Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The last book for this year will be IT'S OK NOT TO SHARE by Heather Shumaker. This will also be the readalong for 2014 for one of my favorite blogs, NOT JUST CUTE.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Here are some upcoming titles that are DEFINITELY on my radar for 2014:
1. CHAPLIN AND COMPANY by Mave Fellowes
Friday, November 01, 2013
November Read: RAISING SELF-RELIANT CHILDREN IN A SELF-INDULGENT WORLD by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Kate Pheris spent the last year in a daze after the death of her husband. She wakes up to find that she has basically turned over control of her life and care of her daughter to her mother-in-law. Unable to cope with doing anything else, Kate starts sorting through items in the attic in preparation for moving into her mother-in-law's house. While in the attic, Kate comes across a postcard from her Great-Aunt Eby. Eby and her husband owned a lakeside resort called Lost Lake in Southern Georgia and Kate remembers spending her last happy Summer there. On impulse, Kate decides to take her daughter to Lost Lake for one last happy Summer.
Eby Pim has finally decided to sell Lost Lake to a developer. Her resort is falling apart and she can't afford the upkeep. Visitors have dropped off over the last few years and Eby has decided it is time to go out into the world again. Once word gets out that Eby has decided to sell, longtime visitors and locals begin to show up for one last party and to let Eby know how much Lost Lake has meant to them.
In these last days at Lost Lake, Eby and Kate will find out a lot about themselves and about the many people who have been touched by this magical place.
I will admit that I am already a fan of Sarah Addison Allen. I have read all of her books. I have to say this is my favorite so far. There is a melancholy to this book that wasn't present in Allen's other works. She still includes a touch of magical realism which I always enjoy. Although I don't consider Allen's work to be great literature, they are perfect cozy feel-good reads. The stories are lovely and offer a nice dash of escapism. Allen also has a gift for creating compelling characters.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. This is probably Allen's best work to date. Curl up next to the fire with this cozy read that will almost assuredly make you feel good.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Like so many others, I am a long-time fan of Poe's work. However, I know next to nothing about his personal life. Edgar Allen Poe has been back in the public eye again thanks to tv shows like THE FOLLOWING. So, I was intrigued when I received a copy of MRS. POE by Lynn Cullen.
Poet and children's author Frances Sargent Osgood has been abandoned once again by her errant artist husband. She and her children manage to find sanctuary with her friends, the Bartletts. (of BARTLETT'S FAMILIAR QUOTATIONS fame) Osgood struggles to make a living with her poetry but all anyone wants to read are macabre stories and poems like the ones by new sensation Edgar Allen Poe. On a visit to a literary salon one evening, Osgood finally meets the great man in person. Along with his young wife, Virginia. After this initial meeting, Osgood continues to run into Poe and befriends Virginia who seems to be sickly and isolated. The more time that Osgood spends with the Poes, the more she finds herself drawing closer to Edgar. As their relationship deepens, Osgood starts to believe that not only does Virginia know what is going on but also they she may be trying to kill Frances.
Based on the true story of this infamous love triangle, Cullen gives us a glimpse into the private lives of Osgood and Mr. and Mrs. Poe and speculates on the nature of the relationships between the three people. A variety of famous people show up in the story such as Samuel Morse and Herman Melville which offers a bit of fan. Overall, however, the story is dark and tragic. I was so intrigued by this love triangle that I went and did a little more digging into their story. Once you know what really happened to everyone, the story becomes even more tragic.
I felt the story was a little slow at times and the threat of Virginia felt a little forced sometimes. However, the relationships were really intriguing and I liked the intimate look into the private life of Poe. It definitely got me interested in knowing more both about Poe and his wife and also about Osgood.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Although it can be a bit slow at times and the suspense seems a little contrived, I think readers will enjoy this look into Poe's private life as well as the recognizable cast of characters that fill the background.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
I'm a little behind with my reading because I had trouble getting some of the books at the library. So, this month, we'll have something that isn't a straight read but more of a reference guide. I'm always looking for ways to encourage a love of learning in my son. I'm hoping this book could help with that.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Barefoot Books release of THE LITTLE RED HEN. I have always loved this story although my son has always been troubled by the ending of the traditional tale. He would prefer that everyone become friends in the end. In this new version of the classic tale, the animals come together in the spirit of cooperation and the naughty rooster and mice have the opportunity to mend their ways. With gorgeous illustrations made from collage elements strung with wire, this little book is a feast for the eyes. Kate Slater, a papercut artists, did a beautiful job!
The books also offers a little nod to the Farm-to-Table movement which is particularly big where I live in Northern California. It even includes a recipe for baking your own loaf of bread! And to top it all off, the hardcover and paperback versions both come with a story CD read by Debra Messing! The CD has two versions: one with page-turn chimes and one without. My son loves books with CDs. He has a whole collection and will often go in his room, pick a book and put a CD on his CD player for his quiet time. Although this book is geared to ages 3 to 7, I think it's great for any age. The hardcover version is $16.99 and the paperback version is $9.99. You can also get the paperback without a CD for $7.99. I'm ordering several of them for Christmas presents!
To find out more about THE LITTLE RED HEN, go here.
(I am a Barefoot Books Ambassador but all opinions are my own.)
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
When I first started reading, I remember loving the Cam Jansen series because I always love a good mystery and it was fun to find a series with a plucky girl detective. I was happy to hear that the author of the Cam Jansen series, David Adler, is back with new new series for young readers.
Fourth-grader Danny Cohen's new friend is a little eccentric. Calvin Waffle is curious about everything and likes to try unusual experiments. Including challenging the teacher's list of rules. He even asks Danny to fill his pockets with jellybeans but NOT eat them.When Calvin figures out a way to predict the opposing pitcher's throw at Danny's baseball game, Danny thinks he has a secret weapon. The only problem is that Calvin doesn't like baseball. Danny and his friends must convince Calvin to change his mind so that they can win the big game.
This fun story is told through both words and drawings so it makes a nice transition from picture books to chapter books. The characters are fun and kids will really enjoy Adler's doodles throughout the book.
I have a copy of this book to give away! If you'd like to get a child started on this fun new series, leave a comment at the end of the post. For extra entries, follow me on Facebook and Twitter and leave a post saying that you did. (For United States residents only. This contest ends on Monday, September 30 at 4:00pm PST)
Monday, September 16, 2013
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
Three years ago, Claudia MacInnes and her husband, Josef Coleman, lost their one-year-old daughter Lily. Since then, their marriage has begun to unravel as the two of them deal with their grief in different ways. Josef longs for a physical connection that his wife is unable to provide so he turns to a young surgical nurse for comfort. Claudia looks for an emotional connection that her husband seems unable to provide and uses her therapy sessions to fill that void. As their lives continue to fall apart, we see the roles that others played in the tragedy and the secrets of the past are slowly revealed as well as the details of Lily's death.
This book was both heartbreaking and beautiful. As a parent, I can think of nothing worse than losing a child. I'm always amazed that anyone can get through such a loss. Triedman does a wonderful job revealing the effects of such a tragedy on one particular family. Much of the story is told through Claudia's journal entries and we see that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. However, since the reader doesn't really know the details of Lily's death until the later part of the book, the journey can be harrowing. No one is innocent. Everyone is struggling to deal with pain and loss in his or her way and it is so painful to see how it rips this family apart.
I was so impressed with this book. The subject matter could have skewed maudlin and over-the-top but Triedman does a masterful job dealing with the intricacies of the loss of a child. My heart ached for ALL of the characters. Triedman does an excellent job of fleshing each of them out so that they are all multi-dimensional. It is a very affecting work.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. A beautiful and haunting look at the collapse of a family after the death of a child.
Friday, September 13, 2013
In honor of Yom Kippur, I thought I would share with you one of the latest additions to the Barefoot Books canon. The brand new BAREFOOT BOOK OF JEWISH TALES is absolutely beautiful. Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand shares eight tales from the Jewish tradition and the book comes with a CD narrated by Debra Messing. The stories range from biblical times to 19th century Poland and make for a wonderful readaloud for children ages 6 and up.
In the "Wall Street Journal" review of this book on August 23, 2013, it states that "All the stories have an uplifting quality. "The Prince Who Thought He Was a Rooster" introduces us to an addled fellow who eventually gives up his fowl ways after a heavenly messenger named Ezra teaches him that "God gives human beings the ability to make choices" and that "no matter how we feel on the inside, we can choose to behave better than we feel." The tale of "Clever Rachel" gives us a brave, intelligent heroine whose parents understand that "what really matters in life is not how clever you are, but how kind," as they raise a daughter who will ultimate wed—and outwit—a king. Amanda Hall's inviting illustrations of rabbis, palaces, fruits and challah loaves have such soft edges and delicious colors that they might be made of marzipan."
I feel so lucky to get to sell such wonderful books as a Barefoot Books Ambassador. I decided to work for Barefoot Books because of the high quality of their books and their multicultural emphasis.
To purchase the BAREFOOT BOOK OF JEWISH TALES, go here.