Category Archives: Main Page


Due to a rather rabid spammer who has somehow figured out how to get around my very good spam filter, I have turned on moderation for those commenters who are new to Caribousmom. Once I have approved a first time commenter, they will be free to post comments unmoderated.

I have been deleting spam comments over the last two days, and hoped that my spam filter would “learn” how to identify them…but this morning I had to delete about 20 comments. I’d rather moderate comments than allow any spam to get posted to my blog (even if it is only for a day). The other option I had was to close old posts to comments – which I decided against because every now and then I get a really wonderful comment on an old post.

Thanks for your patience!

Lavender Article Published on Piker Press

pikerpresslogo1 For those of you who enjoyed my recent post on the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm…I just wanted to let you know that The Piker Press is running it this week on their site. My book reviews are also reprinted there on a weekly basis. I have other work which has been featured on this weekly ezine – just visit my author page to read everything posted there.

I hope you’ll visit The Piker Press for all of their great short stories, photos, and articles!

Author Judith Ryan Hendricks: TLC Book Tour

judihendricks lawsofharmony

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks
Harper Paperbacks; 1 edition – February 10, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0061687365
496 pages

I recently read The Laws of Harmony – the latest novel by Judi Ryan Hendricks – and loved it (read my review). Hendricks has a way of drawing her reader into the story, of making them feel like they know the characters. I asked Hendricks if she would write a guest post for Caribousmom and she readily agreed. When I read this post it resonated with me as a writer and as a reader…I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Of Bread and Books

by Judith Ryan Hendricks

Bread, as any baker will testify, is a process—slow, arduous, messy, unpredictable.  The French, of course, have a saying about it:  To be a boulanger, they say, you must be big, strong and dumb—big to carry sacks of flour, strong to knead the dough, and dumb to work so hard.

As with most French sayings, there’s a germ of truth at its heart.  You don’t make bread because you want to get rich.  You don’t make bread for prestige or fame or even respect—although those things may come collaterally.  But the real and only reason you make bread is because you have to.  You make bread because you can’t not make it.

By changing a few words here and there, you can say the same about writing.  Writers don’t have to be big or strong, I suppose, although it helps if you can carry a six-pound manuscript in one hand and heft your computer bag into the overhead bins on airplanes with the other.

But you could definitely make a case for being dumb.  Why else would you sit alone in a small office all day, everyday for four years—missing dentist appointments, letting your mother leave messages on voice mail, forgetting to eat lunch, ignoring the dog while she nibbles the Tibetan rug?  Why else would you subject your book to the slings and arrows of hostile reviewers, drag yourself around the country to signings where you sometimes find yourself reading to the bookstore staff and a couple of transients who just came for the refreshments?

Why?  See above.  The only reason you write is because you have to.  You write because you can’t not write.

My career as a novelist began in a bakery.  Appropriately so, I’ve decided, because the longer I go at both baking and writing, the more similarities I see between them.

Bread is basically the fusion of four of the earth’s most elemental ingredients—flour, water, yeast, salt.  In the kneading there’s an exchange of energy between baker and bread—and you learn to know by touch the exact moment when the dough comes alive.

A book also has some pretty basic ingredients—character, setting, plot.  You manipulate them, work them together until they fuse and the story takes on a life of its own.  And you know when that happens, too.

To bake bread is to understand that yeast is a living entity, and it may or may not always do what you expect or want it to do.  If you persist at the craft long enough, you learn to let go of your expectations, forget about the outcome and let the bread direct you.

Likewise, there comes a time in the writing process—usually just when you think you know exactly where the story should go next—that you find yourself writing something—and suddenly the character seems to be glaring at you off the page.  You can almost hear a voice saying, That’s ridiculous.  I’d never do that.

You learn very quickly that the process works best if you let your characters take you by the hand and lead you into the story.  This is where the messy part comes in, and sometimes you end up in a game of dominoes.  Changing one thing, and finding that it alters everything down the line.  Or having to backtrack to rearrange all the events leading up to it.

Creation—whether of bread, or of a book—is an imperfect, spontaneous, organic and on-going process.  We aren’t the originators and we don’t have ultimate control, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to be present.  We’re able to tap into the process, to assist at the birth.

And that’s enough.


To read more about Judi Hendricks and her work, visit the author’s website.

Read Judi Hendricks’ blog: The Kitchen Table

Visit other blogs touring this book and read their reviews.


Mr. Linky Not Feeling Well


Mr. Linky is having growing pains – he has been “down” more than “up” this last month. To read more, visit the Mr. Linky Blog.

Until he is feeling better, please leave links to reviews and wrap ups for my sponsored challenges in the COMMENTS section of each post. I will upload your links when Mr. Linky is back up and running.

Thanks for your patience!

Book Giveaway: No One You Know, by Michelle Richmond


Contest open May 19 – 26, 2009

Thanks to Michelle Richmond and Random House for providing a brand new, signed trade paperback of No One You Know (on sale today in bookstores) for giveaway on my blog! Last year I read Michelle’s novel The Year of Fog and loved it (read my review), so I am excited to offer my reader’s a chance to win her latest book.

About No One You Know (from the Publisher’s website):

All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister—until the day Lila, a top math student at Stanford, was murdered, and the shape of their family changed forever. Twenty years later, Ellie is a professional coffee buyer who has never put down roots. When, in a chance meeting, she comes into possession of the notebook that Lila carried everywhere, Ellie returns home to finally discover the truth about her sister’s death—a search that will lead her to Lila’s secret lover, to the motives and fate of a man who profited from their family’s grief, and ultimately to the deepest secrets even sisters keep from each other.

Read the First Chapter of No One You Know

Consider this book for a book group read

michellerichmond About Michelle Richmond (from the Publisher’s website):

Michelle Richmond is the author of The Year of Fog, Dream of the Blue Room, and the award-winning story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Michelle lives with her husband and son in San Francisco, where she is at work on her next novel.

Check out the Author’s website

How to Win A SIGNED copy of No One You Know:

  • Contest restricted to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to read this book. Enter no later than 5:00pm PST on May 26th.
  • One entry per person.
  • A winner will be chosen on the evening of May 26th using – and I will post the winner to my blog, as well as email them directly (so please provide a valid email in the comment form – no need to leave your email address in the body of the comment if you have provided it in the form itself). The winner must respond to my email within FIVE days providing me with their snail mail address.
  • The publisher will mail your signed book directly to you.


Southern Reading Challenge 2009


May 15 – August 15, 2009

Maggie from Maggie Reads is once again hosting her very popular Southern Reading Challenge for 2009. She writes:

It’s that time of year!

The time when you pour a glass of lemonade or sweet tea and take your official summer spot on the porch. Lean back in that chase lounge surrounded by geraniums and ferns, and begin the summer long journey into Southern culture.

Participants may choose to read any style of Southern book such as Appalachian tales, Civil War sagas, Gothic myths, Grit lit, etc… The goal is THREE BOOKS in three months. As she did last year, Maggie will be holding weekly drawings and contests.


I couldn’t resist this one because I have some terrific looking Southern novels on my shelf. I’ll read three from this list (subject to change):

Crazy Ladies by Michael Lee West

Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Eat, Drink, and Be From Mississippi by Nanci Kincaid

The Lost Hours by Karen White

Beach Trip by Cathy Holton (COMPLETED June 5, 2009; rated 4/5; read my review)

Sunday Salon – April 12, 2009

Sunday Salon

April 12, 2009

Good morning to all of you! I hope you had a wonderful week and for those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you are having a joyous celebration.

contemplative0001 (click on photo to enlarge) Raven Update: She is growing by leaps and bounds (I just changed her food to one for large breed puppies to help control that a bit because I think she is growing a little too fast). Last night was a breakthrough…she only woke up ONCE! Ah, I long for a night I get to sleep without disturbance. Her training is coming along well – she is actually starting to get the idea that chasing cats does not pay off.

This week was busy, but I did manage to do some quality reading. I posted a review of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady along with a guest post by her about how to get the most out of reading short stories. I also finished reading Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames (read my review) which is a tough, but well written book. I am giving away an Advance Reader’s Edition of this book on April 14th – so there is still time to throw your name in the hat. Go to this post and leave me a comment.

My current read is The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. It is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1991 with flashbacks to the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The novel uncovers a mystery surrounding a woman named Deliverance Dane…and of course it involves the witch trials. So far I am enjoying the book. Look for a review by mid-week.

I’ve done a little housekeeping on my blog. The categories are now listed via a drop down menu in the left sidebar. I also updated my Library Thing widget and you can click on any book listed there and get a snapshot of my rating and review…it is also in the left sidebar near the bottom of the page.

Do you follow the Orange Prize award? This month the long list for the Orange Prize for Fiction AND the short list for the Orange Award for New Writers were both announced. Have you read any of these books?

Lastly, I want to say thank you to those bloggers who flattered me with awards in the last couple of weeks:

splash-award The Splash Award for ‘blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress, or inspire you.‘ Thank you to Rebecca from Lost in Books who sent this award my way…I feel the same way about your blog!

loveblog I Love Your Blog award came to me from Kristi at Books and Needlepoint. Thank you Kristi – I have been loving your blog for quite some time now!

zombieThe Zombie Chicken Award (I love this one!!) bequeathed to me by three wonderful bloggers: Jeane at Dog Ear Diary, Vasilly at 1330V AND Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit. Here is what this award is all about:

“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…”

Thank you so much Jeane, Serena, and Vasilly…and because I do not want to enrage any zombie chickens, I will send this award on to five of the over 300 blogs I read and love:

Staci at Life in the Thumb

Kristen at BookNAround


Katherine at Nonsuch Book

Sheri at A Novel Menagerie

These are just some of the wonderful blogs I read each day – if you haven’t checked out their content, please do!

Whatever you have planned for today, I hope it is filled with good people and good books…

Soup’s On – A Culinary Reading Challenge

April 1, 2008 – March 31, 2009

UPDATE April 8, 2009:

I failed badly on completing this challenge – although I have tons of cookbooks and enjoy cooking, I found myself sticking to my old favorites this year due to a busy work schedule and a new puppy. I am still determined to cook from some of the new books I’ve accumulated in the last few years – but it won’t be for this challenge!


Sharon at Ex Libris is hosting this one – and although I tried to resist, I have discovered I am a hopeless addict when it comes to certain reading challenges…and this one combines cooking (which I LOVE). What’s a girl to do? So, I’m joining in the fun. Here are the rules:

Select six cookbooks to read (you don’t have to read each individual recipe…just enough to give an overview of the book) and make at least one of the recipes. These can be any cookbooks of your choice – brand new ones, old stand-bys that you can’t live (or cook) without, or even heirlooms. You do not have to decide on the cookbooks ahead of time (unless you want to, of course). Then post your reviews either here or on your own blog. If you want, you can even post pictures of your creations along with your reviews!

I have my favorite cookbooks of course:

  • Beth Hensperger’s Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook
  • Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking (which is more of a series of vignettes with recipes interspersed)
  • Ranck and Good’s Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook
  • Rosso & Lukins The New Basics Cookbook
  • Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (my old standby from my early 20s when I didn’t know the difference between a saucepan and a fry pan)

I might give you a review of those…but I decided since this was a challenge, I should pick cookbooks from my shelf that I’ve bought but never read, nor from which I’ve made a thing. I found five (which means, I guess, I will need to buy a new cookbook before the challenge is over *sly grin*):

  1. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger (reviewed April 20, 2008; rated 4/5; read my review)
  2. Smith & Hawken – The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook, by Victoria Wise (reviewed April 13, 2008; rated 5/5; read my review)
  3. Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts, by Kitty and Lucian Maynard
  4. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
  5. Great Good Food, by Julee Rosso

What An Animal Challenge

July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2009


Thanks very much to Kristi for hosting this fun challenge. I found out that I had quite a few books which met the requirements for this one. My favorite read was a tie between: The Mechanics of Falling (a collection of short stories), In Hovering Flight, and Out Stealing Horses…all of which were written by new-to-me authors.


Once again, I’ve been tempted by a challenge. Kristi from Passion For The Page is hosting this one – and it’s her first time hosting a challenge…so I wanted to support her! And I discovered that I actually had a lot of books in my TBR Mountain which I could use. Here’s the rules:

Read at least 6 books that have any of these requirements:

  • an animal in the title of the book
  • an animal on the cover of the book
  • an animal that plays a major role in the book
  • a main character that is or turns into an animal (define that however you’d like)

Crossovers are okay and lists are not necessary and can be changed at any time. Here is what I read:

  1. Firmin, by Sam Savage (Completed December 28, 2008; rated 4/5; read my review)
  2. The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga (Completed January 3, 2009; rated 4/5; read my review)
  3. After the Floods, by Bruce Henricksen (Completed January 18, 2009; rated 3.5/5; read my review)
  4. In Hovering Flight, by Joyce Hinnefeld (Completed February 7, 2009; rated 5/5; read my review)
  5. The Mechanics of Falling, by Catherine Brady (Completed March 30, 2009; rated 5/5; read my review)
  6. Buffalo Lockjaw, by Greg Ames (Completed April 6, 2009; rated 4/5; read my review)
  7. Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson (Completed January 6, 2009; rated 5/5; read my review)