Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

I loved this book. The first chapter was a little too filled with explanations, disclaimers, and asides, but get through that and the writing was superb. The author is an award winning poet, and this was her first novel, so maybe she had trouble reigning it in. Just as a heads up, she also uses the f-word. It's interesting to me that when she does, it seems to be clustered with other ones, then go hundreds of pages with out any obsenities. Just so you know when you come to them, that they aren't going to appear on every page.

I couldn't put this book down. Do I say that too much? But it was exactly what I was in the mood for. I guess celebrating my anniversary, and then Valentine's put me in the mood for a book about LOVE. This book covers so many different kinds and stages of love.

The story is told in alternating chapters. The first character is Cornelia. I loved her. I'm not an expert in cinema, so many of her references were lost on me. That being said I really liked her point of view, and clever remarks. But the whole thing isn't too clever if you're getting worried it will be one of those over-wordy, over-scripted stories.

I also loved Clare, the 11-year-old co-protagonist. Her chapters are equally well-written, and while she is brave and smart, she is written as an 11-year-old. There were several moments when she didn't understand what was going on, and the conversation she has with Teo walking down the street at the end is exactly what I think a girl her age would try to do.

This book was perfect for me. It is definetly an adult book (there is S-E-X), but the adolescent insight and coming of age aspects were exactly what I like to read. And did I mention how much I love this author's writing style?

Thanks to Betsy and Amy for reviewing this on GoodReads!

Some quotes:

"She put her faith in the crunch of bread, in the saltiness of butter on her tongue; she took their goldenness into her body and, afterward, felt that her soul had been restored."

"In my experience, people love what they love. They just do." This is in explanation about why it's useless to argue about which Shakespeare is best.

"Clare understood suddenly. She's the main character in her story, just like I'm the main character in mine."

"There are people whose deaths make you ache with sadness. And then there are people whose deaths prevent the sun from rising, deaths that turn the walls black in every room you walk through, deaths that send storm clouds and a wail swirling through your head so that you can't hear music and you can't recognize your furniture or your own face in the mirror."

"There are facts and then there is knowledge that has nothing to do with fact."

"I think things out by talking." ME TOO!

"I've always been on the side of love."

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Candy Shop War by, Brandon Mull

Edit: I had a complaint that I didn't explain enough about this book. So, this book is about four 10-year-old kids who make friends with the owner of a new candy shop in town. She provides them with magic candy in return for strange favors. See how they are flying on the cover?

This book was scary for me! I'm not exactly sure what the target audience is. I'd guess 10-14. It's definetly only PG-ish, but I have to admit after reading late at night, it was hard for me to fall asleep! But the scariness came from the magicians, so if you're more of a realist, you will laugh at me, and not be scared.

I was super impressed with this author's creativity. I haven't read the Fablehaven series, but now I'm going to! Several times while reading I couldn't help but wonder how he came up with these ideas. The candy and all the effects were crazy!

I was a bit worried at the beginning when Mrs. White had them keeping secrets. That always makes me nervous, but then of course, the lesson was learned. This is an adventurous story, with lots of twists and suspense. I liked it. I'm glad I read it, and I can see why my 10-year-old enjoyed it so much.
I recommend it for a quick, exciting read. It is very different from the books I've read lately, and that was good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I'm guessing many of you have read this. I can't remember where I first heard it mentioned, but then I kept hearing it mentioned, and always in the context that someone really liked it.

I did too! I recommend this to everyone.

It is well-written. From the beginning I was drawn into the lives of each character. The characters are well-developed. I couldn't put this down, that's how interesting it was.

I've said this a bunch of times already when talking about the book, and my sisters said it to me before. There are times in this book where you brace yourself for something really horrible to happen, but it doesn't. I think Ms. Stockett wisely chose what she included in this book so that it is easier to read. Of course, I did not live in the 1960's in the south, so I can't judge it for it's accuracy.
I read this fast, and I've already passed it on so I don't have a list of quotes. My notes don't make sense with out the book. But really, I was too busy reading to jot as much down as usual.
I'd love to hear if and why you liked this book!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Parents We Mean To Be by Richard Weissbourd

Subtitle: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development

It has been a few years since I've read any kind of parenting book. I used to read them a lot. But I think this book is a little more philosophical than practical. Dr. Weissbourd isn't trying to tell you how to be a parent, how to have obedient children, or even happy children. He is attempting to pin point "the role of parents and other adults in cutivating key moral qualities in children and adolescents."

I really liked this book. I agree with the majority of what Dr. Weissbourd is suggesting. I liked that I didn't feel guilty because I am trying to do many of the things he suggests. (Not neccesarrily succeeding....)

Right off I liked his comparison of shame vs. guilt. I liked how he says we should teach our children to be concerned about others' happiness as well as their own. And especially that we should teach our children that being moral doesn't just lead to happiness, it can be difficult and lonely. I liked when he said that parents feel ashamed because they see their childrens' flaws as directly resulting from their parenting flaws. I'm not the only one right?

Here are some direct quotes to give you more of a feel for this book:

"Children need...a stable enough self-image that their self-evaluations are more important than others' evaluations of them at any given moment."

"When it comes to ridding ourselves of painful flaws, and mood improvement, our faith in the plasticity of personality appears to be endless."

I have to paraphrase this one a little, he talks about when students trangress, the "reflex of teachers and other administrators is to simply tighten or create more rules and step up punishments" rather than using these moments as "opportunities to engage students in understanding why the transgression occurred, how it impacted others, and why certain moral standards exist."

I liked his emphasis that sports are not a metaphor for life, and that sports are not a test of whether children have certain qualities. But he does acknowledge that, "It can help children morally to be asked to sacrifice, to endure some pain, for a communal goal."

When he talks about young adults being disillusioned about their ability to positively affect the world he suggests that we should be "routinely providing children with stories that can help them imagine a life built on their convictions."

As a devoutly religious mother, I feel like many of Dr. Weissbourds ideas positively reinforced many ideals and goals my husband and I have with our family. He did, however, give me a lot to think about.

Although there were some parts that seemed only to apply to very affluent families and communities, I liked reading this book. It has a refreshingly different perspective and approach. I highly recommend it!!
I loved what he said about teacher conferences. He shares an experience with one of his son's teachers, and then says how as parents what we really want is for our kids' teachers to really know them and like them. Yes!! Me too.