Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Janet Jackson on Body Image, Weight Loss and True You

Janet Jackson recently appeared on ABC's Nightline to discuss topics such as weight loss and body image.  Jackson, 45, is a new spokeswoman for Nutrisystem, a weight loss program known for it's home delivered packaged foods.  She refused to talk about numbers on the scale, but she focused on the goal of maintaining a healthy weight.

Jackson discussed her struggles with a negative body image.  She stated that her struggle began at a very early age.  She was teased at home and she had to contend with the expectations set for her while on the set of Good Times.  I have always thought that Janet Jackson is such a beautiful woman.  It shocks me to hear her say that she has not viewed herself that way. 

In her book, True You, Jackson addresses her very personal struggles with self-esteem.  She encourages the reader to recognize that who you are, the true you, is more than enough.  Jackson states, "I’m loved, I’m valued, and I’m capable of achieving balance in my life. I can learn to eat well. I can exercise. I can express gratitude for the simple act of being able to breathe in and breathe out. I can move away from darkness and depression to light and hope. I can be happy with who I am, not what I should be, or what I might have been, or what someone tells me I must be. I am me, the true me; you are you, the true you—and that’s good. That’s beautiful. That’s enough.”

True You is now in paperback and available at www.thequalitycorner.com.

Available in eBook format at Barnes & Noble, click here -
True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself

View her interview on Nightline here:

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man" by Steve Harvey Hits the Big Screen

Steve Harvey's best-selling book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man has been transformed into an ensemble comedy/drama that hits theaters this spring.

"The idea of my first authoring endeavor being turned into a movie - that's a big jump, man.  I don't know anybody who can plan that,"  Harvey told USA Today.

The movie is directed by Tim Story (Barbershop) and it features an all-star cast.  The cast includes Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good and Chris Brown.  Steve Harvey is the narrator and also plays a role in the movie. 

Think Like a Man is scheduled to open March 9.  With all the buzz about this film, I'm sure it will be an instant hit!

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man is now available in paperback.  Purchase your copy at www.thequalitycorner.com and read it before the movie comes out.

Available in eBook format at Barnes & Noble, click here -

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review - "A Flight of Fancy" by Jo King

Trees that talk and fly. Aliens and spaceships. A child’s imagination is endless. A Flight of Fancy is a delightful story that will fuel the imagination of young readers.

The main character is an eleven-year-old boy by the name of George. He is a thoughtful young man that looks after his mother since his father was killed. Every morning, he wakes up early to check on his mother. One morning he goes into her room and looks out the window to find that all of the trees in the yard are gone. In fact, all the trees in the town of Arbordon are missing.

George joins forces with his neighbor, Lisa. They are determined to find out what has happened to the trees. Thankfully, they find one weeping willow that can give them clues about the missing trees. George and Lisa are astounded that the willow can talk to them! Together, they set out on a quest to find the trees of Arbordon.

George has suspicions that aliens may have taken the trees to a different planet. He vividly describes the aliens’ evil plan. George’s imagination is running wild. He will not rest until the mystery is solved.

The clever and unique storyline of A Flight of Fancy is captivating. As I read through this book, I eagerly anticipated the mystery unfolding. Readers will enjoy this story from beginning to end. This book reminded me of the joy I felt when reading as a kid. I allowed myself to be a kid again and get completely lost in this fascinating journey. I am confident that all who read this charming book will be as enthralled as I was.

Available for purchase at Xlibris.com/bookstore, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

"A Flight of Fancy" Audiobook Written by Jo King Read by Kenya Brome

Photograph by Jordan Matter
Kenya Brome is a fine New York actor. She showcases her talent as the reader of the audio version of A Flight of Fancy.  She breathes life into this charming story.

A Flight of Fancy is an imaginative tale about trees that have decided to take a vacation.  Overnight, all of the trees in the town of Arbordon have disappeared.  The main character is a young boy named George.  He and his friend Lisa set out on a quest to find the missing trees.

Kenya Brome skillfully depicts each character and allows the reader to see the story unfold.  Using various accents and voice inflection, Brome distinguishes individual characters.  The listener is able to easily discern one character from another.  Her spirited, theatrical delivery brings the tale to life.

Brome entrances the listener with her depth of feeling.  She vividly portrays the disappointment George feels when he finds out that the trees are missing.  The listener can feel the eagerness and excitement that George and Lisa experience as they investigate this great mystery.  
One tree is left in Arbordon – a weeping willow.  This willow holds the key to unlocking the mystery of the missing trees.  Brome represents this character extremely well.  I chuckled every time I heard the willow weep.

Young ones will be delighted as they listen to A Flight of Fancy.  Children will be carried away and their imagination will run freely as they listen to the lively, realistic reading by Kenya Brome.

Available for purchase at Xlibris.com/bookstore, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Author Spotlight - Paula Deen

A native of Albany, Georgia, Paula Deen never dreamed she would become an American icon. Paula was living the American dream—married to her high school sweetheart and mother of two adorable boys when tragedy struck. Her parents died, her marriage failed and she began a prolonged battle with agoraphobia. With her boys in their teens and her family near homelessness, Paula took her last $200, reached deep inside and started “The Bag Lady,” a home-based meal delivery service that marked the start of Paula’s professional cooking. With sons Jamie and Bobby delivering “lunch-and-love-in-a-bag,” beginning in June 1989, Paula turned around her life by using what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking.

Paula has become an American phenomenon, overcoming poverty, doubt and agoraphobia to achieve success and acclaim she could never have imagined. Yet the most remarkable part of Paula Deen’s journey from her kitchen to fame and fortune is that Paula has remained every bit as genuine, real and full of love as the first meals to leave her kitchen.

The Bag Lady brought out Paula’s strengths and stabilized her family. She began cooking outside her home and started preparing meals at a Best Western motel in Savannah and finally opening her first restaurant, The Lady and Sons, with Bobby and Jamie five years later. The restaurant was a hit and the popularity of Paula and her cooking led to her first cookbook, 1998’s The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook. The book gave her fans the opportunity to try Paula’s recipes at home, and led to her first television appearance on QVC. Paula’s genuine warmth and folksy personality made her a natural for television. In 1999, USA Today food critic Jerry Shriver named The Lady and Sons “International Meal of the Year.”

Paula’s rise to stardom was underway but when she premiered “Paula’s Home Cooking” on the Food Network in 2002, she was on the verge of superstardom. The network added “Paula’s Party” in 2006 and Bobby and Jamie began making appearances with Paula on the programs. The family that began delivering lunch-and-love-in-a-bag in 1989 had become one of the most recognized and beloved families in the country. The Food Network gave Bobby and Jamie their own show, “Road Tasted,” and today Paula has two shows running on the network, “Paula’s Best Dishes,” which debuted in 2008 and the long running “Paula’s Home Cooking.” Paula is a two-time Emmy Award winner.

The fact that success hasn’t changed Paula; she is the same genuine, warm and caring soul today as she was when she first appeared on the scene, is probably the best indicator of the strength and grace of this remarkable woman. And her success has been prodigious, by any standard.

Now the author of 14 cookbooks which have sold more than 8,000,000 copies, she began her bimonthly magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen, which has a circulation of more than 1,000,000 today. Paula Deen, adored by millions of fans, is seemingly everywhere in American media and culture. In addition to her own television shows, she appears regularly and has visited virtually every network morning show, every daytime or late night talk show, has appeared in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and thousands of websites. Paula’s vivacious energy combined with a dazzling smile and infectious laugh is like America’s best friend and next door neighbor. When Paula tours the country making personal appearance to talk about life, family and cooking, thousands of people come to participate. On New Year’s Day 2011, Paula was the Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Paula’s business interests have grown considerably. Named for her brother, Paula and her brother own Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a leading seafood restaurant in Savannah. There are Paula Deen Buffets at Harrah’s Tunica in Mississippi, where the d├ęcor is based on Paula’s Savannah home and kitchen; another at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino and a full service restaurant at Harrah’s Cherokee, also decorated like Paula’s home and kitchen.

Paula Deen, known at first for her traditional Southern cooking, is now an American lifestyle icon. In addition to a long-running partnership between Paula Deen and Smithfield Foods, Paula Deen Enterprises now includes 17 different licensees and covers a broad gamut of good living products. The product line includes a full line of cookware and dishes, assorted food products, sauces, spices and bakery goods. In recent years Paula also introduced a complete line of furniture, greeting cards and the Paula Deen and Family Party at Sea Cruise.

Ever grateful for all she has been blessed with, Paula and her family continue to give back to the community. Paula is a member of the board of the Bethesda Home for Boys, works tirelessly for America’s Second Harvest and partners with Smithfield Foods Helping Hungry Homes™ which has donated protein for more than 10,000,000 meals for America’s hungry.

Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible

Paula Deen recently released a new cookbook.  At this time of year, many people are cooking and baking more frequently.  I certainly am.  I have baked brownies, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, bread pudding and zucchini bread in the past few weeks.  I can hardly believe it!  We've had dessert every evening.  This new cookbook is right on time.  I love Paula Deen's cooking show.  She is a woman after my own heart.  I love to cook and I love butter!

Here is the publisher's synopsis of Deen's new cookbook -

For those who love cooking, the Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible (2011) provides a huge recipe collection of southern meals and hospitality. The various recipes framed in this regional cuisine book illustrate the diversity and originality of southern cuisine. Major highlights in this recipe book by Paula Deen include gumbos and collards; barbecues and pies; etc. This regional cuisine book also features 100 “how-to” illustrations that demonstrate techniques to peel a shrimp; to make sweet potato balls without getting marshmallow all over your hands and more. The vibrant, colorful photos included in this recipe book by Paula Deen make the cookery book more engaging and appealing. The Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible (2011) has been dialectically structured and starts with hot and cold appetizers and ends with cakes, cookies, and pies.

In true Paula fashion, here is a note from her about the new book -

Hi, y’all!
This book is my proudest achievement so far, and I just have to tell y’all why I am so excited about it. It’s a book of classic dishes, dedicated to a whole new generation of cooks—for every bride, graduate, and anyone who has a love of a great Southern meal. My family is growing and expanding all the time. We’re blessed with marriages and grandbabies, and so sharing these recipes for honest, down-home dishes feels like passing a generation’s worth of stovetop secrets on to my family, and yours.

I’ve been cooking and eating Southern food my whole life, and I can tell you that every meal you make from this book will be a mouthful of our one-of-a-kind spirit and traditions. These recipes showcase the diversity and ingenuity of Southern cuisine, from Cajun to Low-Country and beyond, highlighting the deep cultural richness of our gumbos and collards, our barbecues and pies. You may remember a few beloved classics from The Lady & Sons, but nearly all of these recipes are brand-new—and I think you’ll find that they are all mouthwateringly delicious. It is, without a doubt, a true Southern cooking bible.

I sincerely hope that this book will take its place in your kitchen for many years to come, as I know it will in mine. Here’s to happy cooking—and the best part, happy eating, y’all!

Best dishes,
Paula Deen

I just love Paula Deen.  If you like her as much as I do, you'll love her new cookbook.  Buy Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible at www.thequalitycorner.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Book by Shaquille O'Neal - "Shaq Uncut: My Story"

Shaquille O'Neal released his autobiography today - "Shaq Uncut."  Here is the publisher's synopsis:

"Superman. Diesel. The Big Aristotle. Shaq Fu. The Big Daddy. The Big Shaqtus. Wilt Chamberneezy. The Real Deal. The Big Shamrock. Shaq.

You know him by any number of names, and chances are you know all about his legendary basketball career: Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal is a four-time NBA champion and a three-time NBA Finals MVP. After being an All-American at Louisiana State University, he was the overall number one draft pick in the NBA in 1992. In his 19-year career, Shaq racked up 28,596 career points (including 5,935 free throws!), 13,099 rebounds, 3,026 assists, 2,732 blocks, and 15 All-Star appearances.

These are statistics that are almost as massive as the man himself. His presence - both physically and psychologically - made him a dominant force in the game for two decades.  But if you follow the game, you also know that there's a lot more to Shaquille O'Neal than just basketball.

Shaq is famous for his playful, and at times, provocative personality. He is, literally, outsize in both scale and persona. Whether rapping on any of his five albums, challenging celebrities on his hit television show "Shaq Vs.," studying for his PhD or serving as a reserve police officer, there's no question that Shaq has led a unique and multi-dimensional life. And in this rollicking new autobiography, Shaq discusses his remarkable journey, including his candid thoughts on teammates and coaches like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley.  From growing up in difficult circumstances and getting cut from his high school basketball team to his larger-than-life basketball career, Shaq lays it all out in SHAQ UNCUT: MY STORY. "

Purchase Shaq Uncut at www.thequalitycorner.com in print or audio.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best-Selling E-Books
Infographic from RetailMeNot Discount Codes

"One Day It'll All Make Sense" by Common

Common's new book, "One Day It'll All Make Sense," hit store book shelves last month.  Here is the publisher's synopsis:

"Common has earned a reputation in the hip hop world as a conscious artist by embracing themes of love and struggle in his songs, and by sharing his own search for knowledge with his listeners. His journey toward understanding--expressed in his music and now in his roles in film and television--is rooted in his relationship with a remarkable woman, his mother, Mahalia Ann Hines.

In "One Day It'll All Make Sense," Common holds nothing back. He tells what it was like for a boy with big dreams growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He reveals how he almost quit rapping after his first album, "Can I Borrow a Dollar?," sold only two thousand copies. He recounts his rise to stardom, giving a behind-the-scenes look into the recording studios, concerts, movie sets, and after-parties of a hip-hop celebrity and movie star. He reflects on his controversial invitation to perform at the White House, a story that grabbed international headlines. And he talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love, and fatherhood.

"One Day It'll All Make Sense" is a gripping memoir, both provocative and funny. Common shares never-before-told stories about his encounters with everyone from Tupac to Biggie, Ice Cube to Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela. Drawing upon his own lyrics for inspiration, he invites the reader to go behind the spotlight to see him as he really is--not just as Common but as Lonnie Rashid Lynn.

Each chapter begins with a letter from Common addressed to an important person in his life--from his daughter to his close friend and collaborator Kanye West, from his former love Erykah Badu to you, the reader. Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full. Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son, and friend. Common's story offers a living example of how, no matter what you've gone through, one day it'll all make sense."

Common has received accolades for this book.  Here is what a few of his colleagues have said regarding his work:

"Common is a 360-degree human being, and I don't say that about many people. He never needed to "pimp the hood" to achieve his deserved success. He is an eloquent and honorable role model and his memoir is a perfect example of his depth as a human being. In addition, reading about his childhood and upbringing in Chicago is really a trip - because we went through so many of the same experiences albeit decades apart. Chicago is still the roughest and primary "Institution of Hard Knocks," and if you can make it there, you can truly make it anywhere!" -Quincy Jones

"Common has written a magnificent memoir. It states that it is a book about his fascinating life. That is true. More importantly, his story is the story of all young people trying to grow up. His saga reminds the reader that love liberates and poverty cripples. Common writes beautifully, like the poet he is." -Maya Angelou

"A powerful memoir that speaks to all audiences." -Queen Latifah

Purchase "One Day It'll All Make Sense" at www.thequalitycorner.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Review - “U.S. Marshal Harry Bailey and the Case of the Persistent Widow” by Larry Montgomery

Centuries ago a wise king stated, “Man has dominated man to his injury.” Innocent people suffer at the hand of greedy businessmen. Bad things happen to good people. These are facts we must all face daily. Sufferers take comfort in knowing that justice will prevail in the end. This age-old tale of good versus evil sets the stage for Larry Montgomery’s debut novel, US Marshal Harry Bailey and the Case of the Persistent Widow.

The main character, Harry Bailey, is a US Marshal returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. He has been injured and he is now on medical leave. The doctor sends Bailey to a home in New York where he can receive supervised care. While recuperating, Bailey unwittingly becomes involved in a devious plot.

To Marshal Bailey’s surprise, he is living across the street from the pregnant widow of a fellow soldier. He watches her endure unspeakable tragedy. She has lost dear loved ones in death and now she is left alone to deal with a dubious landlord. Her landlord is trying to force her out of the building and she is determined to remain in her home. Instead of taking time to grieve for her loved ones and prepare for a new baby, she is forced into a long court battle. Despite her circumstances, she is persistent in her fight.

The plot thickens as the landlord’s motives are slowly unveiled. Marshal Bailey steps in to help. As he investigates, he finds out the enormity of the situation. He is determined to assist this widow and make sure that the wrongdoers are brought to justice. 

US Marshal Harry Bailey and the Case of the Persistent Widow is a very entertaining story. It is full of drama and suspense. Larry Montgomery does an excellent job of vividly describing each character and location. I could easily envision the story with my mind’s eye. Montgomery captivates the reader with an interesting storyline. He keeps the reader engaged throughout the story with unexpected turns at every corner. This is the kind of book that can keep a reader up all night to find out the ending.

This novel is the first in a series of twelve featuring US Marshal Bailey. It is the author’s hope that the reader will “find a few moments of relaxation from reading this book and that you look forward to reading the complete, twelve book series.” I certainly found relaxation, entertainment and enjoyment from reading the first book in this series and I eagerly anticipate the books to come. I would love to see this story made into a movie. I am confident that all who read this book will enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Author Spotlight - Nicholas Sparks

Author Nicholas Sparks
I think it's interesting to peer into the background of various authors.  I enjoy learning about how they got started with their career and what their day-to-day life is like.  Recently, I have added a feature to my blog and newsletter - "Author Spotlight."  This feature will allow fans to get to know the person behind our favorite reads.  Here is Nicholas Sparks' biography:

Nicholas Charles Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on December 31, 1965, the second son of Patrick Michael (1942-1996) and Jill Emma Marie (Thoene) Sparks (1942-1989). His siblings are Michael Earl Sparks (b. Dec. 1964), and Danielle Sparks (b. Dec. 1966, d. June, 2000). As a child, he lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California, at the age of eight. His father was a professor, his mother a homemaker, then an optometrist’s assistant. He lived in Fair Oaks through high school, graduated valedictorian in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

After breaking the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team in 1985 as a freshman (a record which still stands), he was injured and spent the summer recovering. During that summer, he wrote his first novel, though it was never published. He majored in Business Finance and graduated with high honors in 1988.

He and his wife Catherine, who met on spring break in 1988, were married in July 1989. While living in Sacramento, he wrote his second novel that same year, though again, it wasn’t published. He worked a variety of jobs over the next three years, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone, and started his own small manufacturing business which struggled from the beginning. In 1990, he collaborated on a book with Billy Mills, the Olympic Gold Medalist, and it was published by Feather Publishing before later being picked up by Random House. (It was later re-issued by Hay House Books.) Though it received scant publicity, sales topped 50,000 copies in the first year of release.

He began selling pharmaceuticals and moved from Sacramento, California to North Carolina in 1992. In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote The Notebook over a period of six months. In October 1995, rights to The Notebook were sold to Warner Books. It was published in October 1996, and he followed that with Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), True Believer (2005), At First Sight (a sequel to True Believer) (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010) and a non-fiction memoir, Three Weeks With My Brother (2004), written with his brother, Micah, all with Warner Books / Grand Central Publishing. All were domestic and international best sellers, with almost $80 million in worldwide sales, and were translated into more than 45 languages. His newest book, The Best of Me, will be released in October 2011.

The film version of Message in a Bottle, starring Kevin Costner and Robin Wright, was released in 1999, A Walk to Remember, starring Mandy Moore, was released in January 2002, and The Notebook, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, was released in June, 2004. Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, was released in September 2008. Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, and The Last Song, starring Miley Cyrus and Greg Kinnear, were released in 2010 to great box office success. The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron, has a tentative release date of spring 2012. His ancestry is German, Czech, English and Irish; he’s 5’10” and weighs 185lbs. He is an avid athlete who exercises daily. He attends church regularly and reads approximately 125 books a year. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually. Along with his wife, he founded The Epiphany School in New Bern, North Carolina, and he spent five years coaching track and field athletes at the local public high school. Nicholas lives in North Carolina with his wife and family.

SOURCE:  www.nicholassparks.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review - "Safe Haven" by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks has become known as the king of love stories.  In his novel, Safe Haven, he tells the story of a young woman looking for a fresh start.  Katie has moved to the small North Carolina town of Southport.  She finds a small, cozy cottage to live in and she begins working as a waitress at the local diner.  Southport is a quiet southern town that suits Katie well.  Her aim is to live a quiet life and leave her past behind.

As she goes about her daily activities, Katie encounters a local shop owner.  Alex is immediately interested in this mysterious, attractive young woman.  He is a widower raising two small children on his own.  He perceives that Katie has been through a lot in her life.  Slowly, a friendship is cultivated and a romance ensues.  Katie and Alex are very cautious with their hearts.  Despite their initial apprehension, they fall in love.  It is a heartwarming romance.

Regardless of Katie's efforts to leave her past behind, it comes back to haunt her.  The past threatens her chance for happiness with her new love, Alex.  In the end, their love prevails against all odds.

At first glance, Safe Haven may sound like just another love story.  However, Nicholas Sparks has such a gift for engaging the reader in the story.  The way the characters come to know each other and fall in love is captivating.  Sparks weaves in the story of Katie's past throughout the novel and grips the reader's attention.  This technique was reminiscent of another beloved Sparks novel, A Bend in the Road.  As readers are given brief glimpses into the past, our interest is piqued.

Safe Haven reminded me very much of the 1991 psychological thriller film, Sleeping With the Enemy, starring Julia Roberts.  I enjoyed this novel very much.  My only criticism is for the ending.  I was not a fan of the implications at the end.  I don't want to give it away, so I'll say no more.  Judge for yourself.  Overall, I give this book "two thumbs up."

Use these Barnes and Noble coupons.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Upcoming Movie Based on Nicholas Sparks' Book

Nicholas Sparks' books have inspired several hit movies.  They are classic love stories that tug at our heart strings.  The list includes:

The Last Song
Dear John
Nights in Rodanthe
The Notebook
A Walk to Remember
Message in a Bottle

Yet another movie based on one of Starks' best selling books is scheduled to hit theaters.  The Lucky One is currently in production and is set to release on August 24, 2012.  The movie stars Zac Efron as a Marine who survives three tours of Iraq, attributing his good luck to a photo he carried of a woman he doesn’t even know. When he returns to the U.S., he sets out to find her. Scott Hicks is directing; Taylor Schilling also stars. Denise DiNovi and Kevin McCormick are producing.

New Book by Nicholas Sparks

The latest book from Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me, will be released on October 11, 2011.  Here is a brief synopsis:

THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they've taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.
SOURCE:  www.nicholassparks.com

I am sure that this love story will not disappoint.  I eagerly await this release.  It will be available at www.thequalitycorner.com mid-October.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Author Spotlight - Michael Pollan

For the past twenty-five years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. He is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001). The Omnivore’s Dilemma was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by both the New York Times and the Washington Post. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A young readers edition called The Omnivore’s Dilemma: the Secrets Behind What You Eat was published in 2009. The Botany of Desire received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best non-fiction work of 2001, and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon.com. PBS premiered a two-hour special documentary based on The Botany of Desire in fall 2009. Pollan is also the author of A Place of My Own (1997) and Second Nature (1991).

Pollan was named to the 2010 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2009 he was named by Newsweek as one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders.” A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine since 1987, his writing has received numerous awards: he was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in 2009 for best essay; he received the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003; the John Burroughs prize in 1997 for best natural history essay; the QPB New Vision Award for his first book, Second Nature; the 2000 Reuters-I.U.C.N. Global Award for Environmental Journalism for his reporting on genetically modified crops; the 2003 Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture; the 2008 Truth in Agricultural Journalism Award from the American Corngrowers Association; the 2009 President’s Citation Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the 2009 Voices of Nature Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council. His essays have appeared in many anthologies, including Best American Essays (1990 and 2003), Best American Science Writing (2004), the Norton Book of Nature Writing, and The New Kings of Non-Fiction, edited by Ira Glass. In addition to publishing regularly in The New York Times Magazine, his articles have appeared in Harper’s Magazine (where he served as executive editor from 1984 to 1994), National Geographic, Mother Jones, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Gourmet, House & Garden and Gardens Illustrated, among others. In 2009, he appeared in a two-hour PBS special based on The Botany of Desire as well as in the documentary, Food Inc., which received an Academy Award nomination.

In 2003, Pollan was appointed the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. In addition to teaching, he lectures widely on food, agriculture, health and the environment.

Michael Pollan, who was born in 1955, grew up on Long Island, and was educated at Bennington College, Oxford University, and Columbia University, from which he received a Master’s in English. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son, Isaac.

"Food Rules" by Michael Pollan

What should I eat?  What kind of food should I eat?  How should I eat?  These are questions we all face daily.  It has become increasingly difficult to find the answers.  Michael Pollan addresses these questions in his book, Food Rules.

Pollan has developed a concise list of rules to live by when it comes to eating.  He has created an "eater's manual."  In the introduction he explains why eating has become so difficult.  He admonishes the reader to take the time to make wise choices about food.  He also provides statistics that highlight the importance of taking our health seriously.  The introduction really whet my appetite for the rules that followed.

The book was very easy to read and even comical at times.  I found myself chuckling at the simplicity of the rules.  Eating is needlessly complicated nowadays.  If we get back to the basics, we can take control of our diet and our health.  The rules that stuck with me the most were regarding processed foods.  Rule #2 - "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."  I love that!  It's so simple yet profound.  It all boils down to three basic rules - eat food, mostly plants, and not too much.

As a result of reading this book, I have created my own personal list of food rules.  This book has changed the way I think about food.  I believe that I will be a healthier person after reading this book and I am very grateful.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Author Spotlight - Kimberla Lawson Roby

Kimberla Lawson Roby is a New York Times bestselling author and has published 15 novels. Her novels have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times and those in USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle.

Kimberla’s first novel was nominated for Blackboard’s 1998 and 1999 Fiction Book of the Year Award, and she received the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for Casting the First Stone. She is also the 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010 recipient of the Author of the Year – Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, and her fifth novel, A Taste of Reality, was a 2004 finalist for the Atlanta Choice Awards sponsored by the Atlanta Daily World.

 Each of Kimberla’s novels has dealt with very real issues, including social status, gambling addiction, infidelity, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, caregiving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, overweight issues, and female illnesses to name a few.

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her 16th novel, Secret Obsession, was released today.  My review of Secret Obsession can be read here.

For more information about Kimberla Lawson Roby, visit www.kimroby.com. 

"Secret Obsession" by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Kimerberla Lawson Roby has just released her latest riveting novel, Secret Obsession. In it she explores a very complicated illness - delusional disorder. Delusion has been defined as "a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact." A person that is delusional is beyond reasonableness and sensibleness. It is a very dangerous state that can lead to obsession.

Paige Donahue is a picture of obsession. She has always lived in the shadow of her sister, Camille and Paige is consumed with jealousy. Camille has always excelled and she now has everything that Paige wants - a loving husband, children and all of the material comforts the world has to offer. Paige becomes obsessed with ruining her sister's marriage and gaining the love of her brother-in-law. She develops a plan, puts it in motion and is determined to let nothing or no one stand in her way.

Roby does an excellent job painting a picture of desperation in the main character. I could feel the utter hopelessness in Paige and she sincerely felt that there was only one solution - to ruin her sister. As I read this story, I could clearly see that Paige was delusional and I wondered how someone could be so far from reality. Roby really grips the mind and heart of the reader.

I was so enthralled with this novel, I couldn't put it down. I read it quickly and eagerly. I couldn't wait to find out how Paige's plan turned out. This book was very entertaining and it also made me think. It was very tastefully written and maintained dignity throughout. I would recommend this novel to anyone who would like to curl up with a good book this fall.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review - "Room" by Emma Donoghue

Excellent.  Intriguing.  Masterful.  Imaginative.  These are just some of the words I can think of to describe Room.  I absolutely loved this book!  I couldn't put it down and I could not stop talking and thinking about Room

This story is told in the voice of a five-year-old boy named Jack.  He is an innocent, precious little boy.  Jack begins by outlining his daily activities.  His routine seems to be just like any other five-year-old.  However, I got the feeling that something was wrong.  I was intrigued and I couldn't wait to find out what was going on.  The mysterious feel of this novel kept me eagerly turning every page.  I began to piece together the various clues in my mind.  "Maybe it could be this or that," I would think.  When the details were unveiled, I was horrified.

The story of Jack and Ma testifies to human resilience.  A person's determination to survive and even thrive in the worst circumstances is truly inspiring.  Even though Room is a work of fiction, many people have found themselves in the same gruesome situation.  The setting of this novel almost seems to be taken directly from news headlines.

Even though all readers will enjoy this book, I think mothers will especially be touched by this story. One of the highlights of this book is the relationship between a mother and child. The character of Ma shows how a good mother will protect and nourish her child regardless of the world around them.

Although this book has a happy ending, it was more than that.  Halfway through the book, I kept wondering where the author was going with this story.  I thought it was over and there was no more story to tell.  I was very wrong.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Room is available in paperback at www.thequalitycorner.com.

Author Spotlight - Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, she is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue.  She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honors BA in English and French from University College Dublin.  She  moved to England, and in 1997 received her PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, she has earned her living as a writer. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where  she lives with Chris Roulston and their son Finn (7) and daughter Una (4).

Donoghue works in many genres such as drama and literary history, howerver she is best known as a fiction writer.  She has won a long list of awards for her writing.  She is the author of the international bestseller, Room.

I had not heard of Emma Donoghue until I read Room.  I have one word to describe that novel - excellent.  Read my review here.  For more information on this author, visit www.emmadonoghue.com.

Book Review - "The New Plumbing Guide" by Sherman Turner

Have you ever encountered a plumbing problem you just couldn’t fix?  Perhaps it was a clogged drain or a broken toilet.  Whatever the case, plumbing problems can be very frustrating and can lead to disaster.  Sherman Turner has written The New Plumbing Guide to help homeowners and ladies who know nothing about plumbing. This new book will help guide you in dealing with plumbers and contracting companies and help lower costs by 10 to 50 percent.  The New Plumbing Guide will also help the aspiring small business owner to develop a successful plumbing business.  Sherman Turner is a top rated government Master-Plumber and retired member of U.A. Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union #22, from Buffalo, New York.  He has over forty years of experience that he is sharing with readers.
The first section of this book is dedicated to providing special plumbing tips for homeowners and ladies.  Readers are given answers to various plumbing questions.  Topics range from faucets, sinks and toilets to dishwashers, sump pumps and icemakers.  The information is very extensive yet easy to understand.  It is a great reference tool.  The New Plumbing Guide is truly unique.  As a woman and a homeowner, I really appreciate the clear instruction this chapter contains.  Even though I knew nothing about plumbing before reading this book, I now feel that I am better equipped to handle an emergency.
The remainder of the book is designed for small business owners who desire to be successful in the plumbing business or other construction businesses.  Turner starts this section with the topic of Value Engineering.  He explains how business owners can find ways to reduce costs without reducing the quality, integrity or performance of the systems they are installing.  He discusses how to manage a project and the role of the project manager.  Detailed instruction is given on how to provide an estimate for a project.  Turner lists the advantages and disadvantages of using computer software for estimates.  He also provides a list of companies where the software can be purchased.  Several charts are supplied to help calculate labor hours and costs.  The guidance in this book will help contractors to solve many of the problems they face.
The New Plumbing Guide is essential for homeowners, do-it-yourself plumbers and plumbing professionals.  Institutions of higher learning could also use this guide as a part of their curriculum.  The expert guidance in this book is absolutely priceless.
Sherman Turner has previously authored two books – Minorities Deceived and Kenya Rehabilitation.  Both of these books have received four and five star ratings and are available in paperback and ebook format.  All of Turner’s books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  I have enjoyed reading Sherman Turner’s books and I’m confident that all readers will appreciate them as much as I do.  Follow Sherman Turner on Twitter - @shermanturner & @plumb8080.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School

"Back to school already?"  Many parents are hearing those words as the first day of school is fast approaching.  The end of summer is a sad time for some, but for most parents it is a joyous time!  To me, it seems that the summer goes by faster than any other season.  I hate to see it come to an end.

As parents are preparing their children for school, they may want to consider some books that would interest them.  Two highly acclaimed writers have recently written children's books.  These two books have consistently been best sellers.


Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

With his best friend awarding him points, Rafe Khatchadorian tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct. But when Rafe's game starts to catch up with him, he'll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he's finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he's been avoiding.

Theodore Boone:  The Abduction by John Grisham

The follow-up to the #1 "New York Times" bestseller "Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer." Just when it seems like life for Theo is back to the status quo, a new legal mystery comes to town--and Theo is the only one who can crack the case.

These books and other best-selling children's books can be found at www.thequalitycorner.com.

Book Review - "Almost A Senior" by Brenda Faye Collie

High school is an unforgettable experience. The challenges we face and decisions we make during those delicate teen years can shape our lives forever. It is an exciting, adventurous time of life. Brenda Faye Collie takes us back to that time period in her debut novel, Almost A Senior.

The main character, Loresha, is a junior at Major Horris High School in Harlem. She has just been elected as the student body president. Loresha is full of hope and promise. She is a good student with a bright future ahead of her. She is very driven to make improvements in her school. Soon after the election, she begins to make changes. Even though some of the changes are unpopular, she shows a strong conviction and determination to be a good leader.

Loresha faces many challenges. She is the product of a single-parent home. Her mother, affectionately referred to as “Mama Police,” is a strong black woman. Mama Police has done her best to take care of her children and set a proper example for them. Loresha’s brother, Jason has had his own struggles that have affected the whole family. The family dynamic is one that many can relate to.

Peer pressure is common during the teen years. Peers can exert a very powerful influence – either good or bad. Loresha starts dating one of the popular boys on the basketball team. He introduces her to a new group of people and a new set of standards. She chooses to experiment and she quickly finds out that people are not always who they seem to be. However, she learns to recognize and appreciate loyal friends.  

In this coming of age novel, we follow the main character through various ups and downs. Dating, betrayal, drugs and alcohol are just a few of the tests Loresha encounters. Although she makes mistakes along the way, she comes out successfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was easy-to-read and very entertaining. It is great for summer reading while lying on the beach or sitting on a park bench. Many teens and young adults can relate to the characters and situations in this story. Brenda Faye Collie is a wonderful storyteller. She is an award winning playwright and I am confident that she will continue as a successful author for many years. I look forward to her next book.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"The Help" is Now a Movie

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is now a movie.  It will hit theaters on August 10.  Here is a synopsis of the movie, taken from www.thehelpmovie.com -
"Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon,  “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s,  who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed —even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.  Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, “The Help” is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change."
This movie is filled with an all-star cast.  Here is a list of the cast members:

I loved the book!  However, I am slightly skeptical about the movie.  From the previews I've seen, I wonder if the movie will do the book justice.  In my experience, movies are never as good as the book.  Perhaps this movie will be different.  For more information about the movie, visit www.thehelpmovie.com.

Regardless of whether you choose to see the movie, I recommend reading the book.  You can read my review of The Help here.  It is now available in paperback at www.thequalitycorner.com.  Click here to purchase.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oprah Magazine's Summer Reading List

Even though the Oprah Winfrey Show had its season finale almost two months ago, Oprah's influence is as strong as ever.  With O Magazine and OWN, Oprah is still able to touch the lives of many.  I was very sad to see the show go, but I have enjoyed watching the shows on OWN and reading the magazine. 

I have a great deal of respect for Oprah and that is why I chose to build a portion of my business around her.  I appreciate the contributions she has made toward literacy and I support that.  I recently heard a staggering statistic - 1 in 5 adults worldwide cannot read.  That is horrible!  If we can improve literacy, lives will improve drastically. 

In my store, I have always featured books from Oprah's book club and books that were discussed on her show.  Now that the show is over, I have decided to feature books from O Magazine.  My store now contains a new category - "Oprah Magazine's Reading Room."  Each month O Magazine  recommends a list of books.  In the July issue, O Magazine recommends several titles for summer reading.  Here they are:

Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago
A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butler
Untold Story by Monica Ali
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano
The Astral by Kate Christensen
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
The Year We left Home by Jean Thompson
Big Machine by Victor Lavalle
Someday This Will Be Funny by Lynne Tillman

All of these titles are available at The Quality Corner.  Click the link above to read a synopsis of the book and purchase it.  Visit www.TheQualityCorner.com every month for new titles from O Magazine's Reading Room.