Book Review - Tales of Oliver Pig and Frog and Toad Together/Read-a-Thon Recap

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

During the Read-a-Thon I read a lot of kids books for the simple reason that I have a kid, a 2 year old to be exact and if there was any way I was going to get any reading done I was going to have to compromise on content. With that in mind two of the books I read were Tales of Oliver Pig: Level 2 (Easy-to-Read, Puffin) by Jean Van Leeuwen with pictures by Arnold Lobel and Frog and Toad Together (I Can Read Book 2) by Arnold Lobel.

I really enjoyed reading the five tales of Oliver's life at home in Tales of Oliver Pig. Oliver and his family members are very lovable characters who are warm and face life with a gentle humor. There is one issue that I had with this book though I am not sure children would think of it the same way. Although each story showed Oliver at home they didn't exactly flow together. Each story stood on it's own. If they were read separately many one each day I don't think it would seem strange maybe it was just because I read the whole book in one sitting. Overall though I give it thumbs up.

The Frog and Toad books are ones that people requested a lot while I worked at the bookstore too. Again for whatever reason I never got around to reading any of them so when the Read-a-Thon came up I figured it was the perfect opportunity. Plus my son is becoming interested in longer books now so I though this would be a god one and boy was I right. I don't know why exactly but Frog and Toad seem to have some kind of magic that kids just understand. As soon as I started reading Frog and Toad Together to the little guy he was mesmerized, he listened intently to every single word and enjoyed pointing out and describing the activities of Frog and Toad in all the pictures. I will definitely get more Frog and Toad books in the future, these will be great books to offer as he grows into reading on his own.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - November issue of Good Housekeeping
Book - A Wife's Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents by Jenna D. Barry
Audio - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Book Review - Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne/Read-a-Thon Recap

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back when I worked in the bookstore people would ask for this book left and right. It was required reading for lots of schools in the area and on top of that kids just love the series. They would actually recommend it to their friends and once they read one they would just devour all the rest of them. Even though they are pretty short I never picked one up when I was there but now with the read-a-thon I checked the first one in the series out of the library to fill my reading time.

"With an entertaining blend of fact, farce, and fantasy, Osborne tells the story of Jack and his sister, Annie, who take a trip in a magic tree house and land in a time 65 million years ago. They find dinosaurs and volcanoes and adventure. Veteran storyteller Osborne builds the power of reading into the story: it's the books in the tree house that give the kids the magic to travel and see far, far away."--Booklist.

This book was an easy read due to it's length and pageturnability. The story makes sense as much as a time travel story can and the characters are believably brother and sister they don't overly love or hate each other which is something that can be annoying in children's stories. I totally see how kids can get into these stories, they travel through time make friends with some dinosaurs, get in a tangle with some others and are back home before dark.

I greatly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more in the future, maybe I will pick up a bunch of them next time to boost my book total numbers for the next read-a-thon.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - November issue of Good Housekeeping
Book - A Wife's Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents by Jenna D. Barry
Audio - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Book Review - Stop, Rest and Think by Fuad A. Kamal

Monday, October 26, 2009

I recently received Stop, Rest, and Think by Fuad A. Kamal for review. Stop, Rest and Think is a short book (119 pages) in three parts, Part I is made up of reflections, passages, quotes, quick thoughts very much the self improvement part of the book little things that make you stop and think, Parts II and III are short essays and stories with a definite anti-war slant these stories don't preach to you but are meant instead to make you again stop and think.

You can take in the whole book from front to back rather easily due to it's short length but one of the great things about this book is that you do not need to be read each entry in order. All the part compliment each other making for a full reading experience but you can pick it up, turn to any page and start reading without the need to worry if you "missed something."

Every time I read a few pages in this book I wanted to go straight to my computer or journal and write. I wanted to share my thoughts on the topics brought up in Stop, Rest and Think. Passages like:

Sometimes, failure (or fear of it) forces one to
learn how things work far beyond one
would have thought possible (or necessary.)

make me want to say Amen. And what about this one:

If you see a person following their heart, support them
if even with just a word. If enough people
did it, the world would be transformed.

That is so true, sometimes it is hard to do because you don't want to interfere but think of how good you would feel if someone just stopped to say 'good job' when you were working on a particularly hard project. Here is one last passage:

There is so little time to truly enjoy one's parents.
Don't waste a golden opportunity.

This is true not just of parents but of all the people who are truly important to you, figure out who those people are and tell them so, hang out with them, tell them nice things, hug them, you will regret it if you don't.

So all-in-all Stop, Rest and Think is a little book with a lot of say in a very thought provoking way, which seems to me to be exactly what Fuad A. Kamal set out to accomplish.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - The New National Geographic Kids
Book -
Audio - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Seth Grahame-Smith

Sookie Stackhouse Challenge

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I had such a great time doing the Read-a-Thon I thought I would be up for another challenge so after a little searching on the Internet I found one that is right up my alley.
The Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge!

Here are the basics copied from the Beth Fish Reads' blog:
Between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, catch up on Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. No matter if you're starting with book 1 or book 8, you have a year to read all about Sookie. Read Sookie in print, listen to the audio, read an eBook -- format is not an issue.
I am starting a little late but I don't think that will be a problem there are only 8 books as well as a few short stories and I still have nearly 8 months to complete the challenge so here we go.

The Books:

Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

I will add links to the reviews of each as I finish them.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - November issue of Good Housekeeping
Book - A Wife's Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents by Jenna D. Barry
Audio - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Read - a - Thon Recap

Hi everyone,

This is my Read-a-Thon update post. Some people really kept track of how many hours they read and how many pages they were able to read too but I really didn't. I was able to read a lot in the morning yesterday then only a couple hours in the evening and I simply had to go to sleep but my little guy wakes up so early in the morning I was able to roll over grab my iPhone and read another 30 pages or so in an ebook before the 7am official end of the Read-a-Thon which made me feel a lot better about getting all that sleep.
Here is the list of all the books I finished during the Read-a-Thon:

*The Songbird In My Heart
*Dinosaurs In The Dark
*Tales Of Oliver Pig
*Frog And Toad Together
*A Tree Is Nice
*Where The Wild Things Are
*Clovis Crawfish And Petit Papillon
*Jenny Giraffe Discovers The French Quarter
*Jenny Giraffe And The Streetcar Party

I know most of those are kid's books but I feel accomplished anyway, I also read about 50 pages in The Wife's Guide To In-Laws but wasn't able to finish it during the Read-a-Thon. All I can say is I had a great time and can't wait to do it again next time.

Read - A - Thon Update #5

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Well, I finished a couple books since the last time we talked. I finished The Songbird in my Heart and Dinosaurs in the Dark as well as 2 children's picture books that count as far as I am concerned and those are The Lorax and Where The Wild Things Are which helped put my son to sleep tonight.

I wish I had found out about the Read-a-Thon earlier because I really had fun doing this and staying in touch with everyone though the blogs, mini challenges and twitter not to mention the actual reading which was also awesome. Unfortunately with such short notice I couldn't make special plans to clear my day/night and get extra help with toddler watching from my husband so I have to go to sleep tonight. I can't stay up reading till all hours of the night and by that I mean 7am so this might be my last post of the evening and I might have read my last word in this read-a-thon. Giving it a second thought though my son usually wakes up at 6am so I could sleep, get up when he does and read a little more...I might do that...we'll see. If not I will check in with you all tomorrow anyway to recap everything I did read and see how everyone else did.

I already can't wait for April when I will have more prep time and can go all night!!

Read - A - Thon Update #4 mini challenge

We’re now halfway through the read-a-thon, which means it’s time for the Mid-Event Meme. We invite you to answer the following questions and then enter your link in the Mr Linky below:

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne

2. How many books have you read so far? 7

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Nothing in particular just reading as long as I can at this point

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Because I only found out about the Read-a-Thon on Monday I didn't have time to free up the whole day but yes I would have had to make special arrangements

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I have a two year old so there were plenty of interruptions but I also read a lot of kids books with him and listened to an audio book when I couldn't sit and read all proper like and we had guests that I had to take a couple hours off to hang out with

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How much I am loving feeling like I am a part of something

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? not yet but maybe after I am all finished

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? take the time to clear my day and involve my husband in helping out with the little guy to let me read more

9. Are you getting tired yet? a little

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? don't stress just read what you can when you can.

Read - A - Thon Update #3 mini challenge

This is a mini-challenge that I am taking part in which is hosted over at Opi's Ramblings

Perspectives Mini-Challenge

Time Slot: 1pm to 4pm eastern(US)

Prize: Two books, paperback: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon & A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, as well as a mini bonsai kit & book thong

Challenge: Name three books that are told from a different world view, a different perspective, that you have read and enjoyed. Give a one sentence summary of the book, and another sentence that explains how the book shares a unique perspective. The prize books are great examples of this different perspective. In “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, the story is told from the perspective of a book who has autism- he sees the world very differently than someone without autism. “A Prayer for Owen Meany” tells the story of Owen Meany- a boy with a entirely unshakable certainty about the future…he knows his own ultimate fate, and sees things in a whole different light because of it.

Here are my 3 books:

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke - tells the story of a man living and working in France for the first time and is told from the perspective of a first time expat learning the culture and the language of a new country.

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore - tells the story of a young man falling in love with a beautiful vampire and is told with the young man in mind. He is a scrawny, artist who moved out West to become somebody, what he got was vampire love.

And Fools by Christopher Moore - follows the Fools from King Lear and is very very funny. It is basically the King Lear story from Shakespeare told from the perspective of his Fool.

Read - A - Thon Update #2

Well, I read a couple more children's books and put the little guy to bed. I also read about 30 pages in The Songbird in My Heart and listened to the audio of Pride Prejudiced and Zombie while making lunch. Now that he is napping I have to do a little more tidying (did I mention we have company coming over later today?) and then dig into my reading again.

Read - A - Thon Update #1

Well, I am taking my first break from the read-a-thon this morning. I started reading right on time this morning with a few pages in The Songbird In My Heart and then had to take a moment to fix the speakers in the back of the house so I could begin listening to Pride, Prejudice and Zombies throughout the house while made breakfast for the little guy and myself as well as do a little tidying around the house because I learned we would have house guests today just last night.

Then we went on to read a few children's books, Frog and Toad Together, Jenny Giraffe and the Streetcar Party, Jenny Giraffe int he French Quarter, A Tree is Nice and Clovis Crawfish and the Petit Papillon have all been finished. Now the little guy is watching Dinosaur Train and I am doing this. I plan to warm up my cup of coffee (it is really cold here today) and continue on reading The Songbird... for as long as I can then back to kids books when I need to.

Maybe a mini challenge first?...

Getting ready for the Read-a-Thon

Friday, October 23, 2009

I am pretty excited to take part in this reading challenge. Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon is the first time I have ever done anything like this actually in person or over the Internet. I am a little disappointed that I did not find out about this challenge earlier so that I would have enough time to promote and get sponsors so donate to a charity, I love the idea of doing this for fun but it would have more purpose if I was reading for a cause. However if this read-a-thon goes well I will participate in the next one which I believe is in April and in that case I will have plenty of time to set something like that up.

While I am reading the blogs of other people who are also taking part in the read-a-thon I notice people are building strategies so I figure I should come up with one of my own. Here is my plan, it is sort of loose and go with the flow, there are a lot of variables that I can't control or don't know what is happening with them right now so my plan sort of has to be open for change. First, I will actually get up when my 2 year old son comes into get me out of bed in the morning (usually around 6am) then we will start out our reading day with a few children's books that he will most likely bring to me from his book shelf. Then after a quick breakfast I will start reading my books while he plays around with his cars which he can do for quite some time before becoming bored. There might be a little Sesame Street watching in there too so I can make the most of my reading time.
Then here come a few more variables we have been invited to a block party from noon to 2pm but I am not sure if we are going yet because that cuts into nap time (for him and of course my reading. Also my husband who has been working all week in Mobile, AL may or may not be driving home on Saturday to spend the day with us. If he does this is great because he can spend quality time with the little guy while I read, if he doesn't then I will be reading a lot more children's books than I really want to but all will be ok in the end either way. Then I get to read all through naptime and then we will see how the evening goes with me reading as much as I can without giving the little guy too much TV time. And then I plan to read after he goes to bed but not super super late because he will be up and ready to go in the morning with no regard to my having stayed up all night just to read some books and so I will need my beauty rest better known as my So Mommy Doesn't Yell At You Rest.

I am hoping to do a few of the Mini Challenges too and update my blog as often as I can to keep people posted on my progress. I am thinking of updating whenever I finish a book or I need a break from reading. Also, I won't write full on reviews tomorrow just quick thoughts, I will write reviews on all the books I finish tomorrow in the next few days so I can use as much time for reading tomorrow as possible.

NPR story: Rule Of The Undead: Zombies Invade Bookstores

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am never in my car at the right time or day to hear all the wonderful stories they air on NPR but I love them to I often scan NPR's website for new and fun things for my listening pleasure. Today I found a story on all the new Zombie books that are creeping onto bookstore shelves this Halloween season. Read it or listen to it for yourself by hopping over to their site, just click here.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - This month's Parents Magazine
Book - Stop, Rest, and Think by Fuad A. Kamal
Audio - any day now I am finally going to finish that Studs Terkel book I have been listening to off and on forever.

Read - a - Thon Pile

I came upon Dewey's Read-a-Thon so recently that I haven't put much thought into what I was going to read, honestly I only had 5 days to figure it out from the day I learned of the thing so this is what I have so far. I have two books that I have already started but can't think of any good reason not to finish given this wonderful opportunity those are:

* A Wife's Guide to In-Laws (and if my in-laws read this I received this book to review I did not buy it, I love you guys)
* The Songbird in My Heart
* A Year in the Merde

Then on to other books I have on my list that have not been started yet:
* Critical Mass
* Rusty
*Difficult People
* Grey Apocalypse
*Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

And now to a special category see I have a 2 year old son who will be with me 99% of the day on Saturday. He sleeps well at night and takes a good nap but the rest of the time he will be mine to entertain luckily he loves books so on top of the collection of books he already has we went to the library today and picked up a ton of children's books for me to read to/with him when he is in need of love and attention throughout the day. It's a win/win I get to keep reading and he gets new books to enjoy while I read them out loud to him. That list is:

* Dinosaurs Before Dark
* Tales of Oliver Pig

* Mr. Putter and Tabby Feed the Fish
* Dinosaur Time
* A Tree is Nice
* Jenny Giraffe Discovers the French Quarter
* Jenny Giraffe and Streetcar Party
* Clovis Crawfish and the Patit Papillon
* Clovis Crawfish and his friends
* The Sweetest Fig
* Where the Wild Things Are
* Stellaluna
* The Lorax
* The Gift of the Magi
I think these will keep me busy and if we run out of children's books there are shelves of them in his room we can raid, there are also plenty more adult books laying around so I am not worried about getting bored or reading everything I have in the house. This list is just a place to get started.

New Look

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What do you think of the new look for my blog? I wanted something bolder a little more edgy but at the same time professional. Do you think I pulled it off? I think, yes!

This image is designed by Jim Unwin and titled "Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes" a T-shirt with this design on it can be purchased as part of The Select Series by going here.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - The New National Geographic Kids
Book - The Songbird In My Heart by Mark Steven Rhoads.
Audio - just downloaded Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Seth Grahame-Smith I can't wait to start listening to it.

Kid's Pick - 5 minutes for books

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My son will be three years old this December. I have been reading to him since before birth and he has so far picked up my love for books. He has more books than anything else in his room and recently he has been picking out longer and longer titles to read at bedtime, nap time and any other time. For the past few weeks he has been hooked on a book I bought before I was even pregnant.

Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna. I worked at Barnes and Noble before becoming a stay-at-home Mom when Madonna's books came out I was able to pick up first editions of her first two titles. I bought them knowing I would have children some day, my love of reading is something I always hoped to pass on.

Well, here I am with an almost 3 year old and finally reading this book. This is one of the first books my son says the actual title when he wants to read it, he loves the illustrations and the story provides a great introduction and eventually conversation starter for stealing and not judging other people. I am a little afraid he will want to cut a pillow in half some day but, if he learns the lessons then it will be worth it in the end.

Find out what books other kids around the blogosphere have enjoyed (and link up your own) at 5 Minutes for Books' Kids' Picks carnival the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - none right now.
Book - The Songbird In My Heart by Mark Steven Rhoads.
Audio - getting ready to start Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Seth Grahame-Smith


Monday, October 19, 2009

Catherynne Valente author of many wonderful stories including Palimpsest
and The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden made an announcement today. She has sold one of her newest stories The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Why is this such a big deal? Well, first of all she is a great author who produces story after story that will simply capture you and whisk you away to another time and place and secondly she has been making this particular story available on-line for months now. Adding new chapters wee k-by-week which you can read by going here. It is not the

traditional way of doing things for sure but with her presence on the literary scene already established, her wonderful writing skill and her fan base to support this title has been picked up by Feiwel and Friends, a Young Adult imprint of Macmillian. And for those of you who don't already know that is a huge deal. This is where books are headed, a blend of traditional publications and the world wide interwebs. It puts a smile on my face knowing that things like this really are happening. That a "traditional" publishing house can see the potential in working with the web and not against it listening to the people and giving a story a bigger chance in the world.
Not only is Feiwel and Friends picking up the current Fairyland story but they are going to take it to the next level with a sequel to the fairyland story which I can't even tell you how excited I am to experience, knowing Valente it will be a truly enjoyable continuation of her fairyland adventure.

You can keep in touch with Catherynne Valente through her website, facebook or twitter. Purchase her books on

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - This month's Parents Magazine
Book - Stop, Rest, and Think by Fuad A. Kamal
Audio - finally going to finish that Studs Terkel book I have been listening to off and on forever.

Harvard University to put 1000 year old Chinese books online

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A piece taken from a story I stumbled upon online.

''We need to change the mindset that rare materials must be kept behind closed doors,'' said James Cheng, the head librarian at Harvard-Yenching. ''A library is not a museum.''

I love this guy. Of course we want to preserve the old books but why should the content of those books be lost forever or only accessible to a few people? I hope more rare and old texts become available online soon.

Currently "Reading":

Magazine - This month's Parents Magazine
Book - Stop, Rest, and Think by Fuad A. Kamal
Audio - finally going to finish that Studs Terkel book I have been listening to off and on forever. Any minute now minute now it will be done.

Book Review - My Goodness: My Kids by Nesta A. Aharoni

In the green bar across the top of this book are the words "No curfews, No timeouts - No violence, No drugs." An interesting idea but can it really be true? In My Goodness: My Kids: Cultivating Decency in a Dangerous World author Nesta A. Aharoni tries her best to make us believe it is in fact true but after reading the book I still have my doubts.

The idea is definitely a straight forward one be good and your children will be too, raise children to be "good" above all else and you will produce an honest, respectful and kind adult. There are tidbits of information in this book that could be used along your parenting path, like not paying for grades (expect their best and if they need help get it for them) or not being afraid to say you are sorry to your kids (it's only fair if you expect them to say sorry too) but you will have to unearth them from the mounds of gushing praise for her own children that is stuffed into every chapter.

Most chapters are short and can be broken down pretty much like this: first paragraph will open the chapter giving a brief explanation of what the chapter is about, the next two to three paragraphs will vaguely describe the parenting concept and will only occasionally have a real life example or way in which other parents might implement said concept, then the last page of the chapter will be devoted to praising her own children. At times the talk of her children is directly related to the chapter at hand and at other times it seems wholly unrelated but never fear it will always include many examples of how wonderful, honest, smart, respectful and kind they were as children and they are now as adults.

Nesta Aharoni raised three children and those children seem to be smart well adjusted adults now, according to her. But, there in lies the rub, since we the readers don't personally know her children we are constantly taking her word for what great children she has and I can tell you from personal experience a Mother's word about how wonderful her children are is at best slanted and at worst an all out lie. Unfortunately the ideas that are meant to help other parents in their parenting journey are overshadowed by all the motherly child gushing which any parent could spot a mile away thereby making the parental advice all the more unbelievable and difficult to find, let alone follow.

Don't get me wrong, there is good at the heart of this book, in the Appendix of My Goodness: My Kids Mrs. Aharoni asked her other family members to contribute a few words. A paragraph written my her daughter seems to sum up what I believe the general message of this whole book actually is:

My parents showed us time and time again, by buying us ice cream to celebrate a good day or taking us on a vacation to show us the world, that quality of life and doing the right thing are more important than money or possessions. They demonstrated to us that life experience and helping others are more important than a fat wallet or a prestigious title.

I just wish she could have told us this in a more honest realistic kind of way. Less about how wonderful her own kids are and more strategies for myself and other parents like me to implement her ideas so we can all have "good" kids.

Currently "Reading":

Magazine - This months Budget Travel
Book - Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse
Audio - latest This American Life Radio Show

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