Monday, December 28, 2009

Abe's Weird Book Room

This morning when I checked my e-mail I had the lastest edition of The Observer's VSL (Very Short List) waiting for me. This is a daily e-mail I always look forward to getting because you never know what exactly it's going to include from one time to the next. The focus of the VSL is always on little known products or websites that deserve a big shout out. Ones that haven't already been over hyped and yet completely need to be seen. But, what, you may be wondering, does this have to do with Bookish Mom Reviews. The answer to that is quiet simple really. Today's e-mail was about Abe's Weird Book Room.

Many have likely heard of the online book site were visitors can search, buy, and sell books of all kinds (including text books and rare books). Yet what many may not have heard of, I hadn't anyways, is Abe's Weird Book Room. With such noted titles as The Teach Your Chicken to Fly Training Manual by Trevor Weekes, The English: Are They Human? by G.J. Renier, and The Beverly Hillbillies Bible Study by Stephen Skelton it's easy to see why it's called the "Weird Book Room". Infact this section of Abe's site includes only books with the weirdest, strangest titles and subject matter that can be found. There were so many funny ones I figured I just had to pass the link along to all my own viewers and subscribers. Because a heart that follows after books, and even one that doesn't, is sure to get a kick out what you'll find there!

So, without any further delay, I bring you Abe's Weird Book Room!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids by Maureen Healy

365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids by Maureen Healy
(Parenting/Child Development)

Everyone knows that in order for a child to grow up strong, healthy, and intelligent he needs to be well taken care of in the physical and mental sense. There should be shelter, appropriate clothes, healthy foods, and education. But what if these physical and mental things were the only aspects of a child's development we, as parents, paid attention to? What if we were to give our child everything in the way of food, clothes, protection, and education but never take the time to build them up emotionally? What would happen if a child's emotional well being fell to the wayside and was never nutured or encouraged?

In a perfect world no child would go without any of the above, yet unfortunately in today's busy society there are many parents/grandparents/educators who overlook the importance of an emotional upbringing. Every child should live a rewarding life. In order to make this more a reality than just an idea, it is important for parents to empower, educate, and inspire their offspring. Through open lines of communication and a parenting style that comes from the heart, we as parents can not only impact our children in the here and now but forever through the words and teachings we instill in them. For words hurt and words heal. It's all in the way you use them.

Shakespeare once wrote, "The voice of parents is the voice of gods; for their children they are heaven's lieutenants." Buddha is quoted as having said, "Whatever words we utter should be chose with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill." That is to say, what we put in to our children emotionally is going to come out of them ten fold. If we work to influence their emotional beings through uplifting and encouraging conversations and dialogue we stand a chance of not only teaching our children social and emotional intelligences but also of creating in them more rounded, joyful, compassionate, and confident adults.

In her book, 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids Maureen Healy shows in length just how many ways parents can incite their children and help make them more emotionally aware, insightful, and happy. Written in a list format, Healy's book is broken down in to three main segments: EMPOWERING (Where "your child gains: courage, confidence, optimism, connection, and self-trust.") , EDUCATING (Where "your child learns about: emotional awareness, social and service learning, ethical living, and universal truths."), and INSPIRING (Where "your child connects with his or her: inspiration, imagination, creativity, love of nature, art, and spirit."). In each she lists many suggested conversation starters that a parent can use to create a exchange with his or her child(ren). Many are thought provoking on a child's level, but many seem a little cheesy. I guess in that regard, this is one of those books you must pick and choose from. Not everything will work for everyone, yet I'm sure each person who reads this book will be able to pick out several key elements they find beneficial and helpful on some level.

I have to admit that my first impression of Maureen's book wasn't exactly the best. Truth be told, I thought a lot of her suggested conversation starters were just corny and sometimes lame. I get what she was trying to achieve through them; they just, unfortunately, did not all resonate for me. Also I could sense a strong new agey, Buddist vibe in a lot, though not all, of the author's writing. This is not surprising because she openly mentioned, on one of the first pages of this book, her ties to the Buddist and New Age movements. For some this won't be an issue. For me, however, as Christian it was a little too much. I want the best for my children just as much as the next mother, maybe even more, but I don't buy in to a lot of the "the universal harmony" crap that goes along with either of the aforementioned belief systems.

I don't want that to sound like I'm completely tearing down Healy's book, because that would be completely false. I do, again, think that there are quite a few really good thought provoking sayings in this book. Just to name a few from each section...

In the section on EMPOWERING-

#7 The Best (found on page 15)
"Ordering the best from life and expecting it often returns just that- THE BEST. So enjoy looking for the best in your SELF and OTHERS because soon the best starts looking for you."

#17 Everyday (found on page 17)
"You are loved every minute of every day in every way! I love you. God loves you. Your angels surround you and protect you on your way. There is nothing to fear as you let God steer. Enjoy being surrounded by UNIVERSAL love from above."

#35 Never Give Up (found on page 22)
"Never ever give up! Life has some bumps and bruises, ups and downs, highs and lows but never, ever GIVE UP. Being able to hang on and not give up is a GIFT to yourself that you are STRONG, CAPABLE and WILLING to see life through. Plus there are rewards coming to you."

In the section on EDUCATING-

#129 Happy Wishes (found on page 53)
"Everyone is the same. We all want happiness and to avoid pain. This truth connects every person. No matter what is occurring in life- look past the surface and see every person wants to feel happy. Even the grumpy teacher!"

#131 No Better (found on page 54)
"There is no better. Each of us is UNIQUE and SPECIAL. No one is better than anyone else. Every person has gifts that are being birthed within them. EVERY MINUTE. Respect the blossoming of everyone's gifts equally."

#150 Patience (found on page 58)
"Patients are not just for doctors! It is the ability to rest in knowing all is well, others can go first, and you can happily wait your turn. There is not RUSH in life. All the best things are coming to you so just be happy and let them SHOW UP right on time."

In the section on INSPIRING-

#298 Fully You (found on page 101)
"I want you to be FULLY you in everything you do! So enjoy discovering your self, taking your talents off the shelf and being fully the wonderful you. What do you fully want to do?"

#332 No Ordinary (found on page 109)
"There are no ordinary moments! Every second is special. Even if you are picking your nose or wiggling your toes! God is here, there and everywhere. So see the DIVINE light shining everywhere even at night."

#357 Seeds (found on page 115)
"Today's seeds are tomorrow's flowers. You can plant seeds and watch flowers rise up from the dirt. Or you can plant kind words and see all kind words spring up all around you! What type of seeds are you planting now?"

The above is just a taste of what readers can expect to find between the pages of Healy's new release, 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids. I'll repeat that while I don't particular love every saying in this book, I do agree that there are some really great ones to be found. I think the author did a good job of structuring her writing so a young child can easily understand most, if not all, of the 365 sayings. Her simple wording and catchy rhyming text is undoubtedly one of the key componants that will help younger readers commit Healy's "truths" to memory. And while I probably wouldn't use the book in the fashion the author indicated, I would probably use it to get suggestions for cute notes lunchbox notes that I could send to school with my 6 year old daughter.

NOTE: Interested parties can look for this book on shelves next mont, January 2010.

Thanks to Maureen for allowing me this review opportunity!

~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germaphobia, and Laser Hair Removal by Laurie Notaro

If you are looking for a hilarious, never a dull moment book to close out your year then look no further than Laurie Notaro's memoir, The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death. This book is, by far, one of the most comical and entertaining pieces of writing you can get your hands on. I kid you not! Fans of David Sedaris, another popular comic genious of the written word, would do well to check this author out. Her writing style is sincere yet constantly allowing the reader to see even the darker, dirtier corners of Notaro's life.

From sex offenders to unwanted body hair, fatty tissue to personal hygiene, real estate sales to pet training. Laurie covers it all and more, and she does so in an insanely remarkable way. Whether being sincerely sentimental or brutally brash, Laurie lays it all out for her readers. Taking the hard to swallow self-deprecating aproach on many of her essays, it's easy to understand why she's so likeable. Her flair for the no holds barred humor is incredible, and her stories leave the reader (or me anyhow) left wanting more.

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, though a compilation of several short stories bound together in essay format, was one of those books that I couldn't get enough and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I was so excited to finish each chapter and move on the the next that I was shocked and horrified to find that I'd, in a very quick pace, run out of pages. The book was done, and I was left hungry for more. Lucky for me, according to the page just inside the cover, Laurie has graciously written six other books that all sound (based on the title alone) equally as funny, if not more so, than this most recent publication. I know I personally can not wait to get my hands on all of them.

If someone was to ask me what my favorite part of this book was I think I'd be hard pressed to come up with an honest answer. The reason for this is because every chapter was incredibly well written and full of something new and unusual. I suppose, however, that there is one segment in particular that comes to mind as having been especially laugh out loud funny, and that would be the one titled "The Extended Warranty, the Extended Waistband, and the Repairman Who Almost Became a Hostage." In this portion the author describes, in vivid detail, the demise of her treadmill, her body, and her pride.

When her treadmill stops working, Laurie hopes to cash in on her extended warranty and get a repair man out to fix it and/or replace it with a newer, better model. Trouble is, as with most things, instant gratification was not within reach. What should have taken, at worst, a few weeks suddenly turned in to a few months. With each pending maintenence date would come yet another problem and reason for why the machine could not be fixed (or replaced). And with each extension on the maintainance came and extension on Laurie's waistline. The humiliation doesn't stop there; oh no, there's more. But what comes next is even to embarassing to mention here. Besides, I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise for those of you who decide to check out Laurie's stories (he he, Hey, that rhymed.) for yourself.

Let's just say, that anyone who gives Laurie a chance will not be disappointed. Her humor is honest, it is sometimes crude, and it is definitely always crazy. In short, it's a book not to miss!

~Bookish Mom Reviews, aka RebekahC

P.S. A huge thanks goes out to Ms Franco at Random House for sending me this review copy. I would have never discovered Laurie if not for you, so THANK YOU!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak
(Romantic Suspense)

Have you ever found yourself secretly spying on your neighbor, wondering who they really are and what they really do? Have you ever imagined, if only for a second, that there was more than meets the eye and that your quiet little neighborhood wasn't really as quiet and quaint as it seemed to the naked eye?

Brenda Novak's The Perfect Couple does just that. With never a dull moment, this book takes the reader right behind the front lines and shows just how deceptive the human nature can be. One who at first appears to be the world's best neighbor can infact be a blood thirsty, psychopath. Meanwhile, one who appears to be looney off his rocker can indeed be as sane and harmless as a mouse.

Zoe Duncan is a lot of things but a bad mother is not one of them. Therefore, when her thirteen year old daughter, Sam, suddenly goes missing from her own backyard in the family's upper class neighborhood Zoe has no idea what to think. Struggling upwards from a life already ripe with trials and pain, Zoe is no stranger to living in fear of the unknown. Her own daughter's very existance in and of itself is born from grief, but even then she'd never in a million years wish her away. So where on earth could she have gone?

It's a mother's worst nightmare, and no one seems to have a clue as to what could have happened. Sam wasn't always one hundred percent thrilled to bits with the current social situation she and her mother were in. Now engaged to the older, rich, and oh so uptight, Anton, Zoe got used to telling herself this was the life she wanted. It was the security and well being she craved. Sam, on the otherhand, saw through the facade and wanted nothing to do with Anton. She knew the feeling was mutual because her existance only put an undue strain on the relationship. Zoe knows her daughter was unhappy, but she also knows that no matter how much Sam disliked Anton she would never just up and run off without a word. No, Zoe knows that for her daughter to have vanished without a trace it means that there is something far more terrible going on than she ever thought possible.

In a race against time, where uncertainly and blindness are her biggest enemies, Zoe must battle everything she thinks she knows in order to unbury the unfathomable truth and save her daughter before the clock runs out. With Jonathan Stivers, the P.I. assigned to her case by The Last Stand, a victim's charity & action group, Zoe must work to uncover the secrets behind Samantha's disappearance. It's not enough that she's completely stressed out with everything else she has going on, but when Stivers enters the scene so do some unfamiliar feelings that Zoe's not quite sure she's ready to add to the mix.

He's young, attractive, and dedicated to helping her get her daughter back- alive. Jonathan is everything she could hope for and then some, yet Zoe has every reason in the book not to allow her feelings to get muddled up in the drama of the day. No amount of sexual chemistry can bring Sam back, but perhaps if Zoe plays her cards right she can end up with an Ace in both hands. Sam is out there, and she has every reason to believe she's alive. However, only time will tell how involved Zoe can get without going over the falls of no return. Mr Stivers is here in a professional level to help her find Zoe and bring her home safely, but something about him allows him to calm her like a strong balm to a fresh wound. He knows how to say just the right things, do just the right things, and he seems to have a good theory on what could have become of Sam.

In a rushing game of cat and mouse, The Perfect Couple is a non-stop action thriller filled to the brim with exciting twists and turns. Who knew that delight and disgust could so easily go hand in hand?! Not just one but two major antagonists warp your mind and leave you re-evaluting everything you already thought you knew about those around you. Double check your locks, say that extra prayer over your child, and then settle in with a good drink and your very own copy of The Perfect Couple. Bound to scare and entertain you, this book offers an incredibly realistic picture of just how far a mother will go to save her child from an uncertain fate.

NOTE: This is a book that deals with the very strong and disturbing topic of sexual abuse among other things. As book #4 in Novak's THE LAST STAND series, it works to tie in past characters but does so in such a way that makes new readers to the series very comfortable in picking up here with this new release and not clear back at the start of book #1.

Anyone who would like to preview THE PERFECT COUPLE please feel free to check out an excerpt from the first chapter as generously posted by Ms Novak on her website here.

~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC