Friday, May 21, 2010

Call of the Wild by Jack London

From the Amazon product description: Kidnapped form his safe California home. Thrown into a life-and-death struggle on the frozen Artic wilderness. Half St. Bernard, half shepard, Buck learns many hard lessons as a sled dog: the lesson of the leash, of the cold, of near-starvation and cruelty. And the greatest lesson he learns from his last owner, John Thornton: the power of love and loyalty.

Yet always, even at the side of the human he loves, Buck feels the pull in his bones, an urge to answer his wolf ancestors as they howl to him

I listened to this on audio book while on a long car ride with Youngest and Tween. I thought it would hold their interest since it is about dogs and so much outdoor adventure. They both like survival stories like Gary Paulsen writes - the difference being this one is animals rather than a boy. But there was a problem. The problem was that the book was written in 1903 so the style of language and the vocabulary were just too different from what the boys are used to for them to understand it comfortably. Probably if we were reading it, where they could look at some illustrations, ask questions, and reread confusing passages, it would be better but this was just too tough for them on audio. So it wasn't for the boys but I liked it! I liked the different dogs having their own personalities and the whole idea of the dog community. Kind of reminded me of Watership Down in that regard (one of my old favorites that I really should reread). Call of the Wild is a classic, I'm glad I listened to it not just because I enjoyed the story but also because I feel like I expanded my cultural literacy - one more question on Jeopardy now within my reach!

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Book List Meme: 3 Books that Have Been on Your TBR List the Longest

Rebecca at Lost in Books has started a new weekly meme - The Book List. This is perfect for me because I love making lists of books. I am more likely to make a list for a challenge than to actually complete a challenge! So here it is - all lists, no pressure - just right for me.

Here's this week's list..(and if you click on the link, you can check out everyone else's lists!)

3 Books That Have Been on Your TBR list the Longest

The Thorn Birds by Coleen McCullough

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Monday, May 10, 2010

Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark

From the author's website: Ellie Cavanaugh was seven years old when her older sister was murdered near their home in New York's Westchester County. It was young Ellie's tearful testimony that put Rob Westerfield, the nineteen-year-old scion of a prominent family, in jail despite the existence of two other viable suspects.

Twenty-two years later, Westerfield, who maintains his innocence, is paroled. Determined to thwart his attempts to pin the crime on another, Ellie, an investigative reporter for an Atlanta newspaper, returns home and starts writing a book that will conclusively prove Westerfield's guilt. As she delves deeper into her research, however, she uncovers horrifying facts that shed new light on her sister's murder. With each discovery she comes closer to a confrontation with a desperate killer.

I was clicking through my Google Reader the other day and Beth at Beth's Book Nook had reviewed the newest Mary Higgins Clark book. That reminded me I had an older one sitting in my TBR pile and last night I pulled it out and settled in. There isn't much to a Mary Higgins Clark review, her books follow a formula and if you like her, each one stays pretty true to that formula so you will probably like the book. In the acknowledgements of this one, she mentions that this book was a journey for her because it was written in first person, (long pause), I honestly didn't notice anything different from the other twenty books I have read of hers. Oh well, I did enjoy it though. I hunkered down on the couch and read past my bedtime and was happy with it at the end. It was less complicated than some of her older books - not as many characters to keep track of - so it was an exceptionally easy read and very relaxing!

And it fits as my "D" book! This book is my "D" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

From the Amazon product descriptuon: Jennifer Weiner's talent shines like never before in this collection of short stories, following the tender, and often hilarious, progress of love and relationships over the course of a lifetime. From a teenager coming to terms with her father's disappearance to a widow accepting two young women into her home, Weiner's eleven stories explore those transformative moments in our every day.

This was a much more interesting read than I expected. I went into it thinking it would be fluffy "chick-lit" just broken up into short stories but it really was deeper than that. Not all of the stories had a happy ending, in many of them, the romance just doesn't work out and some don't have romance at all! I did not enjoy the more far-fetched stories, for example, one with a hostage situation and one that involved somethign akin to time travel - but that's only two out of probably twenty so I'd say overall I liked it. There were some parts funny enough to make me out loud and a few parts that made me cry - a nice mix.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Elephant in the Playroom

From the Amazon product description: In The Elephant in the Playroom, moms and dads from across the country write intimately and honestly about the joyful highs and disordered lows of raising children who are "not quite normal." Laying bare the emotional, medical, and social challenges they face, their stories address issues ranging from if and when to medicate a child, to how to get a child who is overly sensitive to the texture of food to eat lunch. Eloquent and honest, the voices in this collection will provide solace and support for the millions of parents whose kids struggle with ADD, ADHD, sensory disorders, childhood depression, Asperger’s syndrome, and autism—as well as the many kids who fall between diagnoses.

This compilation of stories written by parents of special needs children has spots of humor and lots of heartwrenching sob fests too. I particularly loved the essay by Leigh Ann Wilson , who searched high and low for treatment for her son and said , "Three years, dozens of occupational therapy sessions, parenting classes, allergy tests, new diet regimes, mercury testing, eye examinations, and every last dime of our money, we ended up before a group of psychiatrists at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. They handed us a prescription for Ritalin." ! That was an affirming statement to read. We weren't the only parents who were so resistant to a diagnosis of ADD that we tried probably way too many things, and let Tween fail at school way too long, before we gave medicine a chance. This was a quick read, the writing flows from one story to the next and I just couldn’t put it down. Working in the world of special needs children - these were my stories, I loved these families. The love and emotion in this book just carried me away.

While this book doesn't focus solely on families of children with autism, they do have a lot of space and voice here! So I think it is a good fit for the Autism Awareness Month reading challenge that was hosted by tokemise at By Hook or By Book. Unfortunately I am so late posting for this APRIL challenge, that the blog is on hiatus and I can't direct you there to check out other autism related books. I've read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and in my TBR pile I have Daniel Isn't Talking.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

From the author's website: Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

When will I learn that I really just don't like novels targeted to teenagers (with the exception of Twilight)? This book was actually pretty interesting but I still didn't like it. The premise is a girl who dies but then wakes up the next day and gets to relive her last day over again, like Groundhog Day. She relives the day again and again tweaking it to see what happens with each change. I was curious about how the changes would work, I wanted to know how it would all finally end, I wanted to see the secrets exposed, but I still didn't like it. You know why? Because I don't particularly like hanging out with teenagers that I did not birth. I have two teens of my own at home and they generate enough angst and drama to satisfy any need I may masochistically have in that area. I particularly don't like "popular" teenagers like the girls in this book. I wasn't popular in high school; I was a nerd. I had a whole bunch of nerdy friends who made high school a wild and wonderful ride. I've collected a lot of other friends over the years but my high school nerd chums remain some of my bestest friends today almost thirty years post graduation! So I just couldn't work up any good feelings towards the characters in this book and that's a major component of my reading satisfaction - caring about the characters.

The author, Lauren Oliver, has a great website. She seems to be really connecting with teenage girls and that's a wonderful thing. Bringing young women into the reading sorority is just what we want to see happen and I think it's really exciting when a book seems to catch the buzz of teenagers. So, I am not saying, this isn't a good book. I am saying - this isn't a good book for me!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Plan of the Day and how the Pioneer Woman saved me $9,000

Every morning when I get to work for the Navy there is P.O.D. - Plan of the Day. Today, I have my own P.O.D. - 1. Clean a room. 2. Play on Blogger. Back to Step 1. Insert one soccer game in the middle of all of it, end with a Girl's Night Out to celebrate assorted birthdays (not mine), and the P.O.D. is complete. Hopefully I 'll get to a few of the many, many posts hanging out in draft status wondering if they will ever see the techno-light glow of the Internet.

Why is the cleaning so all-consuming? Well, it all happened in January when the IRS came knocking and wanted an extra $9,000 from 2006. That was a check we couldn't write - just don't have $9,000 laying around. So we went on "The Budget" and one of the things to go was my weekly housekeeper. So cleaning became my leisure activity. I cleaned constantly trying to get that good feeling when the whole house is clean all at the same time - the feeling I used to get every Tuesday afternoon when I would come home from work and find that the housekeeper had come and all was well. It was my suburban version of crack - I desperately wanted that feeling again and if I got it for a minute, I wanted it again immediately.

What does the Pioneer Woman have to do with this? She had a contest on her blog for some Kitchen-Aid mixers. She runs these contests pretty regularly, there may even be one right now! (Sorry, no, just went and checked.) The question she posed to answer for an entry was "If you could have one wish, what would it be?" I flippantly answered, "I'd want my tax bill to disappear." Within a day or two, I got a letter from the IRS, we had submitted a revised 2006 return, they accepted it, not only was our $9,000 bill gone, we would shortly be receiving a check for a $62.00 refund. Hooray! It was magical.

So on Tuesday, my housekeeper returns! But only twice a month because we are still on a revised form of "The Budget" in anticipation of Bookworm heading off to college in the Fall and having to pay that bill. Sigh.

Off to clean a room...