Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Title: Baron Thinks Dogs are People Too!
Author: Laurie Dean
Illustrator: Kevin Collier
Publisher: Big Tent Books
Publication Date: September 2008
Format: Hardcover, 24 pages
Age Group: Children ages 3-9
Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too! is the story of a lively dog and his family. Baron has lots of energy and a great desire for a best friend but his energetic antics get him in trouble and he is sent to obedience school. Baron learns to obey and is a model puppy when he returns home.
Laurie Dean has written an engaging story about friendship and responsibility. As Baron learns to behave and interact with the family in a more controlled manner, the opportunity for a deeper friendship opens up. Illustrator Kevin Collier truly brings Dean's world to life with vibrant, cartoon-like illustrations. Baron's energy comes right off the page as he plays with the family.
Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too! is a solid children's story that can be enjoyed by all but will be even more fun for families with dogs.
Thank you to author Laurie Dean for sending me a copy of Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Title: The Ten Year Nap
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2009
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Age Group: Adult
Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap, is a thoughtful look at the lives of stay at home mothers. Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen all gave up careers to stay home with their children. Although they anticipated going back to work at some point, over time motherhood and marriage have defined their lives. Each have their own reasons for stay home after their children begin attending school and as the years slip by them, the idea of going back to work becomes more uncomfortable.
The Ten Year Nap is very different from the types of novels that I generally read. Most of my reading is full of action, with a definite conflict that needs to be resolved, and characters that can be identified as heroes or villains. I greatly enjoyed taking a break from these fast-paced novels to read a more thoughtful examination of daily life. As a woman with a professional degree who is now staying home with my daughter, I was able to easily identify with the main characters. In today's society so much of who we are is defined by what we do and people are often unsure of how to respond to someone who gives up a career to be a full-time parent.
Wolitzer carefully examines her characters' insecurities and strengths, the state of their marriages and friendships, and their relationships with their children. She brings out their inner thoughts which many of us are so reluctant to share. She answers the question of what these women do all day when their children are at school. Short glimpses between chapters also relate the influence of the past on the present.
The language used in this novel flows easily, almost musical in nature. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters through the small details. Initially there is a sense that some of the characters are stagnant, stuck in their routine. They desire more but are unsure of how or what needs to be added to their lives to create a sense of fulfillment. Small changes are often all that is needed to propel the women forward.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think it would make a great book club selection as it could spark a great discussion.
Thank you to Caitlin at FSB Associates for sending me The Ten Year Nap.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Using the list randomizer at random.org gave me the following winners for Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch:
3. Toni Toni Toni
Update: Carrie let me know that she already won this book from another blog giveaway so I drew another winner - Jennifer will now be getting a copy.
Each of the winners has been sent an email requesting their mailing address. I will forward those addresses on to Hachette Book Group who will mail the books directly to the winners. Thanks to Valerie at Hachette for allowing me to host this giveaway.
There were 27 people entered to win with a total of 51 entries.
Congratulations to the winners!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Title: The Bomb That Followed Me Home
Author: Cevin Soling
Illustrator: Steve Kille
Publisher: Monk Media
Publication Date: January 15, 2009 (originally released in 2007)
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: Rumpleville Chronicles (Book 3)
The Bomb That Followed Me Home is the third in a set of "fairly twisted fairy tales" called the Rumpleville Chronicles. These are definitely not stories for children. This tale centers on a bomb that follows a little boy home and is essentially treated as if it were a dog that had followed the boy home. No one wants to take responsibility for the care of the bomb. The boy's parents attempt to find the bomb's owner even as he asks if he can keep the bomb. The family also doesn't get along with their neighbors who speak and act differently than they do. I'll let you guess where the bomb ends up.
Although this book supposedly contains social commentary, and I can see some of that, overall I just found it to be a very strange story. The illustrations are filled with bright colors and heavy lines. I won't be seeking out other books in this series.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Thank you to Wrighty at Wrighty's Reads for giving me the 'Your Blog is Fabulous' award way back in February. I'm not sure how I missed getting it posted then but I'm finally getting around to it now.
Check out a few blogs that I think are fabulous:
1. Reading is like breathing... it must be done
2. Confessions from Young Adult Author Terri Clark
3. Great Books and Fresh Coffee
4. Peeking Between the Pages
5. All Booked Up
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Summary: Sarah Walters, the narrator of GIRLS IN TRUCKS, is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the rococo ways of Southern womanhood and family, and is anxious to shake the bonds of her youth. Still, she follows the traditional path laid out for her. This is Charleston, and in this beautiful, dark, segregated town, established rules and manners mean everything.
But as Sarah grows older, she finds that her Camellia lessons fail her, particularly as she goes to college, moves North, and navigates love and life in New York. There, Sarah and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, addiction, disappointing jobs and death fail to live up to the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers and sisters.
When some unexpected bumps in the road--an unplanned birth, a family death--lead Sarah back home, she's forced to take another long look at the fading empire of her youth. It takes a strange turn of events to finally ground Sarah enough to make some serious choices. And only then does she realize that as much as she tried to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. The motto of her girlhood cotillion society, "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia," may turn out to have more wisdom and pull to it than she ever could have guessed.
* open to USA and Canada residents only - no P.O. Boxes
* the giveaway is open until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 22
* winners will have until Saturday, April 25 to send me mailing information or a new winner will be selected
* if you do not include an email address in your entry, I must be able to find it in your profile. Without an email address, I cannot contact you for your mailing information and your entry will not count.
How to Enter:
* Leave me a comment telling me why this book interests you or something else book related
* Let me know that you Follow or Subscribe to my blog for an additional entry
* Let other people know about this giveaway by posting it on your blog, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. and post the link for another entry
Visit Katie Crouch's website for more great info about Girls in Trucks. Also look for my review of this book, coming soon.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Mothers of Contention and the Money Wars
By Meg Wolitzer,
Author of The Ten Year Nap: A Novel
What will become of the mommy wars in the flailing economy? My fantasy (and it is just a fantasy) is that they will eventually fade into obscurity like, say, the Punic Wars -- relics from a past that seems to have taken place a very long time ago. The idea of working mothers pitted against non-working mothers in a sort of mud-wrestling championship -- in which the winner gets what, exactly? -- has a kind of luxury about it that many people, whether they work or not, suddenly no longer feel. While motherhood and work questions have special urgency and relevance in this crisis -- What happens when women leave the workforce to stay home with their kids? What are the financial implications down the line? etc. -- the rush to judgment is something for fatter, softer times. I haven't seen an appreciable increase in hostility or smugness on anyone's part. And I haven't heard about the publication of a new, lacerating non-fiction book called Ha Ha I was Right, or one called Even If I'd Been Working All This Time I Might Have Been Laid Off Like My Husband.
Maybe, instead -- and a girl can dream -- a kind of tolerance is taking over, fueled by the sense that the family of the woman who works and the family of the one who doesn't are both in trouble. A friend of mine says that she's been paying attention at drop-off at her daughter's school, trying to figure out whether or not different parents are working, and what their stories are, based on how they're dressed and other cues. The formerly suited-up man in his early thirties who now appears every weekday morning on the sidewalk in front of the school in casualwear: did he lose his job, or is he working from home? And the woman who until very recently spent hours volunteering at the school library, and who now hurries into the subway: has she traded Laura Ingalls Wilder for, say, Morgan Stanley? Or is she just out there looking? It's really hard to know what's going on in the enclosed world of anyone else's family, unless they're willing to talk.
And many people, right now, are talking. There's a new jabber in the atmosphere. You barely have to say anything at all, on a street corner or on line at the bakery or in a phone conversation, and the other person immediately knows what you're talking about: "Yes, things are terrifying," and "I know, I know." The financial crisis belongs to one-income and two-income families, as well to the families of the suddenly unemployed, who all share ownership of this strange new thing they don't yet understand.
Though the mommy wars have addressed real and powerful questions, even dipping lightly into those conversations could leave you shaking and defensive. It's still true that, even now, there isn't only one definitively right way to have a life. Regardless of this crisis and its cautionary-tale elements (of which there are many), I think it's a given that people still want to find some way to make their own individual decisions about work and home and motherhood.
Women who work full-time or part-time and those who stay home with their kids (as well as those who now spend their days answering help wanted ads on craigslist) may not experience Helen Reddy solidarity. It may be way too soon to speak about the mommy wars in the past tense, for no one has solved the problem of ambivalence about staying home versus working, or the lack of good, cheap daycare; and no one has found a way for some women not to feel they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't. Maybe not even the full-scale meltdown of the economy can keep these particular, familiar wars from raging. But it can try.
©2009 Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten Year Nap: A Novel
Meg Wolitzer is the author of seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. She lives in New York City.