Queen of the Road Giveaway!

 “Trailer for sale or rent, rooms to let fifty cents..”  Why is this song stuck in my head, you ask?? Well, because I’m reading “Queen of the Road” by Doreen Orion, a romantic travel memoir of when the author and her outdoorsy husband decided to chuck it all and spend a year traveling the country in a converted bus.  Yes, a YEAR in a bus, with 2 cats, a poodle, and lots of shoes! I’ve barely started the book, but so far it’s fun and funny- I love her sense of humor. Here’s more about it from Broadway Books:

Summary: A pampered Long Island princess hits the road in a converted bus with her wilderness-loving husband, travels the country for one year, and brings it all hilariously to life in this offbeat and romantic memoir.

Doreen and Tim are married psychiatrists with a twist: She’s a self-proclaimed Long Island princess, grouchy couch potato, and shoe addict. He’s an affable, though driven, outdoorsman. When Tim suggests “chucking it all” to travel cross-country in a converted bus, Doreen asks, “Why can’t you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” But she soon shocks them both, agreeing to set forth with their sixty-pound dog, two querulous cats—and no agenda—in a 340-square-foot bus.

Queen of the Road is Doreen’s offbeat and romantic tale about refusing to settle; about choosing the unconventional road with all the misadventures it brings (fire, flood, armed robbery, and finding themselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few). The marvelous places they visit and delightful people they encounter have a life-changing effect on all the travelers, as Doreen grows to appreciate the simple life, Tim mellows, and even the pets pull together. Best of all, readers get to go along for the ride through forty-seven states in this often hilarious and always entertaining memoir, in which a boisterous marriage of polar opposites becomes stronger than ever. — Broadway Books

Want to win your own copy of Queen of the Road?  Just visit the Queen of the Road website and click on the “share a thought” link on the roadsign on the left.  Once you are there, leave a comment by Monday, July 28th, about anything!  You can talk about your own travel experiences, your love of shoes, a trip you took with your spouse, your pets, how much you enjoy my blog (hee hee), the author’s website, or ANYTHING AT ALL!  It’s entirely up to you. Just leave a comment along with your email address, and mention that you got there via Books on the Brain.  Ms. Orion will be selecting a winner and will forward the info. to me so that I can send out the book.  This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only (sorry!)

This book is everywhere right now.  It was the featured book club selection in June at Borders and is the Adventure at Every Turn book club July selection at Celestial Seasonings!  In fact, Celestial Seasonings is running an awesome Iced Tea Drink recipe contest inspired by this book, which starts each chapter with a cocktail recipe.  The prizes are pretty spectacular, so I suggest you check it out.

Doreen Orion’s website can be found HERE.  She is more than happy to visit with book clubs via speaker phone.  Here’s a reading guide to help with discussions.

And you can check out reviews of Queen of the Road HERE and HERE.  Good luck!

Vacation Wrap Up and Winners

I love summer.  I love traveling east every year to the same lakefront location.  I love seeing the same cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, the same lifelong friends and family (my husband’s) year after year.  Really, I do.  (Just ignore all those travel brochures to Hawaii gathering dust in the magazine basket-I don’t know WHO put them there).   

Northeast Pennsylvania is beautiful.  I love the gorgeous green rolling hills and the brilliant blue sky.  I love the honeymoon phase when we first get there- when the kids are getting along and everyone is happy to see each other.  This doesn’t last very long, but it sure is nice.  I love the mist on the glassy lake in the morning, the orange daylilies, the screened in porch, the mosquitoes, the kids making a fort in the woods, ice cream at the local dairy.  I love the smell of sunscreen and bug spray and hot dogs on the grill, love the excitement the kids get over catching frogs and lightning bugs and caterpillars or spotting a deer, the thrill we all get over a big thunderstorm, the board games, the chilly nights (“good sleeping weather”), the 4th of July fireworks, the lemonade and cold beer and friendly neighbors.  I had time to read 4 books and 3 magazines while occasionally glancing up to watch my kids jump off the dock, play in the sand, catch fish in a bucket.  I love the slower pace, the low tech fun. Love it, love it all.   

It’s like stepping back in time.  The biggest story on the news during our trip was about a bear cub recovering after being hit by a truck and the latest score of the Yankees game (no, not THOSE Yankees- I’m talking about the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees!).  I’m sure there must have been other things going on in the news- in fact I remember hearing from someone at the beach that Angelina Jolie gave birth to twins and that John McCain made a stupid remark that got lots of press. Good to know that the rest of the world goes on without us while we’re on vacation.  

I picked up a new reader while I was in PA- no, not a Kindle!  A blog reader with eyeballs-my husband’s cousin (Hi, Kim!)  She’s an attorney and single mom of three gorgeous, whip-smart girls.  She mentioned at a family gathering that she’d gotten her older 2 into golfing, because each year many college scholarships for women golfers go unclaimed (after doing a tiny bit of Google research, I’ve learned that’s not exactly true-sorry, Kim!).  Anyway, my youngest overheard this conversation and also admired her cousin Maddie’s pretty pink golf clubs, so now she’s hounding me to call and find out about golf lessons.  At 9 she’s a little young to be gunning for college scholarships, I think, but pink is her color, so it’s on my to-do list for today. 

I missed my July book club meeting for The Sweet Potato Queen’s Big Ass 1st Novel (and now that I’ve written that sentence, I’m sure to get more hits from people googling “big ass”.  If that’s how you got here, sorry to disappoint you, because I don’t have what you’re looking for on this blog!!)  Anyway, everybody had fun without me- book clubber Karen made brisket on rolls and asked everyone else to bring “comfort food” which, of course, meant different things to different people-pies and sweets and many other calorie-laden goodies.  Although most thought the book was funny, the food was the highlight of the meeting. Our pick for August is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, which I had time to read at the lake, so I’m ahead of myself! 

Coming home from vacation is the sucky part.  After having my 5’10” body folded into a teeny airline seat for 8 hours or so (including all the time just sitting around on the runway), I was all crampy and sore waking up yesterday, my first day home.  I was happy to be in my own bed, but then had to face all the unpacking and laundry, 2 weeks of mail, bills to pay, groceries to buy, email and phone calls to return (sorry if I haven’t responded to you yet; I’m working on it!), an overgrown yard, a dusty van, grumpy bored children, a dog who missed us and has been really spoiled by her dogsitter (my mom), all while exhausted and jet-lagged.  Today (day 2) has got to be better, right? 

I’ll post a few vacation pictures once I get around to unpacking the camera.  I’ve also got several reviews to write, and winners to announce!  The reviews will have to wait until everyone in my home has clean underwear, but I can announce the winners right now, so here goes— 

The winners of Janeology by Karen Harrington are: 

Fightingwindmills and Jenefur!

 The winner of A Summer Affair and Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand is:

 Patti from Displaced Beachbums

 Congrats to the winners!  I’ll email you to get your contact info.

What is your least favorite part of going on vacation?  The packing?  The unpacking?  Squabbling kids? Navigating the airport?  Leave a comment and let me know!

It’s good to be home!  

Books to Take on a Trip to the Lake


My daughter comes home today from Girl Scout camp, no doubt smelling of horses and sunshine and full of stories and songs, with a bag of reeking stinky clothes and shoes. I can’t wait to see her but will have to fire up the washing machine the minute she walks through the door, because we leave tomorrow to fly across country for 2 weeks at the lake with the cousins!

So I have some big decisions to make.. which books from the teetering TBR pile will I stuff into the suitcase? I’m currently reading The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. It may just be the best book I’ve read all year, although I’m saying that prematurely since I’ve read just 150 pages. Who knows, maybe it will take some horrible unforeseen turn and I will throw it against the wall, but I doubt it. It is absolutely engrossing. I’m also going to take Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, my book club’s August selection. I want something a bit lighter for the beach, so I’m thinking of either Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane or How The Other Half Hamptons by Jasmin Rosemberg for that. Between cooking hot dogs, swatting mosquitoes, and chasing down kids, that’s probably all I’ll be able to get to, but I’ll throw The White Mary by Kira Salak into the bag just in case I have more time.

My internet access will be severely limited while I’m gone, but I have several posts in the wings that will publish during my vacation. I will be back “live” after July 15th. If you send an email before then, I won’t be able to respond until I get back.

Don’t forget about my contests!  I have two running right now.  One is with Hatchette to give away two books by Elin Hilderbrand (click HERE) and one is for a copy of JANEOLOGY by Karen Harrington (click HERE).  Leave a comment by July 15th for a chance to win.

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

One Divisive Book!

My book club is reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert this month.  I started it but decided to stop about 75 pages in and pick it up again right before the book club meets in order to have it fresh in my mind when it’s time to discuss it.

As I’m sure you know, Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir of a 30-something woman who, after a messy divorce, takes off in search of answers in three countries:  Italy (eat), India (pray), and Indonesia (love).  This book has been a bestseller for months, staring at us from the shelves in Target, Costco, Borders and the grocery store.   It was touted by Oprah on at least 2 different shows, which is a lot of media hype in and of itself.   I resisted this book for a long time, but when the book club picked it, I had no choice but to give in.

So far I like her style; I like her sense of humor and turn of phrase.  She does not annoy me in the least.  Her descriptions of Italy, from the food to the men, are so vivid it makes me want to pack my bags.  Oh, wait, unlike Gilbert I have a family and responsibilities, and no one is going to pay me to go find myself.  Shoot.  Ok, I’m a little jealous, but I still like her.

So I was surprised, then, to get an email from a friend in my book club saying she thought Gilbert was a whiny bitch.  Such strong emotions!  It occurred to me that maybe this friend could also be a tad envious of Gilbert’s freedom to travel and not answer to anybody.  She happens to have two children with special needs and has a hard time getting out in the evening just to see a movie.

I was further surprised to read my blog friend Beastmomma’s  recent post about the book, in which she said,  “Eat, Pray, Love would have been a much better book if the author did not seem like she was patronizing and condescending to the countries she visited.”  I took that with a grain of salt, because Beastmomma is of Indian descent, so quite possibly she has a different viewpoint than many other readers.  Well it wasn’t long before a verbal fist fight ensued in her comments section.  People seem to either love or hate this book.  It has resonated with so many and pissed off so many others.

Have you read Eat, Pray, Love?  What do you think:  

Eat, Pray, LOATHE or Eat, Pray, LOVE?



Travel Reading Meme

With spring break coming up early this year and summer just around the bend, I thought it was time for a fun Travel Reading Meme.  Plus I’m going to be spending about 9 hours in a car going to Vegas and back in a few days, and I need some ideas. Answer here or on your blog, but be sure to leave a link in the comments.  I’m tagging 5 people:  Julie from Booking Mama (check out her new blog!), Patti from Displaced Beach Bums, Care from Care’s Online Book ClubBeastmomma (because I know she’s been on a plane recently), and Softdrink.

1.  What book are you reading right now?  Do you like it?

2.  What was the last book you read on a plane?

3.  What was the last book you read on a roadtrip?

4. What is the most unusual place you found yourself reading?

5.  What books would you take to keep you occupied on a 2 week vacation to the beach?


1.  I am currently reading The Girls by Lori Lansens.   The story is told from two very distinct perspectives.  It’s a fictional autobiography of conjoined twins.  You’d think their experiences would be pretty much the same, since they’re attached at the head, but you’d be wrong.

2.  The last book I read on a plane was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, coming home from a trip to Pennsylvania last summer.  It’s a cross country flight and we had a 3 hour layover, so I read almost the entire thing during the trip, ignoring my husband and children. 

3.  The last book I read on a roadtrip was All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, about 12 years ago (pre-kids).  We were traveling to Steamboat Springs, CO and drove through Arizona and Utah to get there from our home in California.  I read parts of it aloud to my husband, and he got sucked in by the prairie and the horses, the cowboys and the marksman, and all their adventures in Mexico.  Bob’s not a reader, but when I’m reading, he likes to hear what the story is about.  He got hooked and wanted me to keep reading aloud long after I tired of it.


4. Unusual place..  hmmmm..  I always have a book with me and I read everywhere, but I can’t think of a really unusual place.   Maybe at the swim-up blackjack table at our hotel in the Bahamas, or in line for a tour at the Hoover Dam. 

5. For 2 weeks at the beach I would take the next few books on my TBR list:  A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Red Tent, and then something lighter like The Next Thing on My List or Me Talk Pretty One Day.  There’s no way I’d finish them all, but it’s good to have choices.