Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Another Neil Gaiman book for kids. Liked it, didn't love it, but would've loved it if I was 8 or so. There were a couple beautiful turns of phrase that I really enjoyed, but mostly it was just a great book for kids, and would've been scary if I was a little bit younger.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tom Jones placeholder

Sorry for the lack of posts. Not only did we very suddenly move across the country with just a couple weeks' notice, I had to return all my library books to do that! So I've mostly been reading The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, in short bursts between packing and all the other crazy stuff I had to do to get out here. Now that I'm settled, I'll have to get a library card soon and finish it. So far, it's really pretty entertaining-funny but in an old-fashioned way (shocking, I know). Here's where I stopped: Book 8, chapter 9, the very beginning (page 384 of the edition I had).

Also, I'd just like to say that because of this book my husband now frequently walks around the house humming "It's Not Unusual." Too funny. =)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kids' books from the library that we read on a daily basis

Tuesday is our last day at our library here. Our last storytime, and our last book return. After Tuesday, THESE books, THIS library, are no more. We will have to find our own way in an Oklahoma library instead. And that makes me really sad, so I thought I'd do a tribute to the library books we've had checked out for the last couple of MONTHS because we have to read them every day.

1. Science Verse, by Jon Szieszka
So funny, and I'm a sucker for rhyming. And the illustrations are great. And you could even spout some sort of intellectual nonsense about instilling a love of poetry into your children...but really it's just fun for the adults, too. =)

2. Thomas Goes Fishing and James Goes Buzz Buzz
Not my choice. But who can resist a two-year-old with big blue eyes begging for Buzz Buzz Jamesy?

3. Red Train by Will Grace
This one's great--colors, numbers, and fun animals. Not super fun to read but you can make it fun, and it's good for lots of different ages and stages.

4. Baby Beluga
Song by Raffi, pictures by Ashley Wolff. We sing this one every night before bed, and I can't tell ya how cute it is to hear your kiddo ask for Baby Booga at bedtime.

5. I Like It When-- by Mary Murphy
This is a very simple board book with penguins and James likes to read it to us.

6. I'll See You in the Morning by Mike Jolley
Great bedtime book. Rhyming: it gets me every time. And I love the illustrations on this one. Beautiful and peaceful.

7. Mama Mama by Jean Marzollo
Good for even the tiniest of babies. Sweet animal mamas and babies going through their days together. Very simple and lovely.

8. Machines at Work by Byron Barton
Again, not my choice. But James reads us this whole book (and adds a little bit of detail himself), so who am I to deny him that pleasure? And it's nowhere near as annoying as the You-Know-Who books. ;)

9. 1,2,3 by Sandra Boynton
Again with the rhyming. And the counting that James loves. And it's clever and fun to read. We love Sandra Boynton.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Change of Heart

Sigh. Jodi Picoult, how good you could be, and yet how predictable you are.

This is the latest I've read of hers. It deals with the death penalty and with religious/spiritual beliefs. It's loosely connected to Keeping Faith, which I also read this year, and really liked.

This one was just eh. I can't give it a great review because after a while it just starts to feel so formulaic. And because for me it is SOOOOOO predictable. And sometimes that's okay, but the times that I love Jodi Picoult are the times when she steps away from what I think of as the "predictable shocker," the twist or ending that's supposed to be surprising and make you re-analyze the whole story from a new viewpoint. For me, I can almost always see it coming from the minute I crack the spine of the book, so it just gets old with me.

But again. Ms. Picoult has moments of eloquence and even whole books that are just beautiful, so I won't dismiss her. I just wish she'd take a little more time between books, even though I'm sure her diehard fans appreciate that she can write a book approximately every 9 months.

It was still a pretty good read, even though I was so disappointed in the (non) surprise ending. Oh well. It's sort of like watching Law and Order: this happens, then this, then that, then surprise ending, The End, and after awhile it's a little boring, but it still draws you in, and I'll still always watch it if there's nothing better on the tube. In this case, there were literally no other books in my house for me to read that are not either a) picture books or b) packed away in boxes.

I can't wait to get involved with my new library after we move. But man, I am going to miss our library here. Raleigh, your library system rocks! =)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fragile Things: short fictions and wonders

I am in LOVE with Neil Gaiman's writing. Oh sure, sometimes it's a little strange and disturbing, but MAN, it is GOOD STUFF.

Apparently I can't write a Gaiman review without resorting to LOTS OF SHOUTING!!! He's the only writer I can think of whose books I truly want to review with multiple exclamation marks. That should let you know how serious I am about his stuff.

So. This is a group of short stories and poems of his. LOVED IT. Obviously. Although there are a couple of stories that weren't my absolute favorite, there were plenty that practically made me cry, they were so good. (Favorite example? Locks, page 177, a poem about storytelling and his young daughter. Sigh. Beautiful.) But I can't describe too many things without giving away certain plotlines. So just trust me: Neil Gaiman is amazing. The End.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender

I got this book, by Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg, because Ask Moxie, one of my favorite bloggers, recommended this series of developmental sketches.

I have to say, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. First of all, it's from the 70s, so it's very dated in some ways. Secondly, a lot of the things they were writing about (for example, kids climbing out of cribs) are just not relevant to me. Thirdly, although I do think they tried to help parents accept their own issues and troubles with parenting, it still wasn't my personal vision of parenting, a lot of the time. I just don't like a book with this kind of title, generally speaking. But there were plenty of good little "nuggets" to help you feel good about where you and your two-year-old are with typical issues and such.

Eh. I guess I just trust myself and the individual lprocesses and nature too much to find books like this terribly helpful. I'm not worried about when my child will be fully potty trained or sleep all night through in his big kid bed or learn to count or read or eat three square meals a day or whatever. So yeah. Not for me, but definitely could be helpful if you need reassurance on those kinds of things.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fear of Flying

Apparently this book is really famous. It's by Erica Jong, it was first published in the 1970s...71, I think, and I had only heard that it was vaguely connected to women's lib and that it was considered a classic.

So, it was pretty weird, but I can also see why it's a classic. It has a lot of wise and brutally honest things to say about women and men and gender inequality and so on and so forth. But, be forwarned, a lot of people find the language shocking, and there's a lot of talk about $ex. Some of it was obviously dated, some just plain ol' bizarre, and I'm still not 100% sure of my final verdict.

I will say this, though. It was so real, the author's voice was so authentic, that I kept forgetting that it was supposed to be a novel. After I finished it, I read the afterword and figured out that quite a bit of it is based on the author's life story, so I figure that really helped, but I have never read ANYTHING else where the protagonist was so vivid, where it was so hard to keep the author and the main character separate in my head.

Very different, strange, heartbreaking, funny at times, great flow of writing. Don't know what else to say about it but that. Try it for yourself, or don't.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Breaking Dawn

This is the last book of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, and thank God it was good. If it wasn't I think I would've been devastated to have read all the other books. And I was actually worried, because I could tell that the guy and girl I wanted to be together never would be--not in this series. Luckily, the author showed that she understood that that's how it was supposed to be if this wasn't a supernatural series. And the direction this book took resolved the issues I had with the storyline, although of course I still wish it would've turned out the way that it couldn't.

Wow, that was confusing. When I finished reading this book last week, I had a great review written in my head, but the stress of moving in two weeks is taking its toll. Here's the bottom line: this was a great ending to this series, and I can now pronounce that I approve. =)

Sorry for the crappy reviewishness around here lately. Give me a month or so to get through this moving thing and my writing might start to make more sense! Cheers~

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dress Your Children in Corduroy and Denim; Holidays on Ice; Me Talk Pretty One Day

My friend Susan loaned me these three books by David Sedaris, and it took me about 15 minutes to read each one. I hadn't realized that he was from Raleigh, so it was fun to read about all his experiences around Raleigh back in the day. His turn of phrase can be quite delightful, but I have to say, I'm not as impressed as it seems like many of my friends are. I know this is sort of the point, but I just always felt like I hadn't read about anything in particular. So anyway. Very VERY light reading.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Breathing Lessons

Ann Tyler book. I read it, it was interesting. Of course there are human elements that she depicts beautifully, but also I couldn't get into it. I'm also reading Tom Jones right now, so maybe I'm distracted more than usual? I dunno. I think it's just some outside issues like me being tired of the ditsy woman idea. Anyway. A LOAD of personal stuff is going on right now, so I might just be incredibly distracted in general, and hopefully I can review other books I've been reading a little more thoroughly.

The End