Jerseygirl89’s Book Blog

July 28, 2008

Fantastic Book

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Triplezmom @ 9:05 am

(reposted from Dirty Little Secret)

When I grow up, I want to be Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. I realize that it will be difficult, seeing as she’s at most a few years older than I am and that, despite all my wishing, I am still not able to turn into people way cooler than myself. But I feel like it’s worth a try anyway. Because Stefanie Wilder-Taylor just wrote a book called, Naptime Is the New Happy Hour and I am madly in love with it.

I guess you could call it a parenting advice book, but one written by an actual mother. And not one of those mothers who can breastfeed while staring at the wall because she finds it so satisfying to watch her child suckle that she doesn’t need a book or reality TV to keep herself from crying from the boredom. No, this book is written by a mother who can admit that sometimes parenting small people is bor-ing. And extremely annoying. Wilder-Taylor describes life with a toddler like this:

“If they (the toddlers) filled out a profile on eHarmony.com, you’d never be a match. And if you were accidentally sent on a blind date, chances are you wouldn’t be able to agree on a restaurant, let alone make it through the chicken fingers before you said, “Check, please.” But unlike a blind date, you can’t get a friend to call your cell phone and pretend there’s a family emergency or just do tequila shots to get through it. You’re pretty much stuck with your impulse-control-challenged new partner. The sooner you realize your toddler is not purposely trying to drive you crazy, they’re just being their own person, the happier you’ll be.”

For once, parenting advice that actually speaks to MY previous experiences! Because when I read most parenting books, or talk to most other moms, I get the vibe that these people have NEVER done tequila shots. Even the books that are supposed to be hip, I know that they are not aimed at people like me. They are aimed at people like a former co-worker of mine: For the full year BEFORE she got pregnant, she trained herself to wake up at the same time every day (6am), quit drinking, started following the “Best Odds” diet and created a spreadsheet to compare parenting philosophies. I, however, was enjoying the opportunity to sleep late and eat ice cream for dinner right up until I gave birth. Between the book and the great interview at Mommybloggers, I’m pretty sure Stefanie is more my kind of person.

Her book is divided into three sections: Your New and Improved But Strangely Less Exciting Life, The Culture of Toddler and Who Are You. The chapters cover everything from childhood illness, mind-numbing playdates, soul-killing tantrums and the urban-legends of parenting (frequent sex, for example). Wilder-Taylor manages to cover all the important parenting basics with half the pages and twice the snarkiness of the the average parenting book.

Naptime Is the New Happy Hour is also part memoir of life with a toddler. And as most of us know, life with a toddler can be pretty damn funny (after the fact, of course). Wilder-Taylor’s stories are super damn funny and easy to relate to. If you’ve ever wanted to smack a pediatrician or a smug mom at the playground, this book is for you. And until your book arrives, you can check out Stefanie’s blog, Baby on Bored.

This review brought to you by Mothertalk.

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June 27, 2008

The Reincarnationist

Filed under: fiction,historical fiction — by Triplezmom @ 7:59 pm
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(reposted from Dirty Little Secret)


The Reincarnationist
, by M.J. Rose, is a suspense novel that encompasses historical fiction, romance and mystery into one exciting story. The novel mainly focuses on Josh Ryder, a former photojournalist whose life has been turned upside down by memories of someone else’s life. No matter how you feel about reincarnation you can’t help but be pulled into the story.

As I was reading it, I was reminded of how I felt while I was reading The Da Vinci Code. I was so pulled in by the plot that I didn’t notice (until much later) that the characters were a bit two-dimensional. While I think the characters in The Reincarnationist had more depth than those in The Da Vinci Code, I didn’t even contemplate their lack of complexity until I was writing this review.

I simply can’t remember much about them, but I do recall all of the thrilling twists and turns of the plot. I also loved how much history I learned while reading. The book made me curious enough to do some research into the historical periods mentioned, which I have only been inspired to do with a few other books (North and South way back in high school and the Anne Perry mysteries series, for example). I was also very intrigued by the reincarnation aspect of the book. I’ve not thought much about reincarnation but the characters’ explanations are so accessible and fascinating that I’ve been inspired to research that as well.

I’m going to recommend this book to my book club, and not simply because most of them are history dorks like I am. The Reincarnationist never failed to hold my interest. The plot was complex and crossed genres with ease. The characters, if a little thin, were (generally) likable. I’m so glad MotherTalk let me review this book. I probably never would have picked it up on my own, but I certainly enjoyed it.

February 21, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Filed under: historical fiction — by Triplezmom @ 1:09 pm
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My only experience with romance novels has been to deconstruct one for a women’s studies class in college. So when my cousin tried to get me to read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl a couple of years ago, I resisted. It looked like a romance novel. “I don’t do romance,” I told the next three or four people who encouraged me to read the book. But then my book group chose it to be the our February book. And I buckled down to read a “romance” novel.

I was immediately caught up in the history. The book is extremely well-researched and filled with lots of great historical details. History is definitely something “I do”. Especially historical fiction. Gradually I grew more and more involved with the book. My complaints about romance were forgotten as I grew to care about the characters. I began to enjoy their romances and flirtations. I was emotionally involved.

It’s not like I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was a history major, I knew the beheading was coming (if you didn’t know this, you need to read some history textbooks before you do any more pleasure reading). But I stayed up late, reading like it was a brand-new story.

The Other Boleyn Girl is not great literature. But it is an amazing story; one that I recommend highly. The historical detail is meticulous and the way it’s woven into the story is a great way to learn something while reading for fun.

(The movie comes out next week. I’ll be comparing later.)

February 20, 2008

Elizabeth George

Filed under: fiction,mysteries — by Triplezmom @ 11:10 am
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I’ve had to take a break from reading Alison Weir. Not that her work isn’t fabulous, but I’m starting to zone out on Tudor dynasty details. So I’ve paused in the middle of Elizabeth I and started a new mystery.

Elizabeth George is a British mystery writer (what is it with me and British writers?) whose characters are so well-written that I feel like I could go to London and meet them. This is the second book I’ve read by her and it was all I could do to make myself go to bed last night. I stayed up so late that I didn’t even fold all the laundry. While many of her books seem to include the same characters, I wouldn’t call them a series. Each one stands very well alone. Also, series mysteries (much as I love them) rely on your love of the characters to propel them while George’s plots are so intricate they remind me of Alison Weir.

Elizabeth George’s Mysteries

February 6, 2008

The Kite Runner/ A Thousand Splendid Suns

Filed under: fiction,Khaled Hosseini — by Triplezmom @ 9:36 am
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The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, was my book club’s June selection. It was one of those books I never would have read unless forced. In my youth I read a lot of classical literature and many “great works” of fiction. Ever notice how most of those books are somewhat depressing? Or extraordinarily depressing ? Me too. I’ve avoided most of this deep fiction as an adult. I like books to be an escape and a pleasure.

I will admit that <span style=”font-style: italic;”>The Kite Runner</span> was an escape. I read it in one LONG sitting, completely transported into the lives of the characters. I was enveloped in a completely foreign culture, yet I completely understood the characters. The writing was masterful. I could easily see the settings and hear the characters. The plot was compelling and convincing.

The book left me with a sadness and anger that still hasn’t dissipated. It made me forever grateful to be an American citizen and forever disgusted with my fellow humans. It humanized the Middle East in a way that CNN never has. It is a very powerful book on every level.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khalid Hosseini is a wonderful storyteller. His prose is detailed without being boring and his characters are very richly drawn. I loved this book more than The Kite Runner, even though I found it more painful to read. I liked the protagonists more. That means a lot to me when I read.

This book also made me a lot more curious about Afghan culture and history. As I read about Pashtos and Tajeks I felt like I missed out on so much of the world. I am so ignorant about that area of the world, about their history and cultures and poets. Even though I was a history major at a decent university, I only had to take one non-Western history class. I took Japanese history because it was at a convenient time. I know nothing of the world between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Anyway, A Thousand Splendid Suns is an amazing book. Sometimes I still think of the characters, as if they were real people. Real people that have been through things I can’t even imagine. Someone said to me, about the book, “Oh, it’s such a soap opera!”

Soap opera?

Desperate Housewives is a soap opera. The things that happen in Hosseini’s books REALLY happen. All too often. And the brilliant way Hosseini writes pretty much negates the whole soap opera thing.

January 31, 2008

In Cold Blood

Filed under: non-fiction — by Triplezmom @ 12:59 pm
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I haven’t seen Capote, or Infamous. I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s while in college, but I think I was kinda drunk. Suffice to say, I’m not any sort of expert on Truman Capote or his writing. But I think I’m going to become one.
In Cold Blood is a compelling read. Which is especially impressive when you realize that you already know the climax before you even touch the book. Somehow, Capote took the well-known facts and made them interesting enough to feel like a whole new story. The structure of the book is especially brilliant. The story seems to unfold naturally, with all the characters moving towards the end together.

And while his style is journalistic, the words are not dry or emotionless. I know that there are claims that Capote was emotionally involved with one of the killers, but I felt like he was emotionally involved with all of the major characters. I can’t imagine very many modern authors (or publishers) who would do all the research involved in this book.

I also know that there is speculation that many of the conversations in the book never actually happened – or that they didn’t happen the way Capote said. Maybe so. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction – or a combination of the two, it’s certainly a book worth reading.

January 25, 2008

I Am An Idiot Girl

Filed under: humor,memoir — by Triplezmom @ 9:50 pm
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I don’t really remember how I discovered Laurie Notaro, I think it might have been that I had to pick up a book called <The Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club. Seriously, how could you NOT buy a book with that title?

Laurie Notaro writes first person essays making fun of herself, her family, her friends and her life (not necessarily in that order). As you read, you alternate between laughing and remembering your own most embarrassing moments (though they never seem as bad or as funny as Notaro’s). But even though her embarrassing moments are worse than mine, I still kinda want to be her. And not even just because she makes her living writing.

I think it’s because she’s so accepting of herself and her loved ones. Okay, and the published author thing.

Anway, become an Idiot Girl! Or at least try one of her books. They’re memoirs with a sense of humor. And each chapter is short, so they’re easy to fit in.

January 19, 2008

Beginner’s Greek

I initially grabbed this novel for two reasons: I’d read some positive reviews of it and it was prominently displayed at the library. I read a disproportionate number of books that are prominently displayed at the library – the kiddos don’t give me a lot of time to peruse the stacks. I was surprised that the library’s copy hadn’t been snatched up already. Thrilled with my library luck, I started reading it a few days later.

Beginner’s Greek reads like somewhat literary chick lit. Except it was written by James Collins – which is not a pseudonym or the curse of a woman whose parents really wanted a boy. But despite being written by a man, the book is chick lit. And I like good chick lit – I love Helen Fielding, Jennifer Wiener and Jane Green. And I’m not sure I would put Collins with that group.

Not that the book wasn’t well – written; it was. I liked the characters but I didn’t believe them. Much as I enjoyed following the plot and grasping the relationships amongst the characters, it just didn’t seem real. Even though the story was long and filled with setting and scene details, even though none of the characters seemed shallow or cariacatured, I just didn’t believe in their behavior. And it’s not as if middle-class, white, thirty-something Jersey-ites are exactly foreign to me. Yet I believed in the characters in John Burdett’s Bangkok Haunts more. With Beginner’s Greek I felt like I was missing huge chunks of the story. And even though there were lots of well-place flashbacks, I still didn’t understand all the character’s motivations and feelings. Especially when in the context of the novel they were so hyper-self-aware.

But I don’t want to be unduly harsh. I did enjoy the book.  And I may be especially sensitive to characters these days since I’ve read a bunch of memoirs recently. But the truth is when I’m in the mood for literary chick lit, I’m going to look for Jennifer Wiener, not James Collins.

Have you read the book? What do you think about Chick Lit?

January 15, 2008

In Cold Pursuit

Filed under: mystery,science — by Triplezmom @ 1:21 pm
Tags: , , ,

(repost from Commercial Nation)

I am scientifically ignorant. I cheated my way through high school chemistry (thank you, Greg Fine and your red-headed friend whose name I can’t remember) and managed to get my college science credits through physical anthropology and physical geography classes. All the scientific information I retain is taught to first and second graders.

So when I grabbed In Cold Pursuit by Sarah Andrews, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Sure, it was a mystery, but it was a mystery about SCIENTISTS. Would I even understand it?

I am proud to say that I not only understood (most of) it, but I enjoyed it as well. It’s set in Antarctica, among glaciologists and geologists. It was fascinating to read about all the dedicated people who study there and all the people who make it possible to do so. I learned so much about Antarctica, global warming and science in general. And I liked it!

The mystery was good too – I didn’t figure it out until the main characters did. The characters were diverse and well-drawn, the plot complicated and it would be hard to beat the setting.

New Obsession

Filed under: historical fiction,history — by Triplezmom @ 1:15 pm

(reposted from Commercial Nation)

I have been reading a lot of Alison Weir lately. It started when my book club decided to read The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory for our November book. First I had to go read the previous Gregory book, then I had to read the actual history. And there is no one better than Weir for social history on the British monarchy. Really, I think this is how all students should study history – get them intrigued with some good historical fiction, then seduce them with the truth of non-fiction. It’s what turned me from a girl who once fell asleep in tenth grade European history to a history major in college.

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