Category Archives: books

World Cup Reads for Teens

I love football (“soccer”), and the World Cup always brings us some new fans. If your tween or teen has expressed an interest, take advantage of that new passion and get them reading! Here are some cool books about soccer in Juvenile Fiction and Young Adult genres.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

The Million Dollar Kick by Dan Gutman

Breakaway by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Keeper by Mal Peet

The Penalty by Mal Peet

Trouble in Soccertown by Rita and Spencer Olin

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Broken Glass Park

Alina Bronsky, like her character 17 year old Sascha Naimann, is a Russian immigrant who moved to Germany. Broken Glass Park is Bronsky’s first novel, (English version translated by Tim Mohr), and was nominated for one of Europe’s most prestigious literary awards, the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize.

The main character, Sascha, starts out by telling us she has two goals in life. The first is to write a book about her mother, and the second is to kill Vadim, her incarcerated step-father who brutally murdered her mother in front of her and her younger siblings. Despite this intriguing piece of information, the book started off slow for me but really picked up the pace as the story unraveled. Even when the plot wasn’t moving as fast as I’d have liked, the writing was strong throughout with many unique metaphors and well developed characters. Sascha in particular is an especially memorable character; intelligent, witty, deep thinking, rebellious and angry as teenage years demand, yet responsible as a result of her circumstances. Broken Glass Park is a unique coming-of-age story which touches on the immigrant experience, domestic violence, poverty, and how the choices we make in life determine our destiny.

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Top Baby Names for 2009 courtesy of Twilight craze

The top girl’s baby name for 2009 is “Isabella”, because of the character “Bella” from the Twilight book series.

The top boy’s name for 2009 was “Jacob”, (another Twilight character), and “Cullen” (the surname of Twilight vampire, Edward Cullen), also saw a major surge.

Source: NationalPost.com

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Liselle and the Birch Prince


Book title/author: Liselle and the Birch Prince by Bryan P. Hunt/Illustrated by Tanya Lam

About the book:

It’s been called nature-deficit disorder: the disturbing reality that today’s over-protected, technology-addicted children are almost completely disconnected from nature. The phenomenon has been linked not only to childhood obesity and psychological imbalances, but also to the steady destruction of the environment—and some say it points to the eventual breakdown of society itself. For author Bryan P. Hunt, recognizing this dilemma was one of the main motivators behind the writing of his second children’s book, Liselle and the Birch Prince, a magical modern fairytale that weaves together subtle lessons on bravery, selflessness, and the eternal power of love against the enchanting backdrop of nature’s untarnished beauty.

My Review:

I sat down this evening and read this book to my youngest son, who is 8 years old. We don’t often read fairy tales anymore. We’ve read many of the classics, (most recently Alice and Wonderland), but this book is unique – not what we usually find at the library. The language was accessible to his age group while not being condescendingly simple in the least. The writing itself was good quality and he enjoyed the illustrations, (which looked to be watercolors.) His only complaint was when I finished the book he asked, “What happens next?” – This was partly a desire for the narrative to continue because it was good, and partly a comment on how abruptly the author ended the story. The ending is somewhat unsatisfactory and not exactly the “happily ever after” one expects, but my son wants to know when the rest of it will be written, so he did enjoy it. Perhaps the author will consider making it a series.

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Mother’s Day Giveaway!

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CONTEST CLOSED! WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!
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Using Random.org, a winner has been selected!
Congratulations to … KAREN!

Thanks to all who participated and to stay up to say in-the-know on future giveaways, feel free to follow me on Twitter. (Link in the sidebar to the right.) … That is the first place I announce newly posted giveaways!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I’m pleased to be able to host another wonderful giveaway from Hachette Book Group. One lucky winner will receive a copy of each book below:

Just Let Me Lie Down By Kristin van Ogtrop
God Never Blinks By Regina Brett
The Cradle By Patrick Somerville
Heart of My Heart By Kristin Armstrong
Roses By Leila Meacham

Rules:

1. Leave a comment telling me about a favorite memory you have of your mother, (or your favorite memory being a mother yourself!)

2. Make sure that you leave a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field. Comments are moderated. Please be patient. Your comment will appear when I approve it!

3. One comment/entry per person. One winner will be chosen at random. Contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on May 8th, 2010. Winner will be announced here and contacted via E-mail on Mother’s Day, May 9th, 2010.

4. If you are the winner you must be able to respond with your address for the prize to be shipped. No PO Boxes will be accepted. Address must be in the US or Canada.

Good luck and Happy Mother’s Day!

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United Through Reading program

I just saw this on CNN today and thought it was super cool.

This program lets soldiers in the military pick a children’s book, read it on camera and then (absolutely for free), they send the DVD recording and the book to their child.

At home, the children have story time with their parent almost as if they were right there. I think this is fantastic and I’m definitely adding it to my list of charities I’d like to contribute to.

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Easy as Pi

I love these Reader’s Digest books. They’re just so readable and interesting. This one is called Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day by Jamie Buchan.

Honestly, I can’t stand math. I’ve never liked it, for as far back as I can remember, but this book was great. The first part is definitely my territory, where they cover the origin of phrases such as “The Third Degree” and “Cloud Nine”.

The second section is another winner. This section covers numbers in Fiction and Movies, such as the book “Fahrenheit 451″ and the Fellini film, “8½”.

The next two sections  cover “Numbers in Culture” and “Numbers in Mythology and Religion” and are equally interesting. The last section is called  “Numbers in Math and Science”.  I’ll admit that most of that very last section went completely over my head, but I really enjoyed this book over all. Easy as Pi is now officially math hater approved :)

Enjoy this article I’ve been authorized to share with you.

Brushing Up on Math is Easy as Pi
By Jamie Buchan, Author of Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day

“World War II? I don’t know much about it. You’ve lost me. I’m sorry, I was always terrible at history. I just don’t have the brain for it!”

Few people would willingly admit to this level of ignorance about key events that shaped the world. But when it comes to math — which shapes not only the world but the entire universe — many otherwise highly intelligent and educated people will happily proclaim ignorance. In many cases, there’s the implication that math is boring and difficult — the exclusive domain of the severely geeky.

This may seem merely frustrating for mathematicians and scientists in social settings, but it has serious and wide-ranging consequences. On an everyday level, a lack of confidence about math makes it hard to split a bill, work on a spreadsheet, or help a child with homework (and this can easily become a vicious circle, since anxiety about math can be passed on to the next generation).

If you feel like you’re math averse, be not afraid: the book Easy as Pi can help. Math itself is based on a limited number of very logical rules and, whether we like it or not, it surrounds us in everything we do. As Pythagoras (the guy behind the famous Theorem) remarked: “Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and demons.” The head of a sunflower has evolved with mathematical precision into a double-spiral pattern that packs the most seeds into the smallest available space. The computer on which you’re reading this, and every electronic device — from cheap digital watches counting seconds and minutes to NASA’s Columbia supercomputer, which simulates the collisions of entire galaxies — is powered by a vastly complex system of ones and zeros, which only works at all because they can be interpreted mathematically.

Just like our explorations of science, humanity’s understanding of math has advanced amazingly since we were counting how many mammoth hides it takes to wallpaper a cave. The concept of zero — a number representing nothing — is taken for granted today (apart from anything else, how could all that electronics work otherwise?). However, for centuries it was a thorny philosophical and mathematical question. Roman numerals stopped being used in Europe when medieval Italians learned the zero from the Arabs, who in turn had picked it up from India. The ancient Greeks gave us much of our understanding of geometry, and the Romans put it into practice with structural engineering. We’ve come a long way. The Pirahã tribe, a few hundred people living in a remote area of Brazil, reminds us just how far — with almost no contact with outside cultures, their math is limited to counting “one, two, many.”

Numbers have also slipped into our language and culture in various ways — the third degree, the fourth estate, and fifth columnists spring to mind. And have you ever been asked to “deep six” something? Intelligence agencies use “numbers stations” — radio stations broadcasting strings of numbers — to communicate in code with spies in other countries. And they’ve gained a cult following of fascinated civilian listeners. The controversial conviction of the Cuban Five came after FBI agents found a decryption program for a Cuban numbers station on their computers.

The influence of numbers in our everyday life also seeps into our superstitions. The number 666 — still feared by many people as the “number of the beast” — is believed to be based on gematria, a form of numerically encoding Hebrew words, which is also at the root of claims about a “Bible code.” Math anxiety and ignorance allows people who practice numerology and astrology to make a lot of money by claiming to imbue numbers with a spiritual and cosmic significance. Not only is this completely unproven, it masks the far greater beauty of a mathematically ordered universe.

To sum it all up, math and numbers are everywhere, and they are embedded in our lives in every respect. Anxiety about them is really worth trying to overcome. The benefits they bring us are countless.

© 2010 Jamie Buchan, author of Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day

Author Bio
Jamie Buchan was educated at Westminster School and is completing a Master of Arts degree in Architectural Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Many of his family members are involved in books: his great-grandfather John Buchan is the prolific novelist famous for The Thirty-Nine Steps; his grandfather D.J. Enright is a well-known Movement poet; and his uncle James Buchan is an award-winning novelist and historical writer. Both of his parents work in publishing.

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The Lunatic Express (interview)

I’m reading a book right now called The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman. This video is an interview with the author and is just so, so interesting and touching that I had to share it ahead of my review. The review will be coming up in a future post!

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The Gift of an Ordinary Day

I’ve been reading The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison. This book is far and away the best book on motherhood I can remember reading. Many passages left me breathless, as if Kenison had somehow reached into the depths of my heart and pulled out the most private fears and thoughts I’ve had about life as I watch my children grow old too quickly.

I soon picked up a highlighter and began marking the sentences that spoke to me, but soon sentences became paragraphs and paragraphs became pages. I had to abandon the highlighter and admit that this book, in its entirety, was something special.

This would make an amazing Mother’s Day gift. I’m planning on giving it to my mother.

Below I encourage you to watch the video of the author, Katrina Kenison, reading an excerpt. (And I’m warning you – grab a tissue!)

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Edible Book Contest

Whether you like Twilight or not, you have to say, this is pretty fantastic.

Apparently there’s an “Edible Book Contest” and this was the submission made by “Pikko” over at Adventures in Bento Making.

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