Friday, December 28, 2012

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington Review


Booker dreamed
of making friends with words,
setting free the secrets
that lived in books. 

Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a five-hundred-mile journey, mostly on foot, to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen. 

Award-winning artist Bryan Collier captures the hardship and the spirit of one of the most inspiring figures in American history, bringing to life Booker T. Washington's journey to learn, to read, and to realize a dream. 

My thoughts: Booker T. Washington was hungry for education and learning. He was born into slavery but was freed as child. Life was still hard but he continued to dream of going to school and attaining a proper education.

Why this book touched me so much: My dad was born into a poor, white Idaho farming community. They farmed sugar beets which is backbreaking work. One day he stood up and looked around him and said to himself, "I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. I'm going to college." He told his parents who told him it was a stupid idea. He did it, anyway.

While working on his doctorate degree, he and 30 other doctoral candidates were asked to come to Washington, D.C. They were ushered into a room at the White House where Lyndon B. Johnson pitched his idea to them and instructed them to carry it out. He wanted a pre-school to be offered to the very poor, concentrating on the black children in the South. The program was called Head Start. My dad was assigned to Mississippi. 

For those few years he spent working on Head Start, this small town Idaho boy was introduced to the face of racism and hatred. He was also introduced to the most beautiful, eager, and loving children he had ever met (besides his third child, of course). He had a gun pulled on him twice, marched in James Meredith March Against Fear (James Meredith was the first black man to attend Ole Miss against all societal conventions). He walked through the mall as Martin Luther King was giving his famous speech. Earlier, he was pulled over on the highway in Meridian County by one of the lawmen heavily involved in the execution of three civil rights workers in 1964. My dad was ordered out of the car and had his legs kicked out from under him then ordered to stand up and had his legs kicked out again. He was in the process of getting kicked while down when a respected and surprisingly wealthy black man who knew my dad and his work very well (and also knew the culpability of the other man from the sheriff's office), pulled over and asked why Mistah Tony was on the ground. The officer explained that Mistah Tony had fallen and he was just helping him up.

And my dad persevered, as did the other doctoral students. They loved their work and they loved the black communities where they worked. The people loved them and their children grew up to be today's leaders. 

Booker T. Washington was an early dreamer who saw his dreams come true. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed aloud and died for his dreams and trying to make those dreams come true. James Meredith was shot for dreaming of a college education at a university that had the program he wanted to study. But in the background are the unsung heroes - the support system that believed in providing all citizens with the same opportunities, regardless of gender, race, or skin color.

Well written book with a simple message of dreaming, working hard, and always hoping.

*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Shadow WomanShadow Woman by Linda Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description: Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and doesn't recognise the reflection staring back at her in the mirror. She isn't suffering from amnesia; she remembers who she is, what she did the day before, her parents, where she grew up - everything. But who she is, is not who she sees. Alarmed, she begins searching her house for something - anything - that will match what she remembers. There is nothing. And yet there is nothing in her life that seems abnormal, except herself. She could be crazy, but her instincts are telling her this isn't the case. Some women might make an appointment with a psychiatrist, but Zette isn't 'some women.' Deep inside she knows she isn't the face in the mirror, and that she has to find out the truth, before it's too late.


My thoughts: I enjoyed the plot line. A boring and predictable woman wakes up one morning and realizes her face is wrong. Pieces of her life unravel as she remembers that she doesn't remember things. Then she remembers that she sort of remembers other things that didn't happen. Or did it?

Excellent thriller with car chases, spy equipment, guns and a hot romance. Actually, the hot romance was disturbingly descriptive and a little out of place for what I thought was a mystery/spy/thriller. It was somewhat distracting from the story.

Besides that point, it's a good read.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Thoughts on Les Misérables, The Movie

My oldest daughter strategically gave me two tickets to see Les Miserables. I took her today, although I had mixed feelings before going. I saw it twice in London back when I was cool and again in Salt Lake City. I cried every time. It was amazing.

To be fair, I admitted one ditty to her while we were driving to the theater. When I was pregnant with her and feeling emotional and singing in the car, I sang I Dreamed a Dream (A'Capella and at the top of my voice). I so moved myself that I ended up sobbing. On my way to work. Because I'm totally cool like that.

 Anyway, I didn't want to see a cut rate theater production and ruin it for myself forevermore. Could sweet Anne Hathaway really pull off Fantine? Could she sing? Hugh Jackman, aka Wolverine as Jean Valjean? Can he sing? Can he hit those high notes in Bring Him Home? Russell Crow in the role of Javert. Could he sing? How similar would it be from the play?

Conclusions: Anne and Hugh; I still don't know if they can sing. The emotion and craft they brought to their roles eclipsed their own persanas. Hugh was Valjean. I didn't see Hugh or Wolverine. Yes, he can hit those high notes. I cried. I loved a younger sounding Valjean and one whose voice was not swallowed up in facial hair.

Anne can sing but I lost her quickly in her role. She is a true artist. 'Nuff said.

Russell was a good Javert but was far eclipsed by the aforementioned. Loved Eponine. Again. Loved Marius. For the first time, I liked Cosette. Amanda Siegfriend From Mama Mia is perfect for her role. I have heard and and seen better singers for each part (except Cosette. I've never love soprano parts. Amanda was perfect.) But the overall production was incredible.

 All of that is a preamble to what I found on Amazon. I don't know how long this will last, but you download the album right now for five bucks.

I bought it. I've been wanting to buy it for years but could never find one for a price that seemed reasonable. Five bucks is definitely reasonable. If you haven't seen it, download it, anyway then go see it. If you have seen it, download it then go see it. Definitely go see it. You will love Gavroche even more in this rendition. I was also stunned to read that Sasha Cohen is the innkeeper (Master of the 'ouse). Helen Bonham Carter is his wife which just makes sense. Incidentally, the first scene with the swindling couple and the scene leading up to Fantine's death are disturbing. Not for children, mind you. In fact, if you DO download the album, you might want to save Master of the House on a different playlist. That has been true since 1987. The difference between the 1987 version and this version is my age and understanding of crass humor.

Just a little opinion question here - is it socially acceptable to cover your nearly 18 year old daughter's eyes in a public theater for scenes involving innuendo? Perhaps the innuendo wasn't as obvious for her and she wouldn't have even been alarmed. I guess I'll never know.

The movie far exceeded my expectations. It was outstanding.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop GIVEAWAY


Hosted by Oasis for YA
and
I am a Reader Not A Writer

The book I have up for grabs comes from Penguin Group.

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen: A Novel 
by Syrie James!
The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen
The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers. There was no mistaking it: the salutation, the tiny, precise handwriting, the date, the content itself, all confirmed its ancient status and authorship…

Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes--or her luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that "went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire." Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Could anyone resist the temptation to go looking for it?

Making her way to the beautiful, centuries-old Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work--until she mentions its possible million dollar value.

After discovering the unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they continue to read the newly discovered tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present--a story that just might change both of their lives forever.

I have 2 copies available for you!
Fill out the form below and cross your fingers and toes!



For more blogs on this hop, click HERE:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Save Money on Textbooks!

I have a senior in high school. Right now we are in the process of taking college campus tours, filling out applications and applying for scholarships. I'm navigating new waters here, people. As lost as I am in this new role, I have an advantage over the general populace but I'm not feeling it. I am a public school counselor. Until June of this year, I was working as a high school counselor. Yet everything takes on a completely new meaning when seen from the eyes of a mother.

So we're looking at the cost of tuition, housing, and possible meal plans. I haven't even considered the cost of books. I took a look at the Intro to Psychology course at my Alma Mater. This is just one example but it's pretty standard:


Psychology

AuthorSchacter
ISBN:9781429237192
Status:Required

From Campus Store

PriceStoreConditionComments 
i$62.99 Campus StoreE-bookRight Book GuaranteedAdd to Cart
i$109.95 Campus StoreUsedRight Book GuaranteedAdd to Cart
i$138.25 Campus StoreNewOut of StockAdd to Cart

That's one book. One class. For someone who loves books as much as I do, I can't believe I can suffer from sticker shock.

Another option is to rent the book. I did some personal research and found that CampusBookRentals.com have the best prices, hands down.

Here is the same book, right HERE.

Just to clarify, that is a savings of well over $100.

Unless you absolutely MUST have that brand new textbook and have hundreds of dollars to spend needlessly, here are some reasons to use CampusBookRentals:

-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
-free shipping both ways
-can highlight in the textbooks
-flexible renting periods
-Donation to Operation Smile with each textbook rented

What I plan to do late summer is:
  • Find the required textbooks for each class my daughter will be taking
  • Rent the books through CampusBookRentals.com.
  • Return the book at the end of semester without worrying that the author has printed a new edition. And, oh yes, they do that. All the time. Same information but different page numbers. 
Disclosure: My opinions are always my own, however I was compensated for this post. I will not endorse a product that I do not support. I feel strongly about higher education, reading, books, and saving money. 












Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden Review

Against the TideAgainst the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

My thoughts: This historical fiction novel takes place in a time period I know very little about which is the end of the nineteenth century when countries shared their ship blueprints openly. The real conflict is the beginnings of the opium trade and the ugliness therein. It would be a few years after this time period that the innocuous Mrs. Winslow's syrup for babies would be attributed to the national addiction to opium. At this point in time, however, it was kept mostly to the pharmaceutical companies and politicians in their back pockets.

Enter Lydia Pallas who, against all odds is making it in the world of work with her unique set of skills. She is witty and optimistic and never wants to be in poverty again. With an intriguing man named Bane against a sanity challenged book collector and opium dealer, the story takes interesting turns.

I enjoyed the book completely. Well written with interesting and fleshes out characters.

 *I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wondered if the second book could keep the momentum going after such a strong start with Under the Ever Sky. It definitely can and did. Non-stop action, picking up the threads from the first book, the story takes off in a sprint.

I would not suggest reading this book without reading the first simply because you won't catch up on your own. Summarizing will cover the basic story but it's more of an experience to be enjoyed. Aria and Perry begin this saga meeting up after being apart for months. Aria is introduced to the 6 who have sworn fealty to Perry after Perry became the tribe leader. This book gives Perry plenty of opportunity to prove that he is a good choice to lead the tribe despite his age.

While the first book is full of adventure but primarily a love story, this book illustrates the growth that both main characters have made and continue to make. Their characters are further proved while peripheral characters become much more important. We meet Sable, the leader of a tribe for whom Liv (Perry's sister and Roar's love) is betrothed. We LOVE Roar. He is truly a wonderful character that brings so much enjoyment to the story.

Aria continues in her plight to find the Still Blue, a place where the Aether is no longer a threat (fire storms from the sky) and works through the blackmail by Soren's father. New twists, turns, and plot lines develop.

I can't wait for the final book. Highly recommend.


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

The Lost Art of MixingThe Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: National bestselling author Erica Bauermeister returns to the enchanting world of The School of Essential Ingredients in this luminous sequel.

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.


My thoughts: Erica Bauermeister is a master storyteller. She finds the stories that don't seem apparent then weaves the words into something more tangible than ideas then infuses them into the characters. Each character possesses a different way of viewing the world and each chapter tells a part of the story through that character's eyes. It is not an action packed novel but a book to be read, savored, and enjoyed. I loved every character from meticulous Al who read stories from tax returns to Finnegan who watched and listened patiently. Even Louise who made a new reality, breaking from her old stories. Just read and enjoy. I would also suggest a colored pencil for underlining sentences that strike your "huh!" bone.

*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Quick Amazon Code for Free Shipping

Thought I'd pass this one!

Shop Amazon - FREE One-Day Shipping on Select Products

Sunday, December 16, 2012

IMM (12/16/12)

It's been so long since I've reported In My Mailbox! Here are a few books I received and/or read this week:

On my Kindle:




Additional, I received from publishers:


My reading pile is growing. I think I'll go read for awhile.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Upcoming Book Trends 2013

SCHOLASTIC EDITORS FORECAST TOP 10 TRENDS
IN CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR 2013

December 11, 2012 – New York, NY – The editors at Scholastic have been publishing, curating and distributing award-winning books for children for decades, and have become experts at predicting exactly where kids’ book interests will go next. Today, the editors of Scholastic Book Clubs and Scholastic Book Fairs, along with editors in the Trade Publishing group, present their list of top ten trends in children’s books for the coming year.
"Publishing trends are truly driven by a vital community of readers – our kids," David Allender, Editorial Director for Scholastic Book Clubs. "We see readers get excited about books, talk about them, and share them with their friends. Before you know it a book is trending, more and more kids are vying to read it, and they can't get enough of it." Hear more from David Allender.

THE SCHOLASTIC EDITORS’ TOP 10 TRENDS FOR 2013                                
(list is not ranked in any order)
1)    Bullying is THE Timely Topic in Kids’ Books.
The fact is nearly every child will face or witness the effects of bullying at some point in their lives.  Children’s authors recognize this as a major concern for kids and have become more adept at weaving bullying themes into storylines, from picture books to young adult titles.  In 2013 look for: The Meanest Birthday Girl by Josh Schneider (May 2013/Clarion), and The Call of the Bully: A Rodney Rathbone Novel - the sequel to How to Beat the Bully Without Really Trying by Scott Starkey (January 2013/Simon & Schuster).

2)    ’13 Will be a Lucky Number for Science Fiction Fans.                  While the end of dystopian novels is no-where in sight, fans can expect to see a new theme uncovered, bringing some stellar new titles with a “true” science- fiction edge. Books to watch for in the New Year include Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles: Scarlet (February 2013/Feiwel & Friends), Enders the second title in the Starters series by Lissa Price (December 2012/Delacorte), and Pulse by Patrick Carman (February 2013/HarperCollins). 

3)    Intriguing Nonfiction.                                                                         Biographies have always been a staple in kids’ literature, but fans are going to see even more great ones in 2013. With the new Common Core State Standards, which are currently adopted in 46 states, the way students learn in school is changing and there is an elevated importance being placed on non-fiction, or “informational texts.”  Standouts in 2013 will be Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (January 2013/HarperCollins), A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (January 2013/Knopf), and Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin (January 2013/Scholastic).  

4)    Novels-in-Cartoons.                                                                   With the success of the Bone, Captain Underpants, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, there continues to be an insatiable demand for the “novels-in-cartoon” genre. The illustrations provide entertainment value and urge kids to continue reading; especially for reluctant readers.  Fans are going to see a great flood of fun, new reads in 2013 such as: Chickenhare by Chris Grine (February 2013/Scholastic), Stick Dog: A Really Good Story with Kind of Bad Drawings by Tom Watson (January 2013/HarperCollins), Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers (January 2013/Scholastic) and Bad Kitty: School Daze by Nick Bruel (January 2013/Roaring Brook)

5)    Kid Lit on the Screen.
In 2013, readers will be seeing the pages out of their favorite books on the big screen! Get ready to watch the movie versions of Scott Orson Card’s Ender’s Game the supernatural romance, Beautiful Creatures (based on the 2009 series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl/Little, Brown), and the action adventure saga Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (based on the 2008 series by Cassandra Clare/ Margaret K. McElderry Books). Middle grade readers will also find the second film from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series (2007/Hyperion Book) in theaters in late summer: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
“While there is never a shortage of works about the undead and paranormal in young-adult literature, we’ve recently seen the release of a wide range of post-apocalyptic novels brimming with action and romance,” said Ed Masessa, Senior Manager Product Development for Scholastic Book Fairs and New York Times bestselling children’s book author. “But perhaps the bigger trends are the return to realistic action-packed novels and to books that reinforce the positive messages of tolerance, hope and acceptance. Regardless of their reading preference, children will find that 2013 is going to be a banner year.”                                                                

6)    War.
Whenever we reach a historical anniversary, there is an increased interest in books related to the topic.  2013 marks the second year of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary), so history buffs will see an influx of Civil War titles to read.  Wars in general will be making their way on to the bookshelves in 2013, which is great news for teachers looking for great non-fiction to supplement classroom learning and help kids meet the Common Core State Standards.  Look for a broad selection of Civil War books including: I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg by Lauren Tarshis (January 2013/Scholastic) and What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? Jim O'Connor, John Mantha and James Bennett (February 2013/Grosset & Dunlap).

7)    Tough Girls.
Katniss from The Hunger Games is building a legion of strong girl protagonists.  In 2013, readers can expect to be introduced to more powerful female characters that exhibit the willingness to accept challenges. These characters do not set limits for themselves or take the easy way out – an important lesson for both boys and girls. Books with exceptionally resourceful lead characters include: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (May 2012/Hyperion), Legend and its sequel Prodigy by Marie Lu (January 2013/Putnam), Lawless by debut author Jeffrey Salane (February 2013/Scholastic).

8)    Survival Stories.
Survival stories have always been popular, but they have become more prominent as a result of popular movies and reality television shows. Whether the setting is historical as in Finding Zasha by Randi Barrow (January 2013/Scholastic) or contemporary like Stranded by Survivor host Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts (February 2013/Puffin) thrilling page-turners filled with tension and excitement will set their hooks into young readers.
 9)    Spotlight on Diversity.                                                                            
Kids want to see themselves in the novels they read, and publishers are embracing their individuality. Readers can learn about their families, cultures, and themselves with these books that focus on cultural diversity. Historical novels like The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine (January 2012/Putnam) will provide plenty of home and classroom discussion. Novels with more contemporary settings include Hold Fast by Blue Balliett (March 2013/Scholastic).

10)Nature Runs Amok.                                                                  From campy, fantastical sci-fi to more realistic eco-thrillers, there is nothing like adventure in the wild. Readers will come face-to-face with more and more page-turning sci-fi titles that cover the unrealistic to the actual – yet the common theme is that they are focus on ecology and the environment.  Books like Killer Species: Menace from the Deep by Michael Spradlin (July 2013/Scholastic), Infestation by Timothy J. Bradley (April 2013/Scholastic), and Last Dogs: The Vanishing by Christopher Holt (September 2012/Little, Brown) will keep kids reading well into the night.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When it Happens to You by Molly Ringwald Review

When it Happens to YouWhen it Happens to You by Molly Ringwald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: When it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew all the time, but just weren't facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be.

Molly Ringwald mines the complexities of modern relationships in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories. Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors while they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life--revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

In "The Harvest Moon," a stay-at-home mom grapples with age, infertility, and an increasingly distant husband. In "Ursa Minor," a former children's television star tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for "exhaustion." An elderly woman mourns the loss of her husband and her estranged relationship with her daughter in "The Little One." In "My Olivia," a single mother finds untapped reserves of strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son who wishes only to wear dresses and be addressed as Olivia. And in the devastating title story, a betrayed wife chronicles her pain and alienation, leading to an eviscerating denouement.

As the lives of these characters converge and diverge in unexpected ways, Ringwald reveals a startling eye for the universality of loss, love, and the search for connection. An unflinching yet poignant examination of the intricacies of the human heart, "When It Happens to You" is an auspicious literary debut.


My thoughts: I put off reading this book because I made the erroneous assumption that Molly Ringwald is the same girl as the actress in the 80's, still riding her wave of notoriety by trying her hand at writing a novel which inevitably will be bad. She's an actress, after all. Not a writer.

Here is my public apology. I wrongly pigeon holed the author, making the pious and hypocritical assumption that she was one dimensional. Assuming that, unlike me, she hadn't grown and tapped into her different gifts and developed surprising facets in her life. I am particularly guilty because I saw her in one episode of Medium where she played the character of blind woman. All the trappings of Molly Ringwald remained in her physical presence; red hair, pretty smile, big eyes, but as I watched the episode, I forgot Pretty In Pink and saw only a blind woman, plagued with trying to convince Lee that she was, in fact, being watched. Molly who?

It turns out that Molly Ringwald is a master of observation and articulation. She not only translates feelings and characters via acting but also through writing. Although the book is a conglomeration of short stories, the book is essentially telling the same story but at different time periods throughout a year, involving different characters and exploring relationships, the demise of some, the reunification of others, tying together all of the loose ends at the end.

The most prominent character in the book is Greta, the thirty-something year old woman consumed with conceiving another child. Already the mother of one daughter and married to the man she'd been with since she was 18, she had completely identified herself with her roles of homemaker, sacrificing a career to build up her husband's. Although she doesn't frame it as a sacrifice but as a free choice. I liked that. At the end of this story, the reader has put together the clues but Greta is still uncertain for why her husband is crying and apologizing.

The next story is a few months later. Phillip and Greta have been separated since she discovered his infidelities. The stories toggle between the two points of view but interspersed with the introduction of different characters and perspectives of motherhood, parenting, and marriage.

What is exceptional about the book is the way the author expresses in precise articulation the feelings and thoughts of each of them. Halfway through the book is the short story called "When It Happens to You." I wish I could quote it all because it is incredibly perceptive, insightful, and heart wrenching.
The girl who will give him back this illusion of vitality for a short time will not think of your children or your marriage. She will not consider the lovely years that you spent together with him. Why would she? She wasn't there when you both laughed your way through your wedding with a pure and nervous joy. She wasn't there when you both waited for your first child to be born. When he held your hand and told you how the contractions were coming, with the seriousness of a boy. . . She wasn't there when you held him upright at his father's funeral and then at his mother's only weeks later. Or for the vacations, alone at first and then with the children. Or the holidays.
When it happens to you, you will ask him why he would choose to forsake this good, sweet life that you carefully built together for a girl who couldn't begin to understand him. And then you will realize that that is at least partially the point. He doesn't want to be understood. He wants to be misunderstood because in that misunderstanding lies the possibility of reinvention.
You will go to therapy and strive to find your part in it. Your complicity. You will nod when the therapist tells you that if you do the work, you can have the marriage you always dreamed of. But I had the marriage I always dreamed of, you'll tell her. No, she will assure you. You only thought you did. You will try to make sense of this "hall of mirrors" way of looking at your life. Mostly, you will just miss the marriage that you had but didn't have.
When it happens to you, you will wonder if he loved her. He will assure you that he did not, that it wasn't about love. He will tell you that it was about something else entirely. But even in your quietest moments together, he will be unable to specify what that something else was. He will honestly seem as confused as you, even to the point of bewilderment.
Very well written book. Highly recommend, particularly to both men and women who have been married for a few years.

*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reached by Allie Condie

Reached (Matched, #3)Reached by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the first book of this series. The second book I really liked although it kind of dragged. I feel pretty "Meh" about the final book. Instead of trying to impress anybody of my superior intellect and deep creative style, I will tell the truth. I didn't get it.

Poetry is dropped into the prose and no matter how much I twisted it, I couldn't see how it fit or made sense with the story. I am also somewhat certain that the colors were significant but I couldn't quite make a satisying connection. I think there was a lot of symbolism in the pictures, the Gallery, the poetry, the physic, poet, and pilot but I failed to see a logical connection. It felt like walking into the middle of a conversation where norms had already been established as had inside understanding but I missed it thus didn't understand the significance.

If you've already read the first two books of the trilogy, I recommend finishing it off with the third. I think I would also suggest starting over, though. I read the books as the came out so each one was a year apart. Maybe I would have understood the symbolism and connected the logic if the other books were fresher on my mind.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness GIVEAWAY!

Yay! A GIVEAWAY!

I read this book last month and was completely FASCINATED.

My review is HERE.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

I have one copy available to give to you.

Yes, you.

If you are a resident of Canada or United States and have a physical (not P.O. box) address.

And you win, of course.

I hope you do, by the way.

If you can't see form below, click HERE.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm sorry, kids. I've been more distracted than usual with my life and have found it harder and harder to skip reality and sneak into a book, much less blog about it. I'm not trying to win sympathy points because I know we all have stuff going on but prior to this new season I was reflecting on the smooth ride I was enjoying between crises.

It was so nice. 

 Then I got a job transfer and it's much worse than I anticipated. I won't go there but it's changed my perception of desire to get up in the morning. Then my husband was informed he needed a little brain surgery. Nothing serious, the doctor just wanted to shave his head, cut his flesh, power saw a piece of skull to remove it, then pull out a little extra growth that had accumulated. The new colleagues were less than sympathetic. 

 On the positive side, the brain surgery went well. Hubby is feeling nearly 100% aside from headaches and fatigue. He's a trooper. My oldest is making college applications and scored 29 on the ACT. My kids are healthy, my husband is healing and my dog hasn't killed any of my chickens in 6 months. I still have my books. 

 So here is my Monday book list: 

 Right now I am reading: Nothing. Sorry about that. Got you all worked up and I haven't cracked a book all day. Bummer. 

 But. I just finished reading:

 

Books I'm eyeing to read this week:
 
I'm not going to lie. I won't read them all. I might read something else. But these are the books striking my fancy right at this moment.

Someday I will write a book called The Art of Escaping from Reality. It will include a list of my favorite books, a story about my blogging, and of course, a couple of chapters on my chickens.

A summary is this:

video