Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Neustadt Challenge starting soon!

**Sticky Post***

Don't forget...the Neustadt Challenge is starting soon!

I will be giving away a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (the 1972 winner of the Neustadt Prize) for all participants who post a challenge list on their blog by May 1. Just leave a comment on this post to let me know you would like to be entered! I will be holding the drawing the first week of May.

You can still join in the challenge! To find out more about the Neustadt challenge and to sign up, just head over to my original post.

Sorry that I don't have a neat little button for the challenge, I haven't quite mastered that skill yet.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Friend Jamal - Anna McQuinn

Title: My Friend Jamal

Author: Anna McQuinn (artwork by Ben Frey)
Year: 2008
Rating: 5 out of 5

This book is about a friendship that transcends cultural differences. The narrator, Joseph, introduces us to the friendship he has with Jamal, who was born in the same hospital as Joseph, but whose family is from Somalia. Both boys enjoy the same activities: basketball, playing superheroes, and talking too each other too much at school. With simple prose from the perspective of a young and innocent mind, we learn about the bond between two boys despite the difference in their lives.

At Jamal's we get to eat sitting on the floor. It's like a picnic every day!
My favorite thing to eat at Jamal's house is Sabayad, which is a kind of pancake.
When we have pasta, Jamal's mom puts a banana in it-which sounds weird but tastes awesome.
I asked my mom if we could have banana in our pasta at home. She says she'll think about it.

I love this picture book! It is an ideal story for discussing cross-cultural friendships with pre-readers and young readers. Joseph tells about the two families in a straight forward way free of bias and ethnocentricity. Anna McQuinn covers a lot of topics in this little book: tolerance of different religions, refugees and civil war, English as a Second language, and differences within a culture and religion -

I met one of Jamal's aunts at the party. She was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.
I thought if you were Somali you had to wear Somali clothes, but she said you can still be a Somali in jeans!
His aunt didn't wear a headscarf like Jamal's mom. I asked her why not and she said she only wears it when she prays.
I asked her lots of questions.

Although at first glance the illustrations and photographs didn't appeal to me, as soon as I read the story I saw how well they tie together. The illustrations, a combination of photography and art, are bright and bold, and complement the narrative.

Despite the serious undertones in the story, it consistently remains light-hearted and age-appropriate. It is refreshing to see a children's book addressing the topic of cultural diversity in such a non-judgmental way. Many adults would benefit from reading this book too!  

That Baby CD/DVD

Description: "That Baby DVD and That Baby CD are unique baby gifts unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard. We’ve taken great songs—songs that you may have sung at camp or put on a mix tape when you were a kid—and reworked them with fantastic new acoustic and vocal arrangements. Enjoy kid-friendly covers of songs written by artists like Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, The Beatles, The Pretenders, and more. We’re a parent-run company that knows the value of great children’s products and your need to buy with confidence. Our products are manufactured in the US using recycled materials. We offer a “no questions asked” money-back guarantee and free replacement of scratched or damaged discs. (We have kids too. We know how it is.)"

I have never been a fan of the music and videos marketed for children. Baby Einstein and Barney both make me cringe. We have not purchased any of the CD's designed specifically for babies, preferring to pop in our large collection of classical CD's and world music. Rather than 'Rock-a-bye-baby", Maya enjoys listening to Edith Piaf, Bruce Springsteen, Ella Fitzgerald, and classical Persian tunes. Which is exactly what attracted me to the 'That Baby' CD and DVD when a review offer came up through MotherTalk - a Baby/Kid's CD with the subtitle, 'Acoustic Rock classics for kids and the grownups who love them' sounds like my cup of tea. With cover songs of artists such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, and 10,000 Maniacs, it's hard to go wrong.

When the CD and DVD arrived, my original plans were to enjoy the CD together with Maya, but watch the video separately. Maya has not watched any TV in her short little life, and I was hesitant to plop her down in front of the TV to watch the DVD. Studies showing the detrimental effect TV-watching has on development screamed in my ear. Then one day we had a particularly hectic week. I was trying to start planning for our re-location to New Jersey (including buying our first home!), I hadn't had a shower in more than two days, and I was starving. Sensing my stress, Maya was particularly fussy. When my gaze landed on the That Baby DVD, I caved. With Maya snuggled into her swing, I turned it on, and went to prepare lunch for myself. Fifteen minutes later, she was enthralled...and so was I. 

The DVD pulls you right in with the beautiful 'Happiness Runs/Circle Games' - a tune which is now permanently stuck in my head. The graphics are beautiful, with a colorful butterfly gliding into a forest of trees. But our favorite DVD track is the lip-synching kids that sing along to the song 'Brass in Pocket'. Maya loves watching the antics of other kids, and I find them a delight to watch as well. For the first few years, it will only be pulled out on the rare occasion, but as she grows into her pre-school years, I'm hoping this will hopefully still be a family favorite.

The creators of That Baby also have a few Jewish-themed DVD's out, that I have seen at the shop in my local Jewish Community Center, called OyBaby.

For more information or to purchase the CD and/or DVD, you can check out the That Baby website. If you enter the coupon code "MotherTalk" when purchasing you can save 20% on your entire order!

From now until May 18th, all orders using the coupon code "MotherTalk" will be entered in a drawing to win a new iPod nano!

This review is part of the MotherTalk blog tour.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Salon - April 27

The Sunday
I recently picked up The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. I have had a copy of this book for a long time, so this year I added it to the Chunkster Challenge, TBR Challenge, and What's in a Name challenge lists in an effort to read it. I made it to page 13, and then put it back down. I probably won't be picking it back up. Sometimes, I can tell right away when a book does not fit my reading tastes, and this one seems to fall into that category. 

As much as I probably would not like it if I continued reading, a little paragraph on the copyright page caught my eye. It is a note I have seen a multitude of times, but never really gave it thought until now (probably because I was more interested in reading the story than the copyright page!).
'If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book".
After doing a bit of internet research, I found this method of dealing with unsold books even has a name: book pulping. Unsold books, often mass market paperbacks, are often returned to the publisher, and are frequently destroyed and recycled into products like cardboard boxes.

What a shame! As a book lover, I am always saddened to hear of books being destroyed, whether through censorship or just because they didn't get sold. I understand publishing houses are a business, as are bookstores. But, if you're going to destroy a book anyway, why not donate it? Libraries, homeless and women's shelters, adult literacy and ESL programs, prisons - I'm sure any of these would be more than happy to accept these kinds of donations, even with a front cover torn off to prevent re-sale. Now, with the growing popularity of software such as Amazons' Kindle and other ways to read e-books, I wonder if publishers will start releasing e-books first to see how well they do before printing out large quantities.

Book coveting around the blogisphere:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Not another challenge idea!

I've created a survey to get some feedback on a challenge I'm considering hosting. What do you think?

Friday Fill-In - April 24

1. When I fell in love it was not at first sight
2. My favorite time of year is when the flowers bloom and it heats up outside!
3. Oh no! The internet connection is down, and I have a book review I would really like to post
4. The Baby Borrowers reality show is the craziest (ie worst) tv show ever. The concept for those who haven't heard of it: teenage couples 'borrow' babies to raise to see what it is like to be parents. It premieres on NBC in June.
5. Soft Cheese and a crusty baguette make a great meal!
6. I wish I could keep a garden alive.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finishing Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See after Maya goes to bed, tomorrow my plans include going to a children's clothing consignment sale and Sunday, I want to have a nice meal!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! 

I took this photo recently at a local arboretum, after the rains finally cleared. It was Maya's true introduction to spring.

The Motorcycle Diaries - Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Title: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on A Latin American Journey
Author: Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Translated by Alexandra Keeble)
Country: Argentina
Year: 2003
Pages: 175
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

First sentence: This is not a story of heroic feats, or merely the narrative of a cynic; at least I do not mean it to be.

The Motorcycle Diaries introduces us to a young Che, Ernesto Geuvara, as he travels across Latin America with his good friend and fellow Argentinian Alberto Granado. Ernesto is a medical student; Alberto a biochemist; and they pose as doctors who have worked with lepers to garner free food and lodging on their trip. They come from a life of privilege, yet they lie, beg and plead, and pay for nothing on their trip.

I wanted to like this, but I didn't. It is immediately apparent that this was largely written after Che's journey, and his reflections have a tint of retrospective bias. I wanted to hear more about the places they visited and people they met, but everything seemed glossed over too quickly. I was surprised by some of his negative remarks about indigenous Indians and those of African descent. This was one of the most defining moments of Che's early life, yet his words do not showcase the transformation that was spurred by his witness of social injustices on the journey. I was ultimately disappointed by the lack of depth of this memoir. For those looking to learn more about Che, I would recommend reading the Che Guevara Reader instead of this one. This is one of the very rare instances I would also recommend watching the movie rather than reading the book.

Interesting 'fact': The ever reliable Wikipedia states that Che never intended his diary to be published. 

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jewish Literature Challenge Wrap-Up

Happy Passover!

I prepared this post in advance, since I will be spending all day Saturday in the kitchen cooking up our Seder meal!

Well, at least I can say I've finished one challenge this year, since I'm not doing so well on the others. The Jewish Lit challenge ran from the start of Chanukah on December 4, 2007, until the end Passover on April 26, 2008.

Books Read:

1. Living a Jewish Life: Jewish traditions, customs, and values for today's family - Anita Diamant (non-fiction) (finished 22 January 2008)
2. Moishe's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story - Laura Krauss Melmud (children's)
3. Hanukkah at Valley Forge - Stephen Krensky (children's)
4. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (fiction) (finished 25 February 2008)
5. The Castle on Hester Street - Linda Heller (children's) (finished 7 February 2008)

The best book: They were all good in their own way. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Moishe's Miracle, although I also really loved The Book Thief.
What book could I have done without: None, I liked them all.
Any new authors: All except Anita Diamant. 

Thanks, Callista for hosting this challenge!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Soup's On!

Soup's On - A Culinary Reading Challenge
Hosted by Ex Libris

This challenge will run from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.  All you have to do is select six cookbooks to read* and make at least one of the recipes.  These can be any cookbooks of your choice - brand new ones, old stand-bys that you can't live (or cook) without, or even heirlooms.  You do not have to decide on the cookbooks ahead of time (unless you want to, of course).  Then post your reviews either here or on your own blog.  If you want, you can even post pictures of your creations along with your reviews!

I love to read, and I love to cook, so this is a great challenge for me! Here are a few possibilities. Stay tuned for my post on 1,000 Jewish recipes, I am using this cookbook to prepare the main dish for our Passover seder.

Friday Fill-In April 17

1. The last time I lost my temper I was getting angry about something trivial
2. Parenting advice from strangers is what I'm fed up with!
3. The next book I'd like to read is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
4. Having someone babysit Maya so I can get a massage and a haircut is what I'm looking forward to. I'm just not sure when that's going to happen.
5. If you can't get rid of the skeleton[s] in your closet, dance with them!
6. The best thing I got in the mail recently was a package of books from Barnes and Noble, seven books for under $30!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to starting my cooking for Passover, tomorrow my plans include hosting a seder for six people and Sunday, I want to sleep and read, but will more likely be running errands and taking care of Maya!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BTT - April 17

Booking Through Thursday

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

It is only rarely that I stop in the middle of reading to look up a word. First, I try to figure out what it means by looking at the context. If that doesn't work, sometimes I will write it down to look it up later (I also do this when I come across a historical event I am not familiar with). It has to really peak my curiosity for me to follow through after writing it down. Most of the time, I'll just keep reading.

Out of the books that I have read recently, The Road by Cormac McCarthy generated a lot of visits to

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cloth/Board Book Reviews - Daytime

"Can'talk. Busy reading."

Maya and I enjoy reading time every day. I usually try to read to her one book during the day, and two bedtime books as part of our night routine. Now that she is almost five months old, I thought I would give a rundown on the board and cloth books currently in our home library.

7. Pat the Bunny - Guess Who? - Golden Books
This book was inspired by the classic Pat the Bunny book by Dorothy Kunhardt. We don't have the original, but Maya's not a big fan of this one. The simple story line is cute: Who is hiding in the toy box? We go through a variety of possibilities: clown, ballet dancer, reindeer, before finding out it's bunny! Connected to the book is a little mirror for Baby to see her own reflection. But she doesn't. The mirror is way too small for Maya to easily see herself, and the images have never really captured her attention. More often than not, this one stays on the shelf.

6. Look, Look by Peter Linenthal
This was the first book I bought for Maya, after I read that newborns love to look at high contrast black and white images. This book is designed for the littlest of babies, those just learning to look at the world around them. I love the images: big hands reaching up to a butterfly, a sun shining over corn stalks, flowers blooming, a cat stretching. Maya's favorite is the two pages with the image of a smiling child. She likes to 'kiss' their face - the same thing she does when she sees her reflection in a mirror. The book is a great concept, but in practice it wasn't well received (except for the page with the children). Maya was not interested in books until she was about two months old, and by then she responded better to simple books with lots of bright colors.

5. The Busy World of Richard Scarry: Bananas Gorilla's Sounds - Richard Scarry
My husband loved Richard Scarry books when he was a kid, so I picked this one up when I saw it at Goodwill and it looked like new. There are a lot of things happening in the story: Bananas getting ready for the day, eating breakfast, fixing a flat tire, going to school. When Maya is a little bit older, there will be a lot to talk about when we read this book. For now, she enjoys all of the sound effects the story line encourages, like the Brring of an alarm clock, the Vroom Vroom as Bananas leaves in his car, and the Whoosh of the wind.

4. Jamberry - Bruce Degen
We received this one at Maya's baby naming ceremony. I love this book! In the world of board books, it is rather full on text, and we don't always make it to the end. The story reads like a song, so half the time I sing it to her as we read (my husband likes to read it with a British accent). We follow a boy and a bear as they take off on a journey through Berryland. The pictures hold lots of secret surprises if you look closely: toast on trees, crumpet lily pads with pats of butter inside lily flowers, and marshmallow marsh reeds are a few examples. It's a nonsense story with lilting rhymes that are a delight to read: "Quickberry! Quackberry! Pick me a blackberry! Trainberry Trackberry Clickety-clackberry"

3. I Know a Rhino - Charles Fuge
This story is a great example of the power of creative play and using your imagination. It's a cute story. A little girl spends the day with whimsical animal characters who turn out to be her stuffed animals. The illustrations are bright and simple, and catch Maya's attention. This one is already looking a bit worn around the edges.

2. Little Lamb - Chronicle Books
You can't go wrong with finger puppets, and a little lamb poking through every page is adorable! Maya can grab the little lamb, and loves watching him look around at the scenery on each page: sniffing the flowers, looking up at the sun. The illustrations are great, and my personal favorite is the page where the lamb resembles a cloud passing by. 

1. Fuzzy Bee and Friends - Roger Priddy

As much as I love some of the other books, this is the current favorite in our household. Roger Priddy makes so many wonderful books, I wanted to buy them all when I was pregnant. I finally settled on this one. Fuzzy Bee features nine interactive illustrations all with something fun for Maya to explore. Her favorite page is the beetle bug with blue iridescent wings and butterfly with bright red wings. This is one of the few books we have that she can turn the pages, and she always manages to find the beetle bug! We now keep this as a car book, and it easily keeps her entertained while I am running errands. I love hearing the crinkle, crinkle of the front page coming from the car seat as I drive along!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Salon - April 13

The Sunday

So, it has been a while since I was able to do a Sunday Salon post, or visit other Sunday Saloners. Today I am making a concerted effort to take a little road trip around the blogisphere to see what everyone else is up to!

Since most of my life is currently occupied by caring for Maya and planning for our move to New Jersey in June, my reading time is sadly fallen by the wayside. Occasionally, I have these wonderful ideas of what I would like to blog about for the Sunday Salon...20 minutes later that idea seems to have disappeared without a trace, never to return.

So, what have I been reading lately? Well, every day currently consists of Fuzzy Bee and Friends, Baby Love, and a going to bed book, such as Goodnight Moon, The Going to Bed Book, or Sweet Dreams (all of which I will be reviewing with others in an upcoming cloth/board book post). I also just got through the No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley but I am waiting to see if it helps Maya nap better before I review it. So far, the verdict is still out.

On Friday, I started reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara. Prior to travelling to Cuba back in 2000, I knew next to nothing about Che, only that he was linked to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. Here in the US, the only image painted of him was one of a brutal militant guerilla and a cold-blooded killer who deserved his execution-style murder after he was captured in the jungles of Bolivia. After coming across a quote by Nelson Mandela that described Che's life as "an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom. We will always honor his memory.", I set out to learn more.

Che is undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century, whose image has been mass marketed and exploited for decades. He is the enduring symbol of rebellion and revolution; the man who left the medical profession and a bourgeois life to join the revolution aimed at overthrowing the Cuban dictator, Batista. His legacy is both romanticized and condemned, and he has been made into an almost mythical character. The Motorcycle Diaries provides a glimpse, in his own words, of Che' s life-changing journey across South America in his early twenties and how this trip came to influence him for years to come. Despite his questionable techniques, Che Guevara was always propelled by his desire to fight injustice and inequality. Did he trample over various human rights in his rebellions? Most likely. He was certainly no pacifist. Should he be emulated? I'm not sure that's such a wise idea, either.

Saturday brought another visit to The Book Thing. Since we are leaving Baltimore, I've noticed my acquisitions from The Book Thing have become more numerous. Here is what I came away with:

  • Halloween Party and By The Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
  • Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner
  • White Jazz by James Ellroy
  • Waiting by Ha Jin
  • Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Book coveting around the blogisphere:
  • The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri, and Unaccustomed Earthy by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed at Lotus Reads
  • A Grave in Gaza by Matt Beynon Rees, reviewed at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
  • Healthy Child, Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan, part of the Blog Tour at MotherTalk

Saturday, April 12, 2008

BTT and Friday Fill-In - On Saturday!

I am behind on everything at the moment, so it makes sense that my response for Booking Through Thursday and Friday Fill-in aren't posted until Saturday!

Pick up the nearest book. (I’m sure you must have one nearby.)

  • Turn to page 123.
  • What is the first sentence on the page?
  • The last sentence on the page?
  • Now . . . connect them together….
    (And no, you may not transcribe the entire page of the book–that’s cheating!)
She didn't notice or care. And then, out of nowhere, Jon appeared. "Morning!" he said. First and last sentence are from The Bright Side of Disaster, by Katherine Center.

1. I love springtime in Baltimore, where I currently live!
2. Bagels, whole grain hot cereals, blueberries, strawberries, fruit smoothies, waffles, eggs benedict, Trader Joe's French Vanilla yogurt with granola, french toast; all are foods I love to eat for breakfast.
3. It seems I'm always searching for my keys and shoes.
4.Reading in bed is a great way to end the day.
5. I think I have too much going on right now!
6. Ice cream is what I've been craving lately.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hopefully having some quiet time after Maya goes to bed to read The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevera, tomorrow my plans include going to the farmer's market, The Book Thing, and spending some time outdoors, and Sunday, I want to go for a walk on the NCR trail!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Birchbark House - Louise Erdrich

Title: The Birchbark House
Author: Louise Erdrich
Year: 1999
Country: USA (Ojibwa)
Pages: 244
Rating: 4 out of 5

First sentence: The only person left alive on the island was a baby girl.

The Birchbark House takes place on an island in Lake Superior in the late 1800's. It follows one year in the life of a young Ojibwa girl, Omakayas. The novel is divided by season, starting with Omakayas' grandmother, Nokomis, building the summer birchbark house on the lakeshore. It then follows Omakayas and her family through the summer (fishing, harvesting the rice), fall (moving to the winter log cabin), winter (battling disease and hunger), and spring (harvesting maple sugar). The reader meets many delightful people along the way, Old Tallow, a strong-spirited, independent older woman who wears a coat woven from a variety of furs; LaPautre, who believes all of his dreams hold hidden meaning and visions; and Fishtail, a quiet, dignified young man.

When writing a story about complex experiences in children's literature, it is easy to oversimplify events, creating a novel that lacks authenticity. The Birchbark House does not succumb to this pitfall. Louise Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, breaks through the stereotypes present in some other books set during this time period (Little House on the Prairie comes to mind) and delivers an eloquent and powerful story about one Ojibwa Native American family. We learn about the cultural and historical experiences of the Ojibwa (such as the devastating effect of smallpox, the relationship the Ojibwa have with animals and nature, and the difficulty of making it through a winter season without starving), but Erdrich emphasizes themes that cross race, ethnicity, and time: dealing with pesky siblings, coping with the death of a loved one, and searching for your own identity and place within your community. It is a book that would delight almost any age (the devastating death halfway through the novel causes me to hesitate recommending it as a read-aloud book for pre-readers).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Le Petit Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Title: The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)
Author & Illustrator: Antoine de Saint Exupéry  (trans. by Katherine Woods)
Year: 1943
Country: France
Pages: 111
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Little Prince is a beautiful children's story narrated by a pilot who crashed in the Sahara Desert. While trying to fix his plane, he meets a little prince from another planet  who asks him to draw a sheep. "When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey. Absurd as it might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain-pen." (p.8) Thus begins the start of a dialogue in which the little Prince describes his planet, and how he came to Earth.

The Little Prince is a child's view of the world, but it is certainly not for children alone. The story is a remarkable reflection of the human character. I look forward to re-visiting this story with Baby Maya, and to take the time to reflect upon the many metaphors present in this novella.

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." (p.87)

"What makes the desert beautiful," said the little prince, "is that somewhere it hides a well..." (p.93)

Interesting facts about the author:
In 1935, Antoine de Saint Exupéry crashed in the Sahara enroute from Paris to Saigon. He and his companion were rescued 4 days later when a Bedouin on a camel discovered them. This experience is referenced at the beginning of the story.

Tragically, in 1944, one year after The Little Prince was published, Saint Exupéry disappeared while on a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean. The remains of his plane weren't found until 1998.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Bright Side of Disaster - Katherine Center

Title: The Bright Side of Disaster
Author: Katherine Center
Year: 2007
Country: USA
Pages: 245
Rating: 4 out of 5

These days, I treasure the light, easy reads that I can soar through while Maya is sleeping. I am especially starting to like the sub-genre of chick-lit I refer to as "the mommy books". There is no shortage of these (most of which I haven't read yet): Shopaholic and Baby, Slummy Mummy, Mommy Tracked, and The Bright Side of Disaster. I stayed away from all of these for a while, until I received a copy of The Bright Side of Disaster to review through Sk*rt.

Jenny Harris is nine months pregnant and not quite married. Her and her fiancee Dean accidentally started their family a little earlier, but Jenny doesn't mind until Dean walks out one day and doensn't come back. Until she goes into labor the very next day. 

What follows is Jenny's slightly unrealistic but highly amusing experience with single motherhood. Although the beginning was a bit slow, about 50 pages in I was completely drawn in to the story. It was particularly enjoyable to read about a mother who seemed to be following a pseudo-attachment parenting philosophy. Her description of engorgement when her milk came in was hilarious (except, in my life, it did not go away nearly as quickly). With my husband on call for 30 hours straight every 3 days, I could completely relate to Jenny's lack of showering, and general household chaos. The birth that doesn't go according to the birth plan, constant walking/pacing/rocking of a newborn, breastfeeding, babywearing, bone crusing fatigue, the joy of cooking a real meal after weeks of nuts, cereal, and other items you can pop in your mouth with one hand - it was refreshing to read about someone else's experiences as a new mother that was not painted as all roses, even if that someone was a fictional character.

Also reviewed by:
If you would like your review mentioned here, just leave a comment with a link to your review.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Reading Across Borders - Asia


Countries Completed are highlighted in purple.
Books read are highlighted in red.
Reviewed books are followed by link to the review.

1. Afghanistan 

2. Azerbaijan 

3. Bahrain 

4. Bangladesh 

5. Bhutan 

6. Brunei

7. Burma

8. Cambodia

  • First They Killed My Father, by Loung Ung

9. China

10. Cyprus 

11. East Timor 

12. India 

13. Indonesia 

14. Iran 

15. Iraq 

16. Israel 

17. Japan 

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami (finished 16 January 2007)
  •  I am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
  •  The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu

18. Jordan 

19. Kazakstan 

20. Korea, North 

21. Korea, South 

22. Kuwait 

23. Kyrgyzstan 

24. Laos 

25. Lebanon 

26. Malaysia 

27. Maldives 

28. Mongolia 

29. Nepal 

30. Oman 

31. Pakistan 

32. Philippines

33. Quatar 

34. Saudi Arabia 

35. Singapore 

36. Sri Lanka 

37. Syria 

38. Tajikistan 

39. Tibet 

40. Thailand 

41. Turkey 

42. Turkmenistan 

43. United Arab Emirates 

44. Uzbekistan

45. Vietnam 

46. Yemen 

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Screecher

I haven't had much reading time lately, so I thought it would be a great time for a Maya update. Early on, Maya made sounds that sounded like babbles. Cute little a-goos and goo-goo's came out of her precious little mouth. I told people, listen to our newborn baby babble, isn't she smart? Then the babbles went away, much to my chagrin, but was replaced by delightful little coos.

Lately, I miss those coos.

The first time Maya came out with an opera-octave eeeeee, I turned to hubby with a look that said, did that really just come out of her mouth? Yep, that was our precious little daughter sounding like a feral cat. As days passed and the eeeee's became more numerous and energetic, it was confirmed: we have a Screecher.

Some babies explore first vocalizations with ooh's and aah's. Our baby quickly decided that was too boring, and jumped straight to the ear-pitching screech. Because there is no other word to describe it, she's just a happy screecher.

Of course, that doesn't stop us from trying to get new sounds out of her. A typical dinner conversation in our household currently goes something like this:

Hubby: Hoooow aaaare yoooouu?
Me: Ba-ba-ba!
Maya: Eeeeeeee-eeeeee-ee-eeeeeeee!
Hubby: Did you hear that? She was imitating me!
Me: I thought I heard a "huh" sound in there.
Maya: Eee-eeeeeeeeee-eeeee-e-eee!
Hubby: Da-da-da!
Me: Ba-Ba-Ba!
Maya: Eeeeeeeeeee!
Hubby: She said "da". She knows me!
Me: Da is just a sound unless there is meaning behind it, dear. La-La-La!
Maya: Eeeeeeeee-ee-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

At least they're happy screeches.