Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happily Married with Children

Just found this interesting article that I thought I would share in light of my recent review of Ayelet Waldman's new book BAD MOTHER.

Find the article here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I got a copy of UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY through the Barnes and Noble First Look program. At first glance, I wasn't sure about this one. It sounded a little depressing and I have had more than my fair share of dark and depressing books lately.

UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY follows the struggles of a Ukrainian family living in Canada in the Spring of 1938. Teodor Mykolayenko has just been released from two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain. He returns home in the hope of rebuilding his family and their dream of a better life. What follows is a heartwrenching story of a family struggling to put itself back together in the face of terrible adversity.

I could not put this book down. I was instantly drawn in by this family. After the first page, you know that tragedy will befall these individuals before the year is out. As the story progressed, I looked for clues as to the inevitable outcome of the story. The characters were so well-drawn and I found myself rooting for this family to succeed against all odds. The reader shares each and every heartbreak with the characters. I found myself angry and frustrated at the end of the book not because of the story itself but because of the injustice that life sometimes offers us.

I think the author put it best when she said, "the story [is] about life, in all its beauty and savagery. It was about the moral lines that divide and join us. What is remembered and what is forgotten. And the fine line between those who break and those who don't."

This book will be released in September 2009.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This is a very powerful and moving book. The characters are all very well-developed and engaging. A truly wonderful debut novel.

Oh Baby!

I recently won a copy of this book from Bookfool. And guess what? We had our first major baby trauma. It actually wasn't that big of a deal. Noodlebug fell down and split his lip open. At first, I thought he had knocked out one of his teeth. He didn't but there was blood everywhere and I was completely traumatized. He bounced back quickly and his lip doesn't even look that bad. I think I cried more than he did. He is a tough little guy. As he gets more confident with his walking (running) he seems to fall down a lot more. I could wrap the entire house in bubble wrap but that just isn't feasible. So, we babyproof what we can and hope for the best. I have always prided myself in being calm in tense situations but I am learning that when it comes to my baby, all bets are off.

Hope you all had a calm, uneventful weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Babies Don't Keep


by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue.
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due.
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue? (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Babies don’t keep.

I think few things make you more aware of the passage of time than children. It doesn't matter if they are your own or someone else's. Children change in the blink of an eye. It is amazing.

I think the worst thing that other parents say to me is "It goes fast!!!" I KNOW IT GOES FAST! I am constantly aware of this fact. I hang on as tightly as I can and try to be "aware" and "in the moment." But I am gone 8-10 hours a day and when I get home my baby seems different from even that very morning. I wish I could be with him all the time but I can't. As for me, I feel old today. And I'm only 34.

A fellow blogger who writes Holly Doodle Designs posted this poem a week or two ago. I have to admit it made me teary-eyed. I'm doing the best I can and I can only hope it is enough. Because babies don't keep.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Books Read But Not Reviewed

Hello friends.
I managed to finish three books but I have decided not to review them. I have been throwing out a lot of negative reviews lately and I'm wondering if it is me instead of the books! Here are the three books:

IT SUCKED AND THEN I CRIED by Heather Armstrong

MIDWIVES by Chris Bohjalian



I will say this. THE BLUE NOTEBOOK was a very very hard book to read. I was determined to read it because all of the US proceeds from the book are going to International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children. I'm not sure how to review it. It is a very powerful work. Levine handles the subject matter well. In some ways, it reminded me of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. There is no happy ending here, however. Not for the faint of heart.

I did something I hardly ever do with ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN. I gave up halfway through. I found it over-the-top and stereotypical to the point of being offensive. Clearly a man's interpretation of how a woman of that era would act and feel and completely overdone in its sexual scenes. Ridiculous.

I think tonight I may set my books aside and catch up with "Nurse Jackie." It has become my new favorite show on television. At least until my other favorites return this fall.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This book has gotten a lot of buzz because it has already been optioned by Julia Roberts to turn into a movie. The premise of the book promises a light, fun summer read.

Lila is a thirty-something divorcee looking for a fresh start. She runs into a hunky tropical plant vendor (a la Christian Slater in "Bed of Roses") who changes her life by selling her a Bird of Paradise. Lila gets hooked on tropical plants. When she sees a special fern hanging in the window of a landromat, Lila can't resist checking it out. It is in this unusual landromat that Lila first hears of the Nine Plants of Desire. These chance encounters will take Lila into the jungles of Mexico to gather the nine plants of desire before her foe does.

I really wanted to like this book. I had been saving it. I was really and truly disappointed. The plot unfolded a little too quickly with no real emphasis on character development and motivation. Lila should have been a quirky Bridget Jones-type but her character flaws just made her come off as an insufferable self-absorbed woman whose actions have very serious consequences to those around her. I loved the descriptions of the nine plants, however. The idea for searching for those special tropical plants in Mexico was great. It could have been a wonderful, funny, romantic adventure. Instead, it just left me cold.

BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended. It will be interesting to see how this translates to the big screen. It might be more effective. I just didn't like any of the characters which made it hard to connect to the book. I also felt the plot needed more development. Don't dumb it down for your readers!!! We don't need television-paced entertainment in our books.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I have enjoyed all of Guillermo del Toro's films so although I am not a horror reader, I thought I'd give THE STRAIN a shot.

THE STRAIN is a new take on the classic vampire tale. A plane lands in New York City and immediately experiences system failure. When the plane is opened, every passenger inside is dead. Until they start disappearing from the morgue. CDC specialist Ephraim Goodwinter must enlist the help of elderly vampire fighter Abraham Setrakian to fight the vampire plague before it spreads out of New York City.

THE STRAIN is the first book in a trilogy. I can tell you right now that I will NOT be reading the other two. I think part of the success of books that come in a series is that they can stand alone. This book cannot. It ends in a clear cliffhanger that expects the reader to go out and buy the next book. The descriptions are overwrought and the plot is strangely slow. While Del Toro and Hogan come up with an interesting take on the vampire tale, the novelty wears off quickly. The vampires come off more as zombies. Part of the success of vampire lore has often been the sexiness of the undead. These vampires are not sexy. They are mindless drones with disgusting appendages.

BOTTOM LINE: NOT recommended. Die-hard horror fans might find this an interesting take on vampires but the story is weak and suprisingly boring. The writers are limited in how they describe the "vampires." If I had to read the words "fleshy stinger" one more time, I thought I was going to throw the book out the window.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Anniversary that said "Ni!"

It was a lovely four-day weekend but still too short!

For our anniversary, we spent the evening in San Francisco. We stayed here. Lovely hotel in Pacific Heights. I could easily move in.

We ate here. Absolutely decadent. We felt as if we were in Italy again.

We saw "SPAMALOT" which is a terrific musical for Monty Python fans. I made my husband buy Noodlebug a killer rabbit puppet.

We ended up our mini-vacation by seeing the King Tut exhibit at the DeYoung. The objects were absolutely amazing! However, as a (former) museum professional, I was disappointed with the curation. It didn't really matter, though, because how often do you get to see 3500-year-old Egyptian artifacts?

It was a nice anniversary and I only missed Noodlebug about fifty times in 24 hours.

B&N First Look for August

For those who are interested, sign-ups are open for Barnes and Noble's August First Look. It will be UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY by Shandi Mitchell.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Whew. This was a tough one. Elizabeth McCracken chronicles the loss of her stillborn child and the year that followed. The book is positively heartwrenching and brutally honest. It will touch a chord in just about anyone. McCracken takes the reader through the happy days leading up to the tragic birth of her first child as well as the gamut of emotions she went through following his loss. The reader is left with a greater understanding and sympathy for mothers who have gone through the loss of a child through miscarriage or stillbirth and the unique challenges of the grief associated with these losses.

My grandmother lost her first child at birth. My mother's older brother would have been 66 this year. I have visited his grave and wondered what he would have been like. This book brought those events to the forefront of my mind and made me wonder what it was like for my grandparents to go through such a loss.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. This book will join such classics of grief and loss as CS Lewis' A GRIEF OBSERVED and Joan Didion's YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING and offers insight into a very specific type of loss that seldom gets addressed.

Three Years (almost)

Today is my Friday this week. Hooray!!! I will be offline for a few days as I celebrate my third wedding anniversary on Friday and then the Fourth of July!!! Traditionally, the gift for the third anniversary is supposed to be leather. So, I got my husband tickets to see SPAMALOT. I figured some of the actors will be wearing leather. Right? We'll be spending the night in San Francisco after the show and it will be my first night away from Noodlebug. (gulp!) I'm looking forward to an adventure in the Big City.

I hope you all have a lovely and festive Fourth of July!!!