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Showing posts from July, 2010

What My Children Are Reading: A Book About Color

This week, I picked up a book on the new book shelf at the library called A Book About Color: A Clear and Simple Guide for Young Artists by Mark Gonyea. I read the book to M, and C actually read it himself. They both really enjoyed it. I think the concepts are a bit above M's level, but she still liked the book and I think she understood some of the ideas even if she didn't understand all of the terminology. The book is an introduction to the color wheel, and I think it's well done for young kids. Gonyea presents the color wheel first as a row of houses, with the primary colored houses shown as a bit bigger than those of secondary color. He explains, in simple terms, complementary colors, value and saturation, warm and cool colors, and more. I was very impressed with the way the color wheel was presented in the book. If you're teaching your kids about color and the color wheel, I highly recommend it. And I think  A Book About Color  would be an excellent resource

Book Review: Drawn to the Land by Elizabeth and Barton Cockey

Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming  by Elizabeth and Barton Cockey is a wonderful coffee table book with gorgeous watercolor paintings of upstate New York farms, coupled with personal stories about the area and modern-day accounts from farmers who are still working the land today. From cows and chickens to wine and maple syrup, the Cockeys present a beautiful account of farming in this area of the country. On a personal note, I enjoyed the memories this book evoked. I didn't grow up on a farm, but I did go to college in upstate New York. My school was further west than the area Elizabeth Cockey grew up in and described in Drawn to the Land . But I remember riding across the state of New York several times each year, looking out across the hills at the farms and small towns we passed through. It really is a beautiful country and the Cockeys have brought that beauty to life in Drawn to the Land . My Rating: 4/5 This review was written based on a copy of Drawn to the Lan

Book Review: The Big Ten of Grammar by William B. Bradshaw, PhD

When I was asked to review The Big Ten of Grammar by William B. Bradshaw, PhD, I didn't think it would be very useful for me, a professional writer and editor. The goal of the book is to point out ten grammatical errors that are frequently made and easy to correct. I figured I'd already know all these rules and wouldn't learn anything new. But I decided to review the book, since I thought it might be helpful to my followers and other readers who may not have a professional background. Sadly, despite my profession, I actually learned quite a bit from The Big Ten of Grammar . I will preface this by saying that I do not have an English degree; my degrees are in communications and marketing. Therefore, the last time I had a grammar lesson was about 20 years ago. I expect someone with an English degree may already know all of the rules outlined by Dr. Bradshaw. But I found it useful, and I think others would as well. I especially like the way he provides several clear example

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week, I finished the audio version of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I really enjoyed it and have to say I didn't remember it at all from my childhood. I assume I must have read it at some point for school, but it definitely didn't stick with me over the years. I look forward to sharing it with my kids when they're older. I think right now, all the time travel and aliens would probably scare them. I did read some other books with the kids, which you can see on my What My Children Are Reading post. Currently Reading I'm still reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I am really enjoying it and can see why it won the Pulitzer Prize. But this means, that I'm reading every word and that takes a long time! I definitely can't skim it as I'm enjoying the writing style and all the details too much. Up Next This week, I'm going to finish up Middlesex and then move on to two shorter nonfiction books I have for review: The Big Ten of G

What My Children Are Reading This Week

I got a couple really cute animal habitat books at the library this week. The first is If I Ran the Rainforest by Bonnie Worth, which is a Cat in the Hat book. The book is written in the classic Cat in the Hat format of silly rhyming, but it's a fabulous resource for information about rainforests. In addition to th rhyming text, there are captions on every page pointing out the different plants and animals on the four levels of the rainforest. I was very impressed with the amount of information in this book. I'd definitely recommend it if you're doing a unit on rainforests. The other book we got is Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats by Jim Arnosky. This is another great resource, with tons of captions to go along with the story text so kids can identify various plants and animals in the different habitats. He takes us to wetlands and woodlands, grasslands and drylands, pointing out the characteristics of each habitat. If you're looking for a good

Summer Reading Challenge: Month One Recap

We're one month into the Summer Reading Challenge so I figured I'd see how everyone is doing. First of all, can you believe one-third of the summer is already over? I have a very hard time believing that. It's going by too fast!! I need to spend more time at the pool! How are you doing with the Summer Reading Challenge? Have you read many of the books on your list yet? Are you keeping up with the pace you expected? Or are you finding the summer activities getting in the way of reading? Have you made a lot of changes to your list? Leave a comment and let us know how you're doing! If you've written a post about your progress on your own blog, be sure to leave a link so we can check it out. As for me, I'm keeping a great pace. I've completed 4 of 12 books, so if I read 4 during each of the remaining months, I'll finish up right on schedule. I'm fitting in some other books as well, which I had expected. I hope you're all enjoying your summer re

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm back! I was on vacation last week, so didn't get around to publishing my weekly recap. But I'm back now and I got some reading done over the past couple weeks despite the lack of blogging. I published a review of The Girls: A Novel by Lori Lansens. I also read and reviewed Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara. And I finished reading The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. You can click on the title for my review of that one as well. Currently Reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides ~ This was just chosen as our September book club selection, and I'm hosting. So I figured I'd read it now and pass it along to others in my group. I'm also almost done with the audio version of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I tried to listen to it on my ride to and from the beach, but with two kids in the car with me, I got interrupted too many times to finish it. Up Next I think I'll move on to City of Dreams by William Martin next. I also have a coupl

Book Review: The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Kelly Corrigan is the daughter of George Corrigan, a man who is popular with everyone ~ especially his daughter. She is also a wife and mother herself, but she mostly identifies with being "Greenie's" daughter. She even kept her maiden name because of her attachment to her father. When her father is diagnosed with cancer in the middle of Kelly's own treatment, she has to deal with both her own health as well as her worries about her father. I just didn't enjoy The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan as much as I thought I would. It wasn't what I expected, I guess. I thought she would be in a "middle place" between being a parent and being a caregiver of her own parents. But that's not what this is about. Yes, she advocates for her father's cancer treatment, but she does not serve in a real caregiver role. I found the story to be much more focused on her extreme attachment to her father rather than her role as his caregiver. Actually, this is


I'm back from vacation and have used to pick the winners of the two copies of Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara. The winners are #4: Annonymous (CarolNWong) and #2: fredamans. Congratulations!

"Out of Office" for the Week

I thought I'd let all my followers know that I'm out of town and not blogging this week. I'm actually spending the week at the beach with my kids, and although we have Internet, it's a bit of a pain to use (not wireless) and I'd rather be out on the balcony reading than sitting in the kitchen on my computer! In case you missed it, I put up a review of Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara and am giving away two copies. The giveaway ends on Friday night and I'll announce the winner when I get home on Saturday. I'm currently reading The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, and I have a couple other books with me in case I finish it before the end of the week. I'm also halfway through the audio of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, which I listened to on the ride down here and hope to finish on the ride home. I hope you're having a great week!

Book Review: Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara

Marco Gentile was born in Acerenza, Italy, but moved to Canada with his parents as a young boy. There, he fostered his life-long ambitions, graduating from a prestigious law school, excelling in his law career and eventually moving into the corporate world as CEO of a automobile manufacturer. But when Mark faces strong opposition from the company's board of directors, he has to make a difficult decision that leads to a pilgimage to the town of his birth in a quest to discover himself again. Finding Marco is a gentle, quiet novel. Kenneth C. Cancellara weaves in many ideas that lead the reader to reflect on their own life and priorities as they follow along with Mark on his path. Cancellara's writing style feels a bit business-like to me, but his thoughts are personal and inspirational. He brings up questions of integrity and ethics within business, and balancing work ambitions with personal life. The first half of the book is very focused on business strategy, business de

Book Review: The Girls: A Novel by Lori Lansens

Lori Lansens begins The Girls: A Novel with a powerful but simple line: "I have never looked into my sister's eyes." Rose and Ruby Darlen are conjoined twins ~ attached at the side of the head, but each has a separate body and separate brain. They are as different as two sisters can be, yet together always. Born in the middle of a tornado to a mother who quickly fled the scene, the girls are taken in by a nurse who helped deliver them. Lovey and her husband Stash raise the girls to be as independent as they can be. The Girls is written from Rose's perspective, for the most part, as her memoir. Ruby adds a chapter here and there, usually beginning with "It's Ruby" and in a different font to set it apart from Rose's story. Rose wants to tell her life story, but as we learn from Ruby, there are certain details she isn't as interested in sharing. We hear about their experiences growing up on a farm, their life after the loss of their aunt and un

It's NOT Monday! But What Are You Reading?

Well, it's not Monday anymore. For the first time in months, I didn't publish my weekly update on Monday. Oh well. Life has been getting in the way of reading and blogging lately, and in my opinion, that's just fine. We had a wonderful long weekend that we spent with good friends and family we haven't seen in a while. We went to the pool. We went to see fireworks. We had a cookout complete with water balloon fights and croquet. And now it's Tuesday, and I'm finally ready to tell you what I'm reading! Last night, I finally finished The Girls: A Novel by Lori Lansens. This is my book club's July selection. I'll be writing my review soon, but I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. I highly recommend it. I also managed to publish What My Children Are Reading  on Saturday. For those of you participating in my Summer Reading Challenge , there's now a post where you can link up to the reviews you write for the books you've read. You

What My Children Are Reading This Week

Good morning! I hope you're having a fabulous weekend. Are you going to see fireworks? I think we're going to take the kids to see some tonight. It will be the first time we've taken them to see 4th of July fireworks. In the past, they've gone to bed too early and have been scared. I think they'll enjoy them this year ~ especially since we'll be driving to see them and they can sit in the car if they think they're loud. I didn't get around to getting any 4th of July books for the kids to read this week, but we did get some others. One of the books we borrowed from the library on our last visit is Field Trip Day by Lynn Plourde. In this new picture book, a group of 23 kids goes on a field trip to a farm with their teacher and some chaperones. They get to see the cows being milked, sheep being sheared and the big turbines that power the environmentally friendly farm. But each time they explore a new area of the farm, the chaperones do head count and co

Getting to Know You Through the Hop

It's time for another Friday Book Blogger Hop ! This is a great event hosted by Crazy for Books and designed to connect book bloggers. This week, we're doing things a little differently so we can get to know each other. To participate, we're supposed to tell our name and why we started blogging. So: Hello. My name is Julie. I started blogging last August, but it wasn't this blog. It was my Just Playin' Around blog. I actually started that first blog because my mom was asking about blogging and wondered what it entailed. She was considering creating a blog herself. I'm embarrassed to say that almost a year later, I now have two very active blogs and I still haven't created one for her. How terrible is that??? I really need to sit down with her this summer and help her set it up! As far as why I started My Book Retreat ... I had joined a reading challenge and decided I wanted to keep Just Playin' Around all about my kids, so I created a new blog jus