Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mommylitapalooza Reviews

There may be more to come but I'm going to list my current reviews of my Mommylitapalooza books here. I'm grouping them because not everyone is interested in Mommy Lit.

1) MOMMY TRACKED by Whitney Gaskell
This book follows the lives of four mothers. One is a high-powered working mom who is missing out on the lives of her two young twin. One is a mom with several children who is very insecure about her weight. One is a single mom trying to learn how to date again. One is a new mom struggling with an absentee partner. The four friends lean on each other as they try to figure out how to balance their lives as wives and mothers. The story is fairly uneventful. I think most moms will find at least one character or event to identify with. However, I didn't really connect with the story. The ending was the only part with true genuine feeling. I think this book would have worked better as a series where the author could have fleshed out the characters and stories better.

2) PLAYGROUP by Nelsie Spencer
Wow this is a misleading book! I was expecting your standard mommy lit but instead I found a book about a recovering bulimic who embarks on a lesbian affair on the Upper East Side. This book really had nothing to do with being a mother. The children and the playgroup only serve as the jumping off point for the affair. The sex scenes were just embarrassing. I say that not as a prude but as someone who cringed at the silliness and over-the-top descriptions of sex. They stopped the story cold. I found myself irritated by all of the characters. What a waste of time!

3) I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT by Allison Pearson

This was by far my favorite Mommy lit book. It is a British novel about a working mom trying to have it all. The feelings expressed in the book were genuine and heart-wrenching. Pearson accurately captures the complexities that working moms have to face and all the heartaches that come with them. The book was well-written, thought-provoking and never-boring. I will definitely be looking for more books by Pearson.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Win!!!

I'm on fire with winning books this month! Just won a copy of Michael Chabon's MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH.

Hope my lucky streak continues but who doesn't like free books? Especially in this economic climate?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Woohoo! Free Book!

I just won a copy of Judith Hendricks' new book, THE LAWS OF HARMONY, from HarperCollins. I recently ordered one of her previous books, BREAD ALONE, through Paperbackswap. I will be excited to read them both. Reviews forthcoming!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A New Way to Journal

I don't know why but I have been completely fixated with the Natasha Richardson story. In case you haven't heard, actress Natasha Richardson had an accident skiing yesterday that left her with a serious brain injury. Latest reports state that she has been taken off of life support after having been flown back to the States for her family to say goodbye. She is 45 years old. She has two sons.

I look at my baby sometimes and I wonder what, if anything, he would remember about me if I were to die today. (I know that sounds a little morbid but what can I say?) An internet buddy of mine sent me a beautiful journal when the baby was born last year. I have been using that journal to record moments and thoughts in Baby's life. I write in it every couple of days and I address my thoughts directly to Baby. I'm thinking I will give it to him on his 18th birthday. The journal is filled with thoughts like how I feel when I pick him up after work and see how excited he is to see me. How excited I got when he figured out how to turn the pages in books that I read to him. How I sing him a special song every night before he goes to bed. If anything happens to me, Baby will have this special journal full of thoughts and memories that I have saved just for him.

I'm starting to think that I should begin a new journal for the other people in my life. Maybe I'll write things like:

I love it how my husband always brings me my favorite sparkling water in the evening.

I had fun going to lunch with Mom and Baby today where we introduced Baby to the joys of dill pickles.

I had a terrific time talking to my buddy Greg on the phone. He always makes me pee my pants with laughter.

Maybe our journal should be less about us and more about the people around us. How they affect us and what they mean to us. Special stories that we have shared with them. That way, if anything DOES happen to us, there will be plenty of special memories to hold onto. So, don't journal for yourself. Journal for everyone who will be reading it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Roots (Why Do We Care?)

So, today is St. Patrick's Day. I am quite fond of this holiday. I am half-Irish (the other half is Mexican). My husband is also half Irish. We joke that with Baby, we made a WHOLE Irishman. Baby's first name is Irish and his middle and last names are Italian. We briefly toyed with an Italian first name but figured that would be overkill. And since Baby is blonde and blue-eyed, I think we made the right decision.

I think Americans are especially fond of tracing their ethnic roots. Why is that? We have such a fascinating mix of people in this country and we are all proud to discuss our roots. I knew a Frenchman many years ago who complained about this American preoccupation. He said that I should shut up about being "Irish" or "Mexican" because I am really just an American. He didn't understand why Americans tend to go on and on about their backgrounds.

With the internet and other technologies and global businesses, our political boundaries are getting blurred. Globalization is changing the way we relate to one another. As a result of this phenomenon, there has been a slight rise in nationalism. People are clinging to their unique qualities as a nation and a culture. I have always loved studying other cultures and religions because I think one of the wonderful things about human beings is our natural diversity. The things that make us different are really beautiful. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same!

The United States is a young nation. It is truly a nation of immigrants. Someone once said that you cannot know where you are going unless you know where you have been. I'm sure you have also heard "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." I think it is important to learn about your roots. Our individual and common histories show us how we came to be in this particular spot in time. And, sometimes, knowing your ethnic roots can help with medical issues.

I pursued my master's degree in anthropology because of my love of culture and my interest in the diverity of human beings. There is a silly little Phil Collins song that was in the Disney movie called "Strangers Like Me." I love that song because I think it describes perfectly how we should look at each other. We may not always understand why people do the things they do but, ultimately, we are all human beings and we are beautiful in our differences.

So, Frenchy, maybe I am not really Irish. But somewhere in my genealogical background, I have Irish ancestors. I'm proud of that and I'm going to celebrate it.

Erin go bragh!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Weekend Thoughts

We had a nice weekend. We took Baby to the "big city" to go the newly reopened Academy of Sciences. He liked looking at all of the fish. I look forward to going back. I think each visit will be different as Baby gets older.

On Saturday night, we watched "Rachel Getting Married" which was a highly emotional film. I wasn't sure what to expect. The main charcter, Kym, played by Anne Hathway, struggles with addiction and other destructive behavior. Much of this pain and abuse occurs as the result of a horrible family tragedy. I won't reveal what happens but the film made me wonder about the resilience of human beings and how we are able to survive after crushing tragedy. Do you ever get over great loss? Or do you just learn to cope with it? The movie is very well done but be aware that it will take you on an emotional rollercoaster.

Now, I'm back at work. I am so grateful to have a good job with excellent benefits. Especially in this economic climate. But I really wish for a part-time job that would allow me to spend more time with my baby. I feel like I'm missing so much. It makes it hard for me to feel focused at work. Maybe someday, I'll find my dream job working part-time at a museum. Until then, I'll just have to make lots of phone calls during the day to see what Baby is doing.

ARC On Its Way

I'm very excited that I got in on Barnes and Noble's next First Look book, THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE. It looks like a good one!

Publisher description:

"Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.
As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.
Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation."

The book will be published in June but I will have a review for you by next month.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Upcoming Books I'm Excited About

As some of you may know, I work in a library. I have worked in the book field for almost ten years in retail and libraries. Today, I got to sit in on a publisher preview of some upcoming titles. These are the ones I am most excited about:

1. THE UNIT by Ninni Holmqvist
This book follows in the tradition of NEVER LET ME GO and other futuristic cautionary tales. In the future, people who are considered no longer productive members of society are sent to facilities where they must submit to medical testing and organ harvesting. This is the story of one woman and her experiences in such a facility.

This sounds like the perfect book for fans of LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE. Magic, plants and love!!!

3. THE ANGEL'S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A prequel to one of my favorites, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND. I can hardly wait!!!

4. THE BLUE NOTEBOOK by James Levine

This book has some tough subject matter. It tells the story of young Indian girl sold into sexual slavery. I have a feeling this is going to be a tough story but the author is giving 100% of the profits of this book to International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children.


This the sequel to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO which I previously reviewed. I had mixed feelings about the first book but it was a great read. I'm looking foward to this second book in the three-book series.

6. EMILY'S GHOST by Denise Giardina

This is a novel of the lives of the Bronte Sisters. How could I pass this one up?!


Finally! A new book by the author of DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD!!!

I will be posting reviews of all of these books later on this year so stay tuned!!!

MommyLitapalooza 2009

"The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous, involving and utterly tedious, all at the same time. The world is full of women made to feel strange because what everyone assumes comes naturally is so difficult to do--never mind to do well."
-Anna Quindlen

I am embarking on a MommyLitapalooza. I picked up a bunch of Mommy Lit books at the library and I'm switching over from my usual heady, more serious fare. I feel the need to right now for a little commiseration. I still need to finish up TINKERS and STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE but I need a little light nourishment as well. For those of you who have no interest in Mommy Lit, I will still be posting non-Mommy lit reviews so never fear!

First up...MOMMY TRACKED by Whitney Gaskell.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

TALLGRASS by Sandra Dallas

When I read the blurb about TALLGRASS, I was hesitant to read it. A book about the effects of a Japanese internment camp on a small town of sugar beet farmers in rural Colorado during World War II sounded pretty bleak. However, Ms. Purl highly recommended it so I had to read it.

TALLGRASS is tale in the tradition of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Dallas borrows heavily on themes and characters from that great work. The story is told from the perspective of Rennie Stroud, a 12-year-old girl whose family's sugar beet farm is a mile away from the Tallgrass Japanese internment camp. Rennie provides the reader with a view into the effects of this camp on the town and how the camp divides the people in their opinions of it and the people who inhabit it. When a murder occurs, the town becomes even more fractured. Rennie's father is an Atticus Finch type character who provides a moral compass to the story. He is the voice of reason when the town seeks retribution time and again against the Japanese.

The reader is quickly pulled into the story and it becomes hard to put down. My only complaint would be that the foreshadowing and hints were a bit heavy-handed. It became very clear what would happen. However, this did not diminish my enjoyment of the story.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A great read about a subject matter that seldom shows up in novels.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spring Reading Things 2009

Coming Soon!!!

I love Callapidder Days' reading challenges because they always get me focused on my reading! Here is my tentative list:




4. PLAYGROUP -Spencer



I'm sure I will add to it as I go along.

Monday, March 02, 2009


It has been my tradition to ADD something rather than GIVE SOMETHING UP for Lent. Usually, I make it a point to go to church every week during Lent or to do a Bible study. I haven't done very well this year. A friend just sent me an e-mail forward that I really like.

Things to Give Up for Lent

Taking those you love for granted

Promising more than you can deliver

Losing your temper

Trying to get everything perfect

Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons

Thinking about money

Blaming other for your woes

Blocking out what you don’t want to hear

Listening only to yourself

Wanting to be in control

Having to be right

Patronizing people


Carrying a grudge

Denying your obsessions

Feeling sorry for yourself

Thinking of greener grass

Telling God what to do


Denying your gifts

Doubting your goodness

Looking for easy answers

Lying to God

Looking the other way

Expecting others to solve your problems

Doing what everyone else does

Carrying a chip on your shoulder

Being bored

Cursing the darkness


Denying that you are loved

I am definitely guilty of a bunch of these so I'm going to work on giving up some of these for Lent.