Thursday, October 27, 2011


I heard so many interesting things about this book (and wasn't able to find it in any local library) that I ended up purchasing it.  The book reminded me a great deal of Zoe Heller's WHAT WAS SHE THINKING which was made into a movie called NOTES ON A SCANDAL with Judi Dench.

THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD focuses on two individuals at a Waldorf school, one a sixteen-year-old student named Zach Patterson and one a kindergarten teacher named Judy McFarland.  Judy's marriage has been falling apart from sometime and her job is in trouble as the school struggles to remain financially solvent.  Still, she remains committed to the ideals of a Waldorf education where childhood is sacred.  Zach is a transfer student who was uprooted because of his mother's affair.  When the two are thrown together while working on a school fundraiser, their loneliness leads them into a dangerous affair.  As the affair progresses, the two can't seem to extricate themselves from it and the secrets of Judy's past are slowly revealed.

While this book wasn't nearly as effective as Heller's, I found it interesting that Coleman framed the story within a Waldorf school. It made for a great juxtaposition.  Judy is also a fairly sinister character and I liked how Coleman hinted at dark secrets within her past.  Ultimately, though the book and its ending were unsatisfying. I felt that Coleman could have done more. 

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended with reservations. Coleman puts an interesting spin on this subject matter.  While the twists and turns are intriguing, the book ultimately falls a little flat.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


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

Every so often, a book comes along that garners a great deal of critical and popular praise that simply falls flat for me. It happened last year with A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD. I found that book entirely too gimmicky but I was definitely in the minority.  This year, it appears that THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ will be the book that I must disagree with popular sentiment about.

In a small suburb of Dublin, Gina Moynihan recalls how her affair with the love of her life, Sean Vallely began.  She recalls when she first met Sean and how their affair began and the various entanglements and issues that arose as a result of that affair.  Namely, the effect it had on Sean's daughter Evie.

While the book offers an interesting account of how affairs begin and the effect that can have on the people around them, I found the book to be incredibly slow and boring.  At 263 pages, it isn't even very long but it took me months to read because I just couldn't engage with it.  The characters are not only unsympathetic but also uninteresting. The story jumps around in time in a very confusing way and made it difficult to follow the narrator's line of thought.  The book also ends fairly abruptly.

BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended.  I think Enright has interesting things to say about love and adultery but the book is too meandering and quiet for my taste.  I found the whole thing to be quite slow and boring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pardon the Mess...We're Moving

Most of the boxes are packed and we are moving this weekend. I seem to keep finding books that still haven't been packed. Could it be I have too many books?  (Absolutely not.)

Find the latest update here.

Once I get moved, I'm going to start on Julia Cameron's PROSPEROUS HEART. Just got a galley for it and it looks perfect for where I am in my life right now. 

I'm also working on Russell Banks' LOST MEMORY OF SKIN.

Reviews will resume soon!!!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Picture Book Pause--M.O.M. by Doreen Cronin

We're going to take a break from our regularly scheduled contemporary adult literature book reviews to stop and ponder a new picture book.  Today's book is M.O.M.* (Mom Operating Manual) by Doreen Cronin. I have really enjoyed Cronin's previous books such as CLICK, CLACK, MOO and DUCK FOR PRESIDENT.  And astute readers will recognize the work of illustrator Laura Cornell who has worked on such books as Jamie Lee Curtis' TODAY I FEEL SILLY & OTHER MOODS THAT MAKE MY DAY.

This clever book is essentially an owner's manual for children. The book takes the reader through the evolution and history of moms including the different types and how to care for them.  The brief chapters include A Brief Historical Overview, Daily Care and Maintenance, Grooming, Outdoor Use and Troubleshooting. The book is fairly long for a picture book at 54 pages and much of the humor will go over the heads of children.  It is definitely a book for older readers of elementary school age and higher. However, adults will probably get the most enjoyment from the book. I see it as a wonderful gift for a new mom, a frazzled mom who needs a humorous reminder of why we do what we do or as a Mother's Day gift.

I particularly enjoyed the safety alert notes sprinkled throughout the book. My favorite?  In the section for "Outdoor Use, "  there is a safety alert that reads "Your mother may warm up during periods of extreme use. Under heavy loads with extended carry times, your mother may be warm to the touch. This is normal."  And under the troubleshooting section, the book recommends doing a little Cranky Pants dance to override any Mom malfuctions but it cautions that fathers may perform the Cranky Pants dance only at considerable risk.

The book may be too far above the heads of most children but I think it would probably be a pretty entertaining book for adults and children to read together. And Moms everywhere will definitely get a bunch of laughs out of it!