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Toni "the bookworm" RSS Feed (Chicago, Illinois United States)
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Animation in Sugar: Take 2: 16 Make-at-Home Celebration Cakes from a World-Famous Sugar Artist
Animation in Sugar: Take 2: 16 Make-at-Home Celebration Cakes from a World-Famous Sugar Artist
by Carlos Lischetti
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $23.57

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it possible to be even more amazing than the first book?, May 5, 2015
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In short.......stunning contents more fantastic than his first book!

Longer review? My fingers are ready to fly across these keys! I can safely say that the majority of people were beyond happy with the long-awaited first book from master sugar artist, Carlos Lischetti. Devotees were begging him to share his skill, knowledge, and artistic perfection of his sugar creations. In short, his works are amazing. So many people loved his work but could not attend his classes, as he is located in England, though he does travel to teach as well. So next best thing is a book, right?

If you peruse the cake decorating websites and magazines and blogs, you cannot help seeing his sugar projects everywhere. Fantasy caricatures of people, places, and things made from modeling paste. But they looked so perfect, so flawless, that you wondered if it was possible to be as good as he is but then.........Carlos, with the help of his equally talented twin brother (who is a crazy-talented artist of photography and illustration in his own right), produced "Animation in Sugar", his first book that introduced us to his instruction on this sugar art.

Fast forward to "Animation in Sugar: Part 2" and you are treated to more instruction and inspiration from the master. This book is large and heavy with 256 pages of voluminous teaching and photography, that includes detailed step-by-step photography, in close-up detail, and in full and glorious color; there are no black and white tutorials. The pages have a nice satin sheen to them and you can "feel" the quality and effort placed into this book.

Some of the projects in this book were ones that I had hoped were in his first book, but were not, therefore I saved those photos of his creations for inspiration. But this second book had all the projects that I hoped for, so now I don't know which one to start first. The great part of this sugar art is that you can tailor-make this to whatever and whomever you want to characterize, as many details of the projects are basic to any structure. The figures can be as large or small as you wish so the scope of the size won't overwhelm you.

The one project that I love, which is the Geisha Girl, is the same one that is on the cover and dust jacket and it is just perfection. I love the deep red of her kimono.

Without giving away too much detail, here is some insight into this book: There are 15 projects offered, ranging from adorable animals to caricatured people ranging from playful to sentimental celebrations. The first 25 pages deal with equipment and recipes, then presentation of the modeling paste he uses. Some might note that the names used for between here and Europe can be different but the paste is till the same. The "glue" recipes used to build images is given, along with prepping cakes before, or after, you make the images.

My most favorite part is of course, the figurines! But before you can really get into creating them, you have to know the body part basics, and coloring (whether using food paste colors or airbrushing); this is discussed in detail. Another welcomed addition is the logistics of transporting your figurines so that they are well-protected en route to their destination.

Then the fun begins: who or what are you going to make? Dogs or piggies? A plumpy Italian chef? Halloween goblin? A sweet wedding couple? These are just a few of the 15 figures Carlos teaches.

The last pages are the templates and schematics of the projects that can be enlarged of course. Both the inside and back covers have adorable pencil caricatures that his brother, Elio, drew as the fantasy of each project became reality.

As far as who would find this easy enough, it is obviously perfect for someone experienced, but even for a novice, with patience and time, this would be great for building confidence and skill.

OK Carlos...........start working on book number 3! Peace!


Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past: A Ballad Novella
Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past: A Ballad Novella
by Sharyn McCrumb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.29
66 used & new from $6.16

4.0 out of 5 stars but wonderful read from the mind of Sharyn McCrumb, February 8, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
VINE REVIEW: A lovely, short, but wonderful read from the mind of Sharyn McCrumb, this is another "ballad" in the series of Nora Bonesteel, a woman who has lived in the bucolic Appalachian town of her childhood; this one being her first Ballard Christmas novella. She weaves 2 stories into this latest offering. One that involves a house haunted by a demanding ghost and the other story involving a very wise older gentleman who can charm the police into postponing his arrest through the goodness of the Christmas season.

Whereas one story is lighthearted and will leave you shaking your head, the other story becomes more detailed and has factors and situations that seem supernatural in nature, but through Sharyn's talented fingers, will come to an interesting, and surprising, conclusion.

If you believe in Angels, you will enjoy this story. If you believe in the joy of Christmas, you will enjoy this story. It is gentle and despite the jumping back and forth between stories, she balances the this literary movement deftly.

My only regret was it's brevity; 157 pages in all. This was definitely a short story that could have easily been a much longer book. Peace.


Decorating Cakes: Beautifully Decorated Cakes from Easy to Experienced to Expert
Decorating Cakes: Beautifully Decorated Cakes from Easy to Experienced to Expert
by Pamela Clark
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.51
48 used & new from $10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem and treasure!, November 15, 2014
I was at a bookstore and as I was perusing the "Generic Book" section, I came across this gem of a find and I am lovin' this to no end! And for the price, it really was a steal; you're not going to get a book with this much instruction, for such a incredible price. The company that published this, did a homerun on this one.

While I would recommend this to someone who has some solid cake skills under their belt, this would still make a wonderful gift for a novice, providing that they would understand that it would take some time and patience to imitate the bigger projects shown. The book does start out with a section for newbees, so once you have those skills comfortable, there are other projects to attempt.

It's a good-sized book, about 9' x 11' in size, and its packed with 239 pages of instruction, projects, and ideas. Everything is light and bright with pastel shades as well as the neutral tones, for all the projects. (If you're looking for something edgy and different, then this would not be for you, and I would suggest other books). The photography is crisp and clear. The instruction is straight forward, and there are coordinating photo tutorials, though it is not step-by-step process, so this is where some skill sets already understood would help, but hey, don't let it steer you away........you'll get it with a little patience.

There are basically 4 chapters: Easy, Experienced, and Expert, along with a chapter on the "Mechanics" of how to decorate cakes.
Though there are many beautiful projects within each section, here is a hint of some of the highlights:

The "Easy" section starts with covering those big cookies with quilted fondant, and how to decorate cupcakes, to increasing efforts in learning how to make macaroons and macaroon cakes, to a lovely 5-tier, frosted, coconut-flaked wedding cake. My 2 favorite projects within this chapter were the 4-color layer cake covered in fondant with pastel polka dots, and the project that shows you how to use chocolate transfer sheets.

The "Experienced" chapter takes you through a gorgeous 2-tiered pastel pink cake with delicate cherry blossoms cascading on the sides, to a delicate white cake that has a pink embroidered cover called "Broderie Anglaise". The "Minty Flocked Wedding Cake" was a real knockout and shows you how to use stencils to get a gorgeous stenciled look for a mint green and white square wedding cake!

The "Expert" chapter was the a combination of everything and then some: embroidered cakes, petit fours, etc with an absolutely stunning cake of one perfect sugarpaste magnolia atop a single-tier, round cake that has a base with 5 rows of "pearls"......wow!

The books ends with "The Mechanics" which guides you through the actual construction of cakes and cookies and such with the basics such as recipes, prepping the cakes, stacking the cakes, how to cover them, frostings, icings, piping, making bows and the gumpaste, etc. Patterns for the projects are also included.

So if you're looking for something really awesome, really delicate but fun, and very reasonable in price, then you've hit the motherlode. This would be a great gift for that cake decorating groupie, especially if they enjoy projects in the vein of Zoe Clarke, Peggy Porschen, etc.

Peace.


Cakes in Bloom: Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions
Cakes in Bloom: Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions
by Peggy Porschen
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $26.12

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite and breathtaking sugarpaste flowers, with wonderful instruction!, November 15, 2014
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Absolutely exquisite tome of ethereal floral fantasy! I am beyond enchanted with Peggy Porschen's latest entry into her library of well-written and stunning books. This will be a very welcomed book into your cake decorating collection, in particular for those who adore creating floral pieces from sugarpaste! Her attention to the detail of making flowers has been completely focused upon in this book, starting with the very basics to more elaborate creations that can adorn cakes or cookies.

The book is large and visually perfect, with a size roughly 10' x 11' and with a sturdy hardcover that encases 224 pages of detailed tutorials for all types of heavenly flowers that one would want to pick from their garden, let alone recreate through Peggy's words and directions. I ordered this through an Amazon partner, as it was not yet available through Amazon. It arrived in perfect condition, this one with a lovely cream-colored paper banding across the flowered front and back covers that presented Peggy's name and title of this cherished new book. The pages are of a matted silk texture with excellent and detailed photography that show even the smallest of detail for the smallest of flowers, such as the lily-of-the-valley.

I would highly recommend this even for a beginner, as I cannot see even a novice having a hard time with the thorough instruction that Peggy gives. The photo tutorials are excellent for those with visual learning abilities (like myself) who do better with seeing, and not just reading.

The majority of the photo's are very close, including the step-by-step tutorials that accompany each flower lesson. Georgia Glynn Smith has been a most valued and trusted photographer for Peggy's books and she has outdone herself once again. Between the wonderful photography, as well as the food styling itself, you are going to enjoy just visually being entertained, as you look at each photo. You will linger over your idea's of how you will be able to create her projects, but you will be encouraged to come up with your own. The photo's are all in vivid colors that range from the primary colors to the pastels.

As an extra bit of sweetness, there is a lovely pink ribbon that you can use as a bookmark, though you would need one for each project as it would be hard to decide on just one.

In the "Contents" section, you are treated to an instant thumbnail view of her flower projects with their corresponding pages all prepared for you. Then she begins with "Sugar Flower Basics", introducing the reader to tools and kits necessary as well as recipes and a fabulous chart listing the group photo of the equipment.

As I said earlier, the photography is so pristine, that you will be hard-pressed to think that what you are looking at are actually sugarpaste flowers. But they are, so once you're done being excited by what is ahead of you, you get to the "Sugar Flower Designs" section, which begins the projects. Each one contains the project you will begin with a perfect photo, as well as including the "Ingredients" needed and the "Equipment" used. You are then taken to a step-by-step photo tutorial along with the "Method" to accomplish this lovely task. Everything is explained in detail and the instruction coordinates the photo in the tutorial, to the steps listed, so there is no question as to which step is meant for which photo.

Wedding cakes, cookies, miniature wedding cakes are all adorned with the most gorgeous sugarpaste flowers! Whether you are preparing for a small affair or something more grand, there are limitless idea's from Peggy. Many of the flowers are simple to create and will require very little time while others are definitely more time-intensive but totally worth the effort (such as the Cherry Blossoms!).

Color coordination is a given with each project so the addition of a soft ribbon, or perhaps some feather-light single petal blooms just teetering off the sides of the cake, will inspire you. Your own idea's can be added to the cakes as well, as maybe a light little butterfly lightly landing on an ever-so-delicate rose petal?

The flowers that are taught run the gamut from Primroses to English Garden Roses to Sweet Pea's, to Grape Hyacinths, to Ranunculus', to Peonies, and to just about every beautiful flower under the sun that you would find in a perfect garden. Now, I love Sunflowers myself, but they were not in the book, BUT this book has inspired me to make them, so for those flowers that you don't see, they are but a piece of sugarpaste away from being made.

At the end of the book, Peggy has her chapter on "Baking & Icing Basics" which will guide you with planning these projects, the basics of making the cakes, her recipes for various cake batters and flavor, as well as icings and buttercream, and how to cover cakes and cakeboards. "Quantity Guides" and a flower glossary are also included, and are very helpful, especially for a novice to this art form.

I have several books on making sugarpaste flowers and I have to say, that this book has now become one of my most favorites for teaching and learning. Granted, I acknowledge that I am a devotee of Peggy, and I acknowledge that I have all of Peggy's books, so I am unashamedly saying that I am very prejudiced, but once you see the visually stunning nature of this book, you will probably become a devotee of her too.

Peace.


The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
by Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.21
81 used & new from $10.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best GF books out there, bar none!, September 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Want the short review? Very impressed....very, very impressed! Definitely worth every penny!

Want a review that's a wee bit longer? Then here it is......................Considering that this is coming from one of the best "companies" out there, I was not disappointed in the contents of this gluten-free (GF) cookbook; their name is the golden hint. Christopher Kimball and company have been presenting the best in science and taste for cooking and baking for many years. This latest foray into GF cooking/ baking has made for confident baking as the specifics of using GF flours can be a real challenge for anyone, let alone finding the taste factor. This book has made the effort of trial and error, as well having answered the questions involved in finding palatable GF food. If you have the desire to read the specifics of this GF science, the information is here, otherwise you can go directly to the recipes and move along.

Now, just to qualify this, I have to say that I also attended a presentation during the book tour for this newest offering, with ATK's very own Jack Bishop. (I don't know him, I don't own stock in the company, but I trust Chris Kimball). I was impressed with everything because the science in this part of food life, has really taken off but where does one start? Who can you trust to have real knowledge? For those who are celiac's, just a puff of wheat in their food can make the difference between having a meal and visiting the ER......no kidding.

This is a rather heavy book of recipes and education and information. There are 328 total book pages, with recipes that have accompanying color (mostly) photo's of everything. There are 9 chapters that are specific to the cooking/baking recipes but there are 13 chapters in all, ranging from the "Welcome" to "The Basics of GF Cooking" to "Conversions and Equivalents" to "Weight-to-Volume Equivalencies" meaning the ratio of using other GF flours. They discuss how they developed the flour blends and proportions, the science and art behind it, using other ingredients that help to balance out taste and function (such as binders, substitutes, etc), and the ratings of how they determined the flavor value; all this neatly tucked in between the book covers.

CONTENTS:
Welcome to the Kitchen
Preface
The Basics of GF Cooking
A Good Start
Grains
Pasta
Comfort Foods
Yeast Breads, Savory Loaves, and Pizza
Cookies and bars
Pies, Fruit Desserts, and Tarts
Cakes
Conversions and Equivalencies
Weight-to-Volume Equivalencies for GF Flours
Index

Here are some tidbits of information that Jack Bishop made:

Depending on the company from which you purchase your GF flour, you need to SCALE everything (meaning you need to use a measuring scale) as the weights vary and will greatly affect the flavor and taste and density of the food. Both the companies and the weights are given.

It took 2 months of testing, retesting, and more retesting to find the perfect flour blend, all in the hallowed halls of America's Test Kitchen. I greatly suggest to just stick with their flour blend as the ingredients are easy to find, in both health food stores and gratefully, in more mainstream grocery chains.

In using "binders", xanthum gum if good for cookies, and psyllium is best for bread (think in the line of Metamucil!) but that guar gum is less desirable for GF baking.

Having said all this, Mr. Bishop did say that the response to this book was so great, that they are in the process of working on a GF book dedicated to all baking. He said that desserts tend to be most difficult for GF/Celiacs to deal with as most desserts are made with varying wheat flours, and just the thought of being able to have just an éclair or slice of "real" cake, would be a joy for many people (even for those who choose a GF diet).

I have made many recipes from this book, including making some for others who had no idea that it was GF; I was never disappointed nor did I receive any complaints (actually, with the recipes that were baked, there were rave reviews, and have since passed along this book to others). I truly salute the folks at America's Test Kitchen for their diligence and hardwork; both my abdomen and I thank you!


FORT MAGIC: FORT BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION TOY KIT FOR KIDS!
FORT MAGIC: FORT BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION TOY KIT FOR KIDS!

4 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The company has great potential untapped., August 29, 2014
Just watched the owner of this company on "Shark Tank". She is a sweet person but not educated in the business end of this product. All the Sharks felt the product was good but the price was too high, for starters. There is no fabric that accompanies this product, as a second point, which then increase the amount of money parents must spend to complete the construction.

Her presentation was scattered, therefore her impression on the Sharks was disappointing. Because of this, four of the Sharks declined interest. One Shark did offer a much smaller investment amount for a 1/2 interest in her company, which she declined after his refusal to decrease his interest amount in her counteroffer. She states that she clears about $100 per unit, but has other investment partners involved.

Too bad she wasn't better prepared because most reviewers believe that this is a sturdy product. Kids seem to enjoy the imagination involved in this fort as well. But for the amount of money charged, this is too high-priced.

Perhaps she will now have some refocused direction, so that she can improve her business. The actual equipment is good but through some restructuring of cost, materials, etc, this can really do well for her.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2014 6:18 AM PDT


Batman: The Complete Television Series
Batman: The Complete Television Series
DVD ~ Various
Price: $110.01
20 used & new from $76.99

31 of 126 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How much for this?!, July 26, 2014
For the "grown kids" who realize the import of the release of this classic TV series, yahoo......Batman is finally on DVD! But enough has been written about the show (the kitsch and the camp, the actors, waiting forever for its DVD release because of the studio vs corporate fighting, etc) but this price is insane. No matter how much we want this, there is no way the majority of fans will be able to shell out $150 bucks. I know the demand is high and the wait has been long, but come on! This will go on the "wish list". Heavy sigh.
Comment Comments (26) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2014 4:20 PM PST


Adult "Recital" Pointe Shoe,202
Adult "Recital" Pointe Shoe,202
Offered by Discount Dance Supply
Price: $36.95

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alas poor feet, thou art still too big......, May 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
OK...............I understand that I am NOT a tiny little thing and that I have size 11 feet. But even giraffes and gazelles like to have their clothes and shoes fit. And since I read other reviews stating that these come very small and to order 2 sizes up, that's what I did. But despite that, I found myself trying to stuff 10 pounds of baloney into a 1 pound bag. Goodness gracious, I can't even get my gunboats halfway inside. Major ouch!

So to make a short story long, I need to return these. I don't know whether to go up a couple more sizes or just go with another company. Too bad because they really are quite nice, especially for the money.

One more thing, and this could be just a quirk, but these are peach-colored therefore in the product description, it states "European pink", be aware that they are not "American pink". FYI just in case it matters to you.

Peace! JMJ!


The Tucci Cookbook
The Tucci Cookbook
by Stanley Tucci
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.29
55 used & new from $6.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ben fatto!!!!!, March 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Tucci Cookbook (Hardcover)
Well done, Stanley and family!

This has been a most fruitful effort in this delicious compilation of recipes and dishes from the history of the Tucci family.

So much has been written on this book and I agree with all the wonderful accolades given. Reaching back into the archives of the Tucci family, much love and effort has been placed into coordinating the nuances and flavors that brought about this collaborative effort of familial Italian gastronomy. Having wanted to review this book, the time was never available to really share my words. Now, with all this snow that we've been having, we were given several perfect evenings to have a "big night", and the time to share with all the fellow cooks, finally made itself available. Better late than never, I guess.

That being said, I wanted to mention first and foremost about the most important recipe within this book, and that is "The Drum" (aka "Timpano", page 177) from which most people will remember its debut from the now classic cinema "The Big Night", in which Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub co-starred. The recipe has wonderful step-by-step directions and photography to help you feel like Primo and Secondo! We only make the recipe when we have "The Big Night" as our feature film, and it's an all-day event for us. One cannot have one without the other; a nakedness of sorts to not have the complimentary parts.

Making the pasta that will envelope and caress the filling within, is a true labor of love. Flour and eggs are beautiful in and of themselves, but as partners? Wedded bliss............providing you invite salt and olive oil and water to the ceremony. Then you lay this exquisite sheet of dough into the pan and slowly add the salami, cheeses, eggs, meatballs, sauce, MORE pasta, MORE cheese, and MORE eggs! Mama mia!

The aroma within your home will the first thing that people will comment on as they walk through your door. Give them a glass of wine (that is so perfectly suggested after the recipe portion, along with contact information to the winery, no less!), and just savor the wait and the anticipation. Plus, regardless of how many times you will make this, the "unveiling" is such a big deal, that you will enjoy it every time.

It's mountain high in size and so good!!! So very, very good!!! A really hot loaf of fresh bread, some butter to melt all over it, your wine, and you are on a journey of perfection, my friends!

OK, OK.................yes, there is more to the book. Obviously.

I enjoy history and photography so the two of these are given in ample form at the start of the book as the Tucci history share the culinary wealth. Mario Batali gave a lovely Foreward so it made things just that much better to have someone such as himself, send you on your way.

There are 11 food chapters, but there is a wonderful wine mini-chapter that gives you a little insight as to how to pair your dishes with the beloved grape. The recipes have a little introduction before giving the recipe, steps, and wine pairing suggestions. There are some photographs of the dishes but not of all of them. Also, this is not a teaching cookbook; it's assumed that you have a somewhat solid skill set in the kitchen, and aside from "The Drum/Timpano" section, that is all you will see for step-by-step tutorials. But, come on, you can do this, right?

Appetizers and Salads:
Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, Antipasto, Vinaigrettes, Roasted Peppers, etc

Soups:
As Stan says, soup is cheap and easy to make so where to start? How about Chicken Soup with Chicken Meatballs? Italian Bread Dumpling Soup, and the all-time, everything but the kitchen sink, Peasant Soup! Boy, does this ever make a fanastic winter meal all by itself (with a little help from some bread).

Eggs:
Eggs with Tomatoes, Egg Tart, Eggs with Salads, etc. But as Stan states, they weren't much of a "scrambled eggs for breakfast crowd" so these are different takes on the oval gift from chickens.

Bread and Pizza:
Fried dough, banana bread, pizza's.

Pasta:
Cold Pasta (summer pasta), Hot Pasta, THE DRUM, Cannelloni, Fettucine, Tomato Sauces, etc

Rice and Risotto:
(these are kind of the same thing but vary in preparation) Rice by itself, with veggies, with fish, etc.

Veggies and Side Dishes:
The Puree of White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic is dee-vine! Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary? Beyond fantastic. There is an Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Potatoes that I'm planning on that sounds great as I'm not one for eggplant but the ingredients sound interesting.

Poultry:
Obviously, there are tons of chicken dishes here but the "Chicken on a Brick with Lemon and Rosemary" is great. I purchased some bricks from our local Lowes, which are the flat and square ones as opposed to the rectangular ones, because they have a great surface area. I scrubbed them by hand then threw the bricks into the dishwasher; I still wrap aluminum foil around them before I use them. There is also a duck recipe for those who enjoy that type of game.

Fish and Shellfish:
Bluefish, Swordfish, Clams, Salmon, Tuna and other creatures of the sea are in this chapter. Not being a big fish person, I haven't tried any of these but there are plenty to choose from.

Desserts:
Oh my word................desserts! Cookies, Cannoli's, Fried Dough, Cakes, Tiramisu, etc round out the end of your meal. But these are all light desserts, very unlike the American meal finales, but you will find them a pleasant and light/airy way of ending your meal.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable Italian cookbook with little twists and fancies that will make your meal memorable. Ciao!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2014 9:21 AM PDT


The Divorce Papers: A Novel
The Divorce Papers: A Novel
by Susan Rieger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.46
118 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing tutorial of the legal/divorce world., February 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The legal world has a mystery to it that either amuses or terrifies the common man. That being said, in order to truly appreciate the essence of this profession, one would need to spend some time with an attorney and to this end, Ms. Sophie Diehl will begrudingly accomodate you. But she will do so not with just everyday legal stuff but the stuff that TV divorce stories are contrived, with ex post factos, habius corpuses, ceteris paribuses, and hakuna matata's all tossed together. (think "Boston Legal", "The Good Wife" as opposed to the sanitized versions of earlier law shows such as "Perry Mason") The principle couple within the case are interesting characters, with some saving grace for both, but in the end, there is a situation that makes you just say "really?!"

A slightly seasoned criminal attorney, through some simple circumstances, the almost 30-something, single Sophie is placed in charge of a rather heavy divorce case, with characters that can be sympathetic or completely irritating, on both sides of the legal table. To that end, her involvement in a case that wasn't within her realm of law, brings out feelings and emotions that plague her, as she is also dealing with a personal life that echoes these same sentiments from her past, as well as the repercussions in the present.

At the same time, the resident divorce attorney who did not catch the case, now becomes an added stress for both Sophie and the firm, and that particular story line was very well written. Sometimes things have to happen in order for those things to get better, though someone must suffer; and in the end, things turn out better for it.

There is humor and pathos, with precise swear words used by some characters who are blunt and to the point. Others take the high road, but you can just hear the emotions of laughter or anger behind their sentences. Being set against the 90's, certain points of that era are mentioned such as the Clintons, their marriage during the Lewinsky debacle, abortion, Planned Parenthood, woman's rights within the corporate world, and other issues of the day.

It's in the writing style of this book that is both a novel (no pun intended) and entertaining road that the author chose to unravel this story. It is a combination of emails, briefs, notes, and sidebars of professional and personal correspondence that evolve into this tale of the ugly side of divorce, with its thorns and blood. It took a bit of time to get used to this style but it was interesting and you soon felt like you were in the office, privy to the information.

The author, Susan Rieger, being an attorney both in practice and as a professor, has presented a very intriguing piece of law that few hope to ever have to deal with during their lifetime. Though I shake my head when I read of those who have gone through this hell, not once, but several times.

Ms. Reiger has broken the story into 5 chapters of legal speak:

I Intake
II Orders/Discovery
III Counteroffer
IV Negotiations
V Settlement

Each section contains the effort, work, and aggravation that will attack both sides when settling a divorce. The involvement of children is the most delicate, and this book establishes the reality of what some children feel, think, and experience during this trial of life. In the end, no one wins, its just that the dust settles. I particularly enjoyed how the author weaved the story, angst, and emotions of the couples daughter throughout the story; she seemed to have a particularly good insight into her mind.

I did notice the rather detailed amounts of information that were given regarding divorce law and at times, it seemed to be rather tedious with the minutia of everything being presented. There were "articles" that certain characters had written in both general and legal papers and journals; the fine details of divorce regarding assets, statutes given, laws quoted, etc. I don't know if that was the intention of the author to be so thorough or if this was truly a view of the realities of divorce. That being said, this could almost be a streamlined manual of sorts on general divorce law.

This paperback book is large but not heavy and it took about 3 days to read the 461 pages. I would say that, aside from being a good read in general, it would be a good read for anyone contemplating divorce or anyone who appreciates the effort needed to be in a good marriage. Either way, point well taken. Peace.


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