Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - March 31st

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

(2) baby Shower Events on March 18th and March 25th, and our "mom and dad to be",  now have everything they need for the baby plus some.  (75) guests and gifts were a bit overwhelming, but so appreciated as well. Here are just some photos of the events. ( thank goodness we didn't have to clean up afterward).

(gifts from shower #2)

 (door prizes shower #1)

(this activity gym was fabulous - shower 1)
(outfit had shoes to match - shower 2)
(made by a friend - shower 2)
 (made by another friend - shower 2)
(made by another friend - shower 2)

Baby Furniture-sorry this one is from
 the website. Crib converts to a bed afterward.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Chicken Problem; Oxley and Aronson and Where's Ellie? Salina Yoon

Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
Random House Young Readers 
 (Sept 2012 )
 The Chicken Problem, is a cute story about a little girl named Peg, her cat, and a pig, who are hoping to have a nice picnic on the farm.  Sadly, all doesn’t go as planned when someone leaves the barn door open and there are chickens everywhere!

This was a great book that will help young ones to work on their counting skills (chickens chickens everywhere), and a story that will help children to develop some problem solving skills as well, as they see new ways to solve the “chicken problem”.  There are also very colorful illustrations that look like something a young child would create. The Chicken Problem, is a fun book for children and adults.

 Buy this one! - a great addition for libraries or personal collections. (Ages 3 and up)

Where's Ellie?; Salina Yoon
A Hide-and Seek Book
Robin Corey Books
(August 2012)

Very young children (from just a few months to about age 3) will love this book and enjoy searching for where Ellie the Elephant is hiding. You'll have to finish the whole book to find out, but that won't be a problem as this one is a visual pleaser. 

Very cute critters on each page, simple and colorful objects and bright colorful illustrations will make this board book the perfect addition to a newborn’s first library…..loved it.

(eReview copies made possible through the publishers via Edelweiss)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Sandcastle Girls; Chris Bohjalian

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. My pick is a new one coming out this summer from a favorite author:
The Sandcastle Girls; Chris Bohjalian
July 17th -Doubleday

The Sandcastle Girls is a sweeping historical love story steeped in Chris Bohjalian's Armenian heritage.

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing,  and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language.  The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide.  There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter.  When Armen leaves Aleppo and travels south into Egypt to join the British army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.

Fast forward to the present day, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York.  Although her grandparents' ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed "The Ottoman Annex," Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura's grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family's history that reveals love, loss - and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth; Jane O'Connor (Fancy Nancy now has a chapter book)

Harper Collins - April 3, 2012

Fancy Nancy who has been so popular with little girls, is growing up and now appears in her first chapter book for ages (7-10).

Fancy Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth, features Nancy and her best friend Bree. Both girls love Nancy Drew books, and have learned a thing of two from them.  When her teachers favorite blue marble disappears Nancy, dressed in a pink trench coat and sunglasses is on the case.  She and Bree turn the tree house into a detective agency, and are determined to solve the mystery of of missing blue marble.

As with the previously Fancy Nancy books, there are plenty of new words and definitions to be found in this book. It's not just a fun mystery, but it is educational as well.

While I can appreciate  the intent to have a continued appeal to girls who are a bit older than the target age of the original Fancy Nancy series,  I felt this one was still awfully fun, but just seemed a tad less "fancy", than the earlier books geared toward younger girls.

(4.5/5 stars) - review based on eGalley

Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser are the author and illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Fancy Nancy series.

Old Bear; Kevin Henkes - little ones will love it!

(2008) Harper Collins Children

Late one fall, even before the first snow fall, Old Bear curled up in a den for a long winter's nap.  Off into a deep sleep, full of pleasant dreams, he dreams of springtime and his earlier days as a playful cub -- huge colorful flowers as large as trees.  Summertime with the sun as big and bright as a giant daisy, and autumn dreams with all the colorful reds, orange and browns. Even the cold winter made him dream of ice and pretty bright stars.

When Old Bear  finally wakes up it seemed like very little time had passed for him, but yet when he poked his head out of his den it was spring once again.

This is a lovely book, full of colorful illustrations (by the author). The story, about changing seasons, colors, and an introduction to animal hibernation, makes this a great choice, especially for pre-school children.

5/5 stars - loved it

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.  This week's selection is a book I've wanted to read for several months. My DIL liked it a lot.

The Underside of Joy; Sere Prince Halverson

" I recently read a study that claimed happy people aren't made. They're born.  Happiness, the report pointed out, is all about genetics --a cheerful gene passed merrily, merrily down from one smiling generation to the next.  I know enough about life to understand the old adage that one person can't make you happy, or that money can't buy you happiness.  But I'm not buying this theory that your bliss can only be as deep as your gene pool."

Would you read this one?
(I love it and think the intro seems at least partially true)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Horns; Joe Hill

Title:  Horns
Author:  Joe Hill
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Harper Audio
Edition: audio
Setting: New Hampshire
Reader: Fred Berman (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: 2/27/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

Having been quite impressed with Joe Hill's first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, I decided to try the audio version of another one of his books, Horns. This audio book was read by Fred Berman who did a very good job.

The story takes place in a small town in new Hampshire, and tells the story of Ig (Ignatius Perrish), a young man who wakes up one morning with a horrible hangover, and unable to recall anything that happened the night before. His drinking binge was sparked by the (1) year anniversary of the death of his former girlfriend, Merrin Williams.  If that isn't bad enough, after this binge, Ig notices two horns protruding from his temples.  First he thinks that he is seeing things, and it seems like if other people notice them, no one is reacting or commenting about them.

It isn't long before Ig realizes that these horns seem to serve as almost a confessional to the people he comes in contact with.  Some of the people wish to bear their souls to him,  and ask permission to act on some self-serving impulses or fantasies that they have been struggling with.  This gives Ig an idea -- maybe he can use this power and effect he is having on others to get to the bottom of, Merrins rape and murder.  A crime for which the entire community sees him as the prime suspect, but yet he's never been charged.  If he can just find out who was really responsible, he feels he will finally be able to escape the private hell he has been living.  However, when people start talking the opposite seems to occur.

The story has a cast of unlikeable characters, and typically when that happens to,  I sometimes end up disliking the book I've been reading.  With Horns, the opposite seemed to occur.  There were several things I liked about this book. I loved the way that the author depicted small town life in new Hampshire.  I loved all the twists and turns, and was enjoying the ride along the way. This book examines the evil in some people, even those we love the most. The writing was addictive and even humorous at times, but the ending left me less than thrilled.  I'm still happy I listened to this one and would love to hear your thoughts if you read it. I will definitely read another book by this author.

Mailbox Monday - March 26

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the last week. Mailbox Monday, for March, is being hosted by Anna at Diary Of an Eccentric.

The first book is from a Paperback Swap member, and the others were sent to me by the publishers -- thanks to everyone. Have you read any of these yet?

New Books

Saturday, March 24, 2012

(2) Award Winning Books for Kids

 A BALL for DAISY; Chris Raschka 
  2012 Caldecott Award Winner - Schwartz and Wade 2011

A Ball for Daisy, tells the story of a little dog who loses his favorite toy -- a red ball, after a bigger dog destroys it.

The entire story is told without words, using vivid watercolor type illustrations in primary colors like: red, green, yellow, blue, and black on white background.  The illustrations do tell the whole story, by expressions of happiness or sadness as you turn each page.  I do think that very little children will need some coaching by adults to help them understand what is happening.

The story does have a happy ending. It's a cute book, but award winning quality, -- not so sure.

Ages 3+ - Rating - (4/5 stars)

Roaring Book Press - 2011
(Coretta Scott King Winner)

Underground is one family's story of their quest to seek a better life -- a life of "freedom".  The story paints a vivid picture, with very few words, about the fear and exhaustion the family faced as they tried to escape from slavery, as well as the kindness of some who helped them along the way.

This would be a great book to introduce young children to the subject of "slavery".  The illustrations are very dark in color, as the family begins their escape at night. As the family progresses along their journey toward freedom, the illustrations become brighter in color until the family and the reader can finally see the sun, lifting a baby in the process toward the sky in celebration.

Recommended for Pre-school - grade 3 -  (5/5 stars)

Saturday Snapshots - March 24th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

In our family, every other word that comes out of one of us has something to do about the "baby"  who will be here soon. So today it seemed appropriate to show  you some photos:

Anxiously awaiting 1st grandchild
"we know it's a girl"

Handmade gifts of love by our DIL for the new baby. So far she made 5 sweaters, and an afghan, and just look at the book Woolbur -   the perfect choice as well. (Click on sweater photo to enlarge)

One Baby Shower Last Sunday and another this Sunday!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Travels With Charley in Search of America; John Steinbeck

Author:  John Steinbeck
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Edition: audio
Reader: Gary Sinise (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: 3/17/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

After recently reading East of Eden by Steinbeck, one of my favorite classics of all time, I have to say that although I liked Travels With Charley in Search of America, to me, it paled slightly in comparison to other books I've read by him.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed spending time on the road with the author -- age 58 at the time-- and his poodle, Charley, as the two spent several months, traveling the US in a pick up truck -- some 10,000 miles, traveling from NY to CA and many places in between, with his goal being to feel a sense of connection with his country.

" When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked."

On their journey, the reader gets a good mental image of what people in various parts of America thought of life in the 1960s, and just how dissatisfied many people were with their life at that time.  

“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation – a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from Here.  They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something.  I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited.  Nearly every American hungers to move”

At times I felt as if Steinbeck was speaking directly to me, especially when he described autumn in New England,  Maine lobster, and his observations about nature and animals. He made appreciate, even more, how lucky I've been to have lived my life in various parts of new England.  His writing was often very humorous, and by having listened to the reader with this one, I admit to a few laugh out loud moments as well.

Steinbeck's goal with this trip was to feel a sense of connection with his country, and I thought about that a lot after I finished this book.  Personally, I was left with the impression that some of the places he visited, and the people he met, ultimately left him with a sense on sadness and a bit of a disconnect as well.  Hatred, discrimination and an unwillingness to accept the changes that were taking place in America in the 1960s by many, left me with a very unsettled feeling at times as well.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Waiting on Wednesday - Thy Neighbors; Norah Vincent

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. My pick is:

August 2, 2012 - Viking

At thirty-four, Nick Walsh is a broken, deeply cynical man. Since the violent deaths of his parents thirteen years earlier, he has been living alone in his childhood home in the suburban Midwest, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. A measure of solace is provided by his newly found relationship with Monica, a mysterious woman who seems to harbor as many secrets as he does.

Obsessed with understanding the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths and deranged by his relentless sorrow, Nick begins a campaign of spying on his neighbors via hidden cameras and microphones he has covertly installed in their houses. As he observes with amusement and disbelief all the strange, sad, and terrifying things that his neighbors do to themselves and to one another, and as he, in turn, learns that he is being stalked, he begins to slowly unravel the shocking truth about how and why his parents died.

At once unsettling and moving, humorous and horrifying, Thy Neighbor explores the nature of grief, the potential isolation of suburban life, and who we really are when we think no one is watching. What readers and critics have admired in Norah Vincent’s nonfiction is completely unleashed in this vivid and provocative novel.

Sounds Creepy - and Leaves Me Curious

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.  This week's selection is actually a free Kindle download, called The Bent Twig, by Dorothy Canfield. This book was first published in 1915.

" Like most happy childhoods, Sylvia's happy years lay back of her in a long, cheerful procession of featureless days, the outlines of which were blurred into one shimmering glow by the very radiance of their sunshine.  Here and there she remembered patches, sensations, pictures, scents:  Mother holding baby sister up for her to kiss, and the fragrance of the baby powder -- the pine trees near the house chanting loudly in the autumn wind -- her father's alert face, intent on the toy water-wheel he was setting for her in the little creek in their field -- the beautiful sheen of the pink silk dress Aunt Victoria had sent her -- the look of her mother's steady, grave eyes when she was so sick -- the leathery smell of the books in the University Library one day when she followed her father there -- the sound of the rain pattering on the low, slanting roof of her bedroom -- these were the occasional clearly outlined, bright-colored illuminations wrought on the burnished gold of her sunny little life.  But from her seventh birthday her memories began to have perspective, continuity.  She remembered an occasional whole scene, s whole afternoon, just as it happened."

Here's a bit of an overview of this novel in case you are interested.

Would you read this one?  I plan to, just not right now. I downloaded it for free at Amazon for my Kindle.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the last week. Mailbox Monday, for March, is being hosted by Anna at Diary Of an Eccentric.

Get any good books last week? I received several new books I'm  looking forward to reading. (Thanks go to Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Harper Collins).

Mailbox Monday ~ New-Books

Saturday, March 17, 2012

( 4 ) Great Books for Young Children in 2012

(4) more Book Reviews for Little Ones and Big Readers alike.
Hide and Seek; Il Sung Na
May 2012 - Knopf Young Readers

Hide and Seek, by Il Sung Na is cute book that will engage little ones in searching and counting ( from 1 - 10), as they turn the each page.

The story is a simple one, animals gather in a rainforest for a game of "Hide & Seek". The elephant must find a giraffe, hippo, tortoise, baboon, birds, a chameleon, and other forest friends -- the chameleon being the most elusive because of how well he blends.

The illustrations are colorful, the story simple, and the bold numbers on each page will engage little ones to count along as they turn each page.
 I Like Old Clothes; Mary Ann Hoberman
August - 2012 - Knopf Young Readers
"I Like Old Clothes", by Mary Ann Hoberman (Author), Patrice Barton (Illustrator), was one of the must beautifully illustrated young children's books that I've seen recently. The pages are just full of interesting, and colorful drawings. The colors, and images on each page are visually appealing.

The story has an unnamed little girl who LOVES old-clothes.  She likes clothes with a history. She likes imagining what the child was like who wore them before her and what her life was like.  She looks forward to passing the clothes along to another child when she outgrows them, so that she can imagine some more about who that new child is as well.

The store is told in rhyme, It's a great book EXCEPT for the fact that the print on each page is very very very tiny, which might make this a difficult story for older grandparents to read to little ones.  It would have been better all around, if the illustrations were a bit smaller and the print a bit larger, otherwise a lovely book.

 Falcon; Tim Jessell
March 2012 - Random House Young Readers
Authored and Illustrated by Jim Jessell, "Falcon", is the story of one boys imaginings of what his life would be like if he were a falcon.
  • Soaring through the sky
  • Flying high toward snow-capped mountains
  • Darting above the ocean while sea birds scattered
  • Perched on tall city buildings watching the activity below
  • Growing tired and finding shelter among the rocks
Each page features outstanding illustrations. Each page is more beautiful than the one before, making this a truly wonderful visual experience.

Knopf Young Readers 
 "Inch by Inch", authored and illustrated by  Leo Lionne (Caldecott Honor Book) is an awesome book with outstanding visual appeal. The drawings are just so lovely.

It's a creative story about a tiny inch worm who is happily going about and
 enjoying life among the robins, flamingos, parrots, hummingbirds etc., until one dray he is presented with a new challenge which he MUST find a creative solution for.  It's a memorable story with very few words which demonstrates creativeness and the power of transformation.

This was the first of four Caldecott Honor Books by Leo Lionni. Published in 1960 and virtually out of print in hardcover for decades, Knopf acquired the hardcover rights from the original publisher just in time to showcase Lionni’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2010 and the book’s 50th anniversary. The bold graphics and beautiful cutout paper collages of colorful birds, foliage, and the clever green inch worm are as fresh and appealing as ever, and should appeal to a whole new audience in this accessible board book format. READ IT! 

(eBook access was provided thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss.) Thank you.

Saturday Snapshot - What the Heck is This? and the answer is....

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

This week I need your help  -- I subscribe to REAL SIMPLE magazine, which I love.  Lot's of great ideas about making your life easier, staying organized, recipes, health and beauty, etc.  Well, I recently renewed my subscription, and as a "thank you", I got a strange gift in the mail.

We had no clue, so I brought it to work and showed the item to (16) people, and no one has a clue what it is.  We've had some guesses, like coupon organizers, gadget holder, etc, but none of these seem right.  I have an email in to the company, but no response yet -- maybe it isn't something "real simple" after all.  Here are (3) photos:

 (It's about 24" long NO fasteners on the ends)
(one loopy tab on upper left top - 4 slash pockets and one pouch)
- pouch has velcro closure, but item itself does not seem to close
 - there is no loopy tab on top right to match left loop
- and, it doesn't close either !

I ask you -- my brilliant blogging buddies - what the heck is this????

I loved all the responses to my little mystery item, and as I suspected, several of you guessed correctly -- it's a purse organizer for those of us that like to change their handbags frequently. Place your gadgets, checkbook, lipstick or other essentials that you always carry with you, and make purse transfers a bit easier.  I had to laugh at a few who guessed utility belt (no 22" waist here, don't know about you), catnip holder, and several others that made me chuckle.

Congrats to" Eugenia, Irene, Colleen, Ti, Book Quoter, and a few more who were on the right track as well. Thanks for playing along.