Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Read: Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd

The hubby and I have Goodnight Moon memorized at this point. We love reading it to our little girl and it brings back fond memories of when it was read to us as children. I love the rhythm and rhyme of the story. It's fun to read and I learned recently that it makes all the sounds in the English language. It is definitely a staple bedtime story in our mix of books and I thought that parents would find this new book, Goodnight iPad, HILARIOUS because it really is a parody for the next generation.

It's also a nice reminder that we all need to unplug every once in awhile. My hubby's happiest traveling moment with me, thus far, is when we went to Mt. Rainier for a few days and we didn't have any (not even 3G) access to Internet or TV. Hopefully, we will remember to turn the TV off more often and just spend quality time with our little one.

Can't wait to get my hands on a real copy soon!

For more information:
Book page: http://www.davidmilgrim.com/DMDC/anndroyd.com.html
Author: Ann Droyd (aka David Milgrim)
Facebook: David Milgrim

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 22

I have dreamed about having a bay window for as long as I've known what a bay window is. Having a wonderful window seat to slouch into and read the day away just sounds so relaxing. It would definitely need lots of cushions. The natural light would be really nice too. I love how in this photo, there are plenty shelves and storage space to store books too!

image courtesy of: diarioartesgraficas

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox :: 6

 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where you can post the books that you've received, purchased, won in a giveaway, borrowed from the library, swapped on PaperBackSwap, etc. For more information, click here

Won in a giveaway from Nancy at A Musing Reviews:

Title: The Christmas Wedding
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (October 17, 2011)

Summary from Goodreads:
The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died five years ago, Gaby's children have drifted apart, each one preoccupied by the turbulence in their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married-and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day—she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise—she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

Received from publisher via Crazy Book Tours:

Title: The Gilder
Author: Kathryn Kay
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation (January 1, 2012)

Summary from Goodreads:
Set against the exquisite backdrop of Florence, Italy, The Gilder is a compelling and beautifully wrought novel of secrets, friendship, betrayal, and the simple choices that change us forever. . .

In Marina Nesmith's skilled hands, even the most tarnished picture frame or objet d'art can be made perfect once again. Her life, too, seems flawless, at least on the surface. But more and more, Marina is conscious of what she lacks--someone to share her joys and sorrows with, confidence in the decisions she's made, and the courage to tell her teenage daughter, Zoe, the truth about her father.

Then Marina is invited to return to Florence, where she lived years before while learning her trade as a gilder. In those heady days, she wandered the city's picturesque streets, marveling at the masterpieces in the Duomo and the Pitti Palace. In the church of Santa Croce, she met Thomas, an American photographer who, along with his wife Sarah, introduced Marina to a thrilling, bohemian world of art and beauty. Through them, she also learned about love, lies, and the way one mistake can multiply into many. Now, as her past and present collide, Marina will finally have to move beyond the intricate veneer she's crafted around herself, and find the life that she--and Zoe--have been looking for.

Received from PaperBackSwap:

Title: Half Broke Horses
Author: Jeannette Walls
Publisher: Scribner Book Company (October 7, 2009)

Summary from Goodreads:
Jeannette Walls's memoir The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now, in Half Broke Horses, she brings us the story of her grandmother, told in a first-person voice that is authentic, irresistible, and triumphant.

"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls's no nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town -- riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane. And, with her husband Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.

Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds -- against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix audiences everywhere.

Title: The Christmas Blessing
Author: Donna VanLiere
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 2003)

Summary from Goodreads:
In The Christmas Shoes, young Nathan Andrews was a child who lost his mother to cancer. Now his deepest wish is to become a doctor. When a stranger named Robert gave him the money to buy his mother a pair of shoes for her last Christmas, both Robert and Nathan learned the deepest lessons of love and giving. Now a medical student in his third year, Nathan realizes there are still things to be learned about faith, blessings, and sacrifice. Lessons he will learn from Meghan Sullivan-a young woman born with a hole in her heart that has not kept her from becoming a champion runner. And lessons learned from a young boy named Charlie, who teaches how to live a life of true courage. Together, they will help guide Nathan through the darkest period in his life. The Christmas Blessing is an inspiring about hope existing in the darkest places, and love is always the greatest gift of all.

Title: The Christmas Hope
Author: Donna VanLiere
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 2006)

Summary from Goodreads:
Perennial New York Times bestsellers and Audie Award finalists The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing have become inspirational holiday classics, and THE CHRISTMAS HOPE is poised to become a seasonal favorite in its own right
Patricia and Mark Addison have long given up the hope of having a meaningful Christmas. But this year, Patricia’s job as a social worker will lead her to a very special five-year-old. Against her better judgment, Patricia bends the rules and takes the little girl to her own home. Through the presence of Emily in their house, and her penetrating questions about heaven, the Addisons learn that there is no sorrow so great that faith cannot help you find your way through. And Christmas will once more be a time of joy in their home. THE CHRISTMAS HOPE is a story of love in the face of loss, joy when all seems hopeless, and how light can shine into the darkest places.

Title: Between Two Queens (Secrets of the Tudor Court #2)
Author: Kate Emerson
Publisher: Pocket (January 2010)

Summary from Goodreads:

Pretty, flirtatious, and ambitious. Nan Bassett hopes that an appointment at the court of King Henry VIII will bring her a grand marriage. But soon after she becomes a maid of honor to Queen Jane, the queen dies in childbirth. As the court plunges into mourning, Nan sets her sights on the greatest match in the land...for the king has noticed her. After all, it wouldn't be the first time King Henry has chosen to wed a maid of honor. And in newly Protestant England, where plots to restore the old religion abound, Nan may be the only one who can reassure a suspicious king of her family's loyalty. But the favor of a king can be dangerous and chancy, not just for Nan, but for her family as well...and passionate Nan is guarding a secret, one that could put her future -- and her life -- in grave jeopardy should anyone discover the truth.

Based on the life of the real Anne Bassett and her family, and drawing extensively from letters and diaries of the time, Between Two Queens is an enthralling picture of the dangers and delights of England's most passionate era.

Title: Claudia and Mean Janine: A Graphic Novel (BSC Graphix #4)
Author: Raina Telgemeier, Ann M. Martin
Publisher: GRAPHIX (November 2008)

Summary from Goodreads:
Claudia and her sister, Janine, may as well be from two different planets. Claudia, who pays more attention to her art than her grades, feels she can't compete with her perfect sister. Janine studies nonstop, makes straight As, and even takes college-level courses. The girls are nothing alike, and they can't agree on anything. While Janine devotes all her time to working on her Web site, The Baby-sitters Club is busy with their new summer play group. But when something terrible happens to their grandmother, Mimi, the two sisters discover they're more alike than they originally thought. 

What's in your mailbox? 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I have so much to be thankful for this year - family, friends, good health and my sweet, sweet baby girl. My dear husband, I am so thankful for all that you are and do for us as a family. I am so blessed to be your wife. Praise God for a wonderful year.
I hope that you all have a blessed time together with your loved ones this weekend! The hubby and I are running a 10k for United Run for the Hungry tomorrow morning in hopes that we will definitely earn our big dinner afterwards! Guilt-free eating is the best kind of eating.

And a special thank you for all my followers... thank you for reading my blog! I still catch myself sometimes and can't believe that people actually want to hear what I have to say. Thanks for sticking around.

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book to Movie: Breaking Dawn

I don't usually watch movies on opening days. I like to stay away from the long lines and huge crowds. However, my co-workers and I decided to go see the movie altogether and I couldn't pass it down because my poor hubby sat through "New Moon" and I knew he wouldn't take me to see "Breaking Dawn." We kicked off our weekend by going to our local theatre together and other than having our previous students, who are now 6th graders, sit a few rows in front of us... it was a pretty cool experience to go with other people who like the Twilight series.

For those who have NOT seen the movie, please be forewarned that there are SPOILERS ahead. 

Things I liked:
  • I loved the wedding scene. It was so much more beautiful and grand than I imagined in my head. It was very much the over-the-top celebration that Alice would have wanted. I loved all the hanging flowers too... so romantic! It was very beautiful. 
  • How much do I love the Cullen's home? Did anyone else notice that they had bookshelves all throughout the house? I loved it from the first movie and it just seems to get better and better. 
  • Headboard scene. (Need I say more?)
  • They spent a lot of time with Edward and Bella on their honeymoon. :) That's all I'll say about that. Remember, we were watching THAT with our former students in front of us. (Can you say AWKWARD?!)
  • Any line that came out of Charlie's mouth. He was perfect as Bella's dad throughout the whole movie. Billy Burke's facial expressions were right on point.
  • Seth. He's so dang cute!
  • I appreciated that they limited the goriness of the birth scene. Blood doesn't always make me queasy, but I was not looking forward to watching that scene. Even though I wouldn't want to watch it again, it was not as bad as it was in the book. Thank you for that.
  • They left us hanging. It was a great cliffhanger and I can't remember what happens next, but I'm looking forward to the 2nd part.
Things I didn't like:
  • Bella's wedding dress - it didn't flatter her body at all. The back was nice, but what was with all the patches of fabric? It looked awkwardly sewn together and didn't help Kristen Stewart's awkward face walking down the aisle either. I actually liked her dress in her dream better.
  • Taylor Lautner's acting. I just can't take his lines seriously, I'm sorry. They had him take off his shirt within the first minute of the movie. I mean, he is nice on the eyes, but really?
  • The wolf scene where they're talking to each other telepathically was a little corny. It seemed so cool in the books. They could have done that better.
Things that were awful:
  • Kristen Stewart's acting. I wish they casted differently. She's not the Bella I pictured in my mind when I was reading and Bella's character is not so melancholy like she ALWAYS is no matter what expression she's trying to emote. She did play the part where Bella was almost dying surprisingly well though.
What I loved:
  • The soundtrack. I was spoiled with the soundtrack even before the movie came out on Spotify and I love whoever chooses the songs for the movies. They did an excellent job.


  • My favorite song (that I have on repeat right now): "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri.  Sad thing is I don't remember hearing it in the movie. Does anyone know when it played? 

  • "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by Iron & Wine - How much do I love this song? 

  • I'm also a sucker for all the reprises of Bella's Song.

  • Lastly, Edward's look when he finally sees Bella walking down the aisle... *heart melting* I'm a sucker for the first look. It's one of my favorite shots as a wedding photographer. :) 

  • Overall, I enjoyed the movie and sharing it with other Twilight fans. I wish I had reread the book before watching the movie again because I read it so fast the first go around several years ago and I really had a hard time remembering things, like who people were. From what I do remember though, I think it stayed true to the book and I am looking forward to Part II next year. I recommend going it with low expectations. I don't know why I keep expecting the movies to get better each time, but I think if you go in with lower expectations, then maybe you won't come out of the movie disappointed.

    3 out of 5 stars

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Bookshelf Monday :: 21

    What an interesting use of a fireplace! I wonder if it's a temporary shelf because it doesn't look like you could take it out. I don't think I could give up a warm fire on winter nights. Great use of space though!

    image courtesy of bhg.com

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Blog Tour & Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

    Title: The Lady of the Rivers
    Author: Philippa Gregory
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (October 18, 2011)

    Source: Received from publisher via Crazy Book Tours

    Book description from Amazon:
    Passion. Danger. Witchcraft . . .

    The Lady of the Rivers is #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s remarkable story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.

    Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.

    Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

    The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty.

    Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.

    A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother of the white queen.

    I think reading the history companion book (The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother) to the series a few weeks ago before reading this book helped me to have a better appreciation for Jacquetta. Personally, it helps me to know the history behind the story when I read historical fiction. I devoured Gregory's Tudors series and that was because there is so much written about Henry VIII. After reading the companion book, I was actually very interested in reading more about Jacquetta's life because she was present throughout so many events during her time and definitely had an impact on history even though she wasn't one of the main players, but more on the sidelines.

    To be honest, I was not a huge Jacquetta fan while reading The White Queen. I did not have much of a liking for all the magic and witchcraft because it added a fantastical element to the story that aren't usually present in historical fiction books. I have to say I liked that Gregory kept that part of the story to more of a minimum this go around. It was present, but not as intertwined throughout the story as much as the first one.

    I enjoyed reading about her relationship with Richard. They went through so many trials and tribulations and it really deepens their relationship together for me. It helps me to understand why she was never the same without him.

    Jacquetta was a lady-in-waiting for Queen Margaret of Anjou and I found that part fascinating. I was hoping that Gregory would write a book from the perspective of Margaret of Anjou (because her life was also very interesting from what I've read) and this book pretty much fulfills that desire since Jacquetta had a special friendship with her even though that changes as the king's health deteriorates.

    I think this book will be well-liked by Gregory fans. Even though I think this book lacked a little depth at times (maybe because Jacquetta is very present in The White Queen or maybe because so little is written about these women), it is still very well-written and an enjoyable read. I liked that it ended right where The White Queen starts. Can't wait for the next ones, The White Princess and The Kingmaker's Daughters!

    4 out of 5 stars

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Gratitude Giveaway and Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    I am so thankful for so much this year - my husband, my beautiful daughter who brings us so much joy each day, my family, friends... the list goes on and on. In gratitude for all of you as my readers, I am doing a special Gratitude Giveaway hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer and All-Consuming Books.

    This is going to be a different kind of giveaway because you can win big as well! As a special thank you to you, my readers especially since I am almost past 500 followers, I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift card.


     BUT YOU CAN ALSO WIN $500 in books as well!

    Chronicle Books is hosting it's 2nd annual Happy Haul-idays giveaway where you can win a haul of books ($500 worth) from Chronicle Books. If you comment on my blog post, you can also enter into the giveaway and if I win, I get to choose a commenter on this post to also win $500 of Chronicle Books.

    But wait, that's not even the best part... this year, Chronicle Books will also give away $500 to a charity of the winning blogger's choice!

    I had a hard time choosing a charity. I wanted to choose something book-related and First Book came to mind. I believe in their cause and $500 would get 200 books for children in need. It would fill 50 backpacks for a children in a community-based program. That would be so awesome!

    What a wonderful way to share the gift of reading this holiday season!

    For bloggers:
    You can enter by writing a blog post about Happy Haul-idays with the haul of books that you'd like to win and go to Chronicle Books to enter your name. That's it! If you win, you and a commenter on your post can both win $500 of Chronicle Books.

    For non-bloggers:
    You can enter by commenting on my blog and other participating blogs. There is a list of participating blogs on the Chronicle Books page

    Here is my wishlist of books I'd love to win from Chronicle Books (the covers are so gorgeous!):

    Over 300 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we are all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. The hop runs from  Thursday November 17th through Sunday November 27th.

    Giveaway Details:
    • To enter $10 Amazon gift card giveaway, please fill out the RaffleCopter.
    • To enter Chronicle Books Happy-Haul-idays giveaway, please leave a comment.
    Please check out the Chronicle Books Happy Haul-idays Page after commenting here to check out the other participating blogs and maybe win your own "haul" of books this holiday!

    Lastly, as a special visitor for visiting my blog, you can get an extra 35% off any purchase from Chronicle Books!
    Friends Family Holiday 300x250

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Bookshelf Monday :: 20


    This is actually what my shelves look like (minus the ladder) - books stack on top of books to squeeze as many as I can onto each shelf. (It doesn't look nearly as nice as these do though.)

    Book to Movie: The Hunger Games Official Trailer

    The official trailer was released today. It looks all kind of fabulous! I love that it does not give too much away, but leaves you hanging so that those that haven't finished reading the books yet can still have a chance to read it between now and March 23, 2012. (If that is you, you NEED to read this asap!)

    Things I like so far:
    • Jennifer Lawrence looks perfectly cast as Katniss - she's bad ass, but also everyone's girl at the same time.
    • Lenny Kravitz as Cinna!
    • The cinematography looks amazing. Rarely do movies look better than what I imagined, but since I didn't know what to imagine most of the time while reading the book, the clips in the trailer really give a lot of depth to the background of the story.
    Things I wasn't expecting:
    • I'm "Team Gale" and he doesn't look the way I pictured. He looks so much manlier than I pictured him... I kind of imagined him in a more delicate way... a la Orlando Bloom as Legolas in Lord of the Rings, perhaps?
    Can you tell that I'm SUPER excited?! How about you?

    To view the trailer in all it's beauty, check it out from iTunes here.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    In My Mailbox :: 5

     In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where you can post the books that you've received, purchased, won in a giveaway, borrowed from the library, swapped on PaperBackSwap, etc. For more information, click here

    Won from a giveaway from Anne at The Book Garden:

    Title: The Lantern
    Author: Deborah Lawrenson
    Publisher: Harper (August 9, 2011)
    Paperback, 400 pages

    A modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder—set against the lush backdrop of Provence

    Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les GenÉvriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.

    But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.

    Like its owner, Les GenÉvriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger?

    Eve does not know that Les GenÉvriers has been haunted before. BÉnÉdicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.

    Title: French Lessons
    Author: Ellen Sussman
    Publisher: Random House (July 5, 2011)
    Paperback, 256 pages

    A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans as they each set off to explore the city with a French tutor, learning about language, love, and loss as their lives intersect in surprising ways.

    Josie, Riley, and Jeremy have come to the City of Light for different reasons: Josie, a young high school teacher, arrives in hopes of healing a broken heart. Riley, a spirited but lonely expat housewife, struggles to feel connected to her husband and her new country. And Jeremy, the reserved husband of a renowned actress, is accompanying his wife on a film shoot, yet he feels distant from her world.

    As they meet with their tutors—Josie with Nico, a sensitive poet; Riley with Phillippe, a shameless flirt; and Jeremy with the consummately beautiful Chantal—each succumbs to unexpected passion and unpredictable adventures. Yet as they traverse Paris’s grand boulevards and intimate, winding streets, they uncover surprising secrets about one another—and come to understand long-buried truths about themselves.

    Borrowed from the library:

    Title: The Happiest Toddler on the Block
    Author: Harvey Karp, MD
    Publisher: Bantam (August 26, 2008)
    Paperback, 336 pages

    This streamlined revision of the breakthrough bestseller by renowned child-development expert Dr. Harvey Karp will do even more to help busy parents survive the “terrible twos” and beyond....

    In one of the most revolutionary advances in parenting of the past twenty-five years, Dr. Karp revealed that toddlers often act like uncivilized little cavemen, with a primitive way of thinking and communicating that is all their own. In this revised edition of his parenting classic, Dr. Karp has made his innovative approach easier to learn—and put into action—than ever before.

    Combining his trademark tools of Toddler-ese and the Fast-Food Rule with a highly effective new green light/yellow light/red light method for molding toddler behavior, Dr. Karp provides fast solutions for today’s busy and stressed parents. As you discover ways to boost your child’s good (green light) behavior, curb his annoying (yellow light) behavior, and immediately stop his unacceptable (red light) behavior you will learn how to soothe his stormy outbursts with amazing success—and better yet, prevent these outbursts before they begin! And the new thirty-item glossary of Dr. Karp’s parenting techniques will save you valuable time when you need to instantly calm an out-of-control child. The result: fewer tantrums, less yelling, and more happy, loving time for you and your child.

    Title: The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons
    Author: Amanda Blake Soule with Stephen Soule
    Publisher: Trumpeter (August 9, 2011)
    Paperback, 224 pages

    Many of us with busy families yearn for a slower and simpler life with our kids—one that is connected to the seasons and the natural rhythm of the year, one that has our children spending more time out of doors rather than in, one that balances out some of the busyness of our lives—the computers, the televisions, the cell phones—with a deeper connection to the Earth and an appreciation for and understanding of the natural world. The Rhythm of Family is a guide to living such a life for any family.

    Following the course of a year through the passing of the seasons, this book explores the ways we can create deep family connections and meaningful memories through living in tune with the cycles of nature. From stomping around in mud boots in the spring to gathering around the woodstove in winter, our activities naturally change from season to season—from the rhythms of the seasons comes the rhythms in our homes, our hearts, our families, and our every day. Paying attention to these changes slows us down, inspires new types of creative play and exploration, instills a sense of family togetherness, and deepens an awareness of nature and self that can make our lives, days, family, and earth grow stronger.

    The Rhythm of Family explores what we learn and can gain as parents and families by encouraging and experiencing creativity and nature exploration with our children, the seasons can provide us with a rhythm that brings us close to the earth, and closer to our children.

    Title: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
    Author: Christopher McDougall
    Publisher: Knopf (May 5, 2009)
    Hardcover, 287 pages

    Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

    Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

    With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

    Received from PaperBackSwap:

    Title: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
    Author: Aimee Bender
    Publisher: Knopf Doubleday (June 1, 2010)
    Paperback, 292 pages 

    The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

    On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

    The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).

    Title: Alice-Miranda at School
    Author: Jacqueline Harvey
    Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 5, 2011)
    Hardcover, 257 pages

    Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennigton-Jones can't wait to start boarding school. When she arrives at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, the adventure begins . . . only not quite as Alice-Miranda expects. The minute she sets foot on the school's manicured grounds, she senses that something is wrong: Miss Grimm, the headmistress, is nowhere to be seen, the gardens have no flowers, and a mysterious stranger seems to be hiding out on the premises.

    But that's not all. Some girls are mean and spoiled, like Alethea Goldsworthy. Can Alice-Miranda defeat Alethea in one of three difficult tests she must pass to remain at school? Will she discover Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale's big secret—and make things right? Well, if anyone can, it's spunky Alice-Miranda!

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