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Showing posts from August, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Here we are again...another Monday another new week. I'm hoping for a little more normality this week. Last week, we were adjusting to C going off to 1st grade, and then M got strep throat. So needless to say, it was a bit of a crazy week!

I did get some reading and reviewing done. I finished reading Audience, Relevance, and Search by James Mathewson, Frank Donatone and Cynthia Fishel. If you're looking to improve your website or blog, check out my review.

I also put up a review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald but I still need to write my review of Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou.

Finally, I wrote up short reviews of two more picture books, which you can read in my What My Children Are Reading post.

Currently Reading
As expected, I did not move on to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Instead, my neighbor let me borrow The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson, so that's what I'm reading now. I'm also re…

What My Children Are Reading This Week: Butterflies and Bugs

Last week, I shared a couple picture books that M has been enjoying from the library. There were two others that I wanted to mention as well. They are both newly published books, and they are both all about BUGS!

The first is Butterfly Birthday by Harriet Ziefert. In this book, the bugs are all getting ready for a big party, but the little ant isn't happy with the caterpillars who are just sitting around eating leaves. Soon, he sees the chrysalises that make beautiful decorations for the party. And then the butterflies emerge and the bugs celebrate their birth day. The illustrations are beautiful and it's a fun story that shows the entire metamorphosis process, although condensed into one day. M really enjoys this one.

The other book is I Love Bugs! by Emma Dodd. This is a fun book to read, with rhyming, song-like sentences told from the perspective of a little boy who loves all sorts of bugs. There isn't much of an actual storyline, but it's a fun book that covers all …

My Book Review Rating System

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's question is:

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so,
what is it and why?

I do have a rating system. When I started my blog almost a year ago, I looked at other book blogs to get ideas on what I wanted to include on my own. One of the things I like about other blogs is being able to see a rating. I thought a lot about what kind of rating system to use, how many choices to include, and what they would mean. I decided to do a 5-point scale because I can't imagine being able to fit all the books I read into just 3-4 choices. Even with 5 choices, I still find myself giving books an extra half point sometimes.

My rating system isn't very creative, but I think it works fairly well for me. Here's what it looks like:
5/5 = It's one of my favorites!
4/5 = It's a great book!
3/5 = It's a good book.
2/5 = …

Book Review: Audience, Relevance, and Search

How can you get more traffic to your website or blog? And how can you make sure the content you write is relevant to the people who visit? In Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content, James Mathewson, Frank Donatone and Cynthia Fishel show you how to ensure your site is giving your visitors what they want.

The authors give an excellent overview of how writing for the web is different than writing for print. The main point they make is that to be successful on the web, you need to write for search engines, especially Google. You need to use the right keywords to help the right people find your site. And you need to focus on linking strategies that ensure your audience can find you from other places, and that sites like Google consider your site important.

I have attended search engine optimization educational sessions run by the authors, so when I started this blog, I actually tried to implement some of their ideas. For example, I always include t…

Book Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When Benjamin Button is born, everyone is appalled, for instead of a tiny infant, Benjamin is a grown old man. His parents try to pretend there's nothing wrong, giving him a rattle to play with and dressing him in very large baby clothes. But Benjamin's life is anything but normal. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald tells us the story of Benjamin's life as he progresses from old man through adulthood and childhood, until he ends his life as an infant.

I decided to read The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because I was bored on a road trip and found it on my BlackBerry. It was only 93 BlackBerry-sized pages, so it's a very short story. I really enjoyed it. The beginning of the version I read states: "This story was inspired by a remark of Mark Twain's to the effect that it was a pity that the best part of life came at the beginning and the worst part at the end." I thought this was a very interesting comment, and I found the story…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Welcome back to another Monday! Thanks for stopping by. I had a great week of reading and relaxing during our last beach trip of the summer. C starts 1st grade on Wednesday. It's hard to believe summer is almost over. Speaking of that, if you're participating in my Summer Reading Challenge, be sure to check in at the Month Two Recap.

Last week, I did a lot of reading. I read and reviewed Gerry Tales by Gerry Boylan, and The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. That one was for the Birth Year Challenge. I have to say I'm enjoying reading books from the year I was born. It's an interesting experience!

I also read Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou last week, but haven't written my review yet. That will be up later this week. And on the way home from the beach, I was bored and found The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald on the free e-reader I have on my BlackBerry. So I read that as my husband drove us home. I'll write a review for that one later …

What My Children Are Reading This Week

We're at the beach for one last vacation before C heads back to school on Wednesday. M picked a couple picture books from the library to take on our trip this week. They're both cute books that we found on the new book shelf.

The first is Happy Birthday Bertie by Marcus Pfister. This is a cute story about a young hippo named Bertie who is having a birthday party. He helps his dad bake a cake and put up decorations, then his guests arive and they play a game of hide-and-seek while dad tries to remember where he hid Bertie's present. The only thing I don't like about the book is that Bertie and his friend peek under the wrapping paper to see what he got before it's time to open the presents. Otherwise, it's a cute book with a little more text than you usually see in picture books. M really likes this one because she likes anything related to parties!

The other book we brought with us is Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney. This is about a little pangolin who is afr…

Summer Reading Challenge: Month Two Recap

We're two months into the Summer Reading Challenge ~ just one more month of summer left! I'm a bit sad to see it go, but living in the South, I'm looking forward to the cooler, less humid weather.

So how are you doing with the Summer Reading Challenge? Do you think you'll finish everything on your list before September 21st? 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 continuing to progress through my list. I only have three books left to read in the next month! I should be able to do it. The only issue is that I'm waiting for my neighbor's husband to finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest so I can read it. If he doesn't finish in time, I'll have to move that one onto my Fall into Reading list.

By the way, if you're writing reviews for the books you're reading for this challenge, be sure to a…

Book Review: The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

When Joanna and Walter move out of the city to Stepford, CT, with their two young kids, they're looking for a change. They're ready for suburban life. But Joanna soon notices that the women in Stepford are not like the women she's always known in the city. The women and their homes are always perfect, and they never do anything but housework. The only time they leave their homes is to go grocery shopping. Joanna finds a couple women who seem to be more "normal," and they decide to try to bring some women's lib to the town. But when the first friend suddenly transforms into a typical Stepford wife, they realize there's something seriously wrong in Stepford.

I picked up The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin as part of the Birth Year Challenge. It was written in 1972, and it's a classic. I'm sure you've heard of it ~ it was made into a movie too. Unfortunately, because I've heard so much about the book, it wasn't nearly as captivating and susp…

Book Review: Gerry Tales by Gerry Boylan

Gerry Boylan has some stories to tell about growing up, parenthood and life in general. In Gerry Tales: How I Lived Happily Ever After Despite Stabbing Myself in the Back, Scalding My Cojones, and Really Pissing Off My Wife During Childbirth, he shares these stories in several essays on life. (I love the subtitle of this book, by the way.) For some reason I went into this book thinking it was going to be all humor, and the first several chapters made me laugh a lot! But there are quite a few heartfelt, more serious stories about family and parenthood that I found quite endearing.

Some stories are hysterical and others are sweet recollections of family life. I really enjoyed most of the stories he told. This personal collection of stories from Boylan's life includes topics that most people will be able to relate to. I will say that the two chapters about his sons' sports experiences were the least interesting to me, but I'm sure they would appeal to anyone who is really in…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good Monday morning! Thanks for stopping by. I got a lot of reading and reviewing accomplished last week. Yay!

I wrote up my review of Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog by Susannnah Charlson. If you love dogs, you definitely have to check this one out! I also read and reviewed Are You There, Vodka? It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. This one is very funny if you're not easily offended! Finally, I read and reviewed two books in a children's series called Alby and the Cat by Leanne Davidson. I love these books because one of the main characters is a guide dog, so the kids learn about how guide dogs work and what it's like to be blind. I'm hosting a giveaway of the Alby and the Cat books at Just Playin' Around.

Currently Reading
I'm finishing up Gerry Tales by Gerry Boylan, and will be publishing my review this week. I'm also starting to read Audience, Relevance, and Search by James Mathewson, Frank Donatone and Cynth…

Alby and the Cat by Leanne Davidson

This week, we've been enjoying a new a children's chapter book series called Alby and the Cat by Leanne Davidson. There are two books in the series, and we read both of them this week. The first, Alby and the Cat, is an introduction to the two characters, Alby, a golden retriever, and the cat who lives next door to him. When the cat sees all sorts of commotion at the house next door, he figures something big is happening. But soon he discovers it's just a dog moving in. Unbeknownest to him, Alby is actually a pretty special dog: he's a new guide dog for Jim, the man who lives there.

At first, the two aren't very interested in becoming friends. After all, one is a dog and the other is a cat! But soon Alby is worrying about the cat. And then the cat reappears to save Alby from a rotten little boy. And in the end, the two realize they may actually be friends...at least until the next book in the series. What I loved about Alby and the Cat is the way it introduces kid…

Book Review: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler has had quite a life, and lucky for us, she is willing to share some of her stories in Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. In this mixture of memoir and humor, stand-up comedian Handler tells stories of her life. Stories about of the men she's dated ~ including the guy who got a little too much enjoyment out of helping her on a dog-sitting job. Stories about her father, who quite clearly has led her to drink. And many other stories that will have you cracking up.

Chelsea Handler's previous book was My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, so it's clear she's a pretty raunchy author and will definitely offend some readers. But I found Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea laugh-out-loud funny. Literally. I got a lot of strange looks from my husband as I laughed along to this book. If you're a fan of Chelsea Handler's standup comedy, or her old show Girls Behaving Badly, you will definitely enjoy this book. And if you…

Back to 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. I have been so busy this summer, I haven't had time to participate in the hop for a while, but I thought I'd jump back in this week. One of the changes in the itme I've been away from it is the addition of a question of the week. So, this week's question is:

How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf’?
Well, I should probably make that plural ~ shelves ~ because my books are in various places throughout my house. Some on bookshelves, some in a drawer in my bedroom and most in a pile on my desk in my office. So how many books are on there? Well, I think it's around 25 at the moment, but I do have a few that I'm expecting in the mail as well. I have a page above where I have my list, but I need to update it! So what about you? How many books do you have on your "to be read shelf"?

Book Review: Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson

In Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog, Susannah Charleson offers a personal but incredibly informative look at canine search-and-rescue. Using her own experiences as a field assistant, and later as a handler of her own dog, Charleson shares the details of what goes into training and searches, which dogs are best for this line of work, the sacrifices that volunteers make, and the balance between work and home for both dog and handler.

I am not a "dog person" at all. I think some dogs are cute from afar and that's about it. Yet I really enjoyed this book. It was fascinating to hear stories about how these dogs work, the methodical way they search for a missing person. Some of the search missions were devastating to read about, especially the search for a child who was later found dead, and the search for remains after the Challenger space shuttle explosion. These stories brought tears to my eyes. Others made me laugh.

The work that goe…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good Monday morning! Thanks for stopping by. I had a good week of reading last week. I went on a business trip at the beginning of the week, so I got to read on the plane both ways, and in my hotel room in the evenings. I still only got through one book while on the trip, and started a second, which I finished when I got home.

I wrote up my review of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides finally. I really enjoyed it. I also read and reviewed City of Dreams by William Martin last week. And I finished reading Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog by Susannnah Charlson,. I'll get my review up for that one this week.

I also reviewed a couple children's art books in my What My Children Are Reading post.

Currently Reading
I'm starting Are You There, Vodka? It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler tonight. This is my August book club selection.

Up Next
I'm going to move on to Gerry Tales by Gerry Boylan next. Two humorous books in a row. Hopefully it w…

Book Review: City of Dreams

Somewhere in New York, there is a box of New Emission Money from the Revolutionary War that could be worth billions of dollars today. When Evangeline hears about these bonds, she and her boyfriend Peter Fallon, an antique book expert, set out to find them. But soon, they find themselves wrapped up in a race against time with some very dangerous opponents and a mysterious bag lady. In City of Dreams, William Martin brings us into the race to find the bonds, while also showing us where the bonds originated and who's been searching for them over the past 200 years.

I really enjoyed City of Dreams. It reminded me of the National Treasure movies because it combined a modern-day treasure hunt with lots of American history thrown in. In this case, the treasure is a simple mahogany box filled with New Emission Money, and it's somewhere in New York. But finding a small box in a big city isn't exactly easy. I love the way Martin alternates chapters between the modern story of Peter…

What My Children Are Reading This Week

This week, we picked up a couple of children's art books that I wanted to mention. We picked them up at the library yesterday and spent the rest of the afternoon doing projects based on them, so I'd say they were successful selections.

The first is I Love to Collage! by Jennifer Lipsey. I think the title pretty much tells you what this one is all about. It gives lots of different ideas for activities to do with collages. We made stained glass pictures and torn paper animals from this book, but there are so many other ideas to use. I'm sure we'll be getting back into some arts and crafts projects over the next few weeks with this book as a guide. It has many different ideas for collages that both M and C can do.

The other art-related book we picked up at the library is Ed Emberley's Fingerprint Drawing Book. This is a great resource if you're interested in making fingerprint art. It has pages and pages of examples, showing step-by-step how to create all sorts of…