Saturday, December 24, 2011


Merry Christmas Eve to all of you and thank you to all who took the time to enter the giveaway for Outside the Lines. chose a winner and that person is:

Please send me your full name and address and you'll be receiving the ARC of Outside the Lines and some goodies courtesy of Amy Hatvany and me! Congrats!

And everyone, beginning on January 1 or 2, come back as I'll be starting up the MaNiC WeeKLy ReaDS -- every week I'll be showcasing a NEW book and an author and giving that book away! I've already got books lined up through March and will be sharing amazing books from Emily Giffin, Allison Winn Scotch, Camille Noe Pagan, Anna David, Sarah Jio (The Bungalow comes FIRST!), Sarah Pekkanen, Megan Abbott, and many, many more fabulous authors!

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thank you for spending time reading MaNiC!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Last 2011 Giveaway: Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany!

Hi all you faithful MaNiC MoMMy readers! I hope you have all your holiday hoopla in place and ready to go! It’s been a crazy few weeks here and I’m sure you’re all in the same boat. Thank you all for the kind thoughts and prayers about the loss of my Little Granny. We will be going to her funeral a couple days after Christmas.

But before the end of the year comes and goes I wanted to share one more amazing book with all of you. I had the great pleasure of reading Amy Hatvany’s book Outside the Lines last month and I loved it so much.

Somehow, I ended up with two ARCs of it, and I asked Amy if I could give one away on my blog. We talked and wanted to make it extra special so I’m also going to give away some other goodies too – I’m not quite sure what they are, but I think it might involve some chocolates, maybe some yummy soaps and possibly some other fun stuff, sooo, if you’re in the mood to get a nice little care package from Amy and me, continue reading!

Outside the Lines was a heartbreaker! But in the best way possible. It’s the story of Eden and her search for her father, who deserted her when she was a young child because of his mental illness.

I loved this story because it’s told from Eden’s perspective when she was a young girl, and also when she is a grown woman. It also tells her father’s perspective too. I am frustrated with myself because often after I read such an emotional book I try to write my thoughts down immediately and I didn’t this time and I should have. This was one of those perfect-ending books, in a way that it ended perfectly, if not wrapped up in a perfect bow. Amy has a knack for storytelling and she has created a beautiful family portrait in Eden and David’s story in Outside the Lines.

About Outside the Lines:

When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life.

Twenty years later, Eden runs a successful catering company and dreams of opening a restaurant. Since childhood, she has heard from her father only rarely, just enough to know that he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately there has been no word at all. After a series of failed romantic relationships and a health scare from her mother, Eden decides it’s time to find her father, to forgive him at last, and move forward with her own life. Her search takes her to a downtown Seattle homeless shelter, and to Jack Baker, its handsome and charming director. Jack convinces Eden to volunteer her skills as a professional chef with the shelter. In return, he helps her in her quest.

As the connection between Eden and Jack grows stronger, and their investigation brings them closer to David, Eden must come to terms with her true emotions, the secrets her mother has kept from her, and the painful question of whether her father, after all these years, even wants to be found.

If you’d like to enter to win the copy of Outside the Lines and the other fun goodies included, please leave a comment on what you think it means to live outside the lines. I guess this might mean something different to each individual, and it could mean taking risks or chances. I am not sure I live outside the lines, but I like to think I live a very colorful fulfilled life! I hope you all do too!

**Please try to leave an email as well--a grand prize winner lost out on winning 25 books because she did NOT have an identifying way of me to reach her. If you're worried about getting spammed, just put some spaces or asterisks in between your email. I promise not to abuse your email in any way! It would be a shame for you to lose out because I wouldn't be able to find you!

Also, please note that in 2012, I will be bringing you a new book EACH WEEK in a feature called MaNiC’S WeeKLy ReaDS. I hope you’ll be looking forward to it! I’ve got fabulous authors lined up – some you already know and some I’m so excited to introduce you to!

Thank you to Amy for writing ANOTHER fabulous book in Outside the Lines. She has written Best Kept Secret, and that was an incredible book as well. Her other novels, which were published under another name, are going to be republished and I’m excited to read those too, and you can bet I’ll be sharing those with you too. She’s an amazing author and I’m so glad to be able to share her books with you here!

Thank you for taking the time to come over here to visit! Please come back to check out who has won this gift pack of Amy's book, Outside the Lines and some fun goodies. Also, check back at the beginning of the year, where the first book I'll be featuring is Sarah Jio's The Bungalow! And have a blessed holiday. Wishing you happiness, health, and loads of laughter, and love!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Dear Little Granny

This is one of my bi-monthly posts where it’s hosted by Subway and I get to talk about traditions, family, celebrations and holidays so this time I’m going to take this space and talk about my dear Little Granny.

My Little Granny died on Sunday. We all expected to attend her birthday in July, where she would turn 100 years old. The little stinker fooled us all and got outta dodge before we could honor her as a century-old woman. She was tired. She was ready to go meet her maker. I guess I can’t blame her.

One hundred years is a long time.

It was a strange way how I found out she died. See, our family is very close. I’ve always had a close relationship with my four cousins growing up, even though we lived in Florida and they were in Ohio.
We spent summers with them, and my sister and I were especially close to our cousins, Kathy and Susie. We played Charlie’s Angels together, we walked to the store to get candy together, we would go to the community pool together. We would play in their basement, singing Linda Ronstadt Blue Bayou and Steve Martin’s King Tut together. We had sleepovers and dance parties and loved our cousins like they were our sisters. These were the cousins you always hoped you had growing up.

We’re lucky enough that now that all of us have children of our own, the kids are friends now too, and even though they don’t see each other as much as I saw my cousins, they keep in touch through Facebook and texting. We got the news of my grandmother’s death through a Facebook post on Sunday that my cousin’s daughter posted.

My son was checking updates in the car on our way home from church and he said in a voice that had fear and sadness in it, and yes, disbelief, “RIP Little Granny!”

My heart sunk, yet I still didn’t believe it.

Little Granny had died and we learned about her death through a Facebook post.

I called my mom, and said, “Mom! I know!”

She thought I knew that Granny had taken a turn for the worse, not that she had died. She and my dad had not heard the news yet even. Facebook is faster than people sharing the news through the telephone these days. So I was the one who told my mom that her mother-in-law had died. My mom was in shock and had to call my dad to tell him that his mother had died.

It’s not a sad event. My grandmother lived 99 years on this earth. She watched her 14-year-old son die of polio in the ‘50s, and her husband died when he was in his eighties. She also buried another son before she passed away. Now she is living gloriously in Heaven. With all of those who went before she did.

My granny and my grandfather used to live on a lake in Ohio and some of my best memories were of us visiting them in the summer and being at their home, swimming in their lake, learning to waterski, boating, spending time with our cousins, catching fireflies, going for ice cream, sliding down the levy near the lake’s dam on cardboard – doing all the things that a kid should be doing during a summer at their grandparent’s lake home.

Through my Little Granny, she brought much tradition and joy to our family. Without her, we wouldn’t have the closeness that all our family members experience today. Every time we get together, memories are shared and there is tons of laughter.

I’m thankful to have had 42 years with my grandmother, and I’m thankful that she lived a full life and had her mind and body for much of it. She died knowing she was loved by so many of us, and she died “knowing.” That’s such a great gift right there.

She brought so much to our family and to our lives, and to not talk about her on my blog would be a huge void. So there’s my moment for my Little Granny. I’m honoring her here. I will also be honoring her at her funeral because I’ve been asked to do her eulogy. My gift to her is that I will hopefully not cry when I share the words I will write about my amazing grandmother.

Make sure to make the most of your family traditions this holiday season and remember your loved ones. Take time with your family, slow down the pace, and enjoy each other during the holidays. If you’ve got something extra special to share, go over to the Fresh Takes site and post it over there. What a cool gift to have it uploaded on the site and to be able to say to your family “Look everyone – our family is showcased here for all to see how much we love one another!”

Happy Holidays!

My blog is a part of an incentivized online influencer network for Fresh Takes on Family Time Powered by Subway.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Our Christmas Tree

When we first started our family’s Christmas tree tradition, we lived in Pennsylvania. There was a gas station down the street where we would all pack it up in the car and go down to the Christmas tree lot and pick out the best tree we could find. You couldn’t smell the gas there, only the strong scent of pine, which I loved. The kids would run in between the trees and of course, Tukey would choose the scrawniest tree. We’d tell him that was an awesome tree, then steer him in another direction while we found one more fitting for our family.

After we found the biggest and the best, the guy at the Christmas tree lot (who I remember as always being good looking and fun to flirt with – wow, the things I think back on when I write these tradition posts!) … the guy would take our tree over to the saw and cut the bottom of the tree so it would be level. The smell of saw dust and pine filled the crisp winter air.

It was always soooo cold!

Back at the house, we would put up the tree while our three little kids danced around it later, in their Buzz Lightyear and Barbie jammies. The smell of sap and pine saturating the room. Ajers always christened our tree with a unique name. He always named our Christmas tree. How cute is THAT? One year he named our tree Rudolph, King of the Trees.

After the tree had a day to ‘fall’ so the branches could loosen, we’d start putting on the ornaments. Back then, we didn’t have a ton, just enough for a brand new little family. But now we have a billion. 

A decade later, with a move in between that lasted six years in Chicago, we live on the other side of the country. And five or six years ago, we decided not to get real trees any more. We decided it was too much of a mess. The sap got all over the carpet, needles got everywhere. We had to water the tree The tree usually turned brown before Santa came.

Our tree now is still beautiful. It’s really, really tall, and this year we decided to keep it with just all white lights. I know some people who have themed trees, and while that’s great for them, it doesn’t speak to me. Well, actually, that’s not true. My tree is a themed tree. My tree is themed after my family. My tree is a FAMILY themed tree. It represents US. The oldest ornament on the tree is one I made in second grade. 

SOMEONE sneaked it onto the tree this year without me knowing, because I usually ALWAYS put it on the tree myself. That is my job. That is MY ornament. We also have ornaments from places we have been like NYC, the Grand Canyon, Navy Pier, Brookfield Zoo … we’ve started a collection. There are name ornaments, and silly ornaments, and sentimental ornaments like the one my grandmother, who will be 100 in July, gave me in 1992 when Mr. Manic and I first were together. It is very special to me because it was her acknowledging that she accepted him into our family.

My favorite ornaments in the entire world are the ones that my children made in a Mommy and Me class I took with each one of them. These ornaments are simple paper plates with glued on tissue and their pictures in the middle. It doesn’t get any easier than that. I wouldn’t care if my whole tree was filled with them. In fact, I wish I had one of them from every year so I could see how they’ve grown. 

This year, the night we put up the tree, Tukey and Diva wanted to sleep in the living room by the tree. We let ‘em. They’re still little at heart, and they were so excited to camp out by the tree, to whisper about Christmas and talk about whatever it is they talk about when the two of them get together. It was cute, and maybe they’re starting their own little tradition – a camp-out under the tree the night it goes up?
Do you put up a tree? Do you have a special tree tradition, like this family? What kind of ornaments do you have, and are any especially sentimental to you?

And because this post is sponsored by my friends at Subway, don’t forget you can go over to the Fresh Takes on Family Time site and share your fun family traditions to enter to win a $50 gift card –– you could use a night off from cooking. PS – while you’re over there, check out this video’s absolutely darling. I want to be this family, they’re so cute!

Happy Holidays, and seriously, if you don’t have a tree up yet, go do it already! Time’s a wasting!

XO from the MaNiC one!

My blog is a part of an incentivized online influencer network for Fresh Takes on Family Time Powered by Subway.

Sunday, December 04, 2011



Thank you all for reading and participating in my little blog and book reviews! I'm always soooo soooo very happy to share tidbits about my life and also especially excited to bring exciting authors and books your way. As you know, over the fall, I hosted an extreme book giveaway where the first grand prize winner never showed up to claim her 25 books. We had to choose another winner. I'm excited to announce the new winner here in a few seconds.

But first ... there's always a first isn't there? I wanted to gauge your interest on the blog, with a couple of questions since I have your attention... doing these extreme giveaways are very time consuming and I have only been doing them quarterly -- how would you feel if I offered instead like a book a week instead? It might give you all more options to win? I am trying to think of a way to make sure you all get info on all the fab books out there, but I also want to be able to offer huge giveaways like WOW, someone here has just won FREAKING 25 BOOKS! Maybe I can do 4 or 5 books in a month and then everyone who enters for those 4 and 5 books can have a chance to win all those books each month -- just trying to figure out how to save some time here for me and also optimize the chances you all have to win!

Also, what do you want to hear from me? My second book is on submission with my agent and I'm writing a third now. I am dying to share some pages with you -- are you guys writers? Do you want to know about the process? Would you rather hear about my debauchery in Vegas or how I get my ankle hobbled at the nail salon? I used to write such personal stuff on this blog and I feel like I've gotten away from that. I kind of miss the old me blogging. I am in a better place than I was before we moved to Scottsdale, and feel mostly settled and happy, so maybe that's why there's not so much angst here.

Enough! Enough! I know you're ALL dying to find out if you won! And I'm excited to announce the winner -- you have RANDOM.ORG to thank for choosing you .... so will this person please email me at and we'll start getting the ball rolling so you can get your books delivered!

Congrats to HOMESTEAD JEN!

And thank you, thank YOU to ALL of you for continuing to read my blog -- I don't really get anything from this except the enjoyment of reading your comments, and I truly, truly LOVE reading, writing, and books and I hope you like to read MaNiC MoMMy, and I hope that someday you will be able to read a real book or two written by me!