondrous Words Wednesday at

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: "Lost in Shangri-La" by Mitchell Zuckoff

When I was a little girl, I read all fourteen of the original Oz Books by L. Frank Baum, and as many of the subsequent knock-off books as I could get my hands on. The idea of a hidden fairy land right here on Earth intrigued and delighted me!

According to Baum, the reason that no one had found Oz was that it was surrounded by the Deadly Desert that nobody could cross. If you think about it, the whole story of the Wizard of Oz is Dorothy trying to escape from Oz, where she has become trapped!

I received a book for review (FTC disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.), "Lost in Shangri-La," by Mitchell Zuckoff, and soon realized that - like Oz - it too was about a civilization that nobody knew about - well into the twentieth century! Instead of a deadly desert, this hidden land was surrounded by mountains and a jungle.

The hidden land in Zuckoff's book is in the interior of New Guinea. Here is how he describes it (pg. 22):

"Peering down through the cockpit windows, Elsmore and Grimes saw several hundred small, clearly defined native villages. Surrounding the native compounds were carefully tended gardens, with primitive but effective irrigation systems, including dams and drainage ditches. 'Crops were in full growth everywhere and, unlike the scene in most tropic lands, the fields were literally alive with men, women, and children hard at work,' Elsmore marveled."

It actually sounds a little Oz-like; except on the ground rather than Munchkins there were men in penis gourds. In case you haven't seen one before, a penis gourd is gourd that you wear on your penis. The natives wore them, and there are's pretty odd.

"Lost in Shangri-La" is not just a story about a new civilization. It is an adventure story about a plane that crash lands there during WWII and the ensuing effort to rescue the survivors. The survivors are in the mountains surrounded by 150 miles of jungle on all sides and among these mysterious new people.

I do not want to spoil the story by telling you what happens. I will tell you that I liked the book...maybe a 4 out of 5. It is non-fiction, and I felt as though I learned about an important event in history that I should have learned about before now! I am glad that I read this book, and would recommend it.

I found this video on Youtube. The author made it - it's an over-view of the story!

This review is part of a TLC Book Tour!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Trifextra - 3 Truths and a Lie

Mrs. Jones: Maria just called me and said that she couldn't clean today, but would come tomorrow. She was really upset and I was having trouble understanding what the problem was. But, it was something about her mother-in-law and santeria. I googled 'santeria' and its a mixture of Catholicism and witchcraft! But, that doesn't make any sense. I think I misunderstood her.

Maria: I found two naked Barbie dolls under the trailer, the girl Barbie and the boy one - I forget the name. They were tied up with their backs together. So, you know what that means?! Yea, santeria. My mother-in-law! She is trying to break up me and my husband. Now, I have to clean the whole place with vinegar. I had to call off work. I hate her so much!

Jennifer: Oh my God, I wish my mother was normal. I can't bring anyone over! Plus, she thinks my grandmother is out to put a spell on her or something. My grandmother is a saint!

The Mother-in-Law: I didn't do no santeria! She crazy! I not trying to break her up with my son, just cause she trying to turn him against me and she never let me see my grandchildren. Ever since the beginning, she never show me any respect. No. I not the one, but whoever do it, I happy.


I am linking this story up to the Trifextra Challenge at This weekend's prompt was three truths and a lie!

Weekend Cooking...with Ruth Reichl(!)

Have you read any of Ruth Reichl's books? The one that I have read the most recently is "Garlic and Sapphire's: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise." Before that, my mom had sent me "Tender at the Bone" and "Comfort Me with Apples" audio-books. I have not yet read her 2009, "Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way."

So, Ruth's mother is actually a good place to start talking about her books. Her mother loved cooking and entertaining. But, she had no concept of food safety. She would make food ahead of time, and let it sit out FOREVER. As Ruth got older, she would try to protect the guests by getting rid of certain makes for hilarious reading!

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

I "knew" Ruth Reichl best as the editor of Gourmet magazine. I don't want to get started here about Gourmet, because I used to read it cover to cover as a teenager and I am still pretty sad about it no longer being in publication.

But, before that she was - among other things - the restaurant critic for the New York Times! That is mostly what this book is about. When she first started she realized that she was being recognized and treated in a special way. So, she developed these great disguises to wear so that she could get the restaurant experience of the Ordinary Person.

To me, a bigger deal than the disguises was that she went out on a limb with the newspaper by not just reviewing the big deal restaurants, but by digging up diamonds in the rough - like great places for Korean barbecue - and reporting on those! I share her affinity for discovering the little hole in the wall restaurant with great food!

Ruth's writing is fun and foody! If you have not read her books yet, you may want to check them out!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday (in New Guinea!)

I was sent a review copy of "Lost in Shangri-la" by Mitchell Zuckoff. it is a non-fiction book about a plane that crash lands in a remote part of New Guinea during WWII.

I am several chapters into it and enjoying it so far. Mr. Zuckoff is introducing us to several words that are peculiar to New Guinea, but he keeps including the definitions of the words. This is good for my reading of the book, but bad for this meme! :)

i did come across one word, though, as he was describing what the native women wore. He said, "...and always one or more capacious carrying nets hung over the back from the forehead."


According to it means:

Having a lot of space inside; roomy: "a capacious van".
spacious - roomy - large - commodious - wide - ample

So, capacious means spacious...and, it even rhymes! :)

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted at We talk about and share new words that we have come across in our reading - go over to WWW and check it out!