6th of 52 books in 52 weeks- Jane Austen in Scarsdale

I really enjoy fiction loosely patterned after a Jane Austen work. She is one of my very favorite authors, I think her stories were brilliant and timeless. I love a good story patterned after one of her books -or one that takes a book and continues the story. Mind you, I did say a "good" story. I have read some that were badly done.
Jane Austen in Scarsdale- or Love, Death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen is a Jane Austen re-telling: done well.

Anne Ehrlich is a quiet, well-liked high-school guidance counselor.  She is mild and kind, but her family life is a bit stressful.  Her father and sister are extravagant and are now deep into debt, Anne is faced with the task of persuading them to downsize.  Anne's old flame comes back into her life, now successful and with a fiancee.

This story, I'm sure you've guessed by my description- is a re-telling of Jane Austen's  "Persuasion" 

Anne has to work out selling her family home,  the old flame she once rejected come back into her life, her aging and loving grandmother,  the craziness that is college admissions time at her work...and perhaps a new love interest.  The story is very entertaining, full, and satisfyingly Jane-ish.  The story works out just as satisfying as Jane Austen would have wanted.

This was my second time reading this story, it was just as engaging as the first time.

 *you can join up with the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge here**

5th of 52 books in 52 weeks- Balancing Acts

Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman is about 4 old college friends who re-connect over yoga class.

Charlie has given up her high-powered Wall Street life to open a yoga studio, she is athletic, confident and pursuing a rewarding career that she loves- but she can't quite put a past hurt behind her.  Sabine and Bess are both writers, but stuck in the entry-level jobs they thought they would have long left behind for serious writing.  Naomi is a beautiful ex-model/photographer and a single mom.

These friends re-connect over yoga- a class Charlie offers hoping to boost her new studio, Bess joins up for less than admirable reasons and the others join up hoping yoga will help their stuck lives. 

Balancing Acts is a nice read about the positive power yoga can have on life.  Reading about these womens' deepening friendships and the changes in their personal and professional lives was enjoyable- the characters were all interesting enough to keep me reading and I liked the blend of friendship/empowerment/ and change.

A warm/fuzzy story that is positive and easy to relate to.  Makes you kind of want to get your yoga mat out too, a plus. :)

4th of 52 books in 52 weeks- Ms.Taken Identity review

Ms.Taken Identity by Dan Begley is chick lit with a twist, the main character is a man and the book is written by a man.

Mitch Samuel is a young English college professor, working on his PhD and also on a deep, literary masterpiece that he cannot get published.  As the book progresses, he slowly realizes how pretentious and uppity he is, as are all the girlfriends he selects.  A sequence of hilarious man-tantrums leaves him face-to-face with a famous author of chick-lit.  While formulating the perfect uppity put-down, he somehow ends up telling her about his cousin who is trying to write a book in the chick-lit genre and the author offers to help sell it.  Mitch, thinking that trash/formula chick lit would be a slam-dunk project- tries to write one, and cannot.  His research into the female mind leads him into a different world, new friends he would have passed by before, new love- and a web of lies he must untangle.

This was a very fun read, a lighthearted look at life through a guy's eyes.  Mitch was very endearing, but also very dense at times.  It was satisfying to follow his adventures as he 'grows up' in some things. 

A fun read, I recommend it. :)

*you can join up with the 52 books in 52 weeks here

3rd of 52- Dune Road book review

I have joined up with the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. Here is my 3rd book...

Dune Road by Jane Green

Fiction, a fun read, but a tad deeper than chick lit.

This is the story of Kit, newly divorced mom of two- living in a town full of wall-street families.  Their coastal town of Highfield is close enough for the high-powered wall-street bankers to commute...leaving their beautiful mansions and families behind during the day, visiting/playing on weekends.  Kit was one of these banker's wives, till she decided her marriage was dead, and that she did not want the lifestyle anymore.

The beginning of the book follows Kit as she enjoys her new-found freedom, her comfortable down-scaling, and finding a dream job as an assistant to a famous writer.  We meet her friends, and get drawn into a bit of mystery...something you don't usually find in chick lit.  Kit struggles with missing her husband, realizing he is her best friend and the person she turns to for safety.  She gets thrown several family/friend complications, it keeps you guessing and hoping for a happy ending for her. 

It was a fun read, and made me thankful for my husband- my best friend and the person I turn to.

52 books in 52 weeks: 2nd of 52

 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- review:

I heard an intriguing talk-up of this book on the radio one day, the story of the author-convinced by a loved one to finally submit his story and then dying before it was released, never knowing what a huge hit it became...hooked me.  Also that it has been translated many times, is a best-seller and has already been made into a movie overseas- with plans to make a movie here in America- and it has sequels....sounds like a must-read. 

It's got action/adventure/mystery/intrigue/sex...not my usual genre, but every once in a while I enjoy such a book. 

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist- headed to a short jail stay for libel, is hired to solve a 40 year missing person mystery by the head of one of Sweden's wealthiest family.  40 years ago, at a family gathering on an island, a young niece disappeared- 40 years later, no body, no answers.  Her aging uncle wants peace before he dies.

Lisbeth Salander- the girl with the dragon tatto- petite, much younger looking than she is- the perfect victim..as her concerned boss thinks of her- is hired to help Blomkvist.  Lisbeth works for a security firm, as the book unfolds, it is revealed that everyone, including her boss, severely underestimates her abilities.  Lisbeth as a character is a mystery- but she has this underdog quality and you find yourself liking her. 

This book had disturbing story lines of abuse, bondage, torture, murder.  I read around these as best I could-trying to not lose too much of the story...any lesser of a book, I would have walked away- but even though I was repelled by some of the story content, I really liked the two main characters- and the mystery was irresistible.  This book was definitely a page-turner, very hard to put down. 

As the book was ending, I struggled with myself, trying to decide if I would continue with the series.  I truly liked the heroine, Lisbeth, and wanted to see what happens to her in other books..but I was wary of more disturbing content.  I was hopeful that the content was story-driven, and that perhaps the other books would take a different turn.  However, the end of the book provided a teaser excerpt from the next book, and it was, disappointingly, more bondage/abuse.  Decision made, I will not be reading any more of the series.

This book was very well written, likable characters, despicable villains..but pretty disturbing. 

52 books in 52 weeks: 1st of 52

I am joining up with the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge.  If you are interested, you can go to the
52 Books in 52 Weeks blog and link up.  You can join up at anytime.  I love to read, I usually have more than one book going at a time...but, there are times I read in spurts.  The challenge for me will be to finish a book every week and to then take the time to blog about it.

Here is my first book of the year:

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing our children from birth to seven
by Barbara Patterson and Pamela Bradley.

This book was recommended on several Waldorf homeschool blogs, I had looked at it a year or two ago, and did not order it because my kids are on the older end of things, my baby is 9. sob, sigh.
I tend to like a lot of bang for my book buck....

I ordered it this time, and found it pretty informative.  It explains a lot about Waldorf schooling, something of which I knew a little, but this book connected some dots for me. I was interested mostly in learning how to create gentle, rhythmic order for my kids day- this book was helpful with that. 

The chapter titled "Creative Discipline" was the most informative for me, the sub-chapters included;
*Clear Messages and Limited Choices, *Rhythm, *Imitation and Self-Discipline, *guidance.  I was pleasantly surprised to agree with and have used some of the disciplining philosophy in our own parenting.  We've always been kind of old-fashioned/no-nonsense as far as parenting- I have read and explored many of the more popular child-rearing books out there...and frankly, I don't gel so well with the ideas of reasoning with your toddler, etc....I was pleasantly surprised to read this Waldorf teacher's views on limited choices, something we practiced with our very young children.

All in all, I did enjoy this book and found much to ponder on.  I think anyone desiring a more gentle/creative atmosphere in their home would benefit from this book, as also would parents wanting to know more about Waldorf education and how it all works. 

Two Princesses of Bamarre-great YA literature

Book Review: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
by Gail Carson Levine.

This is one of my favorite books, a real treat to give to a young teen reader. The Two Princesses of the kingdom Bamarre, Meryl and Addie are as different in personality as they are different in appearance. Meryl has always, even in childhood, been the brave, adventurous sister. She memorizes and acts out the great epic poem of her country and looks forward to the day she can set out to rid her country of monsters, dragons and illness. Addie is the timid sister, afraid of shadows, afraid of spiders, clinging to Meryl-her protector, fearful of the day her sister will leave her for adventure.

Meryl's favorite childhood game is acting out the Gray Death adventure, a mysterious illness that kills hundreds of people in Bamarre every year. A mystery about how to catch it, and uncurable, their mother died of the illness when they were small. In Meryl's favorite game, her sister Addie is stricken with the illness, and Meryl goes forth on adventure, returning just in time with the unkown cure.

When Addie is 16, the unthinkable happens, Meryl is struck by the Gray Death. Addie hopes her father, a cowardly King- will fulfill the prophecy; "When cowards found courage and rain fell over all Bamarre, the cure would be found"
When the king comes home very quickly from his quest, Addie realizes she must go out and attempt to save her sister.

What follows is a wonderful adventure, filled with peril, love, wickedly intelligent dragons and courage found. She has a bit of help from a sorcerer and some magic gifts her mother left; luck, determination, and deep abiding love for her sister to keep her feet on the adventure thrust upon her.

It is a beautiful story, filled with suspense, and not quite the ending you were expecting.
Not a bad ending, mind you- I would have thrown the book across the room for a bad ending...but it wasn't what I expected..which is good sometimes; formula endings are a bit too-easy, mostly.

For a story hard to put-down, and for a story to inspire your girl to be the hero in her own life, The Two Princesses of Bamarre will truly satisfy.

Good reads for kids -Audio Book review

I wrote in an earlier post about audio books being one of my homeschool secret-weapons.
In this post, I would like to share one of our all-time favorite audio stories, A Coyote's in the House by Elmore Leonard.

Read superbly by Neil Patrick Harris- (really, I could go on and on about what a splendid job he did with this..) this is the story of Antwan, hip & wild Hollywood coyote- living the good life in the Hollywood hills, content to dine on left-overs scrounged outside movie-star homes, watching movies at the drive-in and through windows of homes, enjoying the wild/free life of living coyote.

Antwan is curious about the lives of domesticated dogs, and when he meets Buddy and is invited by Buddy to switch places with him, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he hilariously learns how to be dog. Antwan becomes the new family pet, sharing the house with Buddy and Miss Betty- a showdog. In return for lessons on being a dog, Antwan agrees to teach Buddy how to be wild and to introduce Buddy to Antwan's pack.

This story shines because of the fast and funny dialog between characters. It's wonderful on audio with the entertaining accents done by Neil Patrick Harris. Antwan calls Buddy "homes" and runs with a gang called the "wild diablos"- he exudes coolness. Buddy is the stern ex-dog star, Miss Betty the elegant, stuck-up show dog. The best character reading had to be Lola, the show cat Miss Betty talks Antwan into cat-napping, instead of eating...she is read as a valley-girl-talking aspiring actress, and it is just hilarious.

Antwan is accepted in the family as "our Timmy", Buddy becomes more depressed at being the over-the-hill dog star and Miss Betty comes up with a plan to cheer him up. The plot and adventures get all tangled up in good fun. All my kids, ages 7 up to 14 loved this book, they begged to continue listening everytime we got into the car.
-One warning, the *b word is used twice, in referring to a show dog- it's done in a technical, matter of fact way, not meant to be used as a bad word at all- but it might startle you if you don't know it's coming. My kids don't realize at all that it is used in a bad way, so it did not cause any comment with my bunch. -just a warning.

love this story, give it a 5 stars out of 5 stars.