Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I turn 35 today. I don't feel 35.

Where did the last five years go?

A few weeks after my 29th birthday, I met the man who would become my husband. Two days before I turned 30, my husband proposed to me.  On my 30th birthday, we were in Disneyland.  A few months after my 31st birthday, I got married.  Three months after my 32nd birthday, I got pregnant.  One week before my 33rd birthday, I had my baby. One week before my 34th birthday, my baby turned one.  And now he is two, I am 35 and I have had six wonderful years with my husband.


If I am lucky, I am about halfway through my life right now. I hope I will have many more years to come because there is so much I still want to do and experience.  Every day is a blessing.

This August, I will have been blogging for seven years. Thank you for letting me share my life and interests with all of you.

(This is a picture of me wearing a chicken hat at this year's Petaluma Butter and Egg Day Parade. It is a reminder to myself to always keep a sense of humor and whimsy and to always be able to laugh at myself)

Monday, May 24, 2010

THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Regular readers of this blog know that it is hard for me to resist a good apocalyptic tale. I have been saving THE PASSAGE for months because I felt it was sure to fall into this category.

THE PASSAGE begins in the present day with a military facility in Colorado. The military is testing a virus on death row criminals in order to make them the ultimate super-soldier. The testing has mixed results and the scientists decide to try something new by testing the virus on a 6-year-old girl named Amy. Predictably, all hell breaks loose.  The "virals" escape and cause the destruction of the United States and, quite possibly, the world. Part two fast-forwards 100 years to a small Colony in California where survivors are continuing to make a stand against the virals and eke out some type of existence.  The virals are sensitive to light and the compound is protected by a bank of brilliant lights that are turned on every evening. None of these surviving individuals have ever seen stars.  Everything changes for these survivors when Amy arrives at the Colony at the same time that they are facing the imminent demise of the ancient batteries powering the lights.  The survivors must figure out if Amy holds the key to survival.

This book will draw inevitable comparisons to Stephen King's THE STAND. To me, it was a cross between THE STAND and the recent book THE STRAIN.  It is a vampire tale wrapped into an "end of days" tale. There are also spiritual elements woven in as well as the initial military project is entitled "Project Noah." It is as if the virals offer the opportunity to cleanse the world and start over again.  While the premise was interesting, I was surprised at how slowly the story moved. I was often bored and felt like I had to slog through certain sections. The characters are interesting and often very moving but that was sometimes lost in silly action sequences and altercations with the virals. There are many many interesting ideas in this book but it almost felt like a set-up for the other books in the trilogy. This is not a "stand alone" book. It even ends with a blatant cliffhanger.  To me, it would make a better televison series than a book series. The story is fairly good but so very very slow to develop.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended for certain individuals. If you are a big Stephen King fan, you will probably like this book. It combines the elements of a classic vampire tale with a post-apocalpytic tale. I found it a disappointment, however. I was expecting more and the whole thing fell flat for me. That being said, I will probably read the next installment to see what happens.  For a much better tale in the post-apocalyptic genre, however, look to THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy.

Here is a clever book tie-in:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Notes in the Margin

My baby is TWO today.  How did that happen?

I have been busy with birthday party planning but I am still reading! I have a few chunksters I'm working on. I am in the middle of THE PASSAGE by Cronin.  I have been saving it because the buzz has been so good. I'm a little worried. I'm not really enjoying it so far. It is a cross between THE STAND by Stephen King and THE STRAIN by Del Toro and Hogan and I"m not sure that's a good thing.  I'm only halfway through, though. so there is still plenty of time.  I am also working on CUTTING FOR STONE by Verghese and SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by Meier.  I am slowly slowly slowly making a dent in that huge bookpile next to my bed.

For now, I am going to celebrate two blessed years with my beamish boy.  My birthday is next Tuesday. But I think we may ignore that one.

Pssstttt....Don't tell Noodlebug but this is what he is getting this afternoon:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

...and the Holy Toast

Although rain prevented the outdoor Mother's Day celebration I had envisioned, we still had a lovely time. My mother, Noodlebug's godmother, Noodlebug and I went to church on Sunday morning. Normally, I put Noodlebug in the nursery but I thought I would keep him with me in church since it was Mother's Day. He did a really good job. When it came time to take Communion, I walked him up to the front of the church. I had never taken him up with me before and I assumed the pastor would simply bless him. Well....

To my surprise, the pastor handed Noodlebug a piece of the host. Okay. We'll roll with it. We walked over the Communion helper holding the chalices and I demonstrated to Noodlebug how to dip the bread in the juice. He dutifully copied me. But he dropped the bread into the chalice. There was no way I could put my hand in there and fish it out so I just laughed and told him it was okay. As we walked away, he suddenly said, "OH NO! I DROPPED MY TOAST!"

We all got the giggles and had to remove ourselve to the narthex until we could compose ourselves. I told Noodlebug not to worry about his "toast" and gave him a cracker when we sat down again.

At home, my husband had prepared an elaborate Mother's Day brunch for all of us. He really is the best. He does just as much "mothering" as I do. Not just of Noodlebug but of me as well. How did I get to be so lucky?

Now, I'm off to prepare for Noodlebug's birthday party on Sunday. Praying for sunshine!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Notes in the Margin

Hello fellow booklovers.

Well, I attended book club this week and put forth my theory about Gruen plagiarizing characters from SOPHIE'S CHOICE. It was not well-received. One woman in particular was extremely offended by my theory. Surely I am not the only one who things this.  The books was fine. Not as good as I had hoped but I really enjoyed the parts in the nursing home. I just couldn't get past the feeling that Gruen had copied Styron's characters, however, so that really colored the whole reading experience for me.

I am currently working on CUTTING FOR STONE. I can't believe it has taken me so long to read this book!  So far so good. I have started working on my pile of children's book galleys and I'm currently working on THE OWL KEEPER which is shaping up to be a great read.

These books landed on my doorstep this week:

THE LOVERS by Vendela Vida
WALKING TO GATLINBURG by Howard Frank Mosher
CLAUDE AND CAMILLE by Stephanie Cowell

And one more that I seem to be forgetting.

Check out my Mother's Day post here.

Have a great weekend and happy reading!!!

Monday, May 03, 2010

THREE WISHES by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

THREE WISHES appealed to me right off the bat because it is the story of three women and their search for love and motherhood in their forties.  You often hear people say pithy things like "40 is the new 30" but it is nice to read a book about real women in their quest to "have it all" and the sometime bumpy path that it took to get there.

THREE WISHES follows the lives of three journalists who have achieved their career goals and are now hearing the ticking of their biological clocks.  Carey Goldberg makes the first move. Unwilling to wait any longer for Mr. Right to come along, she begins the process of in vitro with some donor sperm.  In an unexpected twist of fate, she becomes pregnant the old-fashioned way.  Carey passes the sperm on to her friend Beth who has also decided to delve into single motherhood in her early 40's.  Soon after, Beth meets someone and becomes pregnant without even trying.  Beth passes the donor sperm on to Pam who also finds love and motherhood without using it. 

Although the idea of this seemingly magical sperm is amusing, the best part of the book is the struggles that these women go through to achieve their dreams.  Motherhood does not come easily.  There are tragic losses involved in several cases.  And love doesn't arrive looking like the fairy-tale Prince Charming. The women have to kiss a lot of frogs.  They struggle out what they want and to avoid compromise in the face of a biological ticking clock. The book is also about women supporting one another as each individual boldy marches towards single motherhood. 

Even though I am married and have a child before age 35, I found this book to be really moving and engaging.  More and more women are waiting to have children and then are faced with daunting infertility issues. Sometimes, a pregnancy can go horribly wrong and difficult decisions must be made. Add to this the difficulty of finding a partner as one gets older and you can truly see the difficult odds these women faced.  The book remains hopeful and funny to the very end.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended.  Especially for women in their late 30s and early 40s who despair of ever achieving love and motherhood.  The greatest part of this book is that none of three women ever compromised in order to achieve their dreams. It's nice to see that.

A SOFT PLACE TO LAND by Susan Rebecca White

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Naomi and Phil Harrison die in a terrible plane crash while vacationing leaving behind two teenaged daugthers, Ruthie and Julia.  Once the will is read, the half-sisters realize they will be separated with one moving to San Francisco and one to a town in Virginia. The girls try to navigate their ways through the loss of their parents and each other while trying to define themselves as individuals. Resentment and anger threaten to tear them apart until a momentous event changes everything.

This book about the complicated love between two sisters as they deal with their shared gried had all the makings of a great story. But it wasn't.  There was just something missing. The story is told from Ruthie's perspective and I think this was a problem because the reader never really gets to understand Julia's side of the story. I thought White did an excellent job describing the complexities of teenage life. Especially in the face of grief. But as the girls entered adulthood, the story seemed to fall apart.  I didn't particularly care for any of the characters and the ending felt rushed and unfinished. The author introduced a really interesting plot development surrounding the girls' mother at the end of the book but then dropped it for something much less interesting and much more contrived. A real disappointment.

BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended.  A lot of unfulfilled potential here. This subject matter has been covered much more effectively by other authors.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Perinatal Depression Awareness Month

Thanks to the efforts of the Junior Leagues of California, May has been designated Perinatal Depression Awareness Month. Also known as Post-partum Depression, this disorder can have devastating effects on women and their families. I experienced perinatal depression after the birth of my child. I felt lost and scared and really really struggled. Assemblymember Pedro Nava sponsored this bill and spoke to a number of us on Monday. I was moved by something that he said. He said that when you improve the lives of women, you improve the lives of their families and when you improve the lives of families, you improve the community.

No matter where you live, I encourage you to recognize Perinatal Depression Awareness Month and encourage the people in your lives learn the signs and symptoms of this disorder and how to get treatment.