Although James Patterson may best be known for his Alex Cross mysteries and Women’s Murder Club series, readers more familiar with his work may know that he has more up his sleeve than just adult thrillers. In fact, Patterson recently released the third book in his Maximum Ride series, meant for the young adult crowd. These books follow a group of kids known as “the flock,” who, because of experimentation that was done on them, are left with bird DNA that gives them avian-like qualities.
The flock is led by 14-year-old Max, and she and the other “bird kids” range in age from 6 to early teenager-hood. Although, as you can probably already tell, science fiction plays a large role in these novels, there is plenty of action, adventure, comedy, and even a little romance to appeal to even the most skeptical pre-teen or young adult. As well received by parents as kids, the first two books in the series, The Angel Experiment and School’s Out Forever, led to the creation of character blogs, a MySpace profile, and even movie talk.
Constantly on the run, the flock’s adventures bring them from California to New York City, from Texas to Germany, and touch on everything from mad scientists to the environment to Internet blogging. With characters who are both implausible and yet still incredibly real, the stories are edge-of-your seat exciting, entertaining, and poignant. Interweaving into the thrills stories of friendship, morals, and loyalty, Patterson ensures parents will approve and kids everywhere will relate. Easy to read, witty, and engaging, these books are sure to get young readers excited to pick up a book time and again.
Tonight I went to see a movie by myself, notebook and pen in hand. I sat in the very front, I didn't negotiate popcorn priveleges or share soda. It was a beautiful moment as a single person.
Becoming Jane is not a biopic, and the expectation of such will ruin the enjoyment of this charming movie. For Austenites, the parallels between the characters in the film and the 19th centruy English folk brought to life by Jane's pen, especially those populating Pride and Prejudice, will be clear. It is Jane Austen reimagined as Eliza Bennett, with a dash of Lydia's passion. Tom LeFroy is Wickham all over, except for his Darcy-esque goodness. There are several Mr. Collinses, all inhabiting a different angle on what Mr. Collins could truly have been. It's novelization in reverse. We writers create characters that are amalgams of the people we know in real life; this flight of fancy took whole characters and reduced them to their contributing parts.
There is a funny little moment when Jane hears Lady Gresham utter the phrase "pretty little wildnerness". She gets that familiar writer's urgent need to record, and rushes off to jot down the phrase, which would be spoken by Lady Catherine in the pages of Pride and Prejudice.
Lady gresham: "what is she doing?"
Mrs. Austen: "she's...writing"
Lady Gresham: with horror, "Can anything by done about it?"
No, your Ladyship. Not a damn thing.
It's all speculation, of course. When the suspension of my disbelief relaxed allowing my logical mind space to maneuver, I remembered that Jane Austen was far from beautiful and was certainly not as radiant as Anne Hathaway. And the author who penned Lydia so unsympathetically could hardly have behaved as the Jane protrayed in this movie. But none of this really matters, in my own fantasy of the life and loves of Jane Austen, this is how I would have wanted it to go. No, she never married, but she loved as deeply as any intelligent, rebellious, culturally constrained woman could love.
But the number one reason to see this movie? Tom LeFroy is sexy as hell.
Enjoy it, ladies. It goes into wide release this weekend.
This book was a joy to read. The photographs are beautiful and plentiful. The text is interspersed with personal stories of amazing finds and histories of popular garage sale collectibles. Barbie is featured, so is the legend of the person who found an original Declaration of Independance in a frame he bought for a pittance. The author's passion for garage saling is infectious as it shines through the expressive and engaging writing style. He also has a blog, by the way. Check it out.
For the newbie saler or seller, there are sections of tips on what to bring (dolar bills!), how to haggle, when to go in order to catch the great finds (early!) or strike an amazing bargain (late!), how to make your sale attractive (have some big pieces).
I'm not a garage saler myself, although this book made me want to be. I could see decorating and furnishing my house with the things one can only find in someone else's yard. I do love a bargain.
I love Elizabeth Pantley, and I've loved her for a long time. I recommend the no cry sleep solution at LLL meetings all the time, because of it's coverage of the vast middle-ground beteween all night giving and all night giving up. If there was one parenting guru I would light a torch for and follow, it would be her.
So when I found out there was going to be a blog tour for a Pantley discipline book, The No-Cry Discipline Solution, I begged for a spot. I would have read it anyway, I'm sure, even though I really hate discipline books for the same reason Casey does. they make me feel like the worst mother on earth. I lose my temper. I yell. I say things that I won't catalogue here, because they make me feel sick inside. I trust Elizabeth Pantlely to 1. understand and 2. lead me away from the path of darkness.
As soon as I got the book in the mail I opened it randomly, so it could reveal its wisdom to me in a mystical, biblical way. And lo, it did. The page I opened up to was comically useful: detailing a fight we have almost daily getting out of the house for school. "we're leaving!" "no we're really leaving now!!" "where the hell are your shoes? how many times do i have to to tell you to put your shoes on? why do'nt you ever listen to me?" "okay, i'm leaving without you!!" yeah. I'm a great mom.
Anyway, the page I opened up to had a heading on it "think it, say it, mean it, do it". it's so simple: don't say you're ready to leave until you actually are ready to leave, don't get sidetracked on your way out the door (for me, that means having keys and/or wallet in hand before any words are spoken) when you're ready to leave, don't lose your freaking head over it, just do it. Do it often enough, and the kid will learn that you mean what you say.
Naomi has learned that when I say it's time to go it doesn't really mean anything. I'm a scattered individual, and I'm "almost ready to leave" when i'm looking for one shoe, hunting for my keys, fixing a snack for later. She knows "almost time to go" is a mushy, hazy statement. She's a smart girl. And I"m a little ashamed that such an obvious "say what you mean, mean what you say" directive should have so much impact on our daily lives, but it did. Mornings have been much smoother since the arrival of this book.
Further perusal revealed a menu of solutions, much like the No-Cry Sleep Solution. They are all basic, simple things that respect both parent and child. Instead of being based in control, they are based in respect. It's the kind of "duh" things you know in your head but lose access to in the heat of the moment.
In the desperation to correct the misbehavior I can rush toward a punishment, and Pantely reminds me that this isn't necesary: Naomi will learn more about my anger that she will learn about her behavior, taking the space I need and waiting until I am calm and rational doesn't silently condone whatever behavior I wanted to correct. I can come back after I have collected myself to administer the needed discipline. Children aren't like dogs: disciplline doens't have to be immediate and swift in order to be retained.
I love her idea that time-outs are not punishment as much as they are a tool to help everyone cool off and think. In our house, time outs are something that we all need from time to time. While Naomi doesn't like time-outs, she might acknowlege that she needs one in order to settle herself down. She sees me take my time outs, and when she notices me getting a little frayed at the edges, she tells me to take one. I only wish I could get away with the 29 minute time out, one minute per year of my age.
I usually don't have the stomach for so much psychological realism, the first chapter of Once Upon a Day made me clench my stomach and sheild my eyes. Lisa Tucker so clearly evoked one character's loss of his four-year-old daughter in a freak car accident that if I hadn't been reading it for MotherTalk I might have put the book down and taken to my bed.
I'm glad I stuck with it. I sat in my chair and read until my back ached and my eyes begged to close, because I jsut had to see how these threads were woven together at the end. It's been a long time since a book kept me up all night but this one was well worth the sleeplessness. I also thought I wouldn't be able to handle experiencing the sudden loss of child and family through the miracle of fiction until my kids were older, not so young and tender. It turns out that I actually do have the capacity to get over myself and just read the book, and my ability to sacrifice sleep for a good read is undiminished. Things I might not have known if Once Upon a Day had not arrived in my mailbox.
The characters are likable without losing their realistic edge, sometimes they do things that make me want to reach into the book and wring their necks, but that's part of what makes them lovable. The story clips along, leaving just enough information to keep you going but moving slow enough to be a truly satisfying read. I plan on rereading Once Upon a Day because I'm sure there were layers and subtlties I missed in my hurry to get to the end.
Every time I thumb through From The Hips I see something that I wish I'd read when I was preparing for motherhood.
The book is color coded by phase (pregnancy, birth, becoming a parent, and baby), so the information you need is easy to find. The anecdotes and quotes are plentiful, which illustrates very clearly that there are many kinds of mothers, circumstances and babies, and give the book an easy, shoot the breeze kind of feel without skimping on needed information. It's a good balance between a dry medical manual (or a scary catalogue of all the horrible things that could happen) and an insubstantial but friendly Girlfriend's Guide type of book. You can use this book for a handy reference guide and also for little boosts of necessary, valuable emotional support: the authors, Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris, take constant care to address the psychological impact of whatever's under discussion, from having your child end up in the NICU to your post-baby body- and self-image.
But it's not all serious; pop culture makes its appearances, notably in a discussion of the MILF phenomenon: "The idea that a mom who is also supersexy can be a relief from the dowdy suburban stereotype. Finally, mothers are allowed to be desirable". That's great! But! It's also kind of a relief to have that time in your life when you don't have to conform to any kind of hotness yardstick, and the MILF standard has raised the bar a little beyond yoga pants and milky t-shirts. "How are we supposed to feel good about our bodies when all the "hot moms" we see look like they're not moms at all?". Cuts both ways, that MILF thing.
There is even a section on the dangers of Internet self-diagnoses: "When you are up at 2 AM maniacally cross referencing acog.org with marchofdimes.org with a blog post recounting the tragic story of someone's cousin, you're not even seeing straight, much less seeing things in context. And though you may eventually come across some information that soothes you enough to shut down the computer and go back to bed, on the way to that information you may have come across a few sites that made you think that you might be about to drop dead." Truer words were never written.
The best thing about this book was the even-handed treatment of the wide range of parenting styles a new mother is faced with, and the acknowledgment of the stress so many choices can produce. At the end of the book there is a pro/con rundown of a few popular parenting gurus, who likes them and why, and how to tell if what they each advocate would be a good fit for you. It's easy to find a book that will tell you to do whatever is right for you and your family, but I've never seen one before that will actually help you sort through everything to find out what that actually might be.
If you're in the market for a friendly, hip, authentically informative, colorfully fun guide to pregnancy and the transition to parenthood, From The Hips delivers. (ha!)
Writing Motherhood, by Lisa Garrigues, is a great book for those of you who would like to write about motherhood, but feel intimidated by the process and the time it takes. The book is filled with prompts for getting started and strategies to grab little bits of time.
I share Dawn's dislike of prompts, and my process is very like what the author proposes in the book already. I have a notebook that is with me at all times, I never called it my Mother Notebook, but that's what it is. My notebook is filled with the Stuff of motherhood, reminders and doodles and schedules and endless ruminations on the sleep habits of my babies. Frustration and joy that would have been lost to the memory laspes of sleep deprivation are saved in those pages. It was a surprise to see how much I found in those pages that I had forgotten.
The author is inpsiring when she writes about the intrinsic worth of writing about those details of motherhood that seem too mundane to record. Especially in the early years I never thought I was writing much of substance, but a quick look back at spent notebooks revealed my life as it was and is. When my daughters are old enough to read back through my pages and pages of scribblings, they will get a vivid picture of what their babyhood was like from my perspective.
The book is thoughtfully written, with short chapters that get to the point quickly, so you can leave this book in your bathroom and grab little nuggets of writerly and motherly wisdom as you attend to your most basic needs. It's an easy, cheerful read and a great gift for that mother you know who is in the thick of transition to motherhood and could use an easy, simple structure to get her expressing, in her own words, what motherhoood is like for her. Mother's Day is coming; I'm sure you can think of a mom this would be a great gift for. It might be you.