Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicken Soup WINNERS

Commenters 5... 7... and 4!

Now, I crossed my fingers that you wouldn't all want the same book - and I got lucky. Only one of the winners asked for a specific edition - so y'all made it easy on me.

Thank you. Sincerely. Because for a minute there, I panicked.
  1. Moms & Sons - Stories by Mothers and sons, in Appreciation of Each Other Pamela, yay you! Pamela - you get the sons one. Remember. Tissues.
  2. Like Mother, Like Daughter - Stories about the Special Bond between Mothers and Daughters - Deb gets this one. Deb, I don't have an email for you, so please get in touch soon!
  3. Moms Know Best - Stories of Appreciation for Mothers and Their Wisdom - Goes to Pam.

Winners - please email me with your particulars so I can get these in the mail. (BTW, anyone who knows me knows that getting me to the Post Office is like pulling teeth, but I promise it'll be before the end of the month!)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chicken Soup

Honestly y'all. I'm nursing my first head cold in years - and it's a doozy. As soon as I posted that I never, ever get sick in a meme on "My Life as a Hotfessional", Karma decided to kick my butt to the ground with the hacking and the sneezing and the swollen eyes.

What's the best thing in the world for a cold?

Chicken Soup!

And when it's in print form - and you're reading it - and your nose is running and you're tearing up and reaching for the tissues and your family is laughing at you for crying about a book, you can pretend it's the stupid head cold. (Not that I would ever do that, you understand!)


Here's an excerpt (reprinted with permission):

In Mom We Trust
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
~James A. Garfield

My mom embarrassed me. In fifth grade, she was the
mom interrupting sex education with my birthday
cupcakes. In seventh grade, she picked up the phone
and told me it was bedtime at 9:30 on a Friday night when I was on
the phone with Eric, the cute boy in art class. And after Sam stood
me up on the night of winter formal, my mom stormed into his work
and made a scene, demanding he pay for my unused dress and shoes.
Although (I must admit) it would have been classic to see the look
on his face had I been there, I was furious with her for making matters
even more humiliating. Mom was always there to serve and protect.
She was like a superhero who just seemed to make everything

During the middle years when every month brought changes
in bra size, boyfriends and hair color, my mom was as impossible to
hide from as puberty. She was like a supernatural force, a divine spirit
with psychic abilities. If I made any sort of mistake, she knew about
it before I walked through the front door. She had a sixth sense, and
it wasn’t fair. My friends could experiment and lie and be out past
curfew, and their parents would never in a thousand years catch on.
As for me, if I were to even sample a beer or inhale one drag of a cigarette,
my mom knew. As a result, by high school I had learned that it was best
for me not to lie — after all, I knew better. I had a mom who
knew everything, anyway.

And then there was a night when I couldn’t be honest. All my
friends were making a journey down to Mexico for the evening. The
boy I especially liked invited me to come along. He was older and
had a car. I really, really wanted to go. I had resisted in the past,
but this time I found myself agreeing to the invitation. (My parents
thought I was spending the night with my best friend.) We went, and
it was fun and dangerous and stupid, and GREAT! Luckily, we made
it home safely that night, and I spent the night at a friend’s house.
His parents weren’t home, but if they had been, I have a feeling they
wouldn’t have cared that ten high-schoolers were gathered in their
living room after a night in Tijuana. They were the type of parents
who just didn’t seem to care all that much about anything, which at
the time I thought was pretty cool.

The morning after my little rebellious experience, my dad opened
the front door to greet me.

“Hi Bec,” he cheered. My mother put down her dishtowel and
kissed me on the cheek. I waited for her to notice something different
about me, something that might lead her to believe that I had been
up to no good.

“I’m gonna take a shower now,” I began.

She didn’t say anything. She just hugged me tightly and asked
me not to forget to clean my room. I spent twenty minutes in the
shower wondering what I should do. My mom would surely figure it
all out sooner or later. Should I tell her?

I decided to stay rigid. I was a good little actress. I could cover
for myself if I needed to. A lie (just this once) couldn’t hurt anyone.
When I came down for breakfast, I waited for the inquisition, but to
my surprise, it never came. Mom’s crystal ball must have been cloudy
that day, and for once, she didn’t suspect a thing. I was in luck. I was
relieved. I was shocked. I was guilty.

My conscience caught up with me after a few days. I couldn’t
stand it anymore and I told Mom everything, every detail. She cried,
of course, scared for my life, afraid of what could have happened to
me, and through her gentle tears she grounded me — for an entire
month! Why, might you ask, did I tell her? Trust me, I asked myself
that same question every day of that miserable month. I could have
gotten away with it. I know that for a fact — or do I?

Sooner or later she would have probably found out about everything.
And if that had happened, she would have not only grounded
me, but would have lost all of her trust in me, as well. You see, after
the Mexico incident, after I had confessed and then served my sentence,
I eventually earned back my parents’ trust. In return, I was
given a later curfew, not to mention more privileges.

I didn’t tell my parents everything after that. Instead, we had a
system. I told Mom and Dad where I was going, when I would be
back and the important things that were happening in my life. It
turned out that superpsychic mom was cooler than I had originally
thought. I liked that she cared about me and my life, and I really
liked being able to share with her.

Over the years, Mom’s embarrassment factor has dimmed like
an old night light, but she remains the raging superhero she always
was. Even though I’m living one hundred miles away, she brings me
soup if I’m sick, helps with my work when I’m swamped and makes
sure that boyfriends are treating me right. She still has her crystal
ball on hand and will often call me on a bad day to cheer me up even
before I tell her that I was just fired, dumped or just plain lonely. She
has grown to be my best friend, and even though I don’t live at home
anymore, I still confide in her and tell her everything. Well — almost.

~Rebecca Woolf
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

I have THREE (count'em! THREE) Chicken Soup for the Soul books to give away.
  1. Moms & Sons - Stories by Mothers and sons, in Appreciation of Each Other
  2. Like Mother, Like Daughter - Stories about the Special Bond between Mothers and Daughters
  3. Moms Know Best - Stories of Appreciation for Mothers and Their Wisdom
(Yes, it was the first one that caused me to go through a box of tissue last night while pretending that it was my cold. Don't tell Mr. Hot!)

So, all you have to do is be leave me a comment and tell me which book you want. I'll randomly choose the winner on Shortman's birthday - October 16th - in honor of the day I became a mom!

The Hotfessional

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If your Hair Falls Out, Keep Dancing!

by Leslie Ann Butler

If only I'd had this book when I first started losing my hair to Alopecia Areata twelve years ago. There are some parts that would have frightened me, maybe - like the thought that I could get all of my hair back and THEN, little more than a decade later, lose it ALL - but it would have also given me strength - the strength that comes with knowing that there are others like me out there.

Many others.

In the chapter called "Nights of a Thousand Tears", Leslie Ann and women she talks with explain the feelings that they deal with even after years of living with this disorder. Some of their stories made me cry. Some made me laugh. All made me realize that I'm not the first to have gone through this.

"Pulling it Off" - my personal favorite chapter - speaks to stories of telling friends and lovers. Having no hair is bad enough for a woman, but having your boyfriend walk out of your life when you tell him must be devastating. Except in hindsight - because, really, who wants THAT jerk anyway?

Leslie Ann provides invaluable information on wigs, eyebrows (in fact, I purchased the recommended "Beauti-Full Brows" temporary tattoo eyebrows after reading about them here) and eyelashes. Eye makeup tips that make all the difference in the world if you feel the need to

The best part of all about this book, though, is that even the serious parts are related with a sense of understanding and underlying humor. And having "met" Leslie Ann through Alopecia World - I can tell you with 100% certainty, she's a beautiful woman - inside AND out.

I'm passing my copy around to all of my family members to read. I hope that it will open their eyes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Winner - Giveaway #2

The winner of the 20 commenters, as determined by is lucky #10 - Miss Missie from Death by Chocolate Martini!

Missie - send me your info (reereep -at- gmail -dot- com) so I can get you a copy of this fantastic book!

The Hotfessional

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hump - True Tales of Sex After Kids

I've been woefully lax at updating this site - even though I'm not at all surprised that I've been a slacker. Don't get me wrong, I've been reading lots of books - but I'm a bit behind on the "Best Sellers" I figure that the books I've been reading - you read, oh say, last summer. Or the summer before. Or five years ago! Snort.

But! Today, I get the pleasure of reviewing "Hump - True Tales of Sex After Kids" by Kimberly Ford.

Y'all! This is an amazing read.

Now, it's been a long time since I've had to worry about Shortman coming into our bedroom and saying, "Are you guys wrestling?" (Yes, it happened)

It's been a long time since I had to worry about a busted condom or an expelled IUD. Mr. Hot and I used to joke that if I hadn't been on the pill, we could look at each other and I'd get pregnant (2 miscarriages before Shortman turned three convinced me that getting my tubes tied was a much better option than going through that if I forgot to take my pill at precisely the exact same time every single day!).

Now, we're more likely to be subjected to door slamming and eye rolling if the 6'2" fruit of our loins hears us having sex. (Well, y'know, I can't always be quiet - and what fun is that anyway?)

But! This book (the first line of which is, "I love the word fuck" - you KNOW this is a woman after my own heart) isn't only for the parents of infants and toddlers. It isn't even only for those of you with young-ish children.

It's for every parent that forgets that hot, sweaty fucking or slow, gentle love-making is important for reconnecting with your partner. For decompressing after your hectic days. For remembering that you're not just Susie's mom or Bobby's dad - you're a sexual being whose needs and desires didn't disappear when you added to your family.

And it's funny. A particular "Secret" in "Secrets of the Magic Wand" (I soooo typed "want" there first, ha!) had me laughing so hard I couldn't make eye contact with Mr. Hot for a good 10 minutes afterwards.

He, of course, kept saying, "What?!? What?!?" (I told him I'd show him later. )

"Laser Lover" inspired me in completely different ways.

"Back in the Saddle" reminded me that I never bothered going to my 6-week post-partum checkup. Because I knew everything was fine after only 2 weeks. (Ooops !)

I loved this book. I loved it so much I'm going to buy someone a copy of it. Leave me a comment here and I'll send the winner (chosen by their very own copy. I'd say that I'd send you my copy, but no fuckin' way. I'm keeping this. Even the Hotfessional sometimes forgets what's important in life and needs reminding.

The Hotfessional

P.S. Comments must be submitted by Monday 8/25 - 8:00 am Eastern

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lives in Sports

Told y'all I wouldn't be doing daily (or maybe even weekly) updates over here. And of course, I'm a day late and a dollar short for Father's Day, but if you have sports fans in your life, you should check these out:

By Whitey Ford and Phil Pepe


By John Feinstein and Red Auerbach

My home is full of books. Books that I've read, books that Mr. Hot has read or is going to read. But there aren't many books that we both read.

  • He reads fiction rarely.
  • He loves political shit. He's read nearly everything about Reagan, Bush, Nixon, the Iran Contra debacle. I can't stand those books. And since I'm usually subjected to a running commentary the entire time he's reading them, I don't really have to.
  • I tend to read "lightly". Don't misunderstand. I read some really good, thought-provoking books, but I read fast. And if the story is just "so so", then I skim. And except for books that really touch me, I don't dwell on them - nor do I remember specific quotes months later. He does.
We both, though, love biographies and autobiographies. When he suggested that I read these two books, I was hesitant, because, y'know, as much as I love sports - (I really do) - the Yankees? The Celtics?

They're the enemy. I'm a Detroit girl.

Whitey Ford played for the Yankees in the 50s and 60s. A Hall of Fame, left-handed pitcher, he hung around with Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle. The heyday of Yankee baseball are recounted in Ford's own words, 20 years after his retirement. Ford spends more time talking about baseball than Mickey Mantle's book (which I haven't read but understand is full of the antics of the "Unholy Trio" - partying hard)

Red Auerbach was the legendary Boston Celtics Coach and President. Every Tuesday he gathers an eclectic group of friends for lunch at a Chinese restaurant in D.C. - and tells stories. These stories and memories make the basis for this book.

Both books are great reads whether you're a Yankees/Celtics fan or not. A love of sports? Interest in the differences between today's mega-millionaire athletes and yesterday's heroes? I'd suggest you start here.

The Hotfessional

Friday, June 6, 2008

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

This book caught my eye for two reasons.
  1. When I was born, in 1963, my dad was serving in the Marine Corps. I lived with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my mom in Dearborn, Michigan. On Middlesex Street.
  2. The story is set in Michigan, in Detroit.
Now, we lived in Dearborn, not Detroit, but there could have been some journalistic license going on - or maybe the family moved to Dearborn. At any rate, I didn't know that this book won a Pulitzer. I didn't know that this was the same author who wrote "The Virgin Suicides" (which I haven't read).

Well, the Middlesex referred to in this book is actually the name of the home that the Stephanides family moves to in Grosse Point. It also is in reference to the "middle sex" of the main character and narrator Calliope (Cal) Stephanides - a hermaphodite raised as a girl until the age of fourteen.

The story begins before Calliope is born - and follows Desdemona and Lefty Stephanides (Cal's grandparents) from their courtship and immigration to the United States in the 1920s through the mid 1970s.

I love family epics, so I was immediately swept away by the goings on. The characters here are wonderfully old-country Greeks from Turkey. They're the families that my own grandparents met. They had the children that my parents played with. Calliope was born in 1960 - only three years before me.

I remember hearing stories from my mother about moving to Detroit (from Pennsylvania) in the early 50s. Those stories are here. I remember the 1967 riots when my father, the cop, guarded the border between Detroit and Dearborn after the National Guard faltered and the 82nd Airborne was brought in. I know the Uniroyal tire and although I snorted a little at "the thready woods of Inkster" description, I was thrilled that Inkster, where we moved when I was four, where we lived until I was 13, was mentioned.

And yet, even without the setting, the tale that Jeffrey Eugenides tells is one of family secrets, self-awareness and the ties that bind us to our brothers and sisters, to our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles.

I'll be re-reading this at some point.

Ree - The Hotfessional

The Winner

The winner is - witchypoo! (Now I don't have to buy her a birthday present! hee.)

Also, if you've recently read "Driving Sideways" by Jess Riley, and you're interested in participating in a review discussion, let me know by next Monday, 6/9 eh? Thanks!

Ree The Hotfessional

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Will Not Be Broken - Jerry White

Click Image for Amazon link

I love to read books about people, their lives, their loves. When they're true stories; when they have a wisdom to impart, it's even better.

Jerry White is one of the leaders of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines. He helped found "Survivor Corps" - an organization that helps those impacted by global conflict.

Jerry's story, and the stories of the people he's met through his work are amazing. Even more uplifting is his advice to overcoming a life crisis. Whatever that crisis may be. Death? Divorce? Serious illness?

Five Steps. Five steps to getting through it. Five steps to coming out stronger.

I'm not generally the kind of person who says, "Get over it, get on with it." I feel things genuinely and deeply. "Crises" affect me for the long-term. I wasn't sure I'd be able to review this book positively if it was a "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" type of advice.

It's not.

It's inspiring. The people are wonderfully real. Their stories will break your heart. Their strength will lift you up. You'll learn to understand "before" and "after".
  1. Face Facts
  2. Choose Life
  3. Reach Out
  4. Get Moving
  5. Give Back
One of my favorite chapters, though, is "Helping Others Get Through Catastrophe: Or, How to Not Make Things Worse". I never know what exactly to say. I don't know what to do when a friend is going through a rough time.

This book was worth it to me for this chapter alone.

As a kickoff for this site - and to celebrate this first review, I'm going to award a copy of this book to a random commenter - so you can have your own little dose of inspiration.

Ree, the Hotfessional

Chapter 1 - The Introduction


Er, um, Welcome!

For those of you who know me at "My Life as a Hotfessional", thanks for coming over. IF you know The Hotfessional, you know that I tend to go a bit overboard. So, on the basis of a couple of requests to review books, I decided to start a new site specifically in case anyone else asks me to review a book. (Or a magazine...or whatever. Yes, it says, specifically, BOOKS in the title. I know. Bear with me, I haven't thought this all out yet.)

Anyway...'tis the season to sit on the porch, a tall glass of lemonade and vodka (or lemonade without vodka...) by your side with a really good book on your lap. Enjoy the weather, watch out for bite-y bugs, and don't forget your sunglasses.

Ree, the Hotfessional