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  • 12/17/14--14:00: Last Minute Gift Ideas

  • So you haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet. No judgement. You have your reasons. But we're getting down to the wire now, so let's talk tactics. In a word: Ebooks.

    Ebooks make great gifts and even better last-minute gifts. At select retailers, you can send a specific ebook, personalize your purchase with a gift message, and schedule an exact delivery date via email or print a certificate to hand-deliver or stuff in a stocking. Voila! Instant, personalized gift giving.

    So don't fret; you are just a couple mouse clicks away from the serenity of a completed shopping list. Here are some sure-to-please picks to get you started.

    Weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list and 1,700+ glowing reviews don't lie—this ebook is a slamdunk for your mother-in-law or favorite aunt.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    Give someone the gift of a new favorite author: this gripping debut thriller takes you behind the bench of a high stakes death penalty case.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, an ebook with real cred: "...Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read." —Bill Gates

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    For the kids, books one through twelve of the celebrated Boxcar Children Mysteries in a convenient ebook box set. Bonus: twelve ebooks for the price of ten!

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    For the parents, a beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny lullaby for exhausted moms and dad everywhere.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    Try to find someone who doesn't adore these stories of a country veterinarian in a sleepy English town. Just try.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    For nonfiction junkies, a revealing survey of the decade that would be a lasting turning point in American history from a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    Book One of Octavia Butler's popular Xenogenesis Trilogy — a hyptonic read from one of the masters of the science fiction genre.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N

    Step-by-step techniques to take everyone—from the green home cook to the aspiring chef—to the next level.

    Buy this Ebook as a Gift

    Amazon | Apple | B&N


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    In 2014, ebook publisher Open Road brought out 3,413 new titles and had seven bestsellers. From Bill Gates' favorite business book to putting two Pearl S. Buck ebooks on the bestseller list, this was an amazing year. We've put together a short infographic of our company's highlights, including stats about Michael Crichton, our youngest author (and White House visitor), and fun facts, like our most unusual ebook category – Romance / Vikings, anyone?


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     (New York, NY—November 8, 2014)—Twenty-six acclaimed classic works by Walter R. Brooks with original black-and-white line drawings by celebrated artist Kurt Wiese featuring the adventures of Freddy the Pig on Bean Farm are now available for preorder as ebooks for the first time from Open Road Media. The ebooks, which will be available for download on December 23rd, are part of Open Road Media’s publishing partnership with Overlook Press. These beloved stories were childhood favorites of Overlook publisher Peter Mayer who began bringing the books back into print more than a decade ago.  

    Brooks’s Freddy the Pig novels have been praised for their humor, craft, and morality. The Globe and Mail describes the characters of Bean Farm to be as “sharply funny as the Marx Brothers [and] . . . as astute as Noel Coward.” Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times calls them "funny, beautifully written gems," while Newsday notes, "Freddy is blessed with courage, wit, agility, and a Sherlock Holmes-like capacity for detective work." When reviewing the books upon publication, Adam Hochschild of the New York Times said they provided “the moral center of [his] childhood universe.”

    Originally published between 1927 and 1958, the series consists of 25 novels and one poetry collection, which follow the adventures of a group of animals who operate a bank, a newspaper, a detective business, and the First Animal Republic, among other pursuits. Brooks is also well-known as the creator of Mister Ed, the famous talking horse who was featured in many magazine stories before being developed into a television series called Mister Ed in the 1960s.

    The Freddy books inspired generations of devotees who continue to maintain a fan club, Friends of Freddy the Pig, and hold a biannual convention in the character’s honor. This year’s convention will be held November 7–9 in Hamilton, NY.

    About Open Road Media

    Open Road Integrated Media is a global digital publishing company that creates connections between authors and their audiences by marketing its ebooks through a new proprietary online platform, which uses premium video content and social media. Open Road has published ebooks from legendary authors, including William Styron, Pat Conroy, Alice Walker, Bette Greene, Octavia E. Butler, and Dorothy L. Sayers. 

    About Overlook Press

    The Overlook Pressis an independent publishing house founded in 1971 by Peter Mayer and based in New York City’s SoHo neighbor­hood. It offers an eclectic and distinguished list of titles in the categories of literary and commer­cial fiction, literature in translation, and drama; nonfiction, including history, biography, popular science, film, art, and design; and children’s and young adult titles. Overlook is the home of Charles Portis, Mervyn Peake, Milton Glaser, Edward Albee, Neil LaBute, the complete works of P. G. Wodehouse, and Walter R. Brooks’s Freddy the Pig series, among others.

    About the authors

    Walter R. Brooks (1886–1958) is the beloved author of 26 books about Freddy the Pig. He edited several magazines, including the New Yorker. In addition to the Freddy stories, Brooks created the character of Mister Ed the talking horse.

    Kurt Wiese (1887–1974) illustrated more than 300 children's books and wrote and illustrated another 20 books. He received two Newbery Awards and two Caldecott Honor Book Awards.


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    December is always like a sprint to the finish of a yearlong marathon. From shopping to baking, decorating, attending parties, school events, and family dinners it seems like we are all in overdrive. As hard as it can be, try to slow down and carve out some quiet time with your children. One of the most rewarding ways to do this is establishing some family reading time. Whether it’s 15 minutes a day or 15 minutes a week, take a moment to snuggle up (yes, even with your older kids) together with a good book. Here’s a selection of classics to build your story collection, paired with activities to extend your quality time together.

     

    {buybutton id=3748/}

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins

    A family must band together to save their house—and their 12 new feathered friends—in this heartfelt tale about friendship, loyalty, and overcoming new and exciting challenges.

     

    Activity: Make a night of it with reading, watching, and crafting! After reading Richard and Florence Atwater’s beloved tale, watch the 2011 film adaptation, starring Jim Carrey as the eccentric Mr. Popper. And while you’re watching, make this adorable paper tube penguin, a charming craft from Noahwild.com. Perfect for a night of family fun!

     

    {buybutton id=13584/}

    Peter Pan

    J. M. Barrie’s cherished tale about a magic boy and his adventures in Neverland remains a classic, inspiring countless films and adaptations since its publication. Read the original and see how the fantasy began.

     

    Activity:Watch NBC’s Peter Pan Live! featuring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken. The program aired live on December 4 but you can stream it for free on Hulu. Explore the Neverland map, and use these resources and activities for teaching Peter Pan in the classroom!

     

    {buybutton id=6974/}

    The Paper Bag Princess

    Robert Munsch’s classic storybook about a little princess who doesn’t need a prince to save her sends excellent messages to young readers. We love Munsch’s quirky, unapologetic style, and we know you will, too!

     

    Activity:Make your own Paper Bag Princess puppets and reenact the story with this delightful post from Step Into Second Grade!

     

    {buybutton id=8680/}

    The Boxcar Children

    When Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are orphaned, they find themselves living in an abandoned boxcar. Adversity becomes adventure as the family survives on favors and odd jobs until they are reunited with their long-lost grandfather. The first of Gertrude C. Warner’s timeless children’s series opens the door to adventure and intrigue.

     

    Activity: The Boxcar Children comes to life in a newly released animated film, available for steaming on Netflix, starring Mackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, Joey King, and Emmy Award winner Martin Sheen. Build a fort and hunker down for a family movie night!

     

    {buybutton id=8416/}

    The Berenstain Bears Nursery Tales

    For four decades, Stan and Jan Berenstain charmed readers all over the world with the vibrant drawings and lively storytelling of the Berenstain Bears. Here, the masters of children’s literature turn to three classic nursery stories, illustrated in the Berenstain style that children love so much.

     

    Activity:Forget gingerbread men! Give this holiday tradition a twist by decorating gingerbread bears with this recipe from Taste of Home.

     

    {buybutton id=14355/}

    Little Women

    Louisa May Alcott’s enduring tale has captured the hearts of young readers for generations. Beautiful and proper Meg, headstrong Jo, gentle Beth, pampered little Amy—countless young women have recognized themselves in one or more of the devoted siblings. Which one are you?

     

    Activity:Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Trini Alvarado, and Kirsten Dunst bring new life to this treasured tale in the 1994 film adaptation. Break out the apples and have a screening in the attic!

     

     


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  • 12/19/14--05:00: Gifts that Keep on Giving
  •  

    Giving gifts, baking cookies, and hanging festive decorations are all holiday favorites. But the real fun of the season comes with getting the chance to spend time together with the family. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite holiday storybooks and accompanying activities for you and your little ones this spirited season!

    {buybutton id=8156/}

    The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan

    When the tables are turned on Santa and he must answer what he wants for Christmas, his wishes for a child of his own finally come true. But an evil sorceress, intent on dashing St. Nick’s hopes for a lifetime of happiness, puts a curse on little Holly Claus, turning her heart to ice and freezing their artic home in time! Years later, Holly journeys to New York City to break the curse and save Christmas once and for all.

     This felt holly pin adds festivity to every outfit!

    Channel Holly Claus herself with this felt pin from Martha Stewart. A great craft for now, a perfect dress-up accessory for later!

    {buybutton id=16898/}

    The House without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock

    Addie’s father is convinced that their family doesn’t need a Christmas tree this year. It’s large, expensive, and they’re opening presents at Uncle Will’s house, anyway. But to Addie, it’s just not Christmas without a tree of their own, so she crafts a plan with neighbor Carla-Mae that will bring the holiday spirit to both of their families. Will the girls pull it off? Or will their shenanigans only bring out the Grinch in Addie’s father?

     

    Christmas Tree Rice Krispie treats are adorable and delicous! 

    Make your own delectable trees with this kid-friendly recipe from Simplee Thrifty. Use icing to draw garland or glue on M&M baubles to make your “trees” more festive!

    {buybutton id=12411/}

    Don’t Call Me Christina Kringle by Chris Grabenstein

     

    The holiday season is supposed to be a time of frosted fun, but ever since Christina’s father passed away, she hasn’t felt the same spirit for the season. To make matters worse, this year’s holiday rush isn’t helping her Grandfather’s shoe repair shop quite like they expected. But when a troupe of tiny brownies—magical elves—come on board to help the failing business, Christina might just get the Christmas miracle she’s been wishing for.

     

    These peppermint brownies are the stuff dreams are made of! 

    Bake your own troupe of holiday “brownies” with this peppermint brownie recipe from Sweet C’s Designs


    {buybutton id=5307/}

    Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bourgeois

    Franklin can’t decide what to donate to his school’s Christmas toy drive. At first, all of his toys seem too special to give away, then nothing seems special enough. With some inspiration from his Great Aunt Harriet, Franklin finally comes up with the perfect gift.

      The holiday season is about giving and receiving.

    Toys For Tots collects thousands of gifts for young children every year. Teach your child about the importance of charity and giving back by donating old toys to an organization.

    {buybutton id=12204/}

    The Family Christmas Tree Book by Tomie de Paola

    In this warmly illustrated book, a family trims its Christmas tree. As mother, father, grandmother, and children decorate together, they tell the story of how Christmas trees came to be, including the changes in size and appearance over time, and the way ornaments were first introduced.

     

     Salt Dough Ornaments are the Perfect Christmas Craft!

    Start your own holiday decorating traditions with these classic salt dough ornaments by The Imagination Tree. Versatile and kid-friendly, this is a craft any youngster will love.

    {buybutton id=14355/}

    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    The March sisters are four of the most beloved characters in literature. Beautiful and proper Meg, headstrong Jo, gentle Beth, pampered little Amy—generations of young women have recognized themselves in one or more of the devoted siblings. Set against the backdrop of the Civil War and the changing seasons of New England, the story of their passage from adolescence to adulthood is just as touching and illuminating today as it was a century and a half ago.

    Little Women Anime Series? Yeah. We were shocked, too. 

    Watch the “Christmas Eve” episode of the animated 1981 Little Women TV series.

    {buybutton id=15190/}

    Humbug Holiday by Tony Abbott

    It’s Christmastime at Palmdale Middle School, and the sixth grade class has organized a holiday banquet for local families in need. Best friends Devin and Frankie are excited to eat, but they forgot to bring in food donations—and they didn’t read A Christmas Carol for English class. While the two fight over the library’s last copy of the book, the library’s magical security gates suddenly transport them straight into the classic novella, where they meet the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge!

     

     Bill Murray in what should be a holiday classic.

    What better excuse to settle in and watch one of the countless adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Might we suggest Bill Murray’s Scrooged (1988), now available for streaming on Netflix?

    We hope you enjoy these festive activities as much as we do! Happy Holidays, from Open Road.


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    Best known for penning the first lesbian novel, Radclyffe Hall  sent ripples through Britain and America with the publication and  censorship trials of The Well of Loneliness in 1928. Nearly a  century after The Well of Loneliness was published, the issues of  censorship and gay and lesbian rights are still in the spotlight.

    Born Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, in 1880 in the town of  Bournemouth England, Hall had a turbulent childhood with an alcoholic mother, an abusive stepfather, and a distant biological  father. At eighteen, Hall inherited her father’s estate, granting her  the luxury to escape her mother’s home and travel, write, and  pursue women at her leisure. Hall spent years in a relationship with singer Mabel Batten until Hall’s constant infidelity with Una the Lady Troubridge, an Admiral’s wife, caused Mabel to have a  fatal heart attack. Hall spent the next nineteen years with Una  until a Russian nurse, Evguenia Souline, to whom Hall gave the sobriquet 'Chinky Pig’, appeared.

    Amidst these passionate and tortured relationships, Hall had  published a number of well-received novels, earning her a name in  the literary community. In 1928, she took a risk by publishing The  Well of Loneliness, knowing full well that the repercussions of  writing a lesbian novel could be detrimental to her career and personal life. Hall’s publisher Jonathan Cape was put on trial and  the novel was banned under Britain’s Obscene Publications Act.  Although Hall herself was open about her sexuality, The Well of  Loneliness is the only one of her novels to have overt lesbian  themes. The controversial novel follows the life of a woman named Stephen Gordon, a sexual invert similar to Hall, as she falls  in love with Mary Llewellyn and navigates a world of isolation  and rejection. The Well of Loneliness drew instant criticism and  outrage from the public, claiming the subject was obscene and suggested that homosexuality was natural state, regardless of the moralistic tone and absence of sexually explicit text.

    Distinguished author Diana Souhami brings Radclyffe Hall to life in her Lambda Award-winning biography The Trials of Radclyffe Hall. Souhami’s portrait of Hall gives an intimate look into the fascinating personal and professional life of a daring and controversial woman.

    {buybutton id=17072/}

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  • 01/01/15--03:00: 6 Tips For Simple Meditation

  • You’ve probably heard meditation touted as a stress-relief miracle. Perhaps you wanted to try it, but felt weird sitting on the floor with your eyes closed waiting for something transcendental to happen. The truth is, meditation is not an unattainable form of enlightenment and it doesn’t require you to necessarily be “at one” with the universe. It does, however, have many health benefits. Doctors often recommend meditation for those with high blood pressure, but it’s also said to result in better sleep, lower cholesterol, and reduced stress. At its core, however, meditation is about mindful awareness and being present in the here and now, letting the emotional struggles (negative and positive) of everyday life fall away.


    While the idea of meditation is relatively easy to grasp, and the benefits are obvious, getting started can be hard. How do I even begin? Where do my hands go? Am I doing this right? Do I have to be spiritual? To get you started, here are 6 easy tips for meditation beginners.

     

     

    1. Make yourself comfortable and free from distractions before you start meditating. Many people meditate early in the morning since that’s when there is generally less noise. The more distractions there are, the harder it is to focus.

     

     

    2. While meditating, don’t try to influence your normal breathing, just follow it. Focus your attention on the rise of your breath into your nostrils. Count ten normal breaths; they don’t need to be any deeper than normal breathing.

     

    3. Once you’re focused on your breathing, now you can start to rid yourself of tension. To do this, just focus on each part of your body and with the falling of your breath, make that tension fall with it.  

     

     

    4. Contrary to popular belief, try not to close your eyes. It’s often easy for beginners to start daydreaming this way, which negates the whole purpose of meditation.

     

    5. Now you’re going to try to listen in a new way. If you feel that the place where you are meditating is silent, then listen to the silence. Eventually it will become its own sound. There is no such thing as complete silence.

     

     

    6. Meditation is not something you’ll pick up right away. Many beginners (and even long-time meditators) find that their mind wanders and thoughts and worries often take over. When this happens, bring your body and mind back into consciousness and refocus on your breathing. Always come back to your breathing.

    Want to know more about meditation and how to practice it? Check out The Art of Zen Meditation by Howard Fast, a very basic and practical guide to meditation.


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    On January 30th, the highly acclaimed TV series The Americans will return for its third season on FX.

     

    The drama centers on the lives of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two KGB spies posing as Americans during the 1980s at the height of the Cold War. Along with the normal dangers in which you expect them to be entangled, they also contend with hiding the truth from their two children and the other seemingly “normal” people who populate their domestic life.

     

    In anticipation of the season premiere, we’ve compiled a list of novels inspired by the Cold War that should tide you over until your favorite spies are back—and they are all on sale from $0.99 and up!

     

    {buybutton id=15035/}

    Red Loveby David Evanier

     

    With a gleam in its eye and tenderness in its heart, David Evanier’s irreverent and incisive novel peers into one of the darkest chapters in American history—the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on charges of spying for the Soviet Union. Because, as Suzie Sizzle—great-niece of Dolly and Solly Rubell and star of a “goodly number” of hardcore films—explains, this is not really a story about death, despite its gloomy ending. It is a story about love—the true love two proud Jewish underdogs had for each other, and the misguided love an entire generation of American leftists had for a political system whose grand promises masked terrible, irreconcilable truths.

     

     

    {buybutton id=11372/}

    The Groves of Academeby Mary McCarthy

     

    Henry Mulcahy’s future is in question. An instructor of literature at Jocelyn College, an institute of higher learning renowned for its progressive approach to education, he has just received word that he will not be teaching next semester. He strongly suspects that his dismissal has been engineered by his nemesis, the college president, who Henry believes resents his superior skills as an educator. Or perhaps he is being targeted by the government of Cold War era—Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch-hunt is in full swing—especially since Henry’s dedication to independent thinking is, he believes, renowned. Whatever the case, Henry Mulcahy wants justice—and vengeance—and he will not go quietly without a fight.

     

     

    {buybutton id=4922/}

    Topazby Leon Uris

     

    In Paris, 1962, French intelligence chief André Devereaux and NATO intelligence chief Michael Nordstrom have uncovered Soviet plans to ship nuclear arms to Cuba. But when Devereaux reports his findings and nobody acts—and he is targeted in an assassination attempt—he soon realizes he’s tangled in a plot far greater than he first understood. The two agents, along with a small band of Cuban exiles and Soviet defectors, chase leads around the globe in a quest to save NATO, themselves, and perhaps the world itself. 

     

     

    {buybutton id=6837/}

    The Best of Antrobus by Lawrence Durrell

     

    Dark is the day when culture comes to Sczbog. The capital of Vulgaria, nestled snugly behind the Iron Curtain, has long been devoid of higher thought, and that is the way the men in the British embassy like it. But when the French embassy gives a lecture on literature, it ignites a chain reaction of unwanted cultural exchange, subjecting the King’s men to endless nights of Dutch poetry, Japanese theater, and Swiss yodeling. Extricating themselves from this high-minded mess will take a miracle of a most unpolitic kind.

     

     

    {buybutton id=9868/}

    The Troubled Air by Irwin Shaw

     

    Clement Archer, head of a popular radio show, faces a profound dilemma: Five of his employees stand accused of being communists, and a magazine threatens disclosure unless Archer fires each and every one. Despite his efforts to meet his own moral standards and avoid self-incrimination, Archer finds himself hounded from both ends of the political spectrum for his seemingly righteous actions.

     

     

     

    {buybutton id=5749/}

    The Naked God by Howard Fast

     

    The Naked God is Howard Fast’s public repudiation of the Communist Party, of which he was a devoted member for thirteen years until reading about the full scope of atrocities committed by the Soviet Union under Stalin. The bestselling author of Spartacus and Citizen Tom Paine, Howard Fast lent his writing talents and celebrity to the communist cause as a steadfast advocate and public figure. However, he felt increasingly ill at ease with the superior manner Party leaders took with rank-and-file members and with rumors of Soviet anti-Semitism. In his first book after officially leaving the Party in 1956, Howard Fast explores the reasons he joined and his long inner struggle with a political movement in which he never felt he truly belonged.

     

     

    {buybutton id=9666/}

    May Man Prevail? by Erich Fromm

     

    The early 1960s were a time of existential unease across the world. The constant threat of a nuclear bomb—and of mutually assured destruction—led to a palpable sense that nuclear holocaust could occur any day. By analyzing the enemy stereotypes and mutual projections that were prevalent in the foreign policies of the Soviet Union and the United States, Fromm pointed to the anxieties on both sides and illustrates how paranoid thinking in the political realm can be extremely dangerous. With his excellent psychological analysis of the mindsets of the major players of the time, Fromm helped us overcome the Cold War’s ideologies and fictions.

     

     

    {buybutton id=7261/}

    Between East and West by R.D. Charques

     

    A classic work now back in print for the first time since 1956—and still regarded as one of the groundbreaking books on the subject—this narrative history of Russia was the first to encompass the myth-befogged beginnings of the nation-state, the rise and cataclysmic fall of tsarism, and the Spartan years of the U.S.S.R. Charques emphasizes three points of view: that autocracy has played a dominant role throughout all of Russian history; that serfdom is the fabric of Russia’s social history; and that it is of paramount importance to recognize Russia’s present regime under Putin and Medvedev as the latest phase in a long history of oppression.

     

     

    {buybutton id=16995/}

    Doctor Cobb’s Game by R.V. Cassill

     

    Michael Cobb is a skilled osteopath, a gifted painter, and a lover extraordinaire. In 1960s England, the good doctor makes a startling diagnosis: the nation is sick, fast approaching its demise, and the only hope for a cure is a sexual awakening so potent it reaches into the highest corridors of power. The fallout from Doctor Cobb’s game reaches all the way across the Atlantic to upstate New York, where Norman Scholes, an investigator for a powerful American think tank, reads between the lines of the official British government report on the scandal. Was Cobb a Soviet spy? Or, as the prosecutors accused, a pimp operating in a delirious time and place?

     

     

    {buybutton id=5802/}

    First Papersby Laura Z. Hobson

     

    Stefan and Alexandra Ivarin emigrated to America at the end of the nineteenth century. Russian Jewish socialists, the Ivarins are now established in a Long Island home designed, somewhat haphazardly, by Stefan. Despite their attempts at assimilation, the Ivarins find themselves still struggling to find a balance between their Russian roots and their American lives, between their past and their future—and those of their children.

     


    Browse our Red Reads sale here!


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    Best Picks for Book Club Discussions: Historical Fiction

     

    Welcome to our series on book clubs! At the beginning of every month, we present our top recommendations for your club, tips to shape your discussion and fun extras to keep the conversation going. Many of us here belong to book clubs, and Open Road even has its own employee reading group. We’re basically book talk experts. So tune in, and read on!

     

    In the honor of the new year, we decided to travel back to the past. We’ve gathered our favorite historical novels that represent a vast number of periods and places throughout history.

     

    Browse our select titles currently on sale from $0.99 and up, and dive back in time.

     

    {buybutton id=7869/}

    The Rich Are Different by Susan Howatch

    America in the 1920’s:

    When the clever and sexy Dinah Slade insinuates herself into Paul’s life in the 1920s, the banker’s marriage and career are threatened—and Dinah demonstrates her disruptive power again when she seduces Paul’s right-hand man. Based on historical figure Cleopatra, Howatch brings ancient history to the 1920s and 1930s in New York and London, The Rich Are Different marries imperial ambition to the American dream, and offers a cast of characters glittering with sophistication and style. 

     

     

    {buybutton id=12044/}

    Fannyby Erica Jong 

    England in the 1700’s: 

    In eighteenth-century England, life begins somewhat ignobly for Fanny Hackabout-Jones. Abandoned as an infant on the doorstep of Lord and Lady Bellars’s grand Wiltshire manor, she contemplates the literary life as she grows to ripe young womanhood in the Bellars’s care. Fanny chooses, however, to pursue a very different future when she is forced to flee to London to escape the overly amorous attentions of her adoptive father. There, on the road, her real life truly begins. 

     

     

    {buybutton id=1021/}

    Home in the Morning by Mary Glickman

    America in the 1930’s:

    Jackson Sassaport is a man who often finds himself in the middle. Whether torn between Stella, his beloved and opinionated Yankee wife, and Katherine Marie, the African American girl who first stole his teenage heart; or between standing up for his beliefs and acquiescing to his prominent Jewish family’s imperative to not stand out in the segregated South, Jackson must learn to balance the secrets and deceptions of those around him. But one fateful night in 1960 will make the man in the middle reconsider his obligations to propriety and family, and will start a chain of events that will change his life and the lives of those around him forever.

     

    {buybutton id=16843/}

    The Ladiesby Doris Grumbach

    1778 Wales:

    In 1778 Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby left County Kilkenny for Wales to live together as a married couple. Both well born, highly educated Irish women, the Ladies of Llangollen, as they came to be known, defied all eighteenth-century social convention and spent half a century together in a loving relationship. In an imagined account, Doris Grumbach brings this gripping chronicle to new audiences.

     

     

    {buybutton id=10578/}

    Beyond the Paleby Elana Dykewomon

    1920’s Russia/America:

    Set in Russia and New York during the early twentieth century, Beyond the Pale follows the lives of two women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who immigrate to New York’s Lower East Side. Gutke Gurvich is a midwife who travels to America with her partner, a woman passing as a man. Their story crosses with that of Chava Meyer, a girl who was attended by Gutke at her birth and was later orphaned during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. Chava immigrates with the family of her cousin Rose, and the two girls begin working at fourteen as they live through the oppression and tragedies of their time. They grow to become lovers, which leads them to search for a community they can truly call their own.

     

      
    {buybutton id=13402/}

    Ruler of the Skyby Pamela Sargent

    1167 Mongolia:

    In 1167, in the harsh homeland of Mongol tribes, a child was born who was to change the course of human history. His father named him Temujin, but the world knows him as Genghis Khan. Set amid the barbaric splendor of the Mongol hordes, Ruler of the Sky tells the tale of the warrior who forged one of the greatest and most terrifying armies the world had ever seen, and conquered the world from Peking to Persia.

     

      

    {buybutton id=10301/}

    God’s Menby Pearl S. Buck

    1900’s China/America:

    This deeply felt novel tells the story of William Lane and Clem Miller, Americans who meet in China as youths at the end of the nineteenth century. Separated by the Boxer Rebellion, they’re destined to travel wildly different courses in life. From a background of wealth and privilege, William becomes a power-hungry and controlling media magnate. By contrast, Clem, whose family survived on charity growing up, is engrossed by a project—which he works on ceaselessly, perhaps naively, together with his chemist wife—to eliminate world poverty. The two wind up in America and meet again, each successful in his own area, and as similar in their intensity as they are different in their values. 

     

     
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    Seasons of the Heartby Cynthia Freeman

    1940’s and 50’s America:

    In 1941, with America at war, Ann Pollock falls in love. Handsome, charming attorney Phillip Coulter is everything she could want in a man and mate. But soon after they marry, Phillip leaves to fight for his country. When he comes home, he’s a stranger, his body and spirit broken in a Japanese POW camp. It is only Ann’s indomitable will and determination to succeed against all odds that keeps her family together.

     

     

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    The Dancer and the Raja by Javier Moro

    1908 India:

    On January 28, 1908, a young Spanish woman sitting astride a luxuriously bejeweled elephant enters a small city in northern India. The streets are packed with curious locals who are anxious to pay homage to their new princess, with skin as white as the snows of the Himalayas. This is the beginning of the story, based on real events, of the wedding of Anita Delgado and the maharaja of Kapurthala. It is a grand story of love and betrayal that took place over almost two decades in the heart of an India that was on the verge of disappearing.

     

     

     
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    From Everlasting to Everlasting by Sophie Freeman

    1800’s America:

    As a young Mormon girl of fifteen, Ellen Randall has little conception of the trouble she and her fellow Mormons will face when they set out with a wagon train bound for Utah. This historical novel follows real life events. The Mormon wagon train held hope and dreams for the travelers, Mormon settlers who had given up everything to make their home in Utah. Ellen Randall is orphaned at an early age and adopted by Elder Zachary and his wife, Sara. Ellen matures from child to adult as she sees and experiences the trials, tribulations, and hardships the Mormons experience as members of a persecuted religion.

     

    Browse our Historical Fiction sale here!


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    home cookingResolving to cook at home more in 2015? There is no better guide to the home kitchen than Laurie Colwin’s witty cult classic Home Cooking. Colwin encourages readers to stop striving for gourmet perfection and enjoy simple, comforting dinners that can be made without expensive ingredients or complicated equipment.

    Here at Open Road, we're taking the 31 Days of Home Cooking Challenge. It's hard to commit to cooking at home every day, but with recipes that are this simple and delicious, it's easy to take part. We invite you to join us as we cook our way through January! We'll be with you every step of the way with daily tips. Stay tuned for more from a group of Open Roaders who will be participating in the challenge.

     

     To whet your appetite, here are some easy weeknight dinners that will leave your take-out menus collecting dust.

     

    Sautéed Vegetables and Poached Egg in One Pot

    For those who own nothing but one knife and one pot, here is the ultimate one-pot meal, taught to me by a working mother.

    1. Take a few vegetables—a little green zucchini, a little yellow one, a few snow peas, a small sliced onion (or whatever you like)—and gently sauté them in butter with minced garlic to taste. The idea is not to fry them but to get them tender. They should be partially covered to let out a little of their own juice.

    2. Take the cover off, grind on some black pepper, push the vegetables against the sides of the pot (or pan or skillet: anything will do) and melt a little more butter. Break in one or two eggs, depending on how hungry you are, and cover until the eggs are cooked. They will have partially poached in the butter and vegetable liquor.

    3. If you are civilized, you can arrange the vegetables on a plate and put the egg on top. If you are not, you can eat it right out of the pot. If you want some grated cheese, you can scrape it with your knife.

    While you are eating this satisfying dinner (perhaps with your sharp little kitchen fork), you can reflect that the common kitchen knife can reduce nuts to powder, mince meat as well as any grinder with less mess, as well as shred the cabbage for cole slaw.

     

    Yam Cakes with Hot Pepper and Fermented Black Beans

    I myself am addicted to this recipe, which calls for shredded yams, egg, flour, hot red pepper flakes, chopped scallion and fermented black beans. This unlikely combination is sublime. Fermented black beans are available in Chinese grocery stores. They are pungent and salty and come mixed with salted ginger. They are wonderful with sautéed eggplant for a pasta sauce, and excellent sprinkled on top of a homemade pizza. Since they are very, very salty a few go a long way.

    1. Shred one large yam.

    2. Beat up two eggs, add to the potatoes and mix.

    3. Add four tablespoons of flour to make the mixture cohere (or more to make more coherent).

    4. Add one chopped scallion, red pepper flakes to taste and two teaspoons of fermented black beans.

    5. Form into cakes with a spoon (these fall to pieces rather easily. I use a bouillon spoon and press the mixture in) and fry in olive oil.

    These, like fried eggplant or zucchini, often do not reach the dining table.

    laurie colwin 

    Colwin with her young daughter, Rosa

    Simple Frittata 

    Even on a Sunday night, a little butter and some olive oil can be found in most households, and usually some eggs. A frittata is a flat Italian omelet that can be eaten hot or cold and the ingredients are limitless. A mushroom and zucchini frittata is nice, and so is a red pepper and onion frittata, but suppose you have no peppers or mushrooms? The answer is potato frittata, which tastes good and is handy since people tend to store potatoes.

    For two people you need one large potato cut into dice, four eggs and some minced garlic. The potatoes are sautéed with garlic in olive oil or butter, and when they are cooked, the scrambled eggs are slipped in and left to cook gently. Frittata should be cooked in a metal-handled skillet since you may want to stick it under the broiler for a minute or two (perhaps with a dusting of grated cheese) to brown the top. Even a child will eat it, and with a green salad and something nice for dessert, it makes a meal.

     

    Beef, Leek and Barley Soup

    1. Trim two big, meaty short ribs and put them on the bottom of your soup pot.

    2. Add ½ cup of barley, three big cloves of garlic chopped up, two chopped onions, and three big leeks cut lengthwise—use both the white and the green parts. You can also add mushrooms and any other vegetables you might like. Grind in a little black pepper.

    3. Add about eight cups of filtered water or beef stock and let simmer on the back burner for at least three hours while you go about your business.

    (You can add lima beans, cubed potatoes, peas, corn, string beans and chopped tomatoes. I myself would not put any kind of squash into this soup, and I am not fond of turnips.)

    4. Before serving, skim off the fat, take the meat off the bones, chop it and put it back in the soup

     

    Baked Pears

    In his memoir In My Father’s Court, Isaac Bashevis Singer mentions his mother’s baked pears—long baked with a scrap of vanilla and cinnamon, and a curl of lemon peel. For these pears I use a tagine pot my cousin brought me from Morocco—a dish of medium depth with a conical top, both earthenware. While I have never made tagine—a Moroccan stew—I have baked apples and pears with great success in my tagine. Any earthenware dish with a cover will work as well.

    Set Seckel pears in an earthenware dish, sprinkle with sugar (or vanilla sugar—sugar that sits around with a vanilla bean in the middle). Put in one-half cup of water, one cinnamon stick and one curlicue of lemon peel. Cover and bake at 300° for one and a half hours.

     

    And, unless you want to live on cold cereal, there’s nothing easier than that.


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    Fairy tales are having a renaissance of sorts. With the popularity of the show Once Upon a Time and the critically acclaimed holiday blockbuster Into the Woods, in theaters now, starring Meryl StreBig Bad Wolfep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt, it is clear fairy tales are here to stay.

    Fairy tales are popular in the romance world as well. Bestselling, veteran romance author Linda Jones is best-known for her fairy tale romances, and as a special treat, she has decided to tell us her own tale. Learn how Linda begun writing fairy tale romances and where she finds her inspiration! 

    As a special treat, today only Big Bad Wolf, a modern, romantic twist on Little Red Riding Hood, by Linda Jones is on sale for $1.99 from Early Bird Books!


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    I will admit the first fairy tale romance I wrote was not entirely my idea. My editor called and invited me to participate in a yearlong series of fairy tale romances. I was a new author on the scene and, therefore, not the first to be invited, so the traditional romantic fairy tales — Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella— had already been claimed by other authors. So there I was, pacing in my office like a madwoman, trying to come up with an idea. My youngest son, eleven at the time, came into the room to ask me what was wrong. “Fairy tales,” I said, snapping my fingers in his direction. “Name some fairy tales.” He did. Starting with The Three Little Pigs. I quickly rejected that one, and he continued, undaunted, with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Again, I rejected his idea. This was supposed to be a romance, after all, and I told him so. He suggested that at the end of the story, Brad Pitt could jump through the window and save the girl. No, I said, the hero would have to be one of the bears.

    That was my lightbulb moment. Of course, the hero would have to be one of the bears. In an instant the Barrett brothers — and Someone’s Been Sleeping in my Bed— were born. It was supposed to be a one time thing—a limited, twelve month series, but one day months later I was driving when the old classic Li’l Red Riding Hood (by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs!) came on the radio, and I had another of those moments. I pitched the idea of Big Bad Wolf, and again, my editor went for it. She even joked that one day I’d write a fairy tale romance based on The Three Little Pigs. We both laughed, but eventually . . . I did.

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    When you’re sitting around talking to friends bemoaning the fact that you can never do that story because you can’t give your heroine the last name Pigg and someone says, “My maiden name was Pigg,” well, it was meant to be. Thus, Let Me Come In was born.

    I ended up writing several twisted—mangled, tongue-in-cheek, maybe a little perverted—fairy tale romances, and each one came about in a similar way. A phrase, a song, a picture. Something was triggered in my brain and the stories unfolded from there. I found inspiration in the more modern, less nightmare-inspiring versions of these classic stories, as well as in the original Grimm tales. Talk about twisted . . .

    And I loved every minute of it. Writing these fairy tale romances was perhaps the most fun I ever had at the computer. I hope they are just as much fun for the reader as they were for me!


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  • 01/05/15--10:33: Learn to Knit in 2015
  • knitting ebooks

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    Open Road Media is publishing the works of Melanie Rae Thon—an intense and spiritual author who knows how to say and write the things that force us to think.


    Here are five quotes from Thon that make us stop, drop, and question the meaning of human existence:


    1. “We are all part of the jeweled net: nothing exists except by connection to everything else in the infinitely miraculous universe. We mourn intimate loss, the deaths of ones we love, the extinction of species, but we are exalted by the spiritual belief and scientific understanding that through time and across space everything changes and continues.” (From this interview)

    2. “Every time you remember an episode of your life, you are reinventing it: embellishing, deleting, altering it through fusion and imagination. If you cannot imagine, you cannot remember.” (From this one)

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    3. “You could lose it, your right big toe, leave it here, in this mud, your foot, your leg, and you wonder, how many pieces of yourself can you leave behind and still be called yourself?” (From her short story collection First, Body)









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    4. “There's no way out of this story.

    It must be told and told.

    How can we know ourselves without it?”

    (From her novel Sweet Hearts)




    5. “You will die. But not tonight. Tonight the whole world is here alive inside you, everything you’ve loved and lost . . . The people whose stories you hear, the miraculous beings you encounter, have fallen inside, and now, before you die, you hope to learn to love them.” (From “The Heart Breaks, and Breaks Open: Seven Reasons to Tell a Story in 2011”)


    Thinking deeply yet? Sound off below and try out some of Melanie’s other work here.


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    Looking to land a new job or get promoted in 2015? Today’s job market is saturated with qualified candidates and if you want to stand out you will need the skills to rise above the rest. Here are three ways to make a bigger impact at work and on the job market, and ebooks to help you acquire the necessary skills.



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    Improve Your Writing

    There are few things more unprofessional than sloppy writing. In today’s workplace, we often email more than we speak face to face or on the phone, and if you can’t communicate well through your writing, your message is going to get lost. Was your recent sales initiative a huge success? A well-written report detailing your results can go a long way in impressing your boss.

    Don’t have time to take a writing class? Ron Fry’s book offers easy and practical tips to improve your writing and will empower you to excel in your business communications.



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    Be Persuasive
    While essential in a sales job, the power of persuasion is an elite skill that will be an asset in any career. A persuasive employee is able to communicate their best ideas and get others onboard. He or she exudes confidence and is easily seen as a leader. Roger Dawson’s Secrets of Power Persuasion for Salespeople offers easy-to-follow techniques that will show you how to be more persuasive in your day to day interactions, and can even help you negotiate a better salary once you land that new job.





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    Nail the Big Interview

    All your hard work networking, building your resume and applying for jobs has paid off and you’ve finally landed an interview for a position you’re excited about. You know why you want the job, but why should they hire you? To prove your worth you’ll need to have the best answers to all your interviewer's questions, no matter how tough. Ron Fry has hired hundreds and interviewed thousands of candidates and in 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions he arms you with an arsenal of questions and answers to make sure you’re prepared.




    Looking for more books to help elevate your career? A selection of our ebooks on your career and the job search are on sale this month for $1.99.


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    Did the unending onslaught of holiday parties take a toll on your waistband? Looking to turn over a new spinach leaf in the new year? Studies have shown that following a Mediterranean meal plan can actually increase your lifespan, while helping you shed that unwanted winter weight. Make the most of the Mediterranean diet’s moment and incorporate these healthy dishes into your routine!

     

     Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad

    tuscan tuna and white bean salad 

    Total time: 14 minutes

    Makes 4 main-dish servings

     

    1 can (15 to 15 ½ ounces) white cannellini beans, rinsed, drained

    ½ cup thinly sliced red onion, halved

    1 can (6 ounces) tuna in olive oil (drain; reserve oil) 1 cup diced plum tomatoes

    ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

    2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

    ¼ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 cups torn arugula leaves

    4 thick flatbreads

     

    1. In a bowl, combine cannellini beans, red onion, tuna, tomatoes, olives, chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of the reserved olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper, tossing gently to combine. Stir in arugula.

    2. Preheat grill or heat grill pan. Brush flatbreads lightly with the remaining reserved olive oil. Grill until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Cut flatbreads in halves or quarters. Serve with salad.

    Each serving contains about 480 calories, 31 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbohydrate, 16 grams of total fat (3 grams saturated), 7 grams of fiber, 27 milligrams of cholesterol, and 1,273 milligrams of sodium.

     

    To get more mileage out of this meal:

    -       Serve on crostini for a crowd-pleasing appetizer

    -       Incorporate some mixed greens for a power-lunch salad

    -       Mix with pasta and green beans for a spin on Pasta Nicoise

     

     

    Bright Green Tabbouleh

    tabbouleh

    Total time: 1 hour

    Makes 7 servings

     

    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bulgur wheat

    1 cup boiling water

    3 large lemons

    1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

    1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

    ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 tablespoons finely minced garlic

    4 green onions (white bulbs and 3 inch light green), thinly sliced

    Salt and pepper

    4 ripe plum tomatoes (3 ounces each), seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice

    1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice

     

    1. In a large bowl, combine bulgur and boiling water. Cover and let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

    2. From lemons, grate 2 tablespoons of peel and squeeze ½ cup juice. Drain bulgur if necessary. Add lemon peel and juice, parsley, mint, oil, garlic, green onions, ½ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Toss ingredients well to combine. Stir in chopped tomatoes and cucumber.

    3. Let tabbouleh salad stand, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors before serving.

    Each serving contains about 175 calories, 4 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of total fat (1 gram saturated), 6 grams of fiber, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, and 160 milligrams of sodium.

     

    To get more mileage out of this meal:

    -       Add to a leafy chicken or lean steak salad for a filling lunch

    -       Use to stuff and bake an avocado or bell peper

    -       Make dolmas for a bite on the go

    -       Fill your favorite pita pocket with tabbouleh, chicken, red onion, and balsamic vinegar

     

    Syrian Shrimp Kebabs

    shrimp kebabs

    Total time: 43 minutes

    Makes 4 servings

     

    ¼ cup pine nuts, very finely chopped

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    2 tablespoons minced onion

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    1 tablespoon tomato paste

    1 ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

    ½ teaspoon ground allspice

    ½ teaspoon coriander

    ½ teaspoon cumin

    ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

    ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

    16 jumbo shrimp (1 pound), peeled, de-veined, with tail shells intact

    16 fresh bay leaves

    1 small onion, quartered, separated into 16 pieces

    16 lemon wedges

    4 (12-inch) wide bamboo skewers

    Olive oil, for brushing

     

    1. In a bowl, stir together pine nuts, oil, onion, lemon juice, tomato paste, paprika, allspice, coriander, cumin, salt, cloves, and cinnamon to form a paste. Toss shrimp in paste to coat. On skewers, thread 4 each of bay leaves, shrimp, onions, and lemon wedges. Let flavors set for 20 minutes.

    2. Heat grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grill rack. Brush skewers with olive oil and grill 6 to 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, until shrimp are opaque. Serve with flatbreads and cucumbers in yogurt. 

    Each serving contains about 48 calories, 20 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of total fat (2 grams saturated), 2 grams of fiber, 168 milligrams of cholesterol, and 369 milligrams of sodium.

     

    To get more mileage out of this meal:

    -       Add some protein to your lunch salad by using leftover shrimp

    -       Have a round two dinner with leftover shrimp and tabbouleh

     

    Salmon Provencal with Zucchini

    salmon

    Total time: 30 minutes

    Makes 4 main-dish servings

     

    1 tablespoons olive oil

    4 pieces (6 ounces each) skinless salmon fillet

    Salt and pepper

    1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in juice

    1 small onion, chopped

    ¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped

    1 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

    3 medium zucchini (8 ounces each)

    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    1. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Season salmon on both sides with ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper. Add salmon to skillet and cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until opaque.

    2. Meanwhile, drain tomatoes, reserving ¼ cup juice. Chop tomatoes.

    3. Transfer salmon to plate; cover with foil to keep warm. To same skillet, add onion, and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes with reserved juice; heat to boiling. Cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring. Remove skillet from heat; stir in olives and capers.

    4. While sauce is cooking, cut each zucchini lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices.

    5. In microwave-safe medium bowl, place zucchini and 2 tablespoons water. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high 5 minutes or until just fork-tender. Drain zucchini; add lemon juice and toss to combine.

    6. Place salmon on plates; top with sauce and serve with zucchini.

    Each serving contains about 350 calories, 38 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of total fat (2 grams saturated), 5 grams of fiber, 94 milligrams of cholesterol, and 585 milligrams of sodium.

     

    To get more mileage out of this meal:

    -       Add to a leafy spinach salad with some red onion, cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds, and a balsamic dressing

    -       Serve on a bed of tabbouleh with roasted vegetables

    -       Throw leftover salmon into a puttanesca sauce

     

    Fire Roasted Nectarines

    fire roasted nectarines

    Total time: 25 minutes

    Makes 4 servings

     

    2 cups strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped

    ½ cup raspberries

    ⅓ cup blueberries

    2 tablespoons sugar

    2 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

    Salt

    4 ripe medium nectarines, each cut in half and pitted

     

    1. Prepare berry salsa: In a medium bowl, mix strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sugar, ginger, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

    2. Preheat outdoor grill to medium (or use indoor grill pan). Spray cut sides of nectarine halves with non-stick cooking spray. Place nectarine halves on hot grill and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until fruit are lightly charred and tender, turning once.

    3. To serve, in each of 4 dessert bowls, place 2 nectarine halves, cut sides up, and top with berry salsa.

    Each serving contains about 130 calories, 2 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of total fat (0 grams saturated), 5 grams of fiber, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, and 35 milligrams of sodium.

     

    To get more mileage out of this meal:

    Put it in your morning bowl of oatmeal or greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey for a touch of sweetness

    Doll up a scoop of low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt and treat yourself


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    You go out to a party and get introduced to someone. When you run into them again 30 minutes later, you can’t for the life of you remember their name. Sound familiar? Similarly, it’s embarrassing to tell someone how nice it is to meet them, only to have them say, “We’ve met before.” Cue the crickets. Whether you’re a student studying for an exam or recently retired and worried about forgetting a doctor’s appointment, it’s never too late to improve your memory. Here are a few easy tricks to improve your memory in very common situations. 

     

     

    Remember your grocery list: Visualize walking through the rooms of your house. As your mind walks through those rooms, remember what items are in that room and what you need to restock from those rooms. For example, when you walk through your closet and see all your clothes, you realize you need detergent. As you walk into your bathroom, you remember you need shampoo and toothpaste. Perhaps you keep your cleaning supplies in your pantry and as you walk past the pantry, you remember to buy cleaning supplies. You get the idea.

     

    Remember a short list: Remember “Roy G. Biv”? The colors of the rainbow, in order, are: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Take the first letter of each color and it spells “Roy G. Biv”. If you take the first letter of a sequence, the resulting word is an easy way to remember the list. You can apply this same principle to any short list.

    However, you’re not always lucky enough to end up with a word that’s easy to pronounce. Another solution is to make up a simple sentence using the first letters of the list you’re trying to remember as the first letters of each word. For example, “A Tall Giraffe Chewed Leaves Very Low, Some Slow Cows At Play” is easier to remember than the actual Zodiac calendar: (A)ries, (T)aurus, (G)emini, (C)ancer, (L)eo, (V)irgo, (L)ibra, (S)corpio, (S)agittarius, (C)apricorn, (A)quarius, (P)isces.

     

    Remember where you put your keys/phone/wallet: Don’t think of your keys as simply an object sitting somewhere, make it do something. For example, when you put down your keys on the kitchen counter, imagine a car crashing through the kitchen wall. When you try to recall where your keys are, you’ll see that car crashing through your wall and remember that your keys were on the kitchen counter! The more unusual your visual, the better it will stand out in your mind.

    Remember someone’s name: Whenever you’re introduced to someone, say their name back to them. When you meet Jane, look her in the eye and say, “Nice to meet you, Jane.” It may sound weird at first, but it’s totally normal and can come off as charming. The next step is to focus on a feature of the person’s face that stands out. It could be her big ears, or her pointy nose, or her brilliant blue eyes. Just make sure it’s something that sets them apart from everyone else in the room. If they stand out, the easier it will be to remember them.

    You could also rhyme their name with another word. Many lessons in elementary schools are done with rhyming and those same tricks still work as adults. So when you meet Chad, in your head he becomes “Bad Chad”. Just make sure not to say it out loud!

    Interested in learning more ways to improve your memory? You’ll want to check out Improve Your Memory by Ron Fry.


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    Beloved food writer Laurie Colwin was known for her witty and honest stories of her adventures in the kitchen, both delicious and disastrous. Colwin is the voice of harried home cooks everywhere who want to put something satisfying on the table without too much stress. Here are nine tips from her classic Home Cooking on how to feed yourself and your loved ones—and stay sane while doing it.

    1. Small budget? Don’t sweat it.

    I do not believe that you have to spend a lot of money to eat well: it is hard to beat a plain old baked potato.”

     

    2. Never pay full price for fancy supplies.

    “As to baking, which requires a great deal of specific equipment, my motto is: never buy anything except at a tag sale. “

     

    3. When in doubt, everyone loves potato salad.

    “There is no such thing as really bad potato salad.”

     

     drawings

    4. A creamy sauce will make anyone eat their vegetables.

    “A person who dunks an asparagus spear into a puddle of homemade mayonnaise will end up eating the asparagus unless you have on your hands the kind of hard case who will lick the sauce off and then stick the asparagus back in for more.”

     

    5. When the family’s had a rough day, make your old standbys.

    “When the chips are down, the spirit is exhausted and the body hungry, the same old thing is a great consolation.”

     

    6. The key to healthy eating is listening to your body.

    “I have always believed that if you listen to your food cravings (I do not mean your constant desire for chocolate brownies) they will tell you what you need. If you long for bananas, it may be potassium you need.”

     

    7. For easy weeknight suppers, nothing beats soup.

    “There must be more recipes for soup than any other thing. It is a true convenience food and has been since Esau sold his birthright for a plate of lentil soup. Vegetables simmered in plain water with herbs and a little butter make a fine soup and so do beans and meat, which must be simmered for hours. Even these soups are easy: you put them on the stove and leave them alone.”

     

    laurie colwin dinner party

     

    8. Chicken salad can be the most versatile dish in your repertoire.

    “Chicken salad has a certain glamour about it. Like the little black dress, it is chic and adaptable and can be taken anywhere. You can dress it down and feed it to a child, or dress it up and serve it at a dinner party. You can accessorize it in an interesting way and astonish your friends at lunch.”

     

    9. If all else fails . . . there’s always delivery.

    (After a catastrophic fish bake) “As appears to be traditional with me, a large pizza was the real end of this grisly experience.”


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    You may have heard of R. V. Cassill. If you do, you probably think he’s a talented author. After all, he is a writer of some renown.

    But you probably didn’t know that he was also great at everything else.

    Cassill was not only a prolific writer (27 novels, 7 short story collections, a book on writing fiction—aptly titled Writing Fiction), but also a painter, editor, and lithographer.

    And he was good at all of it.

    But the proof is in the proverbial pudding, so check out these reviews of Clem Anderson, one of his most famous works:

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    “So intelligently written that much of it seems to have been caressed into life . . . a major novel.”The New York Times

    “Mr. Cassill writes with whirling energy and explosive metaphorical shiftiness. His style is perpetually inventive; one reads with the joyful sense of something being continually created under one’s eyes.” —The New York Review of Books

    He was also one of the original editors of the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction with Joyce Carol Oates. So even if you weren’t assigned his work in lit class, you were probably assigned one of his short story picks.

    He was good at art, too. He attended art school and was an exhibited artist in Chicago.

    And to top it all off, the man was a genius. He was a Fulbright Scholar, and he taught at Harvard, Purdue, Brown, and the famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

    And for those who say “jack of all trades, master of none,” we counter with the Academy Award for Literature, an O. Henry Short Story Award, and an honorary master’s degree from Brown.

    So here’s to you Ronald Verlin Cassill, a true Renaissance man.


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    1.  Don’t depend on other people to help you with your resolutionthey’ll only muddle it up.

    Take it from Trevor Sheridan of Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney.  Sure, Trevor might not have been the nicest guy (after all, his nickname was the Predator of Wall Street), but hey everyone’s not perfect.  In any event, he had some serious resolutions: get revenge on everyone who ever doubted him.  But all of Trevor’s planning depended on one thing: forcing the beautiful Alana van Alan to marry him—and, of course, he ends up falling in love with her.  See?  Resolution ruined.

     

     

     


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    2.  If you’re still looking for a New Year’s Resolution, try learning musicit’s calming, fun, and apparently quite the aphrodisiac.

    Just ask violinist Summer Zahova, from Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson, whose passionate music playing leads her to some very passionate love making in a torrid affair with a university professor. 

     

     

     

     


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    3.  You can’t keep running away from your bad habits sometimes, you just have to face them.  After all, isn’t that what making a New Year’s Resolution is all about?

    Even Emma Delancey, in Twice Blessedby Jo Ann Ferguson, knows all too well she can’t keep running away from her bad habits.  She has tried to run away herself—quite literally, in fact—by travelling all the way from Kansas to Indiana.  But when she meets Noah Sawyer, she realizes that her days of running away may be over for good. 

     

     

     


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    4.  Everything that glitters is not goldnot even a Gold’s gym membership.  Tempted to click on that email for the free gym membership to get an early start on that perfect beach body?  Be careful, it might just be a scam. 

    Or, as in Lovers and Liars by Sally Beauman, maybe even a sex scandal.  When photojournalist Pascal Lamartine and reporter Gini Hunter both receive mysterious packages on New Year’s Day, they uncover a shocking scandal while also (yay for multitasking!) rekindling their own steamy love affair.

     

     

     


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    5.  Looking for a new relationship?  Try helping someone outnothing woos the heart as much as kindness… and asexy Scottish accent certainly doesn’t hurt!

    In Highland Championby Hannah Howell, for instance, Keira MacKail saves the life of Scotsman Liam Cameron and he falls in love with her instantly.  The only problem is Keira doesn’t love him back—but Liam is determined to change that.

     

     

     

     


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    6.Give people the benefit of the doubtbelieve it or not, other people might actually be right—sometimes.

    Of course, that’s easier said than done.  Imagine if someone you were positive you never met before claimed not only that she’d met you previously, but that she was actually your wife? Such is the dilemma for Chase Beaudine inChild Brideby Suzanne Forster. 

     

     

     

     


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    7.  If you’re New Year’s Resolution was to binge watch TV on Netflix instead of reading a good book, then don’t!  Books are way betterand far less life threatening. 

    Meet Jennifer Connolly, soap opera star extraordinaire on Valentine Valley, a popular soap opera in Long, Lean, and Lethalby Heather Graham.  When a serial killer targets Jennifer as his next victim, she soon finds herself starring in her own reality show: escape or be killed.

     

     

     


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    8. Love comes when you least expect itif you don’t achieve your New Year’s resolutions this year, don’t worry.  You might achieve something even better instead.

    Or, as Max McKenzie and Jean Leslie find out, you might find love even when you are actively trying to avoid it. Neither Max nor Jeanie were looking for love—in fact, a long-lasting relationship was the last thing either of them wanted.  Yet they might be each other’s perfect match in Dream Man by Judy Griffith Gill.


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