Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween, Food Allergies and October Books!!!

Halloween isn't a favorite holiday for me. I used to love it as a kid and collecting all of that candy was heaven! For our family, it's not as enjoyable as our son has food allergies with peanut/tree nut allergies being the worst as they are life threatening. He can't eat any of the candy anymore as it all gets mixed in and the residue from the nut candy contaminates the rest of the candy. We end up trading and giving him his own safe candy and goodies. This year, he is not as interested in trick or treating as he doesn't get to eat the candy. He was unsure about it all for awhile but has decided he will do a short spin around the neighborhood. Fortunately, many of our neighbors have safe treats for him! He actually enjoys giving out candy so that is a plus as he will dress up and hand out candy with us also. For anyone interested in more information on food allergies, I have several excellent websites featured in the left column below my favorite blogs and websites. There is a wealth of information at these sites and I highly encourage anyone who is affected by food allergies in their own children, grandchildren, family, school, etc to check them out.

Here is a list of books that I have read in October:
That makes 5 books ( not including the current book I am reading) for the month and 40 for the year. This has been a slow year for me as I had a major reading slump earlier in the year before I started my blog!

How many books have you read this month and do you keep track? I know that some of you will put me to shame but I plan to improve those numbers by the end of the year and next year, for sure!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mailbox Monday

Happy Monday!! Here’s what I found in my mailbox last week!
  • Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (signed and sent by the author, won from a giveaway from April at Cafe of Dreams)
  • Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make our Clothes by Kelsey Timmerman (From Publisher at Wiley)
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale (Paperbackswap)
  • A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith (Paperbackswap)

What books came into your house last week?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Book Review and Giveaway: The Paper Bag Christmas!!

The Paper Bag Christmas
by Kevin Alan Milne

Description from Hachette Book Group USA:
Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is asked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined.

I feel very fortunate that Miriam from Hachette sent me this lovely novella to review. This is a touching and endearing story about the true meaning of Christmas. The main characters Molar and his brother Aaron learn the value of friendship and selflessness and how important it is to look beyond ourselves. This story was very touching and it makes you stop and think about your own life and outlook on the world and the effect you can have on others. I think that this would be a wonderful young adult novel for teens and young adults as it is told in a child's perspective. It is also short enough to hold their attention and have a great impact as well! It can easily be read in one sitting. I finished it in less than 2 hours this morning and had trouble putting it down!

You can read the first chapter here.

This book is to be released in Hardcover on 10/29/2008.

Publisher: Center Street , a division of Hachette Book Group USA
ISBN: 9781599950730
Pages: 160
Size: 5" x 7-1/2"

Click here to find information on where to buy this book.

Author website here.


I am offering my very gently read Advance Reading Copy as a giveaway here today!

To Enter:
  • For one entry: Leave a comment here about what is special and meaningful for you about Christmas, a Christmas memory or what you find difficult about Christmas.
  • For another entry: Spread the word and blog about this giveaway and post a link back here.
*Please make sure to leave an email so that I can contact you. Good luck!!

*Entry to the giveaway is until midnight, November 5th, 2008 and is open to US and Canada only, due to postage costs.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mailbox Monday

Happy Monday!! Here’s what I found in my mailbox last week:


What books came into your house last week?

Book Review:The Safety of Secrets

The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel

Description: "Now we're just alike." So begins Fiona and Patricia's friendship that warm Autumn morning in first grade in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a friendship made as close as sisters by Fiona's abusive mother and Patricia's neglectful one, and by the fantasies that the two girls share. Fiona and Patricia's relationship is a source of continuity and strength through their move to LA to become actresses; through Fiona's marriage and not-yet-famous career; and through Patricia's ups-and-downs with men and rise to fame. Then when their husbands' needs and the pressures of Hollywood begin to exact a toll, the women are forced to wonder if their friendship can survive. But the true test of their devotion is just beginning. When a dark secret from t"Now we're just alike." So begins Fiona and Patricia's friendship that warm Autumn morning in first grade in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a friendship made as close as sisters by Fiona's abusive mother and Patricia's neglectful one, and by the fantasies that the two girls share.

Fiona and Patricia's relationship is a source of continuity and strength through their move to LA to become actresses; through Fiona's marriage and not-yet-famous career; and through Patricia's ups-and-downs with men and rise to fame. Then when their husbands' needs and the pressures of Hollywood begin to exact a toll, the women are forced to wonder if their friendship can survive. But the true test of their devotion is just beginning. When a dark secret from their past begins to emerge, it threatens to destroy not only the bond the women have shared, but all they've worked for as well.

What happens when your most treasured friendship suddenly seems broken beyond repair? Humorous and poignant, The Safety of Secrets is a beautifully written exploration of the bonds forged in childhood and challenged decades later, of the fulfillment of dreams and the damage they sometimes cause, and of secrets being uncovered and the truth that we find inside. heir past begins to emerge, it threatens to destroy not only the bond the women have shared, but all they've worked for as well. What happens when your most treasured friendship suddenly seems broken beyond repair? Humorous and poignant, The Safety of Secrets is a beautifully written exploration of the bonds forged in childhood and challenged decades later, of the fulfillment of dreams and the damage they sometimes cause, and of secrets being uncovered and the truth that we find inside.

I read this book for the Book Club Girl online Book Club discussion that will include an On Air Show October 22nd with DeLaune Michel, the author of the novel The Safety of Secrets. This is the first time that I have participated in the Book Club Girl Book Club. I am looking forward to the On Air Show this week with the author! This book is the story of Fiona and Patricia who have been best friends since the first grade. Their friendship continues into their adulthood and each of them have shared experiences and secrets that have formed who they are as individuals. This is what binds them as friends and also which allows them to continue to bury their secrets unresolved until the point where they must be revealed. This is the main theme of the novel, in my opinion, that secrets can appear safe and hidden but at any moment can be revealed and change the course of your life forever.

The other major theme was one of lifelong friendships and if this type of friendship can survive if a bond is broken. I found Fiona to be the main character and more likeable. Patricia, I felt sorry for but found her very selfish as an adult. They both had unhappy childhoods and distant relationships with their parents. They both follow similar career paths into acting as adults. Fiona marries a wonderful man and then becomes pregnant after miscarrying a child. Patricia becomes more successful in the world of reality TV and a subsequent disastrous marriage. Unfortunately, she discloses a secret that affected both her and Fiona when they were young that should have been disclosed at the time.

The chapters in the book go back in forth in time between the girls childhood and the present time as adults. I found this style hard to follow and it didn't allow me to connect with the characters and left the story lacking at times. I did find myself drawn to the cover which reminded me of girlhood friendships. It was very appropriate for this book and the black & white color was very effective. I found that when you turn the book over, it's contrast to the front cover was quite striking! I enjoyed reading this article on the authors blog titled "Judging a Book By Its Cover". Ms. Michel explains the background of the cover photo and the award it received.

Check out the authors website here.

The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Avon A (May 27, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060817364
ISBN-13: 978-0060817367

To purchase the book click here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Q&A With Erin Einhorn author of The Pages In Between

A Conversation with Erin Einhorn

Author of The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One home

What was your motivation for writing The Pages in Between?

The Pages In Between was not a book I went looking for. When I left my job and my friends in Philadelphia to live in Poland for a year, I was mostly seeking adventure and perhaps the answers to some of the questions my mother had refused to address. But that was when I believed the past was a tidy narrative that awaited an easy discovery. I never anticipated how entwined it would be in the lives of the people I would meet or how quickly I, too, would become entangled. The only way I saw to get out from under the weight of that ongoing story was to try to write it down. I wrote the entire manuscript long before I ever knew I’d get it published. I just knew the story needed to be told.

Your book explores the divide that often occurs between memory and truth. What was your most interesting discovery about your family’s past?

The biggest surprise for me was how much I was able to find. My search certainly produced new questions and it surely cast doubt on many of the details of my family folklore—even on some details that I had always accepted as truth. I still have no idea whether my grandmother jumped off a train on her way to Auschwitz or was killed in the camp. But now I can tell you what she looked liked, the names of her parents, and the name and age of at least one of her siblings—and that she gave birth to a girl on February 24, 1942 (or at least that the documents say that she did). My mother’s only memory of her childhood in Poland proved to be false, but now I know the name of the orphanage where she stayed, the name of the social worker who took her to Sweden, and the date on which they made that trip. Somehow, the ability to fill in details that were always missing from the folklore makes me less anxious about the parts of the story that can never be known for sure.

Is there any part of the ‘myth’ of your mother’s childhood that you wish had remained intact?
Absolutely not. It’s always difficult for sons and daughters to contemplate that their parents led full and complex lives before we even existed but one of the joys of becoming an adult is eventually understanding these people who’ve so intensively shaped our lives. It pains me immeasurably that I lost my mother just as a fuller picture of her was beginning to emerge.

Your driving desire to help the SkowroĊ„skis seems to have been fueled at least in part by your mother’s untimely passing. How do you think she would have reacted to the situation?

I feel quite certain that my mother would have strongly opposed my getting involved in the property issues, but not because of any feelings that she had or didn’t have toward the family that saved her life. My mother was a very practical person and this was an impractical situation. And, like all moms, she was also a worrier. She wanted her children safe at home. I’m pretty sure if I had asked my mom for guidance on what to do, she would have told me to come home.

What else motivated your struggle to resolve the property issues despite the many obstacles?

To some extent, it was a handy distraction. In the wake of my mother’s death, it was something that let me ignore my grief and focus on something tangible, that I could convince myself was important. But I was also confronting an overwhelming landscape, a vicious and devastating war that destroyed so many millions of lives. It was far too much to even begin to contemplate, let alone understand. This was something I could do: One house. Two families. A few piles of dusty paperwork. It was much more manageable and helped me feel like I was at least doing something to right the wrongs of the past, even if I never really managed to succeed.

Your book provides a fascinating look at modern-day Poland, a country most Americans aren't very familiar with. What surprised you most about your time there?

This probably should not have surprised me, but I was constantly amazed by how intertwined Polish and Jewish cultures seemed to be. The foods are almost exactly alike (minus the pork) and so are the mannerisms and appearances. It makes perfect sense that after hundreds of years of sharing communities -- and recipes and ingredients – the two cultures would look so much alike. And yet many young Poles have developed a fascination with Jewish culture that I could never have anticipated. It was unsettling to find myself cast as the exotic ‘other’ in a country where I was surrounded by people who largely looked like me.

Do you think that in addition to being a holocaust memoir, The Pages in Between might change perceptions about Poles and Jews?
I would love to think that my book – or any book – could change perceptions, but some of these ideas are very deeply held and it may be many years before the deepest antagonism fades. The feelings of anger and betrayal that Jewish Holocaust survivors felt for their Polish neighbors was real and rooted in the awful choices they watched their former friends and neighbors make under the extreme circumstances of the war and the Nazi occupation. But the world has changed dramatically since then and little good can come from refusing to engage with future generations because of decisions made before they were born.

Why do you think it's important for the children and grandchildren of holocaust survivors to add their voices to the stories of the past?
There are several answers to this question and one of them is the obvious one: Because we’re what’s left. The last of the survivors in my family have been gone for several years, as is the case in many survivor families, so the task of telling what happened, of reminding the world, has fallen to those of us who will carry this legacy on into the 21st century. But there’s also a less obvious answer: Because we have the distance. If my grandfather had written a memoir, it would have been a searingly painful account of merciless bloodshed and relentless abuse, the work of a man unable to escape his past. My mother’s memoir would have been the story of a woman trying to flee her childhood and parents’ nightmares, a woman focused on her future to the exclusion of her past. By my story has had distance enough to reside in the present, to be informed by the past with an eye toward the future.

Do you plan on returning to Poland?

I have been to Poland almost every year since I first started traveling there in 2001 and expect to make many visits there in the coming years. The murky status of 20 Malachowskiego, my family’s house, remains unresolved and I don’t know when or how resolution will come. At least for the near term, Poland will continue to be an important part of my life.

*Thank you to Lauren Pires, Associate Publicist for Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc for allowing me to share these Q&A's with you today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Book Review:The Pages In Between

The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One home by Erin Einhorn

Description From Simon & Schuster:
In a unique, intensely moving memoir, Erin Einhorn finds the family in Poland who saved her mother from the holocaust. But instead of a joyful reunion, Erin unearths a dispute that forces her to navigate the increasingly bitter crossroads between memory and truth.

To a young newspaper reporter, it was the story of a lifetime: a Jewish infant born in the ghetto, saved from the Nazis by a Polish family, uprooted to Sweden after the war, repeatedly torn away from the people she knew as family -- all to take a transatlantic journey with a father she'd barely known toward a new life in the United States.

Who wouldn't want to tell that tale? Growing up in suburban Detroit, Erin Einhorn pestered her mother to share details about the tumultuous, wartime childhood she'd experienced. "I was always loved," was all her mother would say, over and over again. But, for Erin, that answer simply wasn't satisfactory. She boarded a plane to Poland with a singular mission: to uncover the truth of what happened to her mother and reunite the two families who once worked together to save a child. But when Erin finds Wieslaw Skowronski, the elderly son of the woman who sheltered her mother, she discovers that her search will involve much more than just her mother's childhood.

Sixty years prior, at the end of World War II, Wieslaw Skowronski claimed that Erin's grandfather had offered the Skowronskis his family home in exchange for hiding his daughter. But for both families, the details were murky. If the promise was real, fulfilling it would be arduous and expensive. To unravel the truth and resolve the decades-old land dispute, Erin must search through centuries of dusty records and maneuver an outdated, convoluted legal system. As she tries to help the Skowronski family, Erin must also confront the heart-wrenching circumstances of her family's tragic past while coping with unexpected events in her own life that will alter her mission completely.

Six decades after two families were brought together by history, Erin is forced to separate the facts from the glimmers of fiction handed down in the stories of her ancestors. In this extraordinariy intimate memoir, journalist Erin Einhorn overcomes seemingly insurmountable barriers -- legal, financial, and emotional -- only to question her own motives and wonder how far she should go to right the wrongs of the past.

This is a gripping and touching memoir that reads like a detective story. Erin Einhorn has always known that her mother ,who was born in Poland ,was saved from the Nazi's by a Polish Family. Erin has always been drawn to this part of her mother's past and is frustrated that her mother only shares bits and pieces based on her own memory. Memory can be elusive. We may only remember the good things and block out the past or we twist it subconsciously in our own minds to make it bearable to confront. Erin isn't sure if that memory is chosen memories or if there are things that happened in her mother's childhood that she has chosen to forget. Erin was drawn to journalism from high school and she even wrote a story in high school about her mother's past that earned her great honor. She chose to use her journalistic skills to go to Poland and to try to find the family who saved her mother's life. She was able to track down the elderly son of the woman who saved and protected her mother. Wieslaw, the son, claimed that Erin's grandfather had offered them his family home in exchange for protecting and hiding Erin's mother. The details of this exchange were unclear and confusing and this took Erin along a path to try and reveal the truth. It was difficult, as she required translators and had to find and access old records in an age old system that was difficult to navigate to find records and documents.
Along the way, Erin had to deal with many painful challenges in Poland and in her own life that affected her past and present.

This book held my attention all the way through. This is also a story of a mother and daughter and their journey through life together, including the ups and the downs. Through this experience, Erin learned that her mother had a past that was difficult for her to discuss and those experiences shaped who she became as a person, a woman, wife and mother. As daughters, I believe that many of us can relate to and understand this, I know that I certainly have. I was extremely impressed by Erin's tenacity strength and perseverence to find important keys to her families past. All of this while living in a foreign country where she did not speak the language. She had to confront and deal with the past memories of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the knowledge that many of her family members were killed. For me, this story became a bit personal as I have Jewish roots and my own great grandfather came from Poland. It has inspired me to inquire more about my own family history and past. One of my great aunts is the family historian and I plan to sit down with her soon and interview her by either taping or videotaping, if she will agree! I did learn recently from this great aunt that she found out that a great-great aunt was killed during the Holocaust. This effects me deeply and personally as so many other families have been deeply touched and families and lives have been destroyed. It is estimated that over 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and this is something that we as a nation and as part of humanity cannot EVER forget. I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Pages in Between, it is a story that will touch your heart and spark an interest in searching your own family history.

Please check out Erin Einhorn's website for this book at Pages In Between.

Here is information about ordering the book which was just released in September 2008:

The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home
By Erin Einhorn

Touchstone, Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4165-5830-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5830-9

You can order the book here.

Hear the story as told by the author Erin Einhorn to This American Life:
Fake I.D.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Guest Review: Hell Bent: A Brady Coyne Novel

*Review written by Guest Reviewer Bella Foxx*

Hell Bent: A Brady Coyne Novel
by William G. Tapply

*I am very honored to have another Guest Reviewer here today. Please welcome my friend Bella Foxx who graciously agreed to share her review with us. This book is a mystery and one genre that I don't read a lot of. I'm thrilled to bring you a mystery review.

Here is her wonderful review:

Synopsis: Boston area attorney Brady Coyne finds his own past crashing in on him when a divorce case he takes on for an ex-girlfriend soon becomes a murder disguised as suicide.

Publishers Weekly: After two dozen adventures (One-Way Ticket, etc.), Tapply's Brady Coyne, a refreshingly decent lawyer, remains a pleasure to see at work. After a seven-year absence from Brady's life, Alexandria Shaw, a former lover, walks into his Boston office and asks him to handle her brother's divorce case. Gus Shaw, an independent photojournalist who lost his right hand in Iraq and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, promises to be a difficult client, but soon after Brady and Gus talk, Gus is found dead, an apparent suicide. Though no evidence suggests murder, Alexandria is convinced her brother didn't kill himself; Brady agrees to probe, with predictable results. While Brady tends to telegraph important aspects of the case, his investigation reveals a lot of the hidden collateral damage of the Iraq war: bereaved families, physically or psychologically wounded vets and the people who try to help those who have suffered.

Bella Foxx's Review:
Although this is not the first Brady Coyne adventure William Tapply has written, it is the first I have read. I found that not reading any others did not affect my ability to follow the storyline and the history. An old girlfriend of Coyne's shows up and not having read any other of his novels I do not know if she was ever mentioned or even a character in his novels, Tapply gives you their history without getting to deep into it. This is important because it could have detracted from the central plot line, which is the investigation into the death of the girlfriend's brother Gus Shaw, an apparent suicide, but it does not. Another subplot nicely rounds out the fact that Brady Coyne is a good guy, a compassionate lawyer (remember, this is fiction!). The book has a teaser at the beginning, a prologue that looks like newspaper articles from 30 years ago, there is also a misdirection, an attempt to make you look the wrong way, I figured out who the bad guy was and why, but not the whole why, before it was revealed. There is also a quick glance into the devastating effect war has on not just the people in the war zone, but their family, friends and how it can damage the rest of their lives. Overall, this was an enjoyable book, it was not a page turner or edge of your seat suspense, Brady Coyne is a lawyer, not a P.I. or adventure hero, but he gets the job done.

Be sure to check out Bella's blog Bella Foxx's New Life here.

Thanks Bella for being a Guest Reviewer here at Redlady's Reading Room!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mailbox Monday

Happy Monday!! Here’s what I found in my mailbox last week:

What books came into your house last week?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guest Reviewer: When We Were Romans


When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale

*I am very honored to have my very first Guest Reviewer here today. Please welcome my friend Bonnie F. who graciously agreed to read and review the ARC copy I received from the publisher. Here is her wonderful review:

Synopsis from The Barnes & Noble Review: When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale is narrated by a precocious nine-year-old boy, Lawrence, and is reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, another adventure story in which adult situations are filtered through the eyes of a child. Unlike the autistic Christopher in Mark Haddon's 2003 novel, Lawrence is not disabled; rather, he's preternaturally mature. When his erratic mother, Hannah, takes him and his three-year-old sister, Jemima, on an adventure from London to Rome, where they hope to escape the murky menace of the children's father, Lawrence is the steadying hand. "Mum is really clever, she can always help me with my home work, she makes funny jokes, she knows just what everybodies thinking, even strangers shes never met before, but sometimes its like she just gets stuck and doesn't know what to do next, so I have to help her and give her a little push." The story is replete with Lawrence's spelling and grammatical mistakes, but that's part of its charm. The boy reads history books about popes and emperors (he especially enjoys the stories of Nero and Caligula), and it's soon apparent that Lawrence is drawing parallels between these mentally unhinged leaders and some of the people in his own life. In Rome, his mother relies on old friends for places to stay and possible work. But these friends, whom she met as a student, were friends with her ex-husband as well, so she's not sure whom to trust -- and neither is Lawrence.

I had mixed feelings about this book. The author chose to write from a nine year old's point of view and included misspellings and grammatical errors a young child might make. At first, this was very distracting to me. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a Junie B. Jones book! As I read on, however, I got more used to Lawrence's voice and more caught up in the story. I felt it was very sad that Lawrence felt so responsible for his mother's see-sawing moods and emotional well being. Hannah seemed to accept this and actually seemed to depend on Lawrence to make some of the decisions for her! Too much for a young boy. He also had to help take care of and handle a spoiled little three year old sister. Sometimes his normal nine year old emotions would show through and he'd get angry, other times he felt like he needed to take care of and protect Jemima. It also touched me the way children will always love their parents, even if the parents are acting strange or are mentally don't care, they just want thier parent's approval and love and Lawrence was always striving for this, trying making his mother happy, until even he started to think like her. Near the ending of the book, it was very difficult for him to come to terms with his mother's mental illness and to trust other people again, as his mother had convinced him no one could be trusted. After he realized his mother might be wrong about certain things and people, he was very angry and felt he hated her, but deep down still loved her. At the end of the book he is slowly healing and trying to have a normal nine year old life.

There were some lighter, more amusing moments in this book. Even though Jemima was a spoiled little girl, it was typical three year old behavior and was sometimes funny to read about, especially since Mum usually gave in to her. I also thought Lawrence giving people animal identities to match their personalities was amusing: Gus was "dog with a ropey tail", Franseen nice cat, Crissy chick, Janiss pretty pig, etc. I also liked reading Lawrence's versions of outer space and of famous Roman emporers and popes. Although told simply from a child's point of view, it made me curious to find out more about some of them. Some of the ideas Lawrence came up with to help his mother and deal with his sister were amazingly clever for a nine year old. He is a quick thinker-but I think he had to be to deal with his mother at times.

This book was an OK read but not one of my favorites. The child-parent relationships were poignant and bittersweet to read about, especially having a child of my own close to Lawrence's age.

Bonnie F.


**Thank you Bonnie F. !!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book Review: Going Down South

Description: From the author of The Middle Sister comes a heartwarming tale of second chances and the unparalleled love between mothers and daughters.When fifteen-year-old Olivia Jean finds herself in the “family way,” her mother, Daisy, who has never been very maternal, springs into action. Daisy decides that Olivia Jean can’t stay in New York and whisks her away to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby–even though Daisy and her mother, Birdie, have been estranged for years. When they arrive, Birdie lays down the law: Sure, her granddaughter can stay, but Daisy will have to stay as well. Though Daisy is furious, she has no choice. Now, under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. One by one, they begin to lose their inhibitions and share their secrets. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a baby is born–a child with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family.

GOING DOWN SOUTH by Bonnie Glover is a wonderful novel about the connection between mothers and daughters and one that every woman will connect to in some way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had trouble putting it down. From the start, when I was drawn to the cover of the little girls innocent hands melted my heart! Every time I picked up the book, it reminded me of the innocence of children and childhood and how quickly that innocence can be lost. This is a story about three generations of women who are all strong, feisty and driven. Through lifes circumstances, they are forced to confront their pasts and to make peace and accept one another.

I adored the three women in the story for many different reasons. I liked how the author showed how Olivia Jean, Daisy and Birdie grew and matured as women and how their lives came back full circle to reunite them in the end. There was a wonderful sense of humor and southern style that I enjoyed. I adored Olivia Jean's innocence and wisdom for a young girl. Daisy hadn't realized that the past was holding on to her so tight that to grow she had to release it. Birdie had a bright and vivacious tenacity about her which touched those around her. She was the magnet that drew the women together and helped them to grow as women/mothers. All of the women had a life lesson to learn. I found myself laughing out loud in some parts and then teary-eyed at others. The author wrote the story from the perspectives of these three women and was able to go back and forth between them with great ease. It was an easy story to follow even though there were no paragraphs but just 3 sections from each characters perspective. This worked very well and the story flowed smoothly and effortlessly.

The male characters were mainly in the background which made the book quite interesting. The women were the main focus and the men that were in the story showed a full range of character.
You had the despicable/evil men and the selfish/dishonest men but there were also several men of strong character and strength who showed great love for these favorites were Shorty and Lupe. I believe that this was done to focus on the women and their stories and their own self discovery about how the men that they have chosen effect their lives.

The time period of the book was based in the 50's and 60's and it shared the challenges of the times for black women in New York and in the Deep South of Alabama, a time of segregation.
The story was told with great respect of this time period.

This is the kind of book that stays with you. I have already finished the book and yet I find myself thinking of the characters and smile as they touched my life by reading their story. I felt a connection to them as a mother and daughter myself. I look forward to reading more books by Bonnie Glover.

This would make a wonderful women's book club discussion book. There are so many themes to discuss related to mothers/daughters, parenting, male/female relationships, racism, abuse, teenage pregnancy, secrets/honesty and more that would make a fascinating discussion. There is a readers guide and author interview in the back of the book which would enhance any discussion. There are excerpts of the book and interviews with the author at her website.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mailbox Monday

Happy Monday!! Here’s what I found in my mailbox last week:
What books came into your house last week?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Book Review:The Dragonfly Secret

Feather Rock Books has just released its children's book:

The Dragonfly Secret: A Story of Boundless Love written by Clea Adams and John Adams. Beautifully illustrated, this hardcover book contains vibrant illustrations by award-winning artist Barbara L. Gibson.

*Description: Love and hope transcend all boundaries when a boy and a dragonfly meet. An impossible encounter? Lea journeys through a beautiful garden to discover the boy’s secret. As she follows his clues, Lea meets people who need her help. And at the end, the unexpected secret is revealed.

Discover the power of boundless love in this heartfelt story of friendship, family, and remembrance. Beautifully illustrated, The Dragonfly Secret gently encourages children and adults to explore life’s infinite possibilities. Because of it, readers may look at nature in an entirely new light.

The Dragonfly Secret is a heartwarming story for family members who have lost a loved one.

*From Feather Rock Books

The authors sent me this beautifully illustrated book that tells a wonderful story of a boy and a dragonfly. They develop a friendship as they play together and explore nature. The boy gives the dragonfly instructions to follow and the dragonfly sets off on a journey of discovery that allows the reader to follow along. An unexpected secret is revealed to the dragonfly and the reader in the end about life and death.

I read this book recently with my 9 year old son. He is thrilled when he can read and "review" a book along with me. We both loved the illustrations as they are richly colored, warm and inviting. My son enjoyed reading the story together with me and liked the boy as a main character along with the dragonfly. He told me that his favorite parts were the illustrations. He shared with me that he feels he is a bit "old" for picture books as he is almost 10. He did say that he thinks that this book would be good for children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. The book is classified as being geared towards ages 8 through Adult although that may be the reader level. My son didn't quite "get" the meaning of the story as I learned as we discussed it. I do feel that this is a book that could be very comforting to a child that is dealing with a life and death situation or loss of a family member. I would suggest that a parent or adult read along with a child 10 or under to help them process the meaning of the book.

This is a companion book to the authors first book The Dragonfly Door which is a 2008 Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award. This looks like another beautifully illustrated story with a similar theme. It may be helpful to read this story first to lay down the foundation of the story and help children process the meaning of the books which relate to issues of life and death.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Six weird and Random Things about me!

I was tagged by Avis at She Reads and Reads for the six quirky things about me meme. This is the first time I’ve been tagged for a meme, so thank you, Avis! The rules are:
  • Link to the person who tagged you
  • Post the rules on your blog
  • Write six random things/unspectacular quirks about yourself
  • Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them

  • Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is posted

It was quite a challenge to think of some weird things about myself that I wanted to share with the world! So here goes....

  1. I have to wear socks to bed. Even when it's warm out. I rarely sleep without them. I've been known to get up in the middle of the night and put socks on and not realize it when I wake up in the morning with socks on!

  2. I like to have closet doors and cupboard doors closed all the time. It bugs me when my family leaves them wide open and there is no one around! Also, if I go to a friend or families house and I see their kitchen cupboards open, I like to close them!

  3. I have so many books to be read that my shelves are overflowing and it doesn't stop me from getting more books!!

  4. I am very picky about used books. I cannot stand books that stink from perfume or smoke, are water or food stained, torn, don't have dustjackets, have dog eared pages etc.

  5. I find solicitors who come to the door and call very annoying. It feels like a huge invasion of my privacy...especially the guys that bang on the door as if there is an emergency! I try to avoid them, unless it is school kids from the neighborhood selling for school fundraisers.

  6. I can't stand it when my gas tank is less than half full...I always worry that I will run out of gas and get stuck somewhere!

Now the question is who to tag next? I have no idea who has already done this meme, so apologies in advance if you’ve been tagged before (or hate this kind of thing). I hereby tag: