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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
ISBN: 1608192555
Pages: 352 pgs
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher's Description:

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

My Review:

Usually when I read a book, I have to place an actor in the role of the male main character. I was tempted to put Colin Firth in the place of Felix but it didn’t seem right to me. Felix was too chipper. I think Hugh Grant would be better. Now that that is settled, on with the review.

I was really excited about The Actor and the Housewife. Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors and Austenland is one of my favorite Austen-esque novels. I was expecting The Actor and the Housewife to blow me away and it kinda sorta did. It was not what I expected it to be but what it was surprised me, intrigued me and gripped me all in the same breath. I expected this to be a typical nice women-married to a cad-meets nice man-marries him type of book. I was pleasantly surprised.

Becky and Felix were such great characters and their friendship was surprisingly natural and endearing.  Felix was not the typical spoiled actor that I was expecting. You expect a character that is rich and famous to have that arrogant and demanding personality that actors are famous for but he didn’t.  He had a heart and soul even if he was a bit spoiled. I had an initial disconnect with Becky. She seemed too nice. I thought she would be a quiet little character. One that would annoy me because of her meekness. Oh boy was I wrong. She is whip smart, sarcastic and funny.  Her on and off friendship with Felix was great. They play off each other in a way that reminds me of my friendships with some of my guy friends. Their banter is witty and funny at times and touching and tear-inducing at others.  Becky’s relationship with her husband, Mike,  is, perhaps, my favorite part of the novel. They were so sweet together. It is also what changed my mind about whether or not I wanted Felix and Becky to end up together.

The friendship between Becky and Felix could have,  in the hands of a lesser writer, seemed forced. Hale manages to pull off an extraordinarily unlikely friendship in an organic and easy to believe manner. I was surprised at how natural their friendship seemed. They were almost like soul mates without the mating. The only time I felt that the story slipped a little and lost me a little was when Becky and Felix star in a movie, that Becky wrote, together. It seemed a bit unrealistic but then again, friendship with a famous actor is not very realistic either. This was definitely not a big downside because it did end up working well within the plot.

The Actor and the Housewife is a great read. The ending definitely surprised me. I am actually a bit torn about it. Part of me likes the way the novel ended but this other part of me, the more sentimental and romantic side, wants a sequel…badly.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (June 29th)

This weekly event is hosted by J. Kaye’s Book Blog .

I have been moving slower this week. Bad headaches and laziness. Bad for the blog.

Reviews Posted:

Womenomics-Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

My Lord John-Georgette Heyer

Books Completed:

The Actor and the Housewife-Shannon Hale

Class in Britain-David Cannadine

Wounded By School-Kirsten Olson

The Darcys and the Bingleys-Marsha Altman

Currently Reading:

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers-Marsha Altman

Rebecca Ann Collins JA sequel series

Aspects of Aristocracy-David Cannadine

The Silent Note-Patrick Davis

Up Next:

Surviving a house full of whispers-Sharon Wallace

Bound to Please-Lilli Feisty

One Deadly Sin-Annie Solomon

To Beguile a Beast-Elizabeth Hoyt

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy -Sara Angelini

The Other Mr. Darcy – Monica Fairview

A Match for Mary Bennet -Eucharista Ward, O.S.F.

God is an Englishman-R.F. Delderfield

To Serve Them All My Days-R.F. Delderfield

The Lovely Life-Vicki Forman

Hugh and Bess-Susan Higginbotham

Hungry Woman in Paris-Josefina Lopez

Hunter-Campbell Jefferys

Musing Monday (June 29th)

This weekly event is hosted by Just One More Page

Now that we’ve come to the middle of the year, what do you think of your 2009 reading so far? Read anything interesting that you’d like to share? Any outstanding favourites?

I’ve been slow this year. I have only finished about 30 books (I’m behind on review posting as well). I’ve been lazy and distracted with this other project that I am working on but that is almost done. I’ll probably be barraging you with reviews within the next few weeks because I have finally cracked my writer’s block that has been plaguing me this week.

I have had some wonderful standouts.
  1. Galway Bay-Mary Pat Kelly
  2. The Lie Fredrica Wagman
  3. The Unit-Ninni Holmqvist
  4. Pemberley Manor by Kathryn L. Nelson
  5. Flannery by Brad Gooch
  6. Who Do You Think You Are?-Alyse Myers

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I have been thinking of changing my blog over to Blogger lately. The blogs I have seen on the Blogger platform have more creative freedom with the way the blog looks and such. Also, adding Adsense would be a nice addition. Any opinions? I'm kind of scared of having to learn a new platform but I am willing to do so.



I have decided that I am going to stay at Wordpress for now. I am just too lazy to go through all of the hubbub of switching. I would lose all of my comments as well.

My First Award-Proximidade

This blog invests and believes in the Proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.
Thanks to Sassy @ for selecting me for this award. I was flummoxed, overjoyed, and excited.
I am now charged with passing this on to eight other bloggers. Hmmm. Making decisions is not my strong point.
  1. Sandra @ Fresh Ink Books
  2. Nise' @ Under the Boardwalk
  3. Matt @ A Guy's Moleskine Notebook
  4. Rebecca @ Lost in Books
  5. Jessica @ Barney's Book Blog
  6. Lenore @ Presenting Lenore
  7. Mari @ MariReads
  8. J. Kaye @ J. Kaye's Book Blog

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Womenomics: Writing Your Own Rules for Success-Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Womenomics: Work Less, Achieve More, Live Better
Publisher: HarperBusiness
ISBN: 0061697184
Pages: 256 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

You are not alone. Finally, here is a book that gets to the heart of what professional women want. You've probably been loath to admit it, but like most of us, you have had enough of the sixty-hour workweeks, the day-care dash, and the vacations that never get taken. You don't want to quit, you want to work—but on your own terms and in ways that make it possible to have a life as well.

Women have power. In Womenomics, journalists Shipman and Kay deal in facts, not stereotypes, providing a fresh perspective on the largely hidden power that women have in today's marketplace. Why? Companies with more women managers are more profitable. Women do more of the buying. A talent shortage looms. Younger generations want to work flexibly, too. It all adds up to a workplace revolution that is great news for professional women—not to mention men and businesses as well. As Brenda Barnes, CEO of Sara Lee, notes: “Companies need to recognize that this kind of flexibility offers employees the ability to manage and balance their own careers and lives, which in turn improves productivity and employee morale.” This new way of thinking and working is all the more valuable in a recession, as companies begin offering flexible schedules, four-day workweeks, and extended vacations as a way to avoid layoffs, save costs, and still reward employees.

It is personal. Womenomics does more than marshal the evidence of this historic shift. It also shows women how to redefine success, be productive, and build satisfying careers that don't require an all-or-nothing lifestyle. Most appealing are the candid personal anecdotes from Shipman's and Kay's own experiences and the stories they have gathered from professional women around the country who are coping with the same issues.

It is possible. Shipman and Kay don't waste time on what women can't do or can't have. Instead, they show women how to chart an empowering, exhilarating course to a richer life. Inspiring, practical, and persuasive, Womenomics offers a groundbreaking blueprint for changing the way you live and work—with advice, guidance, and fact-based support that proves you don't have to do it all to have it all.

My Review:

In my first year of Library School, I wrote a insignificant little paper about women and management. It was not one of my favorite papers that I have ever written. That distinction goes to my high school paper (I peaked early) comparing One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and American Beauty and my thesis about Italian Immigration to the U.S. and South America. Back on topic, I could find few sources for the paper on women and management. This book would have been perfect.

Womenomics was written by two great authorities. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are high profile and powerful women who have managed to make career choices that would allow them to have satisfying family lives. They give great advice to women who want to accomplish the same goal of being able to manage a successful work life with spending time with family. The stories and examples in the book work well in illustrating the author’s points. Most of the stories come from more high profile and powerful women but the advice can easily be translated to more normal women in normal careers.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman write from experience and the advice they give can definitely be useful for any woman who is looking to manage a family and a career. I don’t know how much this book will ever apply to me. I am not planning on having a children but that does not take away from the value this book would have for other women who have children or want to eventually have children. I also wonder if this book could also apply to men who have children. I know many men who work themselves to exhaustion at the sacrifice of time spent with their children. Could some of the advice be useful for them?
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Lord John by Georgette Heyer

My Lord John: A tale of intrigue, honor and the rise of a king
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402217714
Pages: 464 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Publisher’s Description:

Georgette Heyer's final novel, set in her own favorite time period.

With her signature wit, drama and impeccable historical accuracy, Georgette Heyer tells the story of a medieval royal family on the rise. Set in the last days of the reign of Richard II, just before Henry V succeeded him to the throne, the eponymous hero is Henry's brother, John, Duke of Bedford. Heyer brings the medieval world to life, creating a panoramic view of a royal family's intricacies, intrigues and sibling rivalries, along with the everyday lives of the servants, clerics, and vassals in their charge.

My Review:

Despite my love of Georgette Heyer, I don’t have much experience with either her mysteries or her historical fiction. I was lucky to be able to read this reissue from Sourcebooks because I had no idea what I was missing.

I am not an expert in this historical period. Not by any means. It is not one of my favorites and I’ve not done much research about it. From what I know about this time period, which is admittedly not very much, the historical characters were portrayed very accurately.  They really come alive through Heyer’s prose and attention to historical accuracy. I loved all of the character in the book and really got into their stories. Heyer gave all of the the main characters sufficient time in the spotlight which I find to be a really amazing asset to the book especially considering the complexity of the story and the amount of characters in the book .  Heyer also perfectly captured the language, customs and feel of the period.

If I thought that Heyer’s attention to historical accuracy was intense in her regency romances, it is nothing compared to the historical complexity and detail that I found in My Lord John. This book was so rich in history that I sometimes completely forgot that I was reading a Heyer novel. Given that this was Heyer’s favorite historical period, this level of detail is to be expected. I did find that sometimes the story became too complex and I became a little lost and disinterested in the story and, perhaps, Heyer sacrificed plot for detail. I did recover but this period of disinterest did take a little away from my interest in the novel. I, however, can’t fault Heyer for her attention to historical fact because as a historian, I love detail and accuracy in my historical fiction .

It is to be noted that Heyer died before My Lord John was finished, so, you will be left without conclusions. It is definitely worth checking out because this might be one of the most richly detailed and interesting historical fictions I have read.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge

I decided to join this because I love True Blood and wanted a legitimate excuse to buy the books.

1.Dead Until Dark
2.Living Dead in Dallas
3.Club Dead
4.Dead to the World
5.Dead as a Doornail
6.Definitely Dead
7.All Together Dead
8.From Dead to Worse
9.Dead and Gone

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (June 22nd)

This weekly event is hosted by J. Kaye’s Book Blog .

I have been moving slower this week. I’ll try and step it up.

Reviews Posted:

Crucial Conversations-Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

All of Me-Lori Wilde

Review Still Coming:

My Lord John-Georgette Heyer (today)

Books Completed:

The Actor and the Housewife-Shannon Hale

Currently Reading:

Marsha Altman’s The Darcy’s and the Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers

Rebecca Ann Collins JA sequel series

Class in Britain-David Cannadine

Wounded by School-Kirsten Olson, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, and Parker J. Palmer

Up Next:

Surviving a house full of whispers-Sharon Wallace

Bound to Please-Lilli Feisty

One Deadly Sin-Annie Solomon

To Beguile a Beast-Elizabeth Hoyt

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy -Sara Angelini

The Other Mr. Darcy – Monica Fairview

A Match for Mary Bennet -Eucharista Ward, O.S.F.

God is an Englishman-R.F. Delderfield

To Serve Them All My Days-R.F. Delderfield

The Lovely Life-Vicki Forman

Musing Monday (June 22nd)

Another Musing Monday (hosted by Just One More Page. )
Do you restrict yourself on how many books you take out from the library at a time? Do you borrow books if you already have some out? Do you always reborrow books you don’t get to?
I know this is going to sound strange coming from a student in a Library Science Masters program but I don’t take books out from the library. I don’t..ever. I mean the last books I took out were the Little House on the Prairie books when I was a kid. Since I began developing my library at home, I have not needed to go to the library. I feel bad saying this but it’s true. I’m a bad librarian.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crucial Conversation: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High-Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 0071401946
Pages: 256 pgs
Genre: Self-Help
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:


"Most books make promises. This one delivers. These skills have not only helped us to change the culture of our company, but have also generated new techniques for working together in ways that enabled us to win the largest contract in our industry's history."--Dain M. Hancock, President, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

A powerful, seven-step approach to handling difficult conversations with confidence and skill

"Crucial" conversations are interpersonal exchanges at work or at home that we dread having but know we cannot avoid. How do you say what needs to be said while avoiding an argument with a boss, child, or relationship partner? Crucial Conversations offers readers a proven seven-point strategy for achieving their goals in all those emotionally, psychologically, or legally charged situations that can arise in their professional and personal lives. Based on the authors' highly popular DialogueSmart training seminars, the techniques are geared toward getting people to lower their defenses, creating mutual respect and understanding, increasing emotional safety, and encouraging freedom of expression. Among other things, readers also learn about the four main factors that characterize crucial conversations, and they get a powerful six-minute mastery technique that prepares them to work through any highimpact situation with confidence.

My Review:

Everyone has to deal with difficult situations while interacting with people whether it be a difficult customer, a overzealous boss, or a conflict with a coworker. It is necessary to be able to deal with these types of situations with out losing your temper or making your work-life much more difficult and much less productive. Crucial Conversations is the perfect tool for anyone who has to deal with customers or coworkers for any amount of time. It gives you the basic tools to be able to manage maintaining your composure in difficult situations.

The advice in Crucial Conversations was given in an extremely engaging manner. The language was very conversational. I did not feel as if I was being preached or talked down to while reading this book as I think some self-help and instructional books have the tendency to do. The examples and stories illustrated their points sufficiently and in an engaging way. The stories also did not overwhelm. I sometimes find that there are too many and they overpower the message of the book. That was not the case with this one. The exercises were also very helpful and illustrated the points very well.

Crucial Conversations did have one minor flaw. I did find that sometimes the language became a bit cliché. It was not overly obvious and I feel that most self-help books fall victim to it.

I would recommend Crucial Conversations to anyone who works with people…simple as that because it’s inevitable that a situation will arise where the tactics in this book will be extremely useful.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Friday Fill-ins #129

1. All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting the worst.
2. Show me a good loser and I will show you an even worse winner.
3. Eating Burger King is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs at one time.
4. Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy in-fighting and squabbling.
5. I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine bitching and moaning.
6. It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without intense spice or rice in it.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading, tomorrow my plans include reviewing a few books and Sunday, I want to play The Sims all day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Booking Through Thursday (June 18th)

Here is the question for this week:

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:
So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

My Response

I am a very picky sci-fi and fantasy reader. I don’t think I will celebrate. I’m not a big celebrator. I haven’t even had a birthday party since I was 6 and they had to bribe me to participate with one of those cakes with the ice cream cones on it.

My favorite types of sci-fi and fantasy…hmmm…harder than I thought to answer that. I like dystopian novels. Are they sci fi or fantasy? Either way I love them. They scare me but I love them. My favorites are the obligatory 1984, Brave New World, Anthem, The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451. I also love The Unit which I just reviewed.

Vampires are also some of my favorites. I love the Twilight series even though I have to be in a specific mood to read them. I am debating whether or not to buy the Sookie Stackhouse books. I love the True Blood series and am not sure about the books. Any opinions?

Most people who know me know that I love love love the Harry Potter series. But I am not into magic much as a fantasy fan.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

All of Me by Lori Wilde

All of Me
Publisher: Forever
ISBN: 0446502057
Pages: 400 pgs
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description

Can two broken hearts become one?

Attorney Jillian Samuels doesn't believe in true love and never, ever wished for happily ever after. But when a searing betrayal leaves her jobless and heartbroken, a newly inherited cottage in Salvation, Colorado, seems to offer a fresh start. What she finds when she arrives shocks her: the most gorgeous and infuriating man she's ever met is living in her home!

Tuck Manning was a gifted architect who left a skyrocketing career to care for his dying wife. But the life he's made for himself in this quiet town is turned upside down when Jillian appears on his doorstep. Tuck won't go without a fight, and the two resolve to live as roommates until they can untangle who owns the cottage. Yet as Tuck and Jillian's days--and nights--heat up, they realize more than property rights are at stake...and that sometimes, salvation comes when you least expect it.

My Review:

I have to say that I was not expecting much from this book. I expected a sweet little romance novel. One that I could read quickly with little effort and forget as quickly as I read it. I found that this was for the most part true except that All of Me will not be easily forgotten.

My favorite type of romance novels are the ones where the lead couple has a contentious relationship that eventually develops into something romantic (guess where that comes from). I call it the Lizzy/Darcy complex or when I am in a fan-ficcy mood Snape/Hermione complex. Tuck and Jillian from All of Me are the perfect example of that type of romantic plot. The tension between them is palpable and I love that you can tell that behind every fight or disagreement is an intense attraction to each other.

It is very unusual for me to like all of the characters in a book. Especially in a romance novel. Usually one of the main characters make me want to pull my hair out in annoyance. I found that this is mostly not true. On a few occasions both Jillian and Tuck have episodes of misery wallowing that got my hackles up but for the most part I really liked both of them. I also really liked the secondary couple of Evie, Tuck’s sister, and Ridley, her husband. They were so sweet and definitely made up for the times I was annoyed with Jillian and Tuck.

Another major attraction to the book is the small town feel that permeates the novel. You feel as if you are a part of the town just watching the events go by.

I read this book in one afternoon. It is a quick and fun read. It is perfect for the summer. I want to read the rest of the Wedding Veils series once my huge pile of To Reads shrinks a little. I would recommend All of Me to any reader looking for a quick read with a lot of romantic tension and interesting characters.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Their Time is Occupied, But Not Their Brains-Kirsten Olson

Their Time is Occupied, But Not Their Brains
By Kirsten Olson,
Author of Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture

It's the end of the school year, exam time for school age children. Everywhere around the country children are studying (and Facebooking and YouTubing, and searching online while listening to music). Simultaneously.

While most adults support the act studying for children (teaches them discipline! keeps them off the streets!), my own three teenage children report they will be doing a lot of stuff in preparation for final exams that, well, may not be very meaningful in the long run. Their time is occupied, but not their brains. They are memorizing 180 irregular verbs tenses, memorizing Boyle's law, Charles' Theorum, preparing for a 90 item multiple choice test on Indian independence, memorizing the dates of the Chinese dynasties, memorizing all the elements in the periodic table that are soluble.

In education, we increasingly look at learning in terms of how challenging it is cognitively and emotionally for kids. These exercises are low level, in some cases, the lowest level: memorization and comprehension. Although students do need to spend time some time memorizing some information, it needs to be connected to bigger, higher level concepts and challenges or they very quickly forget it. You know that yourself from your own educational life, and just because you had to do it doesn't mean it's good educational practice now. It's a general problem, one that author John Medina, of Brain Rules ( sums up by saying, if you had to design an environment that was least interesting for the human brain for learning, it would probably be the classroom!

Why is kids' time occupied by school, but not turned on in their brains?
  1. Schoolwork isn't designed for the Google/Bing age. We see learning as something you "get," a product to be acquired. Real learning isn't like that, and most of what school asks kids to do is acquire information that can now be accessed on the internet. What else should school provide? An opportunity to talk over that information, critique it, and understand it more deeply, said one high school sophomore recently.
  2. Control isn't motivating. Controlling kids, particularly middle and high schoolers, isn't motivating to them. Lots of learning environments are designed, first and foremost, to control kid's behavior.
  3. Kids get too much negative feedback on their work, and negative feedback that is too general to be useful in improving performance. "This was a sloppy essay," is not as helpful as, "in your first paragraph, you didn't adequately define your main idea or suggest what the argument here is, and therefore I didn't have a roadmap for moving through the rest of the paragraphs." Most feedback on work is very broad and unhelpful. Scantron, machine-graded tests increasingly used in middle and high school also don't provide much real feedback on performance, unless you personally get a lot from knowing where you fall on a bell curve.
  4. You have to sit still too much in school. It's hard to sit still all day. Few adults do it. We ask kids to.
  5. You don't get to choose what you are going to learn most of the day. Choice motivates! Lots of school assignments, even if they do offer choice, offer false, superficial ones.
  6. We rely too much on superficial tests to judge the value of work. An ocean of evidence supports this, yet we are lining up for more testing.
  7. Most kids don't see the connection between what they are asked to do in school, and the world of work they are going to. And they are probably right! A lot of the connections aren't very clear. Old fashioned ideas of authority -- doing it because I told you to -- aren't motivating for this generation of students, either.
  8. Adults don't listen to kids. Really listen to them. I observe lots of classrooms where kids are listened to only when they say things that a teacher wants them to say. When kids say things that adults don't want to hear, they hardly get an ear. They may get a detention.
  9. Kids don't have a real say in how schools are run. Most student government organizations are Potemkin villages -- students don't really have power to actually change things.
  10. Teachers are overstressed, and don't have enough time to think carefully about their students. (Or themselves, or other teachers. )Schools are often lonely places for adults! Teachers have little time to talk about their work, or think about how to do it better. So they often settle into complaining, which creates more stress. The cycle continues.
  11. Students are grouped together by age, not by developmental level, or what they know and can do. Students should be able to in and out, backwards and forwards in groups according to their levels of mastery, not based on their age. We should see grouping as aimed at getting kids together for their specific needs at that moment, then regrouping for the next challenge.
  12. Human brains are growing all the time. But we don't act like this in school. In fact, we underchallenge of kids, and don't give them enough to do that is real, interesting, and important. We don't encourage making mistakes, another way brains really learn.
  13. We undervalue teachers' work. Being a great teacher is like being a great brain surgeon: you need very high level skills, to work on your practice constantly, and be supported by a great team who watch you and help you do better. We treat teachers badly, and this rubs off in the classroom.

What do kids want from school? What they tell me is they want to learn how to be successful, to have friends, and to have fun. Teachers too. Time for big changes in our system, before the next exam.

©2009 Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture

Author Bio
Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture, is a writer, educational consultant, and national-level Courage To Teach facilitator, and principal of Old Sow Consulting. She has been a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kennedy School at Harvard University, and many large public school systems and charter schools.
For more information please visit


Thanks to Caitlin from FSB Associates for sending me this article.

Primary and high school education studies are very interesting topics for me. The schools I went to were so focuses on discipline and order that creativity, even in art class, was frowned on.  I always felt stifled as an individual until I reached college. It took me about a week to realize that raising my hand and expressing an opinion would not result in a detention or demerit but praise. It also surprised me when students just got up and left class to go to the bathroom instead of begging and pleading with the teacher and being told no. As you can tell, I have some animosity towards the schools I attended as a child and teenager.

I am looking forward to reviewing Wounded by School.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (June 15th)

This weekly event is hosted by J. Kaye’s Book Blog .

Reviews Posted:

The Unit-Ninni Holmqvist

The Lie-Fredrica Wagman

A Gentle Rain-Deborah Smith

Review Still Coming:

My Lord John-Georgette Heyer (Next Week)

Books Completed:

Healing Luke-Beth Cornelison

All of Me-Lori Wilde

Darcy and Anne-Judith Brocklehurst

Crucial Conversation: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High-Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Womenonomics-Claire Shipman and Katty Kay

Currently Reading:

The Actor and the Housewife-Shannon Hale

Rebecca Ann Collins JA sequel series

Up Next:

Surviving a house full of whispers-Sharon Wallace

Bound to Please-Lilli Feisty

One Deadly Sin-Annie Solomon

The Darcys and the the Bingleys-Marhsa Altman

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers-Marsha Altman

To Beguile a Beast-Elizabeth Hoyt

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy -Sara Angelini

The Other Mr. Darcy – Monica Fairview

A Match for Mary Bennet -Eucharista Ward, O.S.F.

God is an Englishman-R.F. Delderfield

To Serve Them All My Days-R.F. Delderfield

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Musing Monday (June 15th)

Another interesting question for Musing Monday (hosted by Just One More Page. )
Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller/Booker/Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour? (question courtesy of MizB)

I really don’t pay any attention to prize lists for books. I find that most of the time, I don’t really like the books that win. I do follow the lists and I might check a book or two out of the library if they seem interesting but I never feel that I “must” read the winner. I would be more likely to read a Booker or a Pulitzer prize winner than any other. I find that of the award winning books I have read, most of them are winners of those two awards.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Fill-ins #128

1. I grew up thinking my mother’s word was law (still is).
2. Google Reader was the last website I was at before coming here.
3. Why don't you go home?
4. Reading a good book helps me relax.
5. Thanks for the blueberry coffee.
6. Loud chewing is very off-putting.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my 24th birthday, tomorrow my plans include reading Darcy and Anne and Sunday, I want to going out to dinner with my family for my birthday!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Booking Through Thursday (June 11th)

Weekly event from Booking Through Thursday
There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)
But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.
What niche books do YOU read?

I never realized how many niche books I read until I tried to answer this question.

I am in a Library Science Master’s program, so, most of the niche books I read are in that area. My favorite books in that subject area are about collection development and reference services.

I also am a bit of a tech junkie. I love reading the manuals that come with new technology. You can always find some interesting tips in there and I love analyzing the language differences between the different manufacturers. HTML and Javascript books are also some of my favorite niche books to read. Web development is one of my secret talents. I love HTML.

Perhaps my favorite type of niche books have to do with web usability and information architecture and interaction design. They are always interesting and unique in their approaches to information and how it can be conveyed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lie by Fredrica Wagman

The Lie: A NovelPublisher:Zoland Books
ISBN: 1586421573
Pages: 224 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Summary from publisher:

Coming of age in 1940s and 1950s America, Ramona Smollens takes her cues about female sexuality from Hollywood movie stars. None is more voluptuous than Rita Hayworth, the redhead who knows how to please a man and becomes a volcano of passion at her lover's touch, whose image inspired American flyers on their missions in World War II and even graced the first atomic bomb tested at the Bikini atoll. Ramona marries young and escapes her mother's house shortly after the death of her father. She takes with her a dark family secret, the sort of secret one simply did not talk about and that would stalk her as she matured into her role as wife and mother, remained a devoted daughter to her aging mother, and secretly harbored an obsession with the iconic Hayworth.

The fictional story Wagman tells of one woman's struggle with the conventions of her day is a bold literary achievement. Underpinning it all is the sad, unspoken truth of the real-life, flesh-and-blood Hayworth, the woman whose father sexually abused her. "Men go to bed with Gilda," She used to say, "but wake up with me." During Hayworth's lifetime, the public had no understanding of the depth of mean, and pain, behind Hayworth's seemingly self-effacing words. To Ramona, and millions of women like her, Hayworth's on-screen persona seemed the ideal, but was in fact "the lie." With this novel, Wagman realizes Kafkas famous dictum that "a book must be the axe that breaks the frozen sea within us."

My Review:

What a novel! This book was interesting, unique and engaging. The Lie gave me so much to think about. The first thing I noticed about the book was the cover. It was eye catching and pretty. I would have bought this book in the bookstore with a cover like this.

First of all, the writing is beautiful. It is written in a stream of consciousness type of form. It reads almost like a lyric. This form of narrative gives you an excellent insight into the inner workings of Ramona’s mind. I also thought that it was beautifully written. Books that are written in this style are normally difficult for me to relate to and like but I found that it was not the case with this one. I don’t think I would have liked this book as much if it had been written in any other way.

I loved Ramona. She was a great narrator. I loved being in her head for the two days I was reading this novel. She was completely honest in her thoughts. I truly liked her.

This issues that this book deals with are so interesting and so reflective of the struggle women have to go through. Ramona is literally in a battle with her own pre-conceived notions of sexuality. She sees Rita Hayworth as an ideal and constantly sees herself as falling short. It becomes so embedded in her psyche that she begins to believe her husband is having an affair with the superstar. I think all women go through this in some form or another.

I think all women should pick this book up. It really is an interesting book and makes you think.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Book Excerpt: Living A Charmed Life:Wash the Dishes with All Your Heart

Caitlin from FSB Associates was nice enough to send me another article from Living A Charmed Life by Victoria Moran. I think you will all enjoy it.

Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day

Wash the Dishes with All Your Heart
by Victoria Moran,
Author of Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day

In a charmed life, the best thing going is what is happening now.

Even the most dazzling lives are punctuated more by commas and periods than by exclamation marks. You virtually guarantee a charmed life when you can give yourself as fully to doing the dishes, and tending to the other miscellanea that make up your day, as to some grand adventure. This is because you can count on the dishes. They’ll be there alongside the grand adventures, and if no adventure is immediately forthcoming, the dishes won't let you down. Besides, feelings of enthusiasm, excitement, and positivity about anything and everything attract adventures to a life the way an open bag of trail mix attracts bears to a campsite. They just can't stay away.

About fifteen years ago, I picked up a severe case of flu while traveling and it kept me in bed for a month. I'll never forget the first night I washed dishes after I was better. It was the most delectable experience: warm water halfway up to my elbows, and slippery, shimmery suds to play in. I momentarily wondered if the high fever had addled my brain -- I mean, please: dishes? -- but if it took being addled to feel this extraordinary, I didn't want it any other way.

During the first few weeks of getting back into life, I was having these ah-hah moments during activities once inconsequential in their ordinariness. "Wow, driving a stick is really fun! . . . What did they put in this hot cider? It's amazing! . . . The sunset was so beautiful I pulled my car over to look at it." Smitten with my new way of seeing things but questioning its normality, I called one of my mentors, a woman named Gladys Lawler who was nearing ninety and always knew the answer.

She told me that everything seemed so stunning because I was in the moment. "When you're in the moment," she explained, "everything is exquisite because you're truly experiencing it." Life, I learned from Gladys that day, ought to be this way all the time, but we're so used to being removed from the present by keeping our minds one place and our bodies another that these periods of resplendence are uncommon. She also told me that I'd be back to the old, disconnected way of being before long, but that since I now knew that being truly present was possible, I could remind myself to go there again.

Her prediction was correct. As soon as my full strength returned, I was back to busy mode: scheduling, planning ahead, multi-tasking. But even now, the otherworldly beauty of that convalescent time can come back when I'm washing dishes. I have a dishwasher these days but I often use the sink just the same. It gives me the opportunity to stand in one spot and focus on one cup, one glass, or one perfectly circular rubber gasket that, in its modesty, gives me the use of my blender.

I recommend that you try some conscious dishwashing. Release all judgment ("I always get stuck with the dishes . . . ") and just be with the process. Run the water and be aware of the sound it makes rushing from tap to sink. Look at the bottle of soap before you squeeze: what's in it? Do you like how it smells? Watch the suds as they build and billow. Pick up a dish at random -- your coffee mug maybe, or the bowl your daughter used for cereal this morning -- and regard it as a gift from a grab bag. Have fun with it. Maybe it has something to tell you, something to remind you of. Be with it and with every subsequent plate and fork and measuring cup until the task is through.

Then give yourself as wholeheartedly to whatever comes next. In a charmed life, the best thing going is what is happening now, even when it's scouring a skillet.

Lucky charm: The next time you do the dishes, feel the water, caress the crockery, and be present with all that's in you.

The above is an excerpt from the book Living a Charmed Life:Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day by Victoria Moran. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life:Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day

Author Bio
Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life:Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day, is an inspirational speaker, a certified life coach, and the author of ten books including The Love-Powered Diet, Lit from Within; Fat, Broke & Lonely No More; and the international bestseller Creating a Charmed Life. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including Body + Soul, Natural Health, and Yoga Journal. Her blog, "Your Charmed Life," is published daily on She lives a charmed life in New York City.

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