Friday, June 24, 2011

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir
Author: Gilbert is an award winning author for both fiction and non-fiction. Her book, Eat Pray Love spent 57 weeks in the number 1 spot of the NY Times paperback bestsellers list.
Synopsis: Elizabeth Gilbert had the "American Dream" life. She had a husband, a fabulous house and a great career but she wasn't happy. This book follows her journey to find happiness as she travels the world to discover the balance she needs in her life.
Review: I found this book pretty dull, honestly. The author was very clever and had some great lines but overall I was bored reading it. I also felt that the author was very selfish. I mean, it's important to find happiness, I agree. But, in that search for happiness is it okay to walk on other people and to cost them their happiness? I felt that in her journey she had no concern for others. It was her journey and no one else mattered. Also, the language in this was a bit intense. It wasn't that common but she used the F word often and G**D*** several times. Let me just say, this one isn't a book I'll be recommending to my friends.
Rating: ** Two Stars

Gooney Bird Green Collection by Lois Lowry

Genre: Fiction/Children
Author: Lois Lowry was born in Hawaii. She was the second child of three and said this is what she liked. As the middle child she was often left alone and this provided the solitary she wanted to live in her imagination. She was raised in a military family and lived all over the world.She raised four children while living the military life and traveled the world with her naval husband. Her marriage ended at the age of forty and she now enjoys gardening, feeding the birds, entertaining friends and reading.This is a quote from her website that I loved and thought I'd put it here, "I am a grandmother now. For my own grandchildren - and for all those of their generation - I try, through writing, to convey my passionate awareness that we live intertwined on this planet and that our future depends upon our caring more, and doing more, for one another."
Synopsis: There were four stories in this collection so I'll provide a synopsis for each one.
                         -Gooney Bird Greene: This one is about a new girl in the second grade class with the odd     name of Gooney Bird.The kids are fascinated by her and her storytelling abilities. Throughout the book the reader learns more about Gooney Bird and the other children in the class through storytelling.
                         - Gooney Bird and the Room Mother: It's the Thanksgiving Pageant and the lead role of Squanto goes to the student who is able to find a room mother for the second grade class. Gooney Bird finds one but refuses to reveal the identity of this room mother until the pageant when she is supposed to provide cupcakes. Will the pageant be a fiasco? Will the room mother even show up?
                         - Gooney Bird the Fabulous: The class learns about fables and Gooney Bird has an idea for each child to pick an animal, be the animal, and write a fable about that animal. The day before Christmas vacation they will have a parade. Everyone is excited about it except for one little boy, Nicholas. Will Gooney Bird be able to help him before the parade?
                        - Gooney Bird is so Absurd: The class is having fun learning about poetry. Suddenly, they receive dreadful news and Gooney Bird is going to have to use her creativity and brain warming hat to organize the most important poem ever.
Review: Both of my kids absolutely LOVED these books. My kids are 3 & 5 and when we were finished with the stories they were so upset. Honestly, Gooney Bird annoyed me at first because she sometimes took the role of the teacher and I felt that she needed to back down a bit. After I got used to her personality it didn't bother me quite so much. In one of the stories, a substitute teaches and it's funny seeing the way she reacts to Gooney Bird Green. Overall, it was a very fun story! There is plenty of opportunities for the reader to expand their vocabulary b/c the second graders like to use their dictionaries. My 5 year old is using a lot of words now that he didn't use before.
Rating:***** Five Stars

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Children You Want with the Kids You Have by Marie Ricks

Genre: Parenting

Author: Marie has been teaching organization since 1986. Since she has created many programs and written a few books on organization and teaching kids. She currently lives in UT and manages a website -- houseoforder.com.

Synopsis: This book is designed to teach your children to work, obey and be independent.

Review: This book provided some excellent plans on how to teach your children to do chores. I loved those. There is even a list of chores that are appropriate for certain ages. I loved it and learned that my children can be doing more and my house has been staying so much cleaner since I discovered this. There are some things that bugged me a little about the book. Mainly the section on obedience. She says to call your children and if they obey the first time then you give them a treat. Gradually, you get farther and farther away from the child until they learn to come the first time. This just reminded me so much of dog training so it was a little hard to think of doing it with my kids. Once I got over that part and just pretended it wasn't in there, there was a lot of excellent information in the book and ways to help my home run a little more smoothly. At the end are some sections on sharing, being kind, and being grateful... there are others but I can't remember right now. Anyways, these chapters just felt like fillers, as if she was trying to get a certain number of pages or something. These were all very logical and takes common sense to figure out how to do. There was some really great information in this book with some great ideas on teaching children to do their chores. There are also a lot of strange ideas that I just had to take with a grain of salt and move on. I think the good parts were totally worth skipping over the not so good parts though.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson

Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal

Author: James Patterson has set many records with his writing. One of the coolest ones in my opinion is that he holds the New York Times record for most Hardcover Fiction bestselling titles by a single author (63 total), which is also a Guinness World Record. I will be honest though... he has been writing books for so long and there is so much that can be put in a biography that I really couldn't find much on 'the man' and only stuff on 'the author'. The truth is, most of us know about him. He's is very well known. I was able to find this which is a little bit about 'the man'.

Synopsis: This story was about two ordinary teenagers -- Whit and Wisty, brother and sister. They are ripped from their homes one night from everyone they know and love and are thrown into a prison. They are accused of being a witch and wizard and the only thing their parents are able to do is hand over an old drum stick to Wisty and an old blank book to Whit. What good will they do? They learn that The New Order is trying to take over the world. They are imprisoning children they suspect of having magical powers. They soon learn that there are worlds within the worlds and the only way to escape is to cross through them. Soon, Wisty and Whit learn they may actually have powers and, because of some prophecies, are expected to save the world.

Review: Truly, Whit and Wisty were not very extraordinary to me. Well, besides the whole supernatural powers thing which is definitely an extraordinary thing. Before the powers were discovered there was nothing that would have grabbed my attention about them. This book was written for young adults and it feels like the author tried to "dumb down" parts a bit too much. It was annoying for me. This was an entertaining read however. I heard rumors that it was supposed to be the next Harry Potter.... I am going to have to say that is a big negative for me but it was an interesting story none-the-less. The sequel is out and available at the library and I think eventually I will read it but right now there are some books that I think would be more fun to read right now.

Rating: *** Three Stars