Chronicle Books: Happy Haul-idays, indeed!

 The holiday season is upon us, and Chronicle Books is having an AMAZING giveaway! They are having a "Haul-idays" giveaway, with up to $1000 in prizes! No lie. Here's how it works ... I went through and made my wish-list of up to $500 worth of goodies available from Chronicle Books. If I am selected as the winner, I get my wish list. But that's not all. One lucky commenter on this blogpost will ALSO WIN THE WISH-LIST! That's right. WE BOTH GET BOOKS! There are a lot of bloggers participating, so if you want to go check out their lists, head over here ... It won't hurt my feelings if you comment on multiple wish-lists. ((I'm doing it too!)) So here's my list, and I'm hoping it's a sweet haul-iday season!!!

By Jennifer Lindner McGlinn
Photographs by BĂ©atrice Peltre
Who says gingerbread is just for the holidays? This unique cookbook shows how gingerbread can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert year-round...

Deep Dark Chocolate
By Sara Perry
Photographs by France Ruffenach
Dark chocolate lovers will fall head over heels for each of the more than 60 indulgent recipes in Deep Dark Chocolate...

Sweet Tooth Pack
The Cupcake Deck AND The Chocolate Deck
By Elinor Klivans
There are two things that we can't resist: cupcakes and chocolate. So why fight it? We're throwing in the towel and succumbing to our cravings with the sweetest gift pack on our list.

Luscious Lemon Desserts
By Lori Longbotham
Photographs by Alison Miksch
Lemon sweets are the divas of desserts. Assertive and bold, lemons can be flamboyant, tart, and tangy as in the Lemon Granita or sweet, mellow, and velvety like the creamy Lemon Panna Cotta. Over 70 recipes--from the classics to lip-smacking new favorites--are all enticingly presented in Luscious Lemon Desserts...

Sweet Miniatures
By Flo Braker
Photographs by Michael Lamotte
Award-winning author and acclaimed baking expert Flo Braker knows the best things come in small packages. Now this acclaimed author is back with a revised and expanded edition of her beloved Sweet Miniatures. Winner of the IACP Single-Subject Cookbook Award, Sweet Miniatures offers rich, all-new color photography, a whimsically appealing design, and step-by-step instructions for making all kinds of delectable desserts scaled down to an irresistible one-bite size...

Wookiee Cookies
By Robin Davis
Boba Fett-Uccine and Princess Leia Danish Dos are just the beginning when the Force is with you in the kitchen. Wookiee Cookies is your invitation to fine culinary experiences in the Star Wars frame of mind...

The Big Book of Soups and Stews
By Maryana Vollstedt
Where the best-selling Big Book of Casseroles brought bubbling cheese and golden bread crumbs, The Big Book of Soups and Stews brings succulent meats, tender vegetables, and creamy, savory goodness with 262 comforting recipes for soups, chowders, and stews...

The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy
By Domenica Marchetti
Photographs by William Meppem
Italian cooks are masters of the art of preparing simmering soups and stews that showcase seasonal ingredients at their very best. Domenica Marchetti reveals their secrets with The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy, a collection of more than 60 exceptional, authentic recipes that celebrate each season in the Italian tradition...

Delicious Dips
By Diane Morgan
Photographs by Joyce Oudkerk Pool
Diane Morgan -- the diva of dips and champion of chips -- has created more than 50 recipes for everyone's dipping and dunking party favorites...

Pestos, Tapenades & Spreads
By Stacey Printz
Photographs by Mark Lund
With little fuss and enormous flavor, transform everyday meals with simple yet creative toppings, dips, and spreads. Forty recipes are paired with multiple serving suggestions for producing yummy (and healthy!) dishes, from appetizers to dinners...

The Big Book of Appetizers
By Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder
Everyone is always looking for new and interesting recipes for appetizers, and in this book you'll find hundreds of dips, nuts, nibbles, salsas, spreads, soups, dumplings, tarts, wraps, and so much more!...

Classic Horse Stories
Compiled by Christina Darling
From Black Beauty to Pegasus, few animals inspire as much devotion and delight as horses. This collection has something for the horse-lover in everyone, including favorite horses in fiction, true stories of real horses, and a guide to grooming them...

Classic Western Stories
Compiled by Cooper Edens
For more than a hundred years, the vivid stories of the American West have thrilled and enthralled audiences both young and old, and captured the imaginations of generations. Here are the adventures of outlaws and gunslingers, explorers and settlers, lumberjacks and cowboys. Here are legends—Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Calamity Jane—and trailblazers—Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone...

Eric Carle Decorative Prints
By Eric Carle
This exciting collection features 12 ready-to-frame stunning posters celebrating the art of Eric Carle. The perfect gift for new parents decorating a nursery, or a delightful addition to any classroom, these posters feature colorful and kid-friendly images, including character favorites such as the Hungry Caterpillar...

Prisoners in the Palace
By Michaela MacColl
London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?...

Romeow and Drooliet
By Nina Laden
Author-artist Nina Laden has taken her trademark wit and applied it to one of Shakespeare's best-loved plays. Adults familiar with the classic love story will delight in the many references to the original play, all of which make this a rarity: a children's book they want to read again and again...

The Hanukkah Mice
By Ronne Randall
Illustrated by Maggie Kneen
This adorable pocket-size tale of three mischievous mice makes an ideal Hanukkah gift. Sweet illustrations and flaps hiding shiny foil surprises keep readers turning the pages until they reach the special ending—a gatefold illustration of a beautiful menorah, with all eight candles burning bright.

Spot the Plot
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Thirteen witty and wacky poems pose riddles that challenge readers to "Name That Book." With a glass slipper here and a spiderweb there, Lynn Munsinger's adorable illustrations lead young readers to the solutions. From Goodnight Moon to Madeline, children and parents alike will delight in recognizing their most cherished stories.

By Marianna Mayer
Illustrated by John Rush
At the dawn of the Middle Ages, a gripping tale of chivalry and suspense emerges. Two distinguished knights -- one Saxon, one Norman -- have returned from the Crusades. Though they fought on the same side, they now have a score to settle. What begins as a joust between two rivals quickly escalates into clanwide mayhem and a fast-paced series of battles for revenge, honor, and love...

Bears! Bears! Bears!
By Bob Barner
Everyone's favorite bears (and some you may have never met before) fish, munch, dive, cuddle, and climb their way through this playful romp. The simple rhyming text is enhanced with fun facts about new cubs (pandas are born no bigger than a stick of butter!) and bears around the world (the spectacled bear is the only species native to South America), while Bob Barner's richly textured paper collage illustrations bring the bears of the world to life. Budding ursinologists will bearly be able to contain themselves—this book is sure to leave them roaring for more!

Noah's Ark
Adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
For 40 days and 40 nights rain poured from the heavens, enveloping the world. Only Noah had been warned by God of the great flood—and only Noah could save life on earth. This powerful story of salvation has fascinated people of all ages for centuries. Now, four-time Caldecott Honor-recipient Jerry Pinkney captures all the courage, drama, and beauty of this ancient parable in rich, glorious paintings...

By Sylvia Long
From best-selling artist Sylvia Long comes an exquisite version of Hans Christian Andersen's beloved tale about a thumb-size girl and her larger-than-life adventures. Jewel-toned paintings depict the story's settings—from light and airy meadows to Mole's dark and dismal underground home—while whimsical details bring the classic cast of characters to life and make this storytime favorite a visual feast.

Sleeping Beauty
Illustrated by K.Y. Craft
Sleeping Beauty's enchanted slumber has captivated readers' hearts for centuries. Now brought luminously to life by K. Y. Craft's lavish paintings, this new edition of a timeless favorite is sure to enchant readers both young and old. Fairy tale lovers have been eagerly awaiting Craft's next magical romance since the release of her Cinderella. With illustrations inspired by the magnificent style of Baroque painters, the sumptuous color and exquisite detail of this breathtaking interpretation make it a dream come true.

Wild Horse Winter
By Tetsuya Honda
Based on an actual event, this suspenseful story tells the miraculous saga of a herd of beautiful wild horses and details the life of a young colt as it matures and follows the lead of its protective mother to overcome a wild, raging blizzard in the dramatic conclusion of their journey. The soft paintings combine with the simple text to bring a vanishing breed vividly to life. A wonderful book for reading aloud or for sharing, the story subtly parallels the growth of all creatures and underscores the strong bonds that exist between parent and child.

Cat Companion Journal
By Jeffrey Brown
This purr-fectly charming journal features a stamped cover and lots of really cute cat illustrations.

Cat Getting out of a Bag and OtherObservations
By Jeffrey Brown
Celebrated comic artist and graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown's collection of all-new drawings sweetly illustrates the joys of living with a cat. Featured in McSweeney's and on NPR's This American Life, and praised by comic luminaries Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes, Brown's work has always paid tribute to felines as they curl up on couches and purr on the peripheries of his autobiographical stories. Cat Getting Out of a Bag follows his cat Misty—really, any cat—as she goes about her everyday activities and adventures. In a series of drawings, Brown perfectly captures the universal charm of cats in a lovely book sure to please fans and cat lovers of any stripe.

Forests Eco-Keepsake Notecards
By Lisa Congdon
Printed on 100% recycled paper with soy-based inks, these gorgeous notecards feature the lush forest paintings of San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon. Housed in a reusable keepsake box.

Mini Notes
By Susie Ghahremani
Whether they are dropped in a friend's bag, left on a workmate's desk, or clipped to a birthday gift, mini greeting cards are sure to spread smiles and good cheer!

Masha & Friends
By Suzy Ultman
This adorable collection of die-cut notecards recalls the glorious colors and themes of Russian folk art. ...

Total: $491.99

Don't forget: Leave a comment, with an email address/some way to contact you, and you may win a set of these goodies too!

[Everything Austen II] Mr. Knightley's Diary

Everything Austen II is a challenge hosted by Stephanie over at Stephanie's Written Word.
The goal: To read 6 Austen-themed works between July 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011.
The progress so far:
1: Persuasion (Jane Austen)
2: Emma (Jane Austen)
3: Mr. Knightley's Diary (Amanda Grange)

Mr. Knightley's Diary
Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade, 2006

I happily timed the reading of this to coincide with the finishing of Emma. I liked the juxtaposition of having just finished reading the 'full-fledged' version with seeing everything unfold from Mr. Knightley's point of view. Having read Grange's Mr. Darcy's Diary when it first came out, I knew to expect good things of Knightley - and was not disappointed! Everything that I loved about Mr. Knightley in Austen's original comes through - and is gracefully and carefully fleshed out - in Grange's. Here is a Mr. Knightley who feels, and who battles with his own understanding. Watching his words reflect his so-very-obvious preference for Miss Emma Woodhouse above all others, before he realized he was in actually rather in love with said young lady, was delightfully amusing. I smiled often, chuckled a little, and fell even more in love with the gentle Mr. Knightley. Grange is very careful in her writing to stay true to Austen's original characters, even while giving them more 'body' and story. There are faithful accounts of the actions that take place in Emma recorded in Knightley's diary - whole conversations have even been recorded for posterity! A lovely read, and most definitely a wonderful accompaniment for Emma.

Book provided by my local library.


[Everything Austen II] Emma

Everything Austen II is a challenge hosted by Stephanie over at Stephanie's Written Word.
The goal: To read 6 Austen-themed works between July 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011.
The progress so far:
1: Persuasion (Jane Austen)
2: Emma (Jane Austen)

Jane Austen
Bantam Classics, 1984 (original publication 1815)

I read Emma ages ago, back in early high school. Probably sophomore year? I remember liking the story at the time, but at 15 there was no way I could possibly appreciate it the way I did now, rereading at the ripe old age of 25. This go-round, I was able to not only delight in the writing itself -- this may be the best written of Austen's novels, in my opinion -- but to lose my heart to the story, the characters, the whole shebang.

Perhaps one of the reasons I got so much more out of the novel this time was because for the first time in my life, I can actually relate to Emma Woodhouse. (I've watched the movies a dozen times, so I'm intimately acquainted with the story itself, if not as familiar with reading the words). I keep hearing that people do not like Emma as a character, and I'm not sure why. She's no Lizzie Bennett, but I find Emma refreshingly human. So she's spoiled and vain - she has every reason to be, and there is a good heart underneath the silliness. I found her a bit flippant at times, but attributed it to her youth and comparative isolation from society. What I did get a wee bit frustrated with was her inability to see Mr. Knightley. I fell in love with Mr. Knightley, really and truly, and found him to be a rival of Mr. Darcy for the title of "Perfect Romantic Hero".

Emma has much to offer the ready reader: a love story of aching sweetness and possibility; a host of characters that reflect all the best and worst of humanity; moments of dialogue that could be overheard in any college hall or coffee shop; and that special flavor that Jane gives to her best work. A delightful experience, and I shall revisit Emma again before another 10 years passes.

Book provided by my personal library.


*Breaking News* Melissa Walker's New Cover Revealed!

So I am totally psyched to be able to help Melissa Walker reveal the cover of her new, upcoming book! The book, Small Town Sinners, doesn't come out until *July*, but the cover has just been unveiled ... and I must say, I am definitely intrigued! Can't wait to see it in real-life and read it!

Without further ado ...

Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for him make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion. Does falling in love mean falling out of faith?