Monday, June 29, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week.

First of all, I won a $25 Amazon gift card from Lynne at Lynne's Little Corner of the World, in honor of her 1,000th post giveaway. Thanks Lynne! I haven't decided yet what books I will be buying...such a hard decision for me to choose!

I only had one book in my mailbox last week and it's a good thing. I've been feeling overwhelmed with all of the books piling up that I need to review and then the stacks of other books that I want to read. I've been much more selective in the books that I am buying and accepting to review so that I can catch up on the reviews I have already committed to. Also, I went through my books and sold a box at Half Price Books and have a stack of books that I am passing on to friends as well as a stack of books to donate to my local library.

The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser

Description from GoodReads:
Nestled in the Northwest is a quaint little town that its quirky residents are proud to call home. With charming shops lining its one main thoroughfare, Lumby is home to the oldest apple tree in the county and the smallest bank in the state. And though it's hours from the nearest big city, readers will always find Lumby close to their hearts. When Mark and Pam Walker, a vacationing couple from the East Coast, decide to restore Lumby's ramshackle Montis Abbey and turn it into an inn, it takes a while for the locals to warm up to them. Especially the irascible William Beezer, owner of The Lumby Lines-the newspaper "worth the paper it's printed on." At every turn, he tries to hinder the Walkers' efforts. But the couple soon learns that for every citizen like William, there are many more willing to lend a hand-and that Lumby isn't just a place, it's a way of life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Sunday Salon- June 28

Life has been busy this summer. I haven't been blogging as much as usual and have needed to focus on some family issues. We've been spending a lot of time at the water park when we can and we have family visiting from out of town. My parents are here visiting and we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday last night with family. My in-laws will be in town shortly and my son is thrilled to visit with them as he doesn't get to see them that often. There's nothing like being spoiled by your grandparents, especially when you only get to see them a few times a year.


Book Updates:

I have been reading and need to catch up on writing reviews for:

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaeffer

The Local News by Miriam Gershow (upcoming TLC Book Tour this week)

Currently Reading:
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich (I ran to the library when I got the email that this book was ready to be picked up. It's in my hands and I've already started it. I wish that I had the time to just sit down and read it all as it is....oh, so good! )



Dork Diaries/Nikki's Purse Giveaway ends June 30th.

For Information, go directly to the giveaway post here, or click on the picture above or to the left in sidebar.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Favorite Reads- June25

My Favorite Reads is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

This is where we can feature one of our favorite reads that we finished before we started blogging or even for older reviews that we would like to feature. We're not reviewing the books, but just giving a brief description (most likely the publisher's blurb) and then we tell you why the book is one of our favorites.

This week I chose Love from Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky

Description from Goodreads:
Hannah's best friend, Aggie, moves away and doesn't answer a single one of her letters. Determined to find a new pen pal, Hannah picks an address from a box on her teacher's desk. It's a boy, but his first letter is so dopey, Hannah isn't even going to answer it. Instead, she writes to President Roosevelt. Before long, Hannah has a whole lot of pen pals--and finally discovers the perfect friend, in the most unlikely place.
In this absorbing epistolary novel, Mindy Warshaw Skolsky takes readers back to the late 1930s, and into the life of an irrepressible and unforgettable heroine.
A Parenting Magazine Book of the Year
A finalist for the Texas Bluebonnet Award
Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children (01-02)
Young Hoosier Book Award Masterlist (Gr 4-6)00-01
William Allen White Children's Book Award Masterlist

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (September 8, 1999)
Why I chose this book:
I read this YA book several years ago and am a fan of books told in epistolary style. I also enjoy reading books from the heart, and reading this book told in letters from Hannah's heart is endearing. Hannah writes letters during the 1930's and the depression so that readers get a perspective of a child's view of this time period. Hannah is a girl seeking friendship after her best friend moves away and doesn't answer her letters. She writes letters to the current president FDR and gets letters back, she keeps writing to many others and never gives up on trying to find someone to be a friend. This is a great book for young girls and adults...I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

First off, I must admit that I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg's writing. I have read most of Ms. Berg's books except a few of her earlier works. I find that Ms. Berg connects to the heart of a reader by touching on topics that we can relate to. She has a skill in her writing from creating characters that a reader connects to and she uses words and phrases that are heartfelt and realistic. That is why I am such a fan of Ms. Berg's books. I recently read and adored Home Safe, the characters, the story they all touched me and I felt such a connection to the honest emotions and feelings expressed throughout the book.

In Home Safe, we meet Helen, a recent widow and writer. She is trying to adjust to the sudden death of her husband Dan, her struggling relationship with her adult daughter Tessa and her parents aging and declining health. Helen was a successful and independent writer and already had several novels published. She finds herself struggling to write again and we follow her along this journey as she works through all of the recent changes in her life. Helen's husband Dan tended to shelter her from life's difficulties and Helen now has to learn how to resolve simple household repairs along with managing their finances and other day to day issues. She discovers that there are some mysteries related to their finances and an expense that her husband did not share with her before his death. Helen is forced to take charge of her life and make decisions that allow her to get to know herself, her daughter and these decisions change the course of her life.

Here is an interesting quote about Helen from Home Safe:

"She is not one of those people. She is her odd self. The kiln has been fired; she is a person persnickety about keeping her house clean but not above spitting on her desk to rub out a coffee stain; she will never be an athlete or a mathematician or a skinny person or someone whose heart isn't snagged by the sight of fireflies on a summer night and the lilting cadence of a few good lines of poetry."

Helen's character narrates the story and it is written in a a style that is typical of Elizabeth Berg. It's such an honest, open style that you almost feel as if you know Helen. There is a familiarity to the storytelling that is comforting and for me pulls me right into the book. We walk along the path with Helen and through her anecdotes are charmed and challenged just a bit to think how these ideas apply so aptly to life. I'm going to share one that touched me:

"She sits down and puts her hand to her chest and rocks. Thinks of all she has lost and will lose. All she has had an will have. It seems to her that life is like gathering berries into an apron with a hole. Why do we keep on? Because the berries are beautiful and we must eat to survive. We catch what we can. We walk past what we lose for the promise of more, just ahead. " pg. 237

If you haven't read Elizabeth Berg's novels, please do yourself a favor and pick one up. Home Safe is a great one to start with and my most favorite is Year of Pleasures which is written in a similar style as Home Safe. I'm going to have to write a review or recap of Year of Pleasures sometime soon as I read it before I started this blog. Home Safe would make a wonderful book club discussion book as there is a lot to discuss about this book including identity issues, marriage, mother-daughter issues, friendships, aging, death etc. I even found a reading guide for Home Safe, at Reading Group Guides.

You can visit Elizabeth Berg's Blog here, to find out more information about the author, her books and appearances. She even has a section called Fun Things, where she writes about girlfriends, shares recipes, photos, a blog etc.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mailbox Monday (June 22nd)

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. This is what I received in my mailbox:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hungry For Change: Food, INC.

Description from Food, Inc website:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

You can see if this movie is playing in your area, here.

For more information, check out the Food, Inc Website, here.

There is even a reading list, here.

I recently heard about this movie/documentary from a friend and it sounds like a must see film. I have concerns about food and health especially as my 1o year old son has dealt with major food allergies (several life threatening )since he was a year old. I strongly believe that there is a link to our food and health and have been starting to read more about this. Some of the books that I have waiting to be read:

In Defense of Food: Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemna : Michael Pollan

Fast Food Nation: Eric Schlosser

The Unhealthy Truth: Robyn O'Brien

I've read: Animal, Vegetable Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver.

I've also seen the movie/documentary: Super Size Me .

What are your thoughts on the food and health connection? Is this a movie you would be interested in seeing? Are there any other books or movies/documentaries that you have seen or would recommend related to food and health?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review & Nikki's Purse Giveaway: Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries: Tales from a NOT-SO Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell is a hilarious look at middle school from a girls eye view. I adored this book and read it in one sitting and I can easily imagine a middle school girl doing the same.

Nikki, the main character, is 14 years old and an eighth-grader at a "new" private school and she is the "new" girl in town. That is always so hard and many girls will relate to this. I moved in the middle of first grade and I know how hard that was. I can only imagine what being the new girl in middle school would be like. Nikki desperately wants an i-phone so that she can be "cool" and accepted by the other girls. She does some hilarious things along the way in trying to be cool. Her mother tries to understand and gives her a diary to help her adjust to her new school. This is definitely now what Nikki thinks is cool but she ends up filling it with her writings and drawings. The story is told in Nikki's voice through daily diary entries complete with wonderful whimsical drawings, sketches, doodles and comic strips all drawn by Nikki. These drawings are illustrated by the author Rachel Renee Russell, she's a very talented lady. (You must check out Rachel's guest post that she wrote yesterday along with a very special drawing, you can find it here)

I laughed along with Nikki and felt her pain and awkward moments as well. We all go through those growing up and Ms. Russell honed in on typical challenges that girls of middle school would face such as peer pressure, being popular and accepted, finding your identity and who your "true" friends are and even dealing with your first crush. Nikki got herself into some sticky situations and was able to figure her way out with her wits and talents as well as her friends support. She has to face down the popular girl who humilites her and not be intimidated and that takes a lot of strength for a young girl.

Nikki seems like a typical teenager and although she feels like a dork, in reality she is not. The author did a wonderful job in having Nikki be a relatable character. I think that many young girls will relate to her. As an adult reading this book, it brought back memories of my own teen years. I liked that Nikki has a normal family with typical issues to deal with such as annoying siblings, and being embarressed of your parents and a relationship with her grandma who gives her advice and is someone that she can turn to. In the end, I think that Nikki realizes that her parents have her best interest at heart and Nikki realizes how important family is.

I believe that this book will be a sure winner for middle school girls. The reading level for the book is 9-12 but I wonder if some of the pop culture references may be over a 9 year old girls head. I have a 10 year old boy and don't have girls so I may be wrong on that note. My boy was not that interested in reading this as it was a "girls" book. I don't think that he would relate to Dork Diaries and I think that this book willl definitely draw girls interests who will appreciate the humor and storyline. I would definitely recommend this book for 10/11 and up. The style and content do remind me of a girls version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so if your child was a fan of that series this one will definitely be a good one to pick up for summer reading.

Check out Dork Diaries Blog, here.

Dork Diaries was released on June 2, 2009

To purchase Dork Diaries, go here.

Check out this Dork Diaries Trailer:




Rachel has generously offered a unique and special giveaway of one of Nikki's purses book gift pack including a hardcover copy of the book! Rachel kindly sent me one of Nikki's purses and here is a photo of the purse she sent with all of the goodies found inside (Love's Baby Soft perfume, nail polish, gum, a fun pen, etc...all have a link to the book). . The winner will receive a purse similar to this one with all the goodies and a hardcover copy of the book.

Giveaway Details:

For each entry, please leave a seperate comment, this will make it easier to draw a winner as I won't be able to go back and count each entry. Also, make sure that you include your email or that your email is in your blog profile. If I have no way of contacting you by email, your entry will automatically be withdrawn.

  • For One Entry: Leave a comment about this post.
  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Blog about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).
  • For a Third Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Twitter about this giveaway and share a link, if you can.
  • For a Fourth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Facebook about this giveaway.
  • For a Fifth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment: Follow my blog or subscribe to my blog(let me know if you are already a follower or subscriber).

This giveaway is ONLY open to U.S.

I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on June 30th, 2009
(GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED)at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Guest Post: Rachel Renee Russell Author of Dork Diaries

I want to welcome Rachel Renee Russell, author of Dork Diaries: Tales from a NOT-SO Fabulous Life who has a very special guest post from the main character Nikki Maxwell and an original sketch to share with us today.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Hello everyone. My name is Nikki Maxwell and I'm 14 years old. I stopped by today because Bonnie invited me to be the guest blogger here at Red Lady's Reading Room. She's also going to be reviewing my hilarious memoir, DORK DIAIRIES: TALES FROM A NOT-SO-FABULOUS LIFE. You would never believe all of the crazy stuff that happens to me and it's all true. Middle school can be very traumatizing, that's for sure!

I always enjoy reading Bonnie's wonderful book reviews and they come in handy when I have to write book reports for school ;-). However, one of my favorite things here is the photograph of that intriguing window with the beautiful red flowers. Have you ever wondered what it would like to lean out of that window and smell those flowers? Well, this morning, I got to do just that. Lucky me :-)! I hope your day is as nice as mine.


I am very honored and impressed that Rachel incorporated my blog into the character of Nikki Maxwell. This gives you an idea of how wonderful Rachel's artwork is and Dork Diaries is full of unique artwork like this. Thanks so much to Rachel for sharing this with us today.

Here's a description of Dork Diaries:

This hilarious novel follows eighth-grader Nikki Maxwell as she chronicles through text and sketches her thoughts on friendships, crushes, popularity, and family. Illustrations.

Please stop back tomorrow for my review and a very special giveaway that includes a copy of Dork Diaries and a unique purse filled with goodies related to the book.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Review: Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance by Christopher McCurry

is a thorough guide for parents to a new approach Dr. McCurry recommends called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I have a child who deals with anxiety and was very interested in reading this book after Dr. McCurry contacted me and asked me to consider reading and reviewing it.

Product Description: We live in a chaotic and often unpredictable world, so it's only natural for you and your child to have anxieties. But seeing your child cry, cling to you, or even use aggression to avoid his or her own fears and worries may cause you to worry even more, trapping both of you in a cycle of anxiety and fear.

You can interrupt this cycle with the proven-effective mindfulness and acceptance skills taught in this book. Drawn from acceptance and commitment therapy, Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance offers a new way to think about your child's anxiety, as well as a set of techniques used by child psychologists to help children as young as four let go of anxious feelings and focus instead on relationships with friends, learning new things in school, and having fun. You'll learn these techniques, use them when you feel anxious, and teach them to your child. With practice, you both will let go of anxious feelings and your child will find the confidence to enjoy being a kid.

Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance allowed me to look at my child's anxiety differently and consider different approaches. It encourages you to look at the anxious behaviors and reactions of your child and the "dance" that develops between you as a parent and your child. The "dance" is a familiar pattern and cycle that you develop as well as your own anxieties and often it is not effective. This book encourages us to break the cycle and develop improved communication, confidence and self-control in our children.

There is much information on the definition and diagnosis of anxiety as well as many examples of different children and how this ACT approach can be used. There are also exercises to try on your own with guidance as to how to do so. The book explains ACT but it's an approach that is hard to summarize, you can read Dr. McMurry's definition of ACT here on his blog. This is the kind of book that has thorough explanations and tools and exercises to apply. I have a health care background and was familiar with much of the information and felt a bit overwhelmed at times with all of the information. I would suggest reading it in chapters and taking your time thinking about the sections and even taking notes to refer to. It can be studied alone or complemented with therapy from a psychologist who understands and implements this approach. I have tried a few of the exercises and feel that they can be effective after more practice. I plan to re-read parts of the book and continue to try working through some of the exercises. This is a gentle and loving approach to anxiety and does encourage you as a parent to look at alternatives to the cycle and avoid the anxiety "dance".

You can read an excerpt, and view the table of contents.

Visit Chris McCurry, Ph.D Website, here.

About the author from his website:

Dr. Chris McCurry is a husband, a father, and a clinical child psychologist practicing in Seattle, Washington . His practice is limited to work with children ages 3 through 12 and their parents. Areas of specialization are anxiety, Autism/Asperger’s Spectrum and other problems of socialization and fitting-in, and issues related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He also works with children who are capable but who are underachieving in school. Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance is his first book.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review : The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

The Painter from Shanghai is a richly layered fictional account of the life of Pan Yuliang, a female post impressionistic painter from China (1895-1977). She lived a courageous life and was forced to become an adult way too soon. She was orphaned and sold to a brothel at the age of 14 by her uncle who was an opium addict. Thankfully, a customs official, Pan Zanhua was able to buy her out of the brothel and make her his second wife. She was drawn to political, cultural and artistic endeavors and learned to read, write and to paint.

Pan Yuliang's character is drawn beautifully by the author, who carefully details her growth as an artist, woman and wife. Pan Yuliang faces the system wherein woman have no rights and are not respected. She struggles to gain acknowledgment for her work in a political climate and society that does not respect her art. Her passion takes her to many countries to study art and she must make choices that are painful as well to protect her husband and her art.

I had no knowledge of chinese art or of female painters during this time before I started reading this book. This made the novel that much more interesting to me as I wanted to know about this historical time period and this amazing artist Pan Yuliang. Ms. Epstein paints this story with such passion and vivid descriptions that it was engrossing to read. I didn't want the book to end and had trouble putting it down. The brothel scenes were tough to read at times but the author was able to depict beauty and strength as well through these experiences. You learn about the political turmoil of this time and the reasons for Pan Yuliang's many decisions and sacrifices she makes along the way to protect her husband and her art.

After reading The Painter from Shanghai , I wanted to know more about Pan Yulian and I was able to find examples of her paintings at Jennifer Cody Epsteins Website, here. She is well know for her nudes and you can see examples of those. It is easy to understand that this would be controversial as they were painted in the 1920's and 1930's.

To the left, is a beautiful self portrait Pan Yuliang painted. On the right, is one of my favorites, a vase of flowers. I would love to have a print of this gorgeous painting with the bold colors, the richness and details.

Ms. Epstein has created a wonderful, superbly written historical fiction novel. I thoroughly enjoyed The Painter from Shanghai and highly recommend it to all especially those who enjoy reading historical fiction. This would be a wonderful book to discuss with a book club. There is a Reading Group Guide with discussion questions as well as an interview with the author at the end of the paperback edition of the book. I am truly honored to be part of this TLC Blog Tour hosting Jennifer Cody Epstein’s on The Painter from Shanghai blog tour organized by TLC Book Tours.

About the Author:

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Painter from Shanghai, an imaginative retelling of the life of Chinese prostitute-turned-post-Impressionist Pan Yuliang. Her fiction has also appeared in Thema, Confrontation, Carve, and Small Spiral Notebook and has been a finalist selection for Glimmertrain. She has also lived and worked in the U.S., Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Italy for publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Mademoiselle, Self and Parents, as well as for the NBC and HBO networks. She has a Masters in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, where she is an adjunct professor in the School of the Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. You can read more about Jennifer on her website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Review:The Red Leather Diary by Lily Kopel

Can you imagine being new to New York City, starting a new career as a journalist and stumbling upon a dumpster full to the brim with old steamer trunks? This is a true story and it is what happened to Lily Koppel in 2003. She made an amazing discovery, an old and cracked red leather diary complete with a broken latch. Inside, she reads the diary of Florence Wolfson, a 14 year old girl when she started the diary in 1929 after she received it as a present. She continued to write in the diary through to 1934 when she turned 19. The diary is a window into the life and mind of a young girl as she grows and matures. Florence writes brief diary entries about theater experiences, literature, shopping and fashion,friendships, family and even her own sexual explorations. Lily became fascinated with the diary and set on a path to find out as much as she could about Florence and was able to locate Florence with much perseverance and the assistance of an investigator.

Ms. Koppel translated the snippets and entries from Florence's diary into a novelistic type story that turns the diary and back story into a wonderful read. I have a special fondness for books related to diaries and letters. I find that diaries and letters take you to the true inner core of a person and you can get a true picture of who they are as a reader. It may be because diaries and letters are usually meant for private inner thoughts and not for mass appeal. There is a genuineness in these types of books that I am drawn to. The Red Leather Diary definitely takes you into the private inner thoughts of Florence, sometimes a bit more than you may want to know. I found Florence to be a woman ahead of her times in many ways and I was thrilled to read that Lily found her and she was reunited with the girl of her youth from the diary. It was also interesting to read about Florence's life after the diary ended and her life now. I believe that the author did a wonderful job bringing to light the pages of Florence's diary and it is a story that I will not forget.

The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal by Lily Koppel

Listen to Lily Koppel talk about The Red Leather Diary with Book Club Girl on Blog Talk Radio, HERE.

Lily Koppel's Website

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mailbox Monday-June 8th

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I had another light week and only received two books. This is allowing me to catch up on all of the books that I have to be read.

Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford (Doubleday)

Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand (Hachette)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Salon-June 7th

It's definitely nice to see the weather warm up and be able to sit outside and enjoy a nice book. My son Andrew, who is 10, will be out of school next week and he is looking forward to summer vacation. He has a science camp, a theater camp, and swimming lessons all lined up. He's even going to volunteer as a helper at the summer library reading program which he has atteneded for the past 5 years. I just have to get used to having a little less time to myself! We're going to work on some fun workbooks to keep him on track with school and make a list of books to read. I'm encouraging him to use a book journal to write down a few sentences about what he liked and didn't like about the book and a brief synopsis. Hopefully, he will write a few book reviews here on my blog as well.

I read about Teen blips on Cindy's love of books blog. I was curious and was glad that I got a chance to check it out. There is a list of 325 blogs and I went to check out the list not expecting my blog to be listed. I was shocked to see it listed at #67! I'm not sure how it got on the list and there are many other blogs that I recognized so you should check it out to see if your blog is listed there. The site appears to have a lot of information teens would be interested in including this list of blogs. Has anyone heard about this site?

I received this beautiful award from Bella at Bella is Reading. "The Literary Blogger Award acknowledges bloggers who energize & inspire reading by going the extra mile. These amazing bloggers make reading fun & enhance the delight of reading!" Thanks Bella, I'm truly honored. Make sure that you stop by and visit Bella's wonderful blog.

Giveaway: Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a brand new ARC copy of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, ends June 12th. Click here for more information, or to the left in the sidebar.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What have you really read?

In the Reading Group Choices Newsletter I received this week, I read a fascinating story about a World Book Day survey that found that "two-thirds of people lied about reading books they have in fact not read". What I found the most interesting was that when they were asked why they had lied about reading a book they said that the main reason was "to impress the person they were speaking to".

These are the top ten titles that that those who lied had claimed to have read:

1. 1984 - George Orwell

2. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

3. Ulysses - James Joyce

4. The Bible

5. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

6. A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking

7. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

8. In Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust

9. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama

10. The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins

Personally, I wouldn't lie about reading a book to impress someone. For me, I feel like I've missed out on something having not read some of the all time classics earlier. I didn't read Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre until I was in my 30's. I realized that I had definitely missed out on not reading them in my younger years. Although, I may have a certain appreciation and perspective having read them at that time in my life. I'm trying to "catch up" on all of the classic literature that I haven't read and interests me. That's the beauty of the book blogging community for me as I've been reminded of all of the wonderful books that I want to read.

It looks like it's an honor system, unless someone really blows their cover...will we ever really know?!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Favorite Reads-June 4th

Alyce at At Home With Books just started a wonderful new Thursday meme called My Favorite Reads! This is where we can feature one of our favorite reads that we finished before we started blogging or even for older reviews that we would like to feature. We're not reviewing the books, but just giving a brief description (most likely the publisher's blurb) and then we tell you why the book is one of our favorites.

I think that this is a fantastic idea as there are so many books that I've read before I started this blog and would love to share them without a full review(many I have read years ago and my memory on all the details isn't the best). Also, I like the idea of featuring books that have been out awhile and not always focusing on current books and new releases.

For me, I've chosen a book that I read several years ago with my book club. It has stayed on my list of favorites for years and I would love to share a bit about this book with you.

The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate

(first published 2002)

Cover Art: I found the changes in the covers very interesting. The one on the left is the harback cover that I read, the middle cover is the trade paperback and the right is the mass paperback cover.

Description from Martha Southgate Website:

The Fall of Rome tells the story of Jerome Washington, the sole black faculty member at the Chelsea School, an exclusive New England boys’ boarding school. From his perch in the Classics department, Washington lectures about the glories of Roman Civilization. Washington is a rigorous, difficult and lonely man who has spent much of his career trying not to appear too “racial” to his white colleagues.

Into his classroom steps Rashid Bryson, a bright, appealing young African-American who mistakenly assumes that the black teacher will be an ally. In the end, Rashid forces Jerome to examine his own self-hatred, and as a tragic triangle forms between these two men and Jana Hansen, a new white female teacher, the stage is set for a painful confrontation.

My thoughts on this book:

As I mentioned, I read this book with my book club several years ago. The author grew up nearby in Cleveland, Ohio and most of us are familiar with the city and several of us grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland as I did. Cleveland is a racially diverse community as well as many of the suburbs. I liked how the story is told from the perspective of the three characters and you learn how each of them end up at the Chelsea school. I found this book to be an interesting look at race and class and how the characters were effected by their past, their own experiences and their own perceptions. The story examines how characters of the same race clash and differ. This is a coming of age story that also focuses on finding racial identity. As a reader, the story makes you question your own stereotypes and to look at race from different sides. For me, it was the storytelling itself and the authors writing style that impacted me as I read this book. The descriptions were vivid and real and it was the kind of book that made me think about my own perceptions about race and class. We had a great discussion of this book at my book club as well. I just learned in looking back on the book that it is considered Young Adult.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

May Reading Wrap Up

I had a busy month of reading and read 10 books making my total for books read this year 35.
Here is a list of the books I read in May with the exception of two reviews of books read by my husband and son .(Click on the titles to read the reviews)

**Giveaway for Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, ends June 12th, Click here for details

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mailbox Monday-June 1st

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I had a very light week and only received one wonderful book! It's a good thing as it allows me to catch up on reading the books that I have waiting and on library books. I am being more selective of the books that I am accepting to read and review and am only accepting those that I am certain that I want to read.

Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton (From the author, check out her website here)

Here's the description of the book from the authors website:

This is the story of Peter, a Cambridge geography don who crashes his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat, and Mina, the girl at the Sheffield call centre who deals with his insurance claim. It tracks their parallel lives, as well those of their families - because both Peter and Mina are single parents.

An old-fashioned fairy tale of love across the class divide, it is also a book about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things which separate us and the things which bring us together.

It is a story, in fact, of the accidents of geography.