28 May 2009

Take a Chance Challenge

Thank goodness I saw this. This is my first challenge of the year and it looks like a lot of fun. If you would like to join, visit Find Your Next Book Here to sign up and get started. Here are the ten ways to take a chance on a new book!

1. Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)

2. Random Word. Go to this random word generator and generate a random word. Find a book with this word in the title. Read the book and write about it.

3. Birth Year Book. Find a book that was published or copyrighted in the year of your birth. Read the book and write about it.

4. Judge A Book By Its Cover. Pick out a book based SOLELY on the cover. First, write about what you expect the book to be about based on the cover art. Then read the book and write about how the book was different from and/or similar to what the cover art led you to expect.

5. Phoning An Author. Pick a random last name out of the phone book. Find an author with the same last name and read a book by them. Write about it. (I'm flexible ... if the first random name you pick is Xprxyrsss, you can pick again!)

6. Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.

7. Random Bestseller. Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2008 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that Random.org generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.

8. Lit Riff (inspired by the book Lit Riffs by Matthew Miele.) Choose a song and then write a brief story that is inspired by or further explains the lyrics of the song.

9. Poetic Review. Write a book review in three different forms of verse: haiku, limerick and free verse. (You can pick any book you want to write about.)

10. Movie/Book Comparison. Find a book that you haven't read that has a movie based on it that you haven't seen. Read the book and watch the movie within a few days of each other. Write about your reactions to both the book and the movie and compare the two.

So, I think I will get started!

26 May 2009

11. Perfection

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz was somewhat difficult for me to read. Not because she lacks anything in story or style. Not because I did not feel her pain. The problem is that I re-felt my own. Our circumstances were so different that they were very much alike. A closed group of friends in any circle will certainly rally around the story on their side of the fence. Whether the what people knew was an adulterous affair or an intense emotional alliance, the when they tell you is after the fact. In many cases, you are not sure what is behind the telling. Be it true caring, pure delight, or just to have something to say in the face of your anger. The only thing lacking in Metz’s story (when compared to mine and many others) is the hysterical and angry diatribe against her spouse that often lasts months or years. This was not an oversight. He was dead.

This memoir unfolds in first-person anguish as Julie’s husband has a heart attack and dies. In the midst of her own pain, Julie hears another females cry in her own house and wonders who could be as upset as she was?? It seems it was one of many women who cried because their current or previous lover was gone. We follow Julie as she heals. I found myself hoping she and her daughter would mend, would find love again. When she went on her first post-traumatic stress date, I cheered. The guy wasn’t the right one. When her friends tried to help her and then turned away from her pain, I understood. Anguish and rebuilding take a lot out of a person and it is sometimes hard to sit back and watch it muck along. I looked forward to the end of the book because I could only assume that it would end well or the book would have been a very different one. When it ended, I was sad because I wanted to know how my friend was doing, how her daughter was adapting. Metz plans to add a blog to her website, so maybe I can follow her story a bit longer.

Another interesting place to look is http://www.everywomansvoice.com/ where after creating an account, members may take a look at what is being discussed regarding Perfection and other selected books highlighting women’s voices. Thank you to Hyperion for providing me with the opportunity to read and review Perfection.

TITLE: Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal
AUTHOR: Julie Metz
COPYRIGHT: June 2009
PAGES: 340
TYPE: non-fiction, memoir
RECOMMEND: I loved it.

24 May 2009

10. firefly lane

First, thank you to St. Martin’s Griffen for the opportunity to read and review this coming-of-age novel by bestselling author Kristin Hannah. This book took me back to my youth, reminded me what friends are for, and left me wondering what would be left of me when I am gone. If you are a baby boomer, the references to the music alone will transport you back to the 70s, unleash the dance within you in the 80s, and the woman you wanted to be in the 90s. Then a time to examine every moment in the millennium will make you hope you can remember each moment.

From the eighth grade on, Kate’s life changed. She was a social nobody before hip and aloof Tully moved in across the street. By some miracle, Tully wanted to be her friend. Tullyandkate dream their dreams (mostly Tully’s) and live their lives (Tully in the public eye and Katie quietly supportive and in the shadows). This play on differences, as well as strengths and weaknesses, provides much of the structure of the novel. The young girls come together and move apart. They love the same man. They swear to have no secrets, and then betrayal breaks them apart. Love brings them back together.

I really enjoyed this book and read it very quickly. Interesting to think of this book in terms of Astrid & Veronika, which was also about friendship. Firefly lane took me to a place where I lived and made me think about friends I have known for many years. Astrid & Veronika took me to a place I have never been and friends I hope I meet. What a joy to be a woman!

TITLE: firefly lane: A Novel
AUTHOR: Kristin Hannah
PAGES: 479
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: great book.

18 May 2009

Musing Mondays

(Musing Mondays are hosted by Rebecca!)

This week’s question (courtesy of Diane) asks:

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Was it from a particular person, or people? Do you remember any books that you read, or were read to you, as a young child?

The first book I remember reading was checked out from the BookMobile when I was in elementary school. This lovely green and white bus stopped at the grocery store parking lot once a week and I loved running across the parking lot to see what wonderful volume I could find. The great childhood book was Miss Jellytot's Visit and I loved it and read it over and over. It was published in 1955 and I think I could read it again today and be delighted.

My mother was an avid reader and I happily remember reading all of her Perry Mason mystery books with her. Again, she would read the book and give it to me. I would read it once, then again two weeks later. She was always amazed that I would want to read a mystery that I knew the who done it part! But it seems that I had a mental block - I just Would Not Remember until the end. We still read some of the same books, but at 82 she cannot read things unless they are available in large print. Still she likes to hear what books I am reading.

Having four children caused a slight break in my reading habits - but there was a bonus of reading all of the children's classics again with my children. Now two of the four are voracious readers (time permitting) and the other two simply do not have time. Graduate school put another damper on my reading habits - all history all the time. Almost 100% non-fiction until I got to Library Science grad school and finally more fiction - YA and children's literature. Now I read as much as I can and love every minute of it. I have grandsons who need to learn to love to read so I am working on that now!

13 May 2009

9. Everything Asian

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ACCULTURATION is the “cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture.” Having studied Cultural Anthropology in my college career, I remember that full acculturation is often easier for younger children than adults and that learning the language is paramount to this process. Even so, definitions and lectures cannot take the place of actual experiences. While I do not know David Kim, his sister, parents, or friends, I can certainly feel their pangs of growth in this process of acculturation in Sung J. Woo’s debut novel Everything Asian. Perhaps this is because the author experienced many of these pangs himself learning English as a Second Language after moving to the United States from South Korea at the age of 10. His past realities have given life to Everything Asian. Visit the author’s web page to learn more about Sung J. Woo.

Everything Asian begins with young David Kim describing his new life in America and his life within his family. It seems that no one is happy, but that may be from David’s perspective. Gradually we learn that mom and dad are too busy running their store to be too excited about anything else and sister is still mad because she had to move away from Korea. In a well crafted novel-in-stories, we get varied perspectives on what it is like to learn a whole new set of cultural norms, to learn a new language (or not), and to struggle to get by in a new place. The sense of family and growth expands beyond the small Korean family at the center of the novel and includes an eclectic group of people working in Peddler’s Town, the small strip mall where the family business is located. Many of the individual stories are quite funny and linking them together makes for a sweet and gentle glimpse of who we are and how we come to be!

I am very grateful to St. Martin’s Press and LibraryThing for providing me with the Advanced Reading Copy.

TITLE: Everything Asian
AUTHOR: Sung Woo
PAGES: 328
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I recommend this book to readers who like coming of age stories, especially those with a cultural twist.

05 May 2009

Tuesday Things

Did you know that clouds can provide you a visual way to see the tags and authors you have in your library, and the more you have of a certain author or tag, the bigger the name/word will be?

I have looked at the clouds before and think it is a wonderful and different way to look at what we put importance on in our reading. I think the tag cloud is especially interesting because it represents what we think we are reading, not necessarily what others might think - as you can see in the mirror cloud. In my case the two were very similar.

The real clouds have opened up today in Pensacola and I am guessing that since it is intersession at the University, we will have exactly ZERO students in the library. So maybe I can play with the tag clouds and put them in when I get to work! So check back again later!!

Thanks Wendi for another great topic.

01 May 2009

8. Real Food

First let me remind my readers that I am a 55 year old woman, long past fertility with four children who are old enough to worry about that delicate and complex joining of cells themselves. Why would I then ask for an advanced reading copy of Real Food for Mother and Baby? Precisely because I anticipate more grandchildren and do not want to be that old fogey grandmother who remembers how it used to be and constantly reminds the young hipsters that I certainly know better than they do what is good for their new child. If only I could get back to my great-grandmother’s advice to my grandmother – then I might have something of value to add along with my views of never being able to spoil a newborn baby. Instead I happily and quickly read Nina Planck’s wonderful book and I am very grateful to Bloomsbury for providing me with the Advanced Reading Copy. I know that I will continue to consult this book for my own health and nutrition and have something of substance to talk with my children about when their children are born.

Nina Planck is not a newcomer to the food and nutrition world. She grew up on a farm and benefitted from eating real food as a child. She has researched and written numerous articles and books on the subject as well. All of this comes through brilliantly in her latest book, Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods. In the first chapter, Planck discusses what comprises REAL FOOD. I thought I knew quite a bit about nutrition since I have been diagnosed with diabetes. But now, I know why I am diabetic. And how I might change my diet for a more positive result! The next few chapters talk about how both men and women should eat before they attempt to conceive and I am sure I will be giving this book to any of my children contemplating this joyful task. Next comes what to feed your baby and when. Such intelligent thought went into what may seem like very, very controversial advice provided by Planck. Looking back at how and when and especially what my children ate, I was a little sad that I did not have this advice years ago. I am quite sure that my own grandsons would benefit from a slight change in diet. And as a good mother-in-law, I will try to work this in quietly and lovingly.

Back to the controversy, Planck provides research for every single recommendation given in her book; often for both sides of the argument. She also provides the citations and works used for the reader. To complete an already astounding work, Planck also provides a list of online resources or places which might prove useful for readers who would like to know more or purchase more natural and traditional baby items.

Overall, I cannot begin to write how much I enjoyed this book. I intend to go to the bookstore and purchase her earlier book Real Food: What to Eat and Why and visit her blog often, because she links to fascinating information and updates frequently!

TITLE: Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating For Two, and Baby’s First Foods
AUTHOR: Nina Planck
PAGES: 262
TYPE: non-fiction
RECOMMEND: I recommend this book to every person who consumes food or provides food for others to consume. Don’t worry about the fertility part! If that part does not apply to you, read around it and LEARN how we really should be eating.