Ready for a giveaway?? How long has it been, like a year or something?
The people at Penguin recently sent me a copy of the book Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein to review for Mother’s Day, and offered to give away a few copies to some lucky readers.
When we received the book it became an instant favorite in our house. Mama Squirrel is the kind of gal who back down, especially when it comes to her babies, a trait I can definitely relate to. I asked my seven-year-old what he thinks of the story. Here’s what he had to say:
Me: Tell me about Ol’ Mama Squirrel.
CKR: It’s fun.
Me: What else? What’s it about?
CKR: It’s about a squirrel that loves her babies.
Me: What does she do?
I watched an episode of Charlie Rose . . . oh, ages ago. Tom Hanks was on it, and he talked about loneliness, and about how all great stories in literature are about loneliness. Sorry I don’t have his exact words, but you get the idea.
Loneliness is something we all feel; we all crave a sense of belonging. While I was searching for the exact words that Tom Hanks said, I came across quite a few of his ideas on the subject. In one instance, he explains how the loneliness he has felt over the years was different, depending on the phase of life he was in.
I couldn’t agree more. I watch my kids, with their own struggles, and nearly every tear (besides the toe-stubbing tears) is from loneliness. They want more friends; they want to be accepted; they want to be with their daddy more often. I think they want to know, existentially, what their place is in the world, and how they fit there. They want to feel safe, and accepted, and loved by the people they are required to spend time with. My own childhood was the same.
I wish I could tell them the feeling goes away. But it never really does. I remember in my twenties, when I was a missionary for my church, feeling lonely all the time. The weird thing was, we had a rule that we always had to be with the missionary we were paired up with—they were called “companions.” So here I was, with a companion 24/7—literally, 24/7—and I was still lonely. I learned you can feel lonely even when you’re not alone, and even when you’re in a place where you feel you belong.
I experienced something similar when I was married. I often felt lonely.
Could there be a better opening line for a book?
Awhile ago, we received this book in the mail, and I had my oldest son read it. He blazed right through it, so I asked him to tell you all what he thought.
SRR: The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence is an intriguing page turner. It starts with P.K. Pinkerton, a 12-year-old boy, living in Temperance, Nevada in 1862. He comes home to find both his foster parents lying in blood on the floor. His foster mother’s dying words reveal they were killed by a gang of desperados looking for a medicine bag, which she had successfully concealed in the floorboards.
I turned in my manuscript, and I just finished moving. I was a crazy person for a little while . . . well, crazier than usual.
But now things should be back to normal for awhile. And I can finally get up these posts I’ve been dying to write.
This one is long overdue.
Several years ago, we were both writing books. Hers was a novel set in Regency England, and mine was a contemporary novel set partly in England. Naturally, there was only one thing we could do: we had to go there to see for ourselves.
We each saved our pennies (or opened up new credit cards), and met at the Gatwick Airport in London. What followed was a whirlwind of exploring the southern half of the country over the next five days. But it was enough for her to research what she needed to write Edenbrooke.
Edenbrooke has a deep meaning for me, as I was a witness that week to so much of what inspired her writing. Nearly every scene in the book takes me back to a place we saw there.
But for all of you who weren’t there with us, I think you’ll find Edenbrooke positively delightful. As many times as I’ve read it, I have a hard time putting it down. What I love most about it, is how Julie fully explores the relationship between Marianne and Philip, with several moments of clean, blissful sexual tension.
Once you’ve finished reading it, I’d love to know what your thoughts are. As with other reviews, be sure to write at the beginning of your comments, which chapter you’ve read through as a spoiler alert.
The English language is a funny thing, especially when “breaking-in” something is what you do to prevent something from breaking. But there it is.
I love hardcover books. The quality of paper the printers use is generally of a higher quality, and the bindings tend to last longer. But a good binding will only last if it is treated properly. When you get a new book, you never want to open it straight down the middle when you first handle it. Doing this can damage or even crack the spine and ruin your new book. Instead, you want to ease it open, little by little.
I guess it’s been ages, but awhile back, I asked my readers on facebook what kinds of posts they would like to see more of. My good friend from high school mentioned I should do a post on our favorite baby books. Since a lot of our board books have been lost over the years, while others have been chewed to death, the kids and I put this list together of all the favorite books we can remember.
And now I will confess something I am very much ashamed of: I have never read Jane Eyre.
I am now pausing while I can feel your virtual rotten tomatoes smashing into my face. I am sorry. I have never read it. Or at least, not the whole thing. Surely I read enough of it in tenth grade English to get by with a quickie book report. But that’s all.
And is it sad of me that I only now want to read it because the new movie looks so good? And I know Rochester is supposed to be on the homely side, but I have to say, he’s the reason I’m so excited to go see the movie. I suppose if I invest a couple of hours into a movie, I want Rochester to be at least ambiguously handsome. I guess I just like eye candy.
Here is the trailer:
I want to squeeze in reading it before I break down and watch the movie.
And so, this will be our book club book for June.
Our new favorite picture book around here was a Christmas gift to my son. Splat the Cat, by Rob Scotton, is about a kitty who overcomes his fears on his first day of cat school. With brilliant and funny illustrations, it is the kind of golden children’s book that families will want to read again and again.
But in case you’re still not convinced, this is what my son had to say:
me: Tell me about Splat the Cat.
CKR: Um, he rides a silly looking bike.
me: Why does he ride a silly looking bike?
CKR: Because it’s an old fashioned book.
me: What’s the book about?
When I saw this book I thought it was like any other book you would see. I was at my mom’s friend’s house and I felt I was going to die of boredom. I asked my mom (the sophistimom) for something to do and her friend pulled a book from their shelf and it was The Name of this Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch.
There are supposed to be five books in the Secret Series, and I’ve read the first three. The first is of course The Name of this Book Is Secret, then the second is If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. They are followed by This Book Is Not Good For You, and This Isn’t What It Looks Like. The last book, which comes out on September 21st, will be called You Have to Stop This.
Now let’s get to the story.
Cassandra, a 12 year old survivalist stumbles across a dead magician’s Symphony of Smells, a box of little vials that contain different smells in them. She teams up with Max-Ernest to find out clues. They discover the dead magician’s hidden notebook and get tied up fighting for the gift of immortality. Each book is associated with a different sense; the first ties in with smell. The most recent one I read, This Book Is Not Good For You, is all about taste. Particularly chocolate. Which brings us to revealing the name of the secret sandwich, which we posted a few days ago.
Each one of my kids had a party in school for Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The two in elementary even got to dress in their PJs and read books all day.
Last week, my oldest son played him in the school wax museum. It was so cute—all the fifth graders had done a report on one of the fifty states, and then had to play an important person from that state. Each one of them dressed up, and struck a pose at their seat until someone would press a fake button on their desk.