Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SRL: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

I had actually read this book before and I put it on my list because I remember just feeling good after reading it.

Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

The story takes place in a high school and it's about a girl who is an outcast.  All I can remember while reading this book was that I wished I had the courage to be as free-thinking as this girl was. Not just when I went to high school, but also just NOW.  She's often do we get to be ourselves? And I felt the same way reading it recently. It's a feel-good book. I loved that this story showed both sides of fitting in and not fitting in.

I think it was an accurate portrayal of what it feels like to be a teenager. 

I find myself wishing I could be more like Stargirl!

Tomorrow's book review will also be about an outcast...but he takes a decidedly different approach.

There's a sequel to Stargirl that I didn't enjoy as much as the original, but I do think you will love this character.  I also think this is an important book for middle-grade kids to read.

Find it on Amazon here:

Read more about the author here:

I didn't realize that Jerry Spinelli had so many published books. I think that over the course of the next year I may try to read some more of his work. Tune in tomorrow for more Summer Reading List updates!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Toys R Us "Clearance Blast"

Wow...last week flew by! And by the time it was Friday, I realized I didn't post all week!

I was on "vacation" (daycare was closed) and we had family visiting.  So I was waaaay too busy to get on here and write. So I apologize for that.  The good news?  Now I have LOTS of things to write about so you can expect new posts all week.  If I don't get too distracted that is...

I owe you guys lots of Summer Reading List updates and I wanted to tell you about my week last week.  But more importantly....I want to complain about something.

You see, right now Toys R Us in the middle of it's "Clearance Blast".  So my sister-in-law and I went. Needless to say, I was less than impressed. A clearance sale to me should be significantly marked down prices. When you are having a clearance sale, it's because you want to clear your shelves for new merchandise.
A $2 discount does not equal a clearance price, that's a sale price (and a crappy one at that).

Now I realize that when the sign says "Up to 70% off select items" that they can have just one silly item marked 70% off and then their advertising is truthful.  However, I expect clearance prices, not $2 off sale prices. And the real killer?  When they took ONE CENT off the price of an item and called it clearance. I'm not kidding.

Don't believe me?

Check this out:

So we take ONE CENT off the price, and now it's clearance?

It was the end of the hours for the store and I didn't feel like complaining to some poor store manager who probably had no control over this, but I wouldn't mind hearing from Toys R Us Corporate headquarters about this.  Anyone know who can explain this to me?

I'm not looking for any good "deals" from TRU.  I know that I can get much better toy prices at Amazon, Walmart and Target (like the Imaginext Dragon at Target, I got it for $24, but at Toys R Us it was $40. At Target it was a clearance price with 30% off original do the math, even at full price, that's still cheaper at Target).

However...when I see a sign that brags about clearance prices...I expect to see actual real clearance prices.  A one penny discount is just stupid.  I feel bad for the employee who had to post that sign. It's just embarrassing.  Any thoughts from my audience?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Lovin...

...Had me a blast!

Summer Lovin, happened so fast!

Why am I singing songs from Grease?  No idea.

Anyway, I hope to post this week, but we will see how it goes. I'm having company and my schedule is going to be off.

But to kick off the week...

Things I Learned This Weekend:

1. HGTV has not all prepared me for what my house is supposed to look like post-construction phase.

2. If I don't get on my hands and knees and scrub the floor Cinderella-style, I don't think it's clean.

3. Grocery shopping for visitors is so much better than shopping for myself.
a. I didn't worry about calories, fat or serving sizes.
b. I saw something, said that looks good, and I bought it.
c. I have a lot of food in my house!
d. It's all child-friendly food (the best kind!)

4. It takes a long time for me to clean something.

5. If I suggest going to Walmart for something....Hubby sends me to Homegoods instead. Sweet!

6. If you see something cool at Homegoods, grab it. It's a one of a kind.  When I went back to get something, another guy took it. (darn!)

Have a good week..I'll be back with more Summer Reading List updates!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SRL: Tankborn by Karen Sandler

Ack! I totally forgot to post this yesterday! For that...I apologize. It was supposed to post yesterday.
I know I'm skipping a book on my list, but I really wanted to pair up my reviews of Stargirl and Nineteen Minutes together. You will learn more next week why.  Why not tomorrow? Because it's Friday and I'm starting my vacation early.  But here's a treat for you!

When I finished this book my first thought was "What? That's it?  There has to be more!!"

So being in the modern age that we are, I went searching the internet. And it's the first in a trilogy. And only the first two are out. OF COURSE!!! (now how do I get myself an advanced copy of the third book...hmmm)

My Summer Reading List has a lot on it right I'll be waiting to do the second book.  But in the meantime, here is my review of Tankborn...and even more interview with the author!

First: What's it about?
Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated when the time comes for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. High-status trueborns and working-class lowborns, born naturally of a mother, are free to choose their own lives. But GENs are gestated in a tank, sequestered in slums, and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds a host of secrets and surprises-not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night. With the help of an intriguing lowborn boy, Mishalla begins to suspect that something horrible is happening to them.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan with their new friends to save the children who are disappearing. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, one that may reveal secrets no one is ready to face.
My thoughts:
I got sucked into this story pretty quickly. It was easy to read and the characters were likable. I was a little uncomfortable with how quickly one romance happened, but I got over it pretty quickly. I probably forget how fast I "fell in love" when I was fifteen. The characters were likeable and I found myself really rooting for one of them (Mishalla).  My perspective on books has changed a lot since I became a mother and I could feel the torment that Mishalla went through when the children were being stolen in the night. One interesting thing about the world that the story takes place in, is the different races of the humans that inhabit this future world...and who is "better" than another. The story is told from different perspectives but instead of finding that annoying, I really enjoyed being in multiple characters "stories". I would highly recommend this book for middle school kids (or anyone really).

And...onto the interview with the author!

1. We know how you came up with your idea for Tankborn, but how did you flesh out the multi-racial (multi-caste) characters without falling into the trap of racism? (or was race and pre-conceived ideas a part of that development?)

With TANKBORN, I wanted to present issues of bigotry and racism in a science fictional world divorced from Earth’s history. In the created world of Loka, where the colonists were able to build any society they liked, they still fell into that same trap of bigotry and prejudice. Is it human nature to want to stratify and create the “other?” To some extent, it is, although we do often see people’s better nature come through, often see real people grow and change as they begin to see the “other” as just a different version of themselves.

In TANKBORN, I intentionally built that stratified society, both to explore the issues of racism and to create a dramatic premise. In the real world, we do want everyone to value each other and to get along. In a novel, we need conflict or the story will be very dull.

Something else I was trying to do (this being a young adult novel) was to present teenagers trapped in a world not of their making. Both Kayla, the GEN, and Devak, the trueborn, have to follow what society and their parents demand of them. Kayla, as a GEN, is more obviously restricted in her life, but Devak is too since there are so many expectations placed on him.

2. What kinds of characters are your favorite to write?

I like the underdogs. The characters who have a core of goodness, of dignity, but they’re often left in the shadows. I want those characters to be fighters too, to stand up for themselves. No wimps!

3. When you wrote Tankborn, did you know it was going to be a trilogy?

I did see it as a trilogy, but it wasn’t sold that way. I had to end the first book in a satisfactory way because we weren’t sure if there’d be a book 2 and 3. I had short synopses of the second and third books ready and eventually a contract for the subsequent books came through.

4. What is the one book coming out this year that you cannot wait to read?

I am hooked on Hugh Howey’s WOOL series. Wonderful world-building in this science fiction series. I recently finished the original WOOL books and am now in the middle of SHIFT, the prequel to WOOL. DUST, the follow-on to WOOL, comes out in August.

5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Generally, chocolate. Specifically, Denali Extreme Moose Tracks.

And a great big THANK YOU to Karen Sandler for taking the time to respond to my email and grant me an interview.  Stay tuned to my blog...sometime in the Fall or Winter I'll pick up the second book in this series.

When you get a chance, please go check out the website for the author: and
And follow on twitter:

Want to get Tankborn? It's available until TOMORROW for only $1.99 on Amazon for your Kindle:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SRL: Born Wicked & Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

SRL is short for Summer Reading List. It's just easier than typing it over and over again.

After I read each book I'm going to do my best to review it on all the major sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.)  At least that's my plan...

Since I have already talked about the Cahill Witch Chronicles A LOT, I'm not going to write a whole lot here.

But I do have this to say....
Star Cursed did not disappoint!  I had a VERY hard time putting it down. I definitely stayed up way later than I should have to read it. I can't wait to read this book again! Unfortunately I have a huge summer reading list to get maybe this fall I'll get another chance at it. :)

Everything from the first book continues with this book...and then takes you steps further.

The Brotherhood makes you more angry. The drama between the sisters escalates. The romance is more forbidden.

Even though this series takes place in an alternate history of New England, the characters and story seem very plausible and REAL (yes, even with the magic!) Jessica Spotswood has a gift for turning characters into real people.

If you haven't picked up Born Wicked yet, go for it, you won't be disappointed...and then eagerly pick up your copy of Star Cursed.  Then start cursing that the third book isn't available yet!!  The ending may not shock you...but it will certainly get you fired up!

Want to chat with me about these books?  Leave comments...let's start a discussion!

Are you on Goodreads?  If yes and you want to be "friends" there, let me know!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Moxie Girlz Poopsy Pets

Moxie Girlz Poopsy Pets.  This is a real thing.
I know I keep promising to write about my summer reading (check back EVERY DAY this week), but this was way more important.  The world NEEDS to know about this.

On Saturday this past weekend, the whole family went to Toys R Us.  We were looking for a good deal on something in clearance (I had a coupon for an additional 30% off). As we wandered around the store, my hubby bursts out with:
"I poop rainbows!"

He repeated "I poop rainbows" and then laughing he pointed at this box:
Apparently Rita Rudner was right, men do not mature.

This is a REAL toy. Not only are there Moxie Girlz (why the z? Are we trying to promote bad spelling and stupidity?) that have pets that poop rainbows, there are also pets that poop glitter and jewels.


But you want some real humor?  Go check out the reviews on for the doll above: 

Then when you think this all must be a joke, you can watch the commercial for it here:

Keep coming back this week for some more intellectual stuff...I'm blogging all week about my Summer Reading List. I'm five books down my list (six if you count my extra book).

Friday, July 12, 2013

AMP 103.3 Radio: The TJ Show!

Most of my readers are I feel comfortable talking about some local Boston radio shows.
(I don't live in Boston, but I do listen to those stations....I have a feeling that no matter where I live, Boston will always feel like home.)

This past year we were given a whole bunch of new radio stations (awesome!) and it was fun for me to flip through the stations to see who was playing whatever song I was in the mood for at that time. For those of you who know me well, I like to listen to country.  But for the past two years I have been listening to a lot of Top 40 Pop...because if I put on country, there was a baby in the back who would throw a fit.

These days my daughter is now two and can vocalize if she likes a song or not. We will get different phrases like "Different song" or "This is good song" ...and when she really likes a song she can name the title or the artist...and when the chorus starts up she usually yells out "Here it comes!".

She gets a little excited about her music.

Since I was a teenager I had listened to the same Morning Radio show on one particular station but lately I noticed I was staying on a new station, the TJ Show at Amp Radio.  I find that I really like the personalities of the DJ's and they happen to be playing all of my favorite songs right now.

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (LOOOOVE this song)
Get Lucky by Daft Punk
Cups by Anna Kendrick

You get the idea.
They have a decent mix of songs but Anthony likes to complain that they play the same songs too often. And maybe that's true, but I happen to like those songs, so I don't care! haha.

Recently they had a contest to phone in and win tickets to a private performance of Robin Thicke.  I tried desperately to win, and I didn't. But that didn't sour me on the station.  The other morning I was listening to them and they were reading a letter of complaint that they had received.
I decided in that moment that I was going to write them a letter to let them know how much I loved their show. I'm actually looking forward to my morning commute now! It's too rare that we let someone know when we LIKE something. 

I told them all about my commute and how my daughter likes to tell me her preferences in the car. If we are listening to any other station with no music she will request "Different song", but she will actually listen to the TJ Show (plus it's commercial free for an hour each morning, YES!).  This week while I was trying to call and win tickets I would turn the radio down in case they answered. I would immediately get from the back seat "Mama, turn radio on loud, put music back on!"
About half way through the week she "got it" that I was calling for tickets.

Now when I pick up my phone she asks "Mama calling to get tickets?"

Too cute.

BUT...the whole point of this rambling post is to tell you this:
When I wrote them an email....they wrote back!  Both DJ's!  And they were SO cool!  I even called the station and spoke with them briefly. How awesome are they?  They were so down to earth and so nice to me.  I am now permanently listening to their morning show.  Seriously nice people.

So why did I stop listening to the other stations?  The other morning show was grumpy and negative. My other alternative had some great "throwback" music but I couldn't stand the morning DJ banter and I get really uncomfortable with the "prank phone calls" that they do.  Plus it's a lot of bleeping of swear words.

The TJ Show may not be exactly G-rated...but Zoe is still too young to "get" most of it.  Lucky for me, by the time she is old enough to understand what she is hearing, she'll be getting on a school bus and won't be part of my commute.  I just hope that the TJ show is still around for that too. :)

Want to know what I'm talking about? Check them out and follow them all over the place: 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Wait...what book is this?  This wasn't on my Summer Reading List!

You are right, this is an "extra" bonus read.  I was given an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC, my first one!) by the publisher and I felt obligated to rush it in to my reading list.  (because I want MORE...more ARC's please!)

The authors of this book are the same who wrote "The Nanny Diaries" which was very popular and even made into a movie.  I never read that book, I had no interest.  And I probably wouldn't have picked up this one either.  The description alone just didn't interest me...

I usually like to get recommendations from other people for new books.

BUT....this one was pretty good.  Especially because I'm into celebrity gossip (I know, I know! I'm trying to quit!) and because it's story really closely paralleled one of my favorite pop singers, Britney Spears.

I was fascinated. I couldn't stop reading. It was like a train wreck that I just couldn't bring myself to look away!  Btw, that train wreck comment refers to the character's story and life...not the writing.
I wasn't particularly attached to any of the characters, I don't see this as a book that I will pick up again and again. But it's definitely worth it to borrow from a friend or the library...or buy a copy and pass along to your girlfriend and then gossip about how it parallels the celebrities we love to gossip about.

The writing style was pretty good.  There were a few points where I felt the story line all of a sudden jumped and I couldn't tell if time had passed (or how much time) but that might have been because I had an advanced copy...I'm not sure.  It was my first one, so I really don't know how that all works.

If you want a nice easy summer book, go for this one. There's a bit of romance mixed in, but nothing too naughty. Safe for teenagers and admitting to your mom that you read it.

Author's website:

I also posted this review at Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

She Doesn't Do Mornings

I'm a morning person. I never really thought I was until I got older and lived with other people and I realized that I had a much easier time in the morning than they did. Some people can get up and function but they aren't quite awake for a while.
Some people just need coffee, like my hubby and my mother.

I'm not sure what to give a two year old ....she can't have coffee.

Yesterday morning was tough for her, it was the Monday after a long holiday weekend where her schedule was slightly off and she had a lot of people around and lots of excitement.

But really, it wasn't all that different from other mornings (today wasn't much better!).

Most mornings, I have to wake her up. (kids are so cute when sleeping!) Most mornings after I wake her up, she tries to jump up and get up. And then she stands there shaking (because she isn't awake) and starts whining and sometimes starts to cry.  A few times she will just grab her blanket, pull it up over her head and say "noooo...".

What am I going to do when she is a teenager?!

I have managed to catch the jumping up, shaking and then crying on video.  But not the blanket over the head not getting up thing.  I should stop taking videos of her in the morning.

So once I get her up...she moves so slowly. Like a sloth. She shuffles her feet and barely responds to me. Then we get to breakfast. Where she will stare at it.  And some mornings she even says "no breakfast." :(

Weekends are usually a little better because I let her "sleep in" and she wakes up on her own. But even then she will still move very slowly. And take forever to eat her breakfast.

You would think I just need to put her to bed earlier.  But I already put her to bed at 7pm and she will toss and turn until 9pm. I'm not sure how to help her fall asleep!

But I'm also not sure that more sleep will necessarily make her a morning person.  Because hubby can sleep 14 hours and still move like a sloth in the morning. So I guess she inherited that from her Dada. I should just keep him in charge of their morning schedule...

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Raffle Winner!

Thank you everyone for playing!

My contest winner was Amy H....I'll be in touch with your prizes soon!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Summer Reading!

How's your Summer Reading list coming along?

I have read FOUR books so far.  I'll start talking about them next week.
I'm grabbing another book for the holiday maybe by next week I'll have five on my list.

Have you entered my contest yet?  It ends on Friday!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Athlete Hero Worship

I found this article today:

I have to say, I agree with many of the points made here.  I'm a huge New England Patriots fan. To say last week was disappointing is putting it very mildly.

I would like to add a few points to this article.

Number one, I agree 100% that we (the public, the fans, etc) created someone like Aaron Hernandez. I have seen it firsthand when I was a season ticket holder for AHL hockey.  We, as sports fans, worship these young athletes to be heroes.  Who wouldn't get a big inflated ego from that?

I'm a woman, so I can call this out too...women make it worse. They will do *anything* to be around these players. I have been first-hand witness to this. I'm not entirely proud of some of my behavior either when confronted with someone semi-famous.  So I'm no innocent either.

So how do we change this?  We need to make sure our children know about REAL heroes.
Like the fire fighters who died in ArizonaOr the State Rep who stood her ground for 11+ hours.
(click the links to read more)

We need to teach our children to have respect for themselves and others. To not put anyone up on a pedestal and to understand that everyone has imperfections.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?