Sunday, December 25, 2011

Road Trip! And Season's Greetings!


Season's Greetings! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Wishing you the very best whatever it is you celebrate.

We have made a crazy and spontaneous decision to hop in our car and head east about 1,368 miles....to Oklahoma! We'll be driving well into the wee hours and beyond. But we know some grandparents who will be very happy to see their California grandchildren and son and daughter-in-law (that's me!). Wish us luck!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Town Monday: Fun Holiday Events in San Diego, CA

Good Monday Morning to you all!

Yes, yes, I've been somewhat absent lately, not due to a lack of love, but to a lack of time. While I do love my children, Mr. Summy, friends, family, Christmas decorations, gift giving, and writing books, blogging, all of them together is a bit overwhelming. ;)

Anyway, it's that time of year when I get to feeling sad and nostalgic and wishing I were going home to Canada for Christmas. I can barely listen to Anne Murray without tearing up.* Being the practical person I am, I thought I'd google see what fun stuff I can get up to here in San Diego that would be a little like the fun stuff I'd get up to in Toronto. Here goes....

Skating...
Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado (thanks google images for the photo)

At the Hotel del Coronado, they flood the Windsor Lawn to make an ice rink for skating next to the Pacific Ocean Nov 23 to Jan 8. It costs $20/$25 (adults) and $15/$20 (kids) for a 2hr/3hr session, including skate rental (not many of us own skates down here!). Growing up, our neighbors flooded their backyard, and all the kids in the neighborhood skated on it for the winter. In fact, that's where I learned to skate, pushing around a wooden chair until I got my balance. This took years (joke).

Please click here for skating details, such as the times the rink is open.


Looking at the lights...

San Diego Boat Parade of Lights (thanks again google images. What would I do without you?)

I've missed the Dec. 11 viewing, but on Dec. 18 from 5:30 - 9pm, over 100 boats, all decorated up for this year's Back-to-the-Future theme, will cruise 7 1/2 miles in the San Diego Bay. It's free. The parade starts at Shelter Island immediately after the 5:30pm fireworks. Please click here for details about the route, times, etc.

I have a couple of other fun ideas, but I'll save them for another post. Have a great Monday. Be good to yourselves.

Please check out the posts by the other My Town Monday participants by clicking here.



*Don't feel too sorry for me because I may be heading to the Great White North this summer.

sources:
http://www.hoteldel.com/
http://www.portofsandiego.org/

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Book Review Club (December 2011)

It's hard to fathom, but today is our final book club meeting of 2011. There are, in fact, only 24 more days left in this year. Which means it's that holiday season, where you're casting about for gifts for friends and family. Cast about no more! Think of us as your book review elves! We've put together reviews of all sorts of books, sure to please the people on your gift list and, of course, you too. Read on!


HOW THEY CROAKED--THE AWFUL ENDS OF THE AWFULLY FAMOUS by Georgia Bragg, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley.

I love this book! I already purchased it for Child #3 for Christmas. (No gift spoiler for him, as I can't imagine he reads this blog.) Sure, he's a sophomore in high school, and HOW THEY CROAKED is rated for kids aged 10+. But I can just imagine him tossing out disgusting bits of info to impress the girls at lunch. Tidbits like: "So that Tut wouldn't rot on the trip to the next life, the embalmers scooped his insides out from top to bottom. To get his brains out, a long bronze needle with a hook on the end was shoved up his nose. His brain was broken up into teeny bits and pulled out one piece at a time." (pg. 2) Yes, Child #3 will love this book too! And I think Child #4, my girly 11 year old, will also get a kick out of this book.

HOW THEY CROAKED provides gruesome details of the deaths of 19 famous people, including Henry VIII, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Elizabeth I and more. You'll also pick up interesting facts about their personalities, their lives and the times they lived in. Get a load of the opening paragraph of the chapter on "Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Brains": " It was the best of times for Charles Dickens, the richest, most famous author in the 1800s. But it was the worst of times for anyone who knew him. Dickens was incredibly talented, but he was also a moody, dirt-phobic control freak." (pg. 117)

The writing style is breezy and fun. The illustrations are great and complement the text. The subject matter is gory, gross and gripping. I have three holiday parties coming up in short order. Think of the conversations I'll start!

Please scroll down and click through for more book reviews. You won't be sorry. Neither will the people you're buying for.

Happy Holidays! Happy Reading!

PICTURE-BOOK REVIEW

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: HOW TO BE A GOOD CAT by Gail Page

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: THE FATHER CHRISTMAS LETTERS by JRR Tolkien, compiled by Ballie Tolkien (ages 5+, letters + pictures)


MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: CIRCUS GALACTICUS by Deva Fagan (middle grade, sci fi/fantasy)

Jody Feldman: THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens (middle grade, fantasy)

Sarah Laurence: STEALING BASES by Keri Mikulski (young adult)** Keri is one of our very own intrepid reviewers!

Linda McLaughlin: BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle (young adult)

Stacy Nyikos: THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (young adult/adult crossover)


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Patti Abbott: MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THERE'S CAKE IN MY FUTURE by Kim Gruenenfelder (women's fiction)

Kathy Holmes: LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Susan McBride (women's fiction)

Scott Parker: THE HOUSE OF SILK: A SHERLOCK HOLMES NOVEL by Anthony Horowitz (mystery)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG by Kate Atkinson (mystery)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: GHOST STORY by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #13) (mystery/urban fantasy)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: A CRIMSON WARNING by Tasha Alexander (historical mystery)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness (paranormal)

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: AS LONGS AS THE RIVERS FLOW by James Bartleman



MEMOIR REVIEW

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: ALL MY DOGS: A LIFE by Bill Henderson (adult)


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for a great year of reviews!


Monday, November 21, 2011

My Town Monday: The Drowsy Chaperone, San Diego, CA

It's that time of year when, here in the US, we're thawing our turkeys, baking our pies and thinking about what we're thankful for.

Well, I'm thankful Jim Williams ended his hiatus of sixteen years and returned to the stage.

Here's Jim Williams as Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone, currently playing at the Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado, CA. (619) 435-4856

This past weekend, Mr. Summy, two good friends and I went to see The Drowsy Chaperone. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's one of the best plays we've seen in the last four years (which is when we started regularly going to the theater together). And we ALL loved The Drowsy Chaperone--no mean feat for people who have trouble agreeing on which sushi rolls to order.

In brief, The Drowsy Chaperone is a very funny musical comedy. From the Coronado Playhouse's website: This hilarious show-within-a-show begins when a die-hard musical comedy fan dusts off his favorite cast album, a 1928 smash hit called The Drowsy Chaperone. The album magically bursts to life and the audience is instantly immersed in the glamorous, comical tale of a celebrity bride and her uproarious wedding day.

I called Jim after the play to ask him a few questions for this post (yes, I'm that kind of pushy blogger).

Me: So, what ended the sixteen-year hiatus? Did the stars align? You won the lottery? Your wife threatened to leave if you didn't get back on stage? Seriously, tell us and we'll make it happen again.

Jim: It was the play. When it first came out on Broadway, my daughter gave me the CD. Then I saw it in Orange County. And I said that if The Drowsy Chaperone ever comes to San Diego, the Man in Chair is the one part that will pull me out of this hiatus.

Me: Which begs the question...why did you take sixteen years off? Did the stars misalign? You lost the lottery? Your wife threatened to leave if you didn't spend more time at home? Seriously, tell us and we'll make sure it doesn't happen again.

Jim: It was a combination of Santee* losing its place for performing, and my wife and I deciding to do a bunch of traveling. And it was a nice break. When I did theater in the eighties and nineties, I was in rehearsal Monday through Thursday and then in performance, perhaps at different theater, on the weekend. This went on for about fifteen years.


Me: What was it like, jumping back in the saddle, er, the armchair, after so much time away?

Jim: When I was first preparing for my audition and I was trying to memorize a monologue, I thought this is never going to work. Then, the next day, I discovered I’d remembered more than I was expecting. Also, I really didn’t think I’d get cast for the part.

Me: And how’s it been?

Jim: Exhilarating! A lot of this is due to the cast of the show who were wonderful to me. They’re all extremely talented. And you couldn’t ask for a better producer or director. It’s been a thrill!

Me: What’s next? And if you say another sixteen-year hiatus, you understand there are people who might hurt you. ☺

Jim: What I really really want to do most is work with my kids and grandkids in theatre. So, I’m on the look-out for a good role and the opportunity to work on stage with my kids and grandkids.

Me: Directors and producers of San Diego County, you heard the man! Thanks, Jim, for the interview. And thank you for The Drowsy Chaperone! In kid/teen lingo, you rocked the house!

(*Santee is our little corner of San Diego county.)

The Drowsy Chaperone is playing at the Coronado Playhouse until Dec. 4. I can't recommend it highly enough. The show boasts a TON of talent. Debbie David's (the drowsy chaperone herself) delivery was impeccable; I couldn't have laughed harder. Tiffany Loui was a most energetic bride-to-be. We will be sure to see everything directed by Thomas Fitzpatrick; he's that good. It was a trip seeing Jessica Brandon, Manny Bejarano, Meredith Russo and Katie Beth Umlor on stage again. Really, I feel bad not mentioning everyone associated with this play!

Here’s a link to the theater: The Coronado Playhouse. Do something nice for yourself and go see this play.

Please check out the posts by the other My Town Monday participants by clicking here.

Oh, and disclaimer: I wasn't compensated for this post. I'm just a blogger who likes a good play....and a good book...and a bag of fresh licorice.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Town Monday: the Chameleon Cage, San Diego, CA

Welcome to a My-Town-Monday post. I'm a little late getting this up. I had a dental appointment this morning. However, my dentist was a no-show, and I ended up running a few errands since I was already out and about.

It's been a while since I wrote about our male and female veiled chameleons (Mr. Cone Head and Fat Letta, respectively), and I thought I'd bring you up to date on Fat Letta.

Fat Letta, our female veiled chameleon, around 4 years old. Don't mind the white skin on her head. She's shedding. (photographed with my droid)

Unless you're into veiled chameleons, you probably aren't paying much attention to the fact that she's not holding herself up on her legs, but is resting on her belly. Poor Fat Letta is calcium depleted, and her bones aren't doing particularly well. I give her a sticky liquid calcium by oral syringe twice a day in the hopes of improving her condition. I also hold a bowl of crickets close to her for feeding as there's no way she could get around the cage on her shaky legs.

Fat Letta is an over-achiever in the egg deparment, and that's the cause of her bone problems. She insists on producing eggs every couple of months. About a month ago, she tunnelled down in the five-gallon Home Depot flower bucket to lay 30+ eggs. In the morning, she was still in the tunnel of cold, damp sand. Not a good sign. She used to tunnel down, lay her eggs, smooth the sand over so I had no idea where she'd deposited the eggs, then climb up to the top of cage to bask under the heat lamp.

This last time, my heart in my throat, I reached into the tunnel to lift out her cold, still body. I really thought she'd died, but then she blinked at me. Fat Letta is almost four years old. I believe veiled chameleons live 4-5 years in capitivity. The vet has suggested a hysterectomy. But, even to me, a crazy chameleon lover, this sounds a little over the top. You can imagine Mr. Summy's response!


These braided branches give Fat Letta a thicker area for grasping with her sore feet. (photographed with my droid)

I returned home today after my almost-dental appointment to find Fat Letta on the bottom of the cage. I think she lost her balance (her front legs are especially weak) and fell off her branch. I braided in extra branches (they're fake) and will figure out a way to fashion a net partway down the cage.

Sorry to not have better news. However, the fat lady hasn't sung yet. Perhaps the calcium will kick in. In addition, I've changed the UV bulb, in case that's exacerbating the bone issue.

Please check out the posts by the other My Town Monday participants by clicking here. No doubt they're a little cheerier.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Book Review Club (November 2011)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means, it's time for The Book Review Club! Hello and welcome! The reviewers have done an awesome job, so please scoll down. You won't be sorry. See the photo of the woman on the left? That's Kelly Hayes, my critique partner. It's always a treat to read a review by Kelly, and I'm happy to report I managed to talk her into reviewing a book for us this month. Take it away, Kelly!

THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST by Anna Jean Mayhew

It’s 1954 in Charlotte, NC, and 13-year-old Jubie Watts hasn’t yet made the transition from child to young adult. But all that is about to change. Jubie’s mother packs Jubie, her three siblings, and the family’s black maid, Mary in to the car for a road trip to visit family in Florida. For reasons only guessed at by Jubie, her father is not coming with them.


As they drive the sweltering southern roads, Jubie recalls her family’s past and the recent events that have led to the disintegration of her parents’ marriage. Her father’s physical abuse of her and her mother, his roving eye, and his deep-seeded racism all begin to come to light in Jubie’s mind. She tries to reconcile all this with the image of her beloved daddy, but she just can’t see him with a child’s eye anymore.

While staying with her uncle, Jubie develops a profound crush on a fifteen-year-old black boy. Her mind begins to open further and she starts to see the everyday racism all around her. The brunt of it falls on Mary, who has been for Jubie the kind, nurturing presence that her emotionally cold mother could never be. As the family travels deeper into the South, Jubie witnesses people treating Mary as little more than a talking animal. None of this fits with the intelligent, vibrant woman she knows Mary to be and Jubie begins to confront her own inherited prejudices.

Violence simmers beneath the surface of Anna Jean Mayhew’s southern setting. The centerpiece of the story is a violent act that rocks the foundations of Jubie’s narrow world. How she comes to terms with it is what makes this book so moving and heartfelt. Jubie reminds us that rebellion is at the heart of every revolution, be it political or personal. And that we have to stand for what we know in our hearts is right, not matter what society tells us.
The Dry Grass of August invites comparisons because of its setting, protagonist, and subject matter. The Help, The Secret Life of Bees, and of course, To Kill a Mocking Bird all portray coming of age in the segregated South, and they do it well. Anna Jean Mayhew’s book, however, takes an unflinching and personal look at a dark time in our country’s recent history through the eyes of a young white girl on her way to becoming a free-thinking adult. And much like Scout, Jubie will live in the reader’s mind for a long time to come.

Thanks, Kelly, for the thoughtful review. You've convinced me to read this book. And, now, scroll down for links to all the reviews. It's certainly an interesting lot this month!


PICTURE-BOOK REVIEW

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: RED SLED by Lita Judge


MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Jody Feldman: FLOORS by Patrick Carman (Middle Grade)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE ATMOIC WEIGHT OF SECRETS by Eden Unger Bowditch (Middle Grade, Fantasy)

Beth Yarnall: ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake (Young Adult, Paranormal)

Sarah Laurence: JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta (Young Adult)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson (Young Adult)


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: A SUMMER IN EUROPE by Marilyn Brant (women's fiction)

Scott Parker: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman (fantasy)

Kathy Holmes: THE GOD'S WIFE by Lynn Voedisch (paranormal historical)

Patti Abbott NEMESIS by Philip Roth

Linda McLaughlin: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA by Jules Verne (science fiction)

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dalls

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova


GRAPHIC NOVEL

Stacy Nyikos: BAD ISLAND by Doug TenNapel


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. I've been especially disorganized this month! Thank you so much for your reviews!

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Town Monday: Feral Cats at Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

(photo credit: google images. I would never get this close to such a scary looking cat!)

Every night, after the park closes, Disneyland unleashes 200+ feral cats who prowl the Park and keep the roden population under control.

During the day, these cats lead a, well, dog's life. They live in well-maintained cat houses, dine at the five or so hidden feeding stations, have access to health care (shots, neutering, spaying, no botox though :) ). The cats are kept under wraps when the Park is open to guests, although rumor has it you might be able to spot a cute tabby face from the Jungle Cruise ride.

How did Disneyland end up employing dozens of our feline friends? In the late 1950s, the Sleeping Beauty castle underwent a major renovation. Guess who construction works found squatting inside the castle? Over a hundred Orange County alley cats. Along with a huge number of fleas! Disneyland tried to evict the cats, but to no avail. And then a bright Disneyland employee mentioned how they weren't having the problems with rodents that once plagued the Park. And, voila, the furry workers were hired! Without an interview!

What I'd like to see is human Park employees herding the cats back to their barracks at the end of the nighttime shift. :)

So, there you have it. The cat's out of the bag now on what goes in Disneyland after the last guest leaves! (Surely you knew I'd squeeze in a cat idiom or two!)

(photo credit: google images, once again. Although I would happily get close enough to a cute cat like this to get the shot.)

And I leave you with a photo I did take. It's of Child #4's winning graveyard cake. It took first at her school's Halloween Carnival this past weekend!

Please check out the posts by the other My Town Monday participants by clicking here. Happy Halloween!



sources:
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/02/business/la-fi-cover-disney-20100502
http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20111017-the-secret-world-of-disneyland
http://mikecalahan.com/?p=392

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Unusual Occurrence


Something unusual happened last night.

I found myself, away from home and alone, with an hour to spare between activities. Child #3's water polo game ended earlier than I'd anticipated. Plus, Mr. Summy arrived which meant I no longer needed to drive Child #3 home and feed him. And Child #4 is still off at Sixth Grade Camp, so I didn't have any responsibilities there, either.

An hour alone. Away from home. At 5:30pm. What's a harried mother/writer to do?

I went to a small sushi restaurant and sat, in blissful silence. I mulled over my work-in-progress and figured out how to handle the current plot snag. I read a chapter of Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen. I ate slowly.

And as I dipped my spicy salmon roll into a puddle of soy sauce, I thought why am I not having more calm, relaxing moments like these?


I saved the pink (!) fortune cookie for Child #4, who returns from camp at 2:15 today!

Are the rest of you stopping to smell the roses? If yes, how are you working this into a busy schedule? Any tips are appreciated!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Town Monday: Glow-In-The-Dark Waves in San Diego, CA

Here's what our ocean looks like during the day...

Red Tide in San Diego (photo credit: Gary Robbins, Union-Tribune)


And here's what it looks like at night...

Bioluminescent waves (photo credit: Brian Witkin, google images)

Phytoplankton, an algae that blooms late in the summer, is lighting up our beaches thanks to a scientific phenomenon called bioluminescence. When these tiny creatures are jostled, a chemical reaction occurs at the cellular level, and, wow, a blue light flashes.


So, when a wave breaks, billions of these single-cell organisms emit blue flashes. It's kind of like a wave of fireflies. Of course, there are lots of fun ways to light up the night: run along the beach, stir the water with your foot, surf, throw water from a bucket, etc. I've even heard you can fill a bottle with sea water and flush it down your toilet.

How long will the red tide be with us? No one knows for sure. It arrived at the end of September and may suddenly leave if the weather changes and blows it out or if a bunch of salp, a small jellylike creature, drift in and eat them up or if... Then again, the red tide might stick around for a while.

But, at least for the moment, we have glow-in-the-dark waves in San Deigo!

I'm this week's hostess. If you throw up a My Town Monday post, let me know here or on the official My Town Monday blog, and I'l link to you on both.

Below are links to some interesting My-Town-Monday posts by other bloggers:

Debra of From Skilled Hands has proof of great beauty in her small Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Jeannette Marie Powell has a haunting post on Frankenstein's Tower in Dayton, Ohio. Ooooh...


Enjoy your Monday!



sources:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/sep/27/red-tide-causing-stunning-bioluminescence-san-dieg/?sciquest
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/red-tide-glows-blue-along-the-san-diego-coast-photo/2011/09/30/gIQAFGXr9K_blog.
htmlhttp://www.nctimes.com/news/local/article_27326fb7-8916-55b4-8633-829a61dc69fe.html

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Town Monday: Blue Whales Spotted, San Diego CA

Thank you Google Images for this picture of a blue whale. The swimmer is not me.

Endangered blue whales are being spotted off the coast here. This is unusual. While we're pretty good at predicting when gray whales will cruise by, blue whales don't have regular migration patterns. According to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the blue whales have come to visit for our krill. Thanks to complicated factors like super swirling ocean waters this year, we currently have an abundance of these shrimp-like creatures. Blue whales are always on the lookout for a swarm of krill. A blue whale might suck back 4+ tons or 40 million krill a day.

Blue whales (they're actually blue-gray) are enormous. In fact, they're the largest mammals in the world, growing to 75-100 feet (depending on the hemisphere). Males weigh about 100 tons, while females, ta dum, can weigh in at a hefty 150 tons. Nursing calves gain 200 pounds a day, which translates to 8 or so pounds an hour and 1 1/2 inches a day! How wild is this?! It's like you could actually watch them grow!

To help you get even more of a sense of how huge these guys are:
~50 people could stand on the tongue of a blue whale
~A blue whale's heart is the size of a car

Blue whales can communicate with each other over hundreds of sea miles. More than heard, their low rumbling sounds are actually felt. This is my favorite fact. Also, they're very fast swimmers. They generally cruise at 12 mph, but can ramp it up to 30 mph when necessary.

It's a good time to go whale watching. The blue whales will be here until Halloween. There are only about 5000 of these creatures in the world.

Oh, and just in case you don't know this, whales have belly buttons. ;)

Here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world. Always of interest!

Oh, and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to my fellow citizens!



sources:
http://www.acsonline.org/factpack/bluewhl.htm
http://www.10news.com/news/29413683/detail.html
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schooladventures/planetocean/bluewhale.html

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Child #3

Yesterday at 8 pm on the dot, Child #3 turned sixteen! He's very energetic, competitive, smart, good-looking, optimistic, humorous, interesting, entertaining (perhaps too entertaining, according to a teacher or two). He's truly one of those people you like to hang out with.

It's hard to believe he's actually sixteen! Even harder to think about him leaving the nest in just a few years. (I have departure on the brain with Child#2 off for his freshman year at college.)

Below is a video (very short) of how Child #3's high school water polo team helped him celebrate the big day.


video

Watch out Child #3!!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Book Review Club (October 2011)


Welcome one and all to the THIRTY-FOURTH meeting of our Book Review Club. (The caps are my shock at such a robust number of meetings!!)

Today you are in for many treats. We have terrific reviews, starting with one by my little sister! There she is, above and to the left, eating Indian candy. Next to her is her daughter/my niece noshing on a samosa (which you can't see, but is there nonetheless). The food goes with the book reviewed.

Do you see the smile on my little sister's face? It's because she's sharing a book she absolutely loves.( And maybe a little bit because of the candy.) Thanks for joining in this month, Sheilagh! You're the best!

SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter, Shilpi Samaya Gowda’s first book, is about motherhood. The story follows two families, one in India and one in America. Americans Somer and Krishan adopt Asha, Kavita’s birth daughter.

Kavita lives in a small village in India, in a culture that favours sons. When she gives birth to her second daughter, there is only one way she can save her from the same fate as her first daughter. Barely a day after giving birth, Kavita walks all day to Mumbai with her sister, carrying her new baby, and leaves her in the orphanage. It is the only time Kavita defies her husband, Jasu. She never forgets this daughter and often imagines reuniting with her.

On the other side of the world, Somer, after several miscarriages, agrees to consider adoption. Her husband, Krishan, who was born in India, encourages her to adopt a child from India, and they end up adopting Kavita’s daughter, Asha.

The story follows the lives of Somer, Krishnan and Asha, who wishes to know more about her birth parents, as well as Kavita, Jasu and their much anticipated, but disappointing, son. Throughout the story, the author shows the relationships between family members and the difficulties they face over time, leading up to Jasu’s moving recognition of Kavita’s bravery.

This story will tug at your heart strings long after you've closed the book.

To read more about Shilpi Somay Gowda and watch an interview with her, please click here.


Below are amazing reviews put together by amazing reviewers. All for you. Please click through.

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Jody Feldman: DOING THE GALAXY GAMES: THE CHALLENGERS by Greg R. Fishbone (Middle Grade)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens (Middle Grade)

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman (/Middle Grade/Young Adult)

Stacy Nyikos: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis (Young Adult)

Beth Yarnall: THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET by Kady Cross (Young Adult Steampunk)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher (Young Adult)

Sarah Laurence: YOU ARE MY ONLY by Beth Kephart (Young Adult)

Keri Mikulski: LIPSTICK LAWS by Amy Holder and POPULAR by Alissa Grosso (both are Young Adult)


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson

Patti Abbott: TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES by Jeffrey Eugenides (literary)

Kathy Holmes: LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry (Women's)

Scott Parker: HEAT RISES by Richard Castle (Mystery)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: A HUNDRED THOUSAND DRAGONS by Dolores Gordon-Smith (Mystery)


NONFICTION REVIEWS

Linda McLaughlin: A FIRST-RATE MADNESS: UNCOVERING THE LINKS BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND MENTAL ILLNESS by Nassir (Adult)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE by Michio Kaku (Adult)



Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


Monday, September 26, 2011

My Town Monday: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Well, well, well. Guess who's coming to lunch (yes, it's lunch, not dinner, but I couldn't resist the title!) in sunny San Diego?



It's our very own President Obama! No surprise that he's smiling. We've promised him our world-famous wonderful weather AND lunch at a private home in swanky La Jolla. Yes, it's the same swanky La Jolla where Child #3, Child #4 and I spent a large portion of our summer thanks to ambitious Child #3's determination to take a high-school Spanish class.

It's kind of weird to think the president is just a hop, skip and a jump west of our little house today. Unfortunately, I won't be attending his fundraiser luncheon. $5,000 per plate is a smidgeon beyond my budget. As is the additional $10,000 to have my pic taken with the President. (Although wouldn't that have been a fun photo for the blog!!?) And there's also the small matter that my name wasn't among the 160 on the guest list!

After lunch, the President is headed up to LA. In fact, he won't be far from his old stomping grounds of Occidental College, where Child #2 is currently studying.

IF I were going to the luncheon and found myself next to the President, here's what I'd say:

-Thank you for changing the horrible health care system in this country even a little bit. Now Child #1 is insured once again under our plan and can remain there until the ripe old age of 26. I can't begin to tell you the number of his friends (people in their early 20s who are part-time students working jobs that don't offer medical) who were completely and utterly uninsured.

-Please forgo your visit to the House of Blues in West Hollywood and instead stop in at Occidental College and deliver these home-baked cookies to Child #2.

-Yes, you can have a few of the cookies.

Here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world. Always of interest!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Monday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Book Review Club (September 2011)

Labor Day is firmly behind us. Children are back at school. It's time to find out what everyone's up to reading-wise. Because I have the happy job of collecting the links, I'm the first to notice any little trends. Something must be in the air this month because we're reviewing mostly adult fiction books. Under my review, you'll find the links to several marvelous reviews. I always look forward to our reviews, but this month looks especially interesting!

THE SUSPECT by L.R. Wright

L.R. Wright (stands for Loreli Rose, but everyone called her Bunny) is one of my favorite mystery authors. Apparently, a lot of people feel this way; Chatelaine magazine nicknamed her Canada's Queen of Mystery. LR Wright was born in 1939 in Saskatchewan. In her early 20s, she performed with a Canadian touring company, where she met and married a fellow actor, John Wright. They divorced after 33 years, then remarried five years later. L.R. Wright was a journalist in Calgary for several years. She traveled and taught lots of writing classes. I wish I'd taken one. Sadly, she died of breast cancer in 2001.

THE SUSPECT, L.R. Wright's 4th novel, was published in 1985. It is the first mystery in the Karl Alberg series. The series has 9 books! Staff Sergeant Alberg (of the RCMP) lives in the sleepy town of Sechelt on the quiet coast of British Columbia. He falls in love with the town librarian, a woman he met through the newspaper personal ads. Karl is a great detective--persistent, zealous, intelligent, observant,curious, likeable. He also has this bewildered air about him. For example, he's still puzzling out how he ended up divorced and struggles with his long-distance relationship with his two teenage daughters.

THE SUSPECT is more of a "Why'd He Do It?", than a "Who Dunnit?" You know the identity of the murderer very early on (as in by pg. 2). In fact, the book opens with the murder. Then, over the course of the story, you watch Alberg figure out who the murderer is and why he committed the crime. The author doles out back story in perfect amounts, and this keeps the mystery interesting and fresh.

THE SUSPECT, in fact all of Wright's books that I've read, relies on amazing characterization. Even the setting is pretty much a character. This book won an Edgar. It may be have been the only Canadian mystery ever to win an Edgar. THE SUSPSECT was slated to become a movie starring Donald Sutherland, but I learned recently that this project has been dropped. Hopefully, not forever.

Great book. Great author. If you've never read anything by L.R. Wright, give her a whirl. You'll probably become a fan. Click here for her official website.

And, now, here are the links to reviews of all manner of fascinating books!

ONE LONELY YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEW ;)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement-Moore


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Staci of Life in the Thumb: SO NEAR by Liza Gyllenhaal (Literary)

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger (literary)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: MISERY LOVES CABERNET by Kim Gruenenfelder (women's fiction)

Linda McLaughlin: THE COFFEE TRADER by David Liss (historical)

Sarah Laurence: TIGERLILY'S ORCHIDS by Ruth Rendell (mystery)

Scott Parker: THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR by Don Winslow (crime)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: WICKED APPETITE by Janet Evanovich (comic/supernatural thriller)

Stacy Nyikos: THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova (thriller)

Beth Yarnall: CHARMED AND DANGEROUS by Toni McGee Causey (comic romantic suspense)


NONFICTION REVIEWS

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: LAST ACTS OF KINDNESS by Judith Redwing Keysar (health)


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!




http://www.lrwright.com/biography.html

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Town Monday: Happy Labor Day!

I do love Labor Day.

Why?

#1. I usually end up at a fun bar-b-que. (This year, I'm bringing an easy schmeasy Caesar salad where I mix two store-bought dressings together.)

2. I feel perfectly justified in trying to do as little as possible.

3. It marks the end of the summer. I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to my upcoming quiet Tuesday morning when my children will be back at school. I love them dearly. We've had a busy, fun-filled summer together. But it's time to move on. I have much writing to do this fall, and it's easier to be productive and thoughtful and creative in a calm, peaceful house.

In keeping with #2, here is a link to last year's Labor Day post. If you're anything like me, you've forgotten all the trivia I looked up for you last year. ;)

Please check out the links to the other My Town Monday posts on the official My Town Monday blog.

Happy Labor Day! Don't overly bestir yourselves!


Monday, August 29, 2011

A Meandering My Town Monday: College Orientation, Motherhood, Attitude Adjustments

Thanks Google Images for this photo of St Pierre et Miqueleon. Actually, I think it's a photo of St. Pierre only.

As many of you know, I returned last night from leaving Child #2 at Occidental College in LA for his freshman year. It started out as a tough four days for me. Lots of tears and kleenex and strangled voice. Then, suddenly, I thought of this guy named Richard.

Let me backtrack a sec. A few moons ago (ha!) when I was only slightly older than Child #2 and was an undergrad at the University of Toronto, I spent a summer on the island of St Pierre in French immersion. St Pierre et Miquelon are the oldest overseas territories owned by France. To orient you, on a clear day (and there weren't many the summer I was there!), you can see Newfoundland. While at St. Pierre, I lost a contact lens. Naturally, my only backup was an ugly pair of glasses, a prescription out of date. I was devastated.

Richard was another student in the program. We hadn't met before the summer. He was energetic, chatty, wore glasses (although not as ugly as mine) and was nothing short of brilliant. I don't remember his last name, something Jewish, I think. Anyway, when Richard heard me obsessing about my glasses problem, he started talking about various challenges in his life and how he'd ended up turning them around and learning a bunch from them and how wearing eye glasses for a few weeks didn't have to be devastating. Kind of hokey, but it stuck with me. And there have been several times now in my life when I was obsessing (it's my style!) over something when Richard popped into my mind. This weekend was one of those times.

I watched Child #2 interact with professors. He used respect and intelligence and wit. I watched him organize his belongings. I watched him juggle his schedule between polo practice and orientation activities. He's ready. Or at least as ready as he needs to be.

So, yeah, it was tough getting on the 5 and heading south to San Diego. I've never left a child somewhere for four years. BUT, in Richard logic, it's time for me to move on. Oxy College isn't my story. Oxy College is Child #2's story. And I need to get out of the way and let it unfold.

(Besides there's always skype! Mwahahah)

And, now, a few shots from the four days at Oxy so that this is somewhat of a My-Town-Monday post!




This is Oswald the Tiger, Oxy's mascot. It was 100 degrees!!! I'm not sure how Oswald stayed hydrated enough to not fall over in a dead faint!




Here's is Child #4 who came with me. Thank goodness! She helped keep me grounded. There were signs like this all over campus. Very helpful for the directionally challenged!




I'm thinking this might be truly Californian because we do love our bottled water. The campus was dotted with water coolers and paper cups!




President Obama (nickname of Barry!) attended Oxy 1979-81 . Child #2 is not staying in the dorm Obama was in. They also don't share a hairstyle. Apparently, though, Obama appreciated his time at Oxy. And I hope they have that in common.


Here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world. Always of interest!



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Further adventures in the LA area

One of the THOUSANDS of photos taken yesterday by Child #4. She sent this one by phone to her brother, Child #3, who likes the George Lopez show.

Child #4 (11 year old daughter) and I spent the day....sightseeing on Hollywood Blvd! We took a tour of the stars' homes (our tour bus guide got a ticket outside the house where Michael Jackson died) for overloading the vehicle!), visited Ripley's Believe It Or Not (the stuff nightmares are made of), went to the Chinese Theater, shopped, ate. Child #4 took literally THOUSANDS of pictures!

We got a text from Child #2 (our freshman Occidental student!) between his polo practices. He needed a belt and new swim goggles. Somehow, we morphed this into a $146 Target shopping trip!

Anyway, the three of us met up about 9:30 pm in the parking lot outside his dorm to hand overt the loot. Which, quite frankly, just felt weird. Oh, what am I saying? My whole life feels weird this weekend. Anyway, his roommate was already asleep. Child #2 was exhausted. Probably from two polo practices and the heat and all the overwhelming newness. In brief, he likes the polo team, likes his coach, likes his roommate, ate in the cafeteria with a new friend. Oh, and I did get a nice hug. Child #4 got her hair mussed by her big brother. ;)

Today we are off to Family Orientation at Oxy. We will see Child #2 this afternoon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Occidental College

our partially-packed car

Dear Occidental College:

In a little over an hour, Child #4 (11 year old daughter) and I are leaving San Diego and heading your way. We're bringing you a very precious gift. Child #2. Be good to him. Or else.

Signed,
Child #2's mom

Well, the day is finally here. We're almost loaded up. Child #2 is off for a last breakfast burrito with a friend. He's very excited about starting college. As he should be. It's a huge adventure. He worked hard to get here. He's ready to move on.

Mr. Summy and I are very proud of him. But Child #2's huge adventure will leave a hole in our little family. I didn't realize until this morning how very unready for this I am. I can barely swallow past the lump in my throat.

Here's to Child #2 and the next chapter in his life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fortune Cookes: It's all in the interpretation



You may recall that I collect the messages from fortune cookies.

So, the other evening, we were eating take-out Chinese. At the end of the meal, Child #4 (11 year-old daughter) cracks open her fortune cookie and reads it to herself.

(The following conversation is paraphrased. My memory just isn't that good!)

Child #4: I got a horrible fortune.

Me: What does it say?

Child #4: "Never quit."

Child #2: That's not a horrible fortune. That's a good fortune. That just means you shouldn't give up. It's to encourage you.

Me: I agree with Child #2. It's really a very positive fortune.

Child #4: Oh, yeah? What if I'm a smoker?

COLLEGE COUNTDOWN: 8 DAYS UNTIL CHILD #2 LEAVES.