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motherhood reviews

My Favorite Author: Janet Evanovich

Man I love books – If I could live, breath, eat and sleep books I might. I wouldn’t marry a book, but I am married to another book lover so that’s pretty good, too. So what book or books do I want to talk about today? I want to talk about Janet Evanovich, whose newest book in the Stephenie Plum series, Fearless Fourteen comes out JUNE 17.

I began reading the Plum series shortly after graduating college and getting laid off from my first out of college job (good times) – ironically, the series begins with Plum getting fired from her job as a lingerie buyer in Jersey and embarking on the fun life of a bounty hunter (almost as much fun as the life of a SAHM, am I right?), while trying to get the rest of her life, love life included, in order.

Evanovich began writing this series in the mid 90’s after spending several years writing romance novels (which admittedly are not as good as her Plum series but ARE fun fluff reading if you need a fix in between Plums hitting the shelf). Over the years she’s managed to keep things fresh and new, and with the times without feeling forced. She keeps the world’s hottest love triangle from getting stale and keeps Plum always, always relateable to the real women of the world, even while she’s out fighting crime like a bad ass.

I’m a pretty big fan you could say. As a woman, I relate to Stephanie Plum a lot – her imperfections and quirks remind you that we’re all human, we’re all figuring this out as we go. As a writer, I admire Evanovich’s style – she’s found a formula that WORKS for her and she’s good at keeping that from feeling forced or sell out-ish. She’s even written a book about writing that I just loved. It makes me feel like someday I might actually write something of worth and figure out how to do it well. She is a legend for me and just fantastic.

My point? If you haven’t given this series a chance yet, do it! Do it now!

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reviews

Top 10 Books Read This Year (so far…)

So far this year I’ve read almost 30 books – my goal was to make it to 50 by the end of the year and I’m thinking that won’t be much of a problem. So what have my favorite books been so far? Well, let’s see…

10. Masquerade by Melissa De La Cruz ( finished April 30 ) This is the sequel to the first book in a new series, the first book is called Blue Bloods and okay yes it’s a teen vampire novel, but it’s so much more – it’s about angels and demons and romance and history – it has a lot of intriguing takes on New England history and more. Just a yummy yummy novel, even when it’s being terribly teen cliched.

9. Extras by Scott Westerfeld ( finished March 30 ) The fourth book in what was intended to be a 3 book series, this is the final installment of the Uglies trilogy – a sort of “so what happened next?” for all the readers who couldn’t put Tally Youngblood and her world behind them – it steps forward a few years from the close of Specials and shows you how much Tally’s actions really did change the world and how much they didn’t. It took awhile to get used to a new main character, but it was interesting to see the legend they had turned Tally into in this society, and how false it was from actual truth. If you loved the trilogy, you’ll devour this one.

8. So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld ( Finished April 8 ) Same author as the Tally Youngblood series but totally different world, plot, concept – but Westerfeld’s ideas and writing style are just so intriguing and well done that this short book was superb – a look at the world of marketing and what’s “cool” – I really really enjoyed it.

7. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen ( Finished January 4 ) A surprising gem in a sea of trendy young adult fare, this novel begins in 1899 at a funeral, and also ends with a funeral but is nothing you’ll expect – the novel reads like a mystery novel and also a romance novel with very Austen-esque themes of family and expectations and it will knock your socks off. I am eagerly waiting to read the next in the series, Rumors.

6. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce (& Queen) ( finished April 27 ) I list these both together because I read them in quick succession – this was different than a lot of the young adult books I’d been reading in that it is part of a much bigger thing – a varied series of sorts by Tamora Pierce and I seem to have started at the end so to speak, but still these two installments were so good and so timeless in their themes and yet so obviously dated – I intend to read the rest of the books in this series soon. It is full of fighting, wars, racial tension, gods and goddesses, magic, family, love, slavery and more…

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray ( Finished February 20 ) My friends and I are obsessed with this series, which we admittedly caught on to awfully late in the game – the first installment of the Gemma Doyle trilogy tells a story of secret societies, witch craft, magic, and another turn of the 19th century mystery – it has it all – and despite it’s “age” it’s very current – another novel that shows the more things change, the more they stay the same…

4. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich ( finished March 25 ) I am an avid Stephanie Plum fanatic and as far as I’m concerned this may have been her best Plum book to date. I love all of her current events references – the cable company charade as well as a million other things I can’t remember anymore were fantastic. It was very now, very current, very good. The Morelli / Ranger thing manages to continue without feeling stale – ah, I just can’t say enough. It was terrific. Can’t wait for fourteen!

3. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philipa Gregory ( finished March 18 ) I fell in love with Tudor England and Philipa Gregory after reading this novel and waited with baited breath for the movie which inevitably disappointed me. This book was so amazingly good – better with every chapter, every added detail to this historical masterpiece. I don’t know who I felt for more, Anne Boleyn or Katharine of Aragon but this book was just so good words can’t even describe – if you have a chance to read it, please, please do.

2. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde ( finished YESTERDAY June 9, 2008 ) Obviously being the second best book I’ve read this year it was pretty good. This book was just fantastic in so many ways – the english major in me drooled and laughed my way through the entire book. It took me awhile to read it, just because the plot was a bit complicated – Fforde creates his own world within the confines of this great book, and it took me awhile to get used to the swing of things, but now I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in this series!
annnnnnnd

#1 book read this year is: is actually a series, a very well known series some of you may have heard of…

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket ( finished series March 8 ) I can’t say enough amazing things about this series – the English major in me just drooled over the entire series – I think it’s amazing how he introduces new vocabulary to his readers without making you feel like you’re doing homework – I can honestly say I’ve learned several new words and phrases after reading this phenomenal story and I was in love every page of the way with the weaving of his web of wonder. I recommend this series to anyone.

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motherhood reviews

How Have I NOT Read the Nancy Drew series yet??

Somehow despite my big appetite for books, there are always those classics that seem to evade me. While I was busy reading The Babysitters Club books, I somehow managed to avoid ever reading the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy series – perhaps they weren’t as colorful and current, I don’t know, but I missed out, and years went by and it just never happened. But I’ve always been curious about this series and after seeing the new Nancy Drew movie, now I’m convinced – I need to read these books. I need to be in on this!

The movie, by the way, was fantasic – far exceeding my expectations. I assumed it would be cute and probably funny, but didn’t think it would be so well made – I loved every little detail, the storyline, the acting, the script – all was REALLY good. I love how they give a new kind of depth to each character that I suspect wasn’t necessarily present during the books. Especially the “mother angle” – Nancy’s mother died when she was little and you come to realize how big of an effect this has had on her life and how it partially explains her obsession with sleuthing. Being one of the many children out there who grew up without a mother, this is something I can get behind. It was very authentic and realistic, and yet it also had situations that were absurd and hilarious. Even the little love plot between Nancy and Ned was adorable. Um, hello, “Can you tell when a girl looks at you and is thinking how much she likes you and is wondering if you like her and thinking how important it is for you to say how you feel before she says anything more about how she feels about you or anyone else they might be jealous of because she’s already said how she feels how she’s said in her own way?” Seriously.

And now I want to know moooooore. I want to read them all. I want to go to the library right now and check out every single Nancy Drew book EVER. But maybe I should finish reading the other three books I’ve already checked out first? 🙂

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motherhood

A Golden Hamster for a Golden Child?

So maybe years of reading about Stephanie Plum’s great relationship with her pet hamster, Rex, combined with recently reading an adorable kid’s book I, Freddy – told from the perspective of a golden hamster, lead up to this moment, but regardless, this morning I heard myself saying the words, “I want a pet hamster.” Maybe I lied and said that MLM needs a pet hamster, but truthfully, this is all about me. I want a hamster. My husband was enthusiastic about the idea and so we began reading online and went to a pet store to scope the scene on what hamsters go for and what our options are, and moreover, how big of a commitment this could become.

It seems to me that the Dwarf Hamsters are actually where it is at – from ten minutes in Petco spent observing, the Dwarf Hamsters were rowdy and rambunctious and ah-dorable, much like MLM. Now, Syrian Hamsters in general are nocturnal so perhaps I should take that into account, but if my son and I are considering spending our days oohing and ahhing over cuteness, cuteness that does cute things seems appropriate. But according to the websites, a dwarf hamster will not exactly, um, like young children – go figure, they are teenie tiny and little kids are clumsy and not at all gentle. Something to think about. But seriously, MLM is just barely two – he’s not “handling” this hamster at all for quite some time.I’m not a sadist.

Then there is the question of security – I want our little Rex or Freddy-to-be to feel safe and secure, which means a nice sturdy side table that MLM can’t tip over or climb on top of. The location is secured, but there is a serious lack of said side table to go in that corner and we are CHEAP man – so it’s gotta come at a steal, free being the best price out there, but like $30 or less being the ideal – because we’ll still need to buy the hamster, the cage, the wheel, the feeding supplies and food and all that other stuff. But still, it seems kind of worth it – it would add an extra element to our days that I feel would be useful – take care of hamster time, play with hamster time, etc.

Besides this, I have almost always had a pet in the house growing up, and I miss having that but living in an apartment makes dogs or cats a complete deal buster. Fish and I don’t get along. Mice are, um, mice. Hamsters, however, are cuuuuuuuuuuuuute and seem totally my speed. Being active at night, means I can put it in one of those cute hamster balls after MLM is asleep and let it run loose during tv time with the hubby. And hey, maybe it will wake up occasionally while MLM is awake and run in it’s wheel for a bit. That’d be fun. I should also be able to do feeding and cleaning without the boy in my hair – another plus.

But this is all still speculation. Anyone out there own or have owned a hamster that wants to bestow some advice or tips would be super appreciated!

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motherhood reviews

The Other Boleyn Girl: A Review

To begin with, this was my first book since finishing the Series of Unfortunate Events and it took me a LONG time to properly disengage myself from Snicket’s amazing series – a long time for me to stop referring to Mary Boleyn as “Not a Baudelaire” – and a long time for me to realize, “Hello, shut up, this story is incredible.” Philipa Gregory has been referred to as one of the best historical fiction writers of her time, and I have to say after reading her novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, which was recently made into a movie, I am agreeing 100%.

Now, it took me half the book to realize that this novel was actually about King Henry VIII and how huge that is – knowing a small portion of the history surrounding this ruler, I became even more intrigued upon this realization and quickly found myself devouring the humongous novel, entering a stage my son will eventually come to know as the “point of no return” – yesterday found me glued on and off to this book, unwilling to put it down for more than an hour at a time, until I finally finished. There were hours I laughed out loud and others where I struggled not to cry bitterly.

This story could be considered grotesque, as it begins with an execution and ends with one, but what fills the heart of this book is stories of love, heartbreak, motherhood and betrayal – at the beginning, Mary Boleyn, the main character is an innocent girl of fourteen, newly married, anxious about having her sister, the other Boleyn, joining her at court and surprised to find she has caught the eye of Henry VIII. Pushed into his bed chambers by her social climbing family, she struggles with falling in love and realizing how worthless and powerful she can be at the same time. When the king’s interests wane, she finds herself easily tossed aside as her sister (who has always been a rival as well as best friend) takes her place as the king’s favorite. The story grows darker, but also more and more fascinating from here on out, with secrets and twists that even history buffs may not anticipate. It ends with a woman very mature for her young age, who defies her family and pursues marriage for love and not advancement, fights for the right to raise her own children and occasionally struggles with the realization that despite their differences, she will always be a true Boleyn girl – with all the deception, deceit, and secrecy that comes with it.

The highlights (despite some being low points) for me, include her experiences as a mother and lover – things that are completely relatable and yet hardly capable of understanding at the same time. Despite the hundreds of years passed, it seems to me that not much has changed – with women still struggling to make names for themselves and yet also struggling to earn the right to raise their own children, nurse their own children, and have a say in their upbringing, all while balancing the art of keeping the eye of their husbands and lovers, indeed, it seems not much has changed, except the type of expectations that keep us from achieving these goals.

Having been raised an only child, I found her relationship to her siblings almost as fascinating as DH’s relationship with his own set of three siblings, while growing to love the characters myself as the book drew on. By the final chapters I felt heartbroken right along with the novel’s heroine and even now, a day later, I find I am not quite ready to put Gregory’s characters to rest. I think there will be a movie theater in my future soon, so that I can see how the big screen will compare to this amazing, incredible masterpiece of a novel – also in my future, a trip to the library to check out the author’s other works – was The Other Boleyn Girl a fluke or one of many masterpieces – we’ll be soon to find out.

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reviews

A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Review

So when I’m not blogging or parenting or wifeing, I am most likely reading. I’m one of the co-founders of my very own book club, was an English major in college, and used to manage the children’s department at an independent bookstore which sadly closed its doors in 2006. Point being, I like to read – a LOT – and consider myself “something of a literary expert” to vaguely quote one of my MLM’s favorite t.v. shows, Word World (and oh yes, I do love all of the ABC, reading themed shows on PBS these days). So anyway, I read a lot, and the last month has mostly been devoted to reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I’m assuming you’ve heard of it – otherwise, hi there and welcome to Earth!

I’d heard the rave reviews about this series for years, but hadn’t read them myself for various reasons – like being in hardcover for ages, the sheer quantity, and that mild itching theory of mine that a lot of books get seriously over-hyped. But SOME books are hyped just right and when my SIL loaned me the first nine books, really, what excuse did I have?

I began reading this series at the tail end of January. From that point on – it became an obsession – food, sleep, socializing, even my book club books – all took a back seat to Snicket’s genius. My husband endured weeks of me excitedly rambling about how Snicket was the next Chaucer (as in creates a character for himself inside the novel who happens to be less intelligent perhaps on purpose for the sole reason of pointing out the obvious – thus showing his true genius), a real literary pro who had created one of the world’s few masterpieces. I dreamt about this series and frequently found myself referring to the heroine of my book club pick as “Not the Baudelaires.”

But enough fanfare. Really, if you don’t have cheap access to this series, it is a bit of an undertaking and may get expensive at 13 books total (I highly recommend Amazon) but it’s seriously worth it. Here is an author who can pay attention to EVERY detail and ensure you are immersed in his world. And he takes one seriously complicated plot and delivers it in 13 manageable pieces, building and smoothing and leveling so that you properly digest every book. And if you aren’t well read or are in fact a child – his primary audience – this is an excellent series to help you build up your vocabulary and knowledge of the world, as Snicket will constantly define words, explain away anything and give examples of everything, without losing your interest somehow. He accomplishes what those SAT novels wanted to accomplish without being completely nerdy and even I, the English major, learned a few new things in this series. Your parents, in short, will approve.

Anyway, if you or a child you know have been meaning to read this series, run, don’t walk, to the nearest library or bookstore and get ready for one of the best reading experiences of your life. Seriously.