Monday, March 31, 2014

April "Sabbatical"

No, I haven't been blogging for seven years, nor will I be gone for an entire year. But you get the idea. I'm taking a full month's official break from blogging. I know the blogosphere is a hectic place in April with so many of you participating in the A-Z challenge, so I figured it would be a good time for me to graciously bow out and take some time to refresh.
I'll still stop by your blogs (sorry--I know I won't be able to keep up with the every day posting schedule if you're doing the challenge) and reading the stack of exciting books that's piling up on the bookshelf by my bed. I'll be working on my WIP so that it can really be a work in progress and not a sitting-there not in progress. I know I'll be spending lots of time with my four girls, enjoying this spring that's taken so long to come. (I think it's really here now, even though it snowed today.)
And I'll be back in May!

Monday, March 24, 2014

MMGM: Ice Dogs, by Terry Lynn Johnson

I know I've dropped off the face of the earth for a bit (blame a cute, cuddly baby who wants to be held all the time, a kitchen that needed to be painted, and the spring fever that's gotten into me despite it not looking much different than winter here...), but I'm popping back onto the planet to share a wonderful book with all of you: Ice Dogs, by Terry Lynn Johnson.

Victoria Secord is a 14-year-old champion musher--or sled dog racer--determined to win the big race and honor the memory of her father who gave her all his knowledge of and passion for sled dogs before he died in a tragic accident. But when she meets an injured teen boy from the city on the trail and is forced to drive into a blizzard to save him, suddenly the most important goal becomes simply staying alive.

Basically, Ice Dogs was an absolutely brilliant, classic story of survival and friendship, loyalty and perseverance. That's a lot of adjectives for one book, but trust me when I say I'm using restraint. I absolutely loved Vicky's character, the development of her relationship with Chris (the injured boy), the trust she and her dogs had in each other. The pacing was perfect, the setting was stark and beautiful, the emotions were real and intense in the best of ways. 

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good adventure.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Steering Toward Normal: Review and Winner

Here I am with the ARC of Rebecca Petruck's Steering Toward Normal, which spent a few days in Connecticut on its madcap tour around the country.

If you look very closely, you will notice that there is a cow on that red ribbon (which was originally bestowed on a painting Lucy entered in CT's wonderful Durham Fair). This is because there were "bonus points" for including a steer in our photos with the book, and that little cow was the closest I could get. (Sadly the weather has been too miserable for me to trek out to my brother-in-law's barn, where a real cow and calf live.) It seemed appropriate, though, as the story is not only about a state fair but deserving of a ribbon of its own.

Here's a little synopsis from the publisher:

Eighth grade is set to be a good year for Diggy Lawson: He’s chosen a great calf to compete at the Minnesota State Fair, he’ll see a lot of July, the girl he secretly likes at 4-H, and he and his dad Pop have big plans for April Fool’s Day. But everything changes when classmate Wayne Graf’s mother dies, which brings to light the secret that Pop is Wayne’s father, too. Suddenly, Diggy has a half brother, who moves in and messes up his life. Wayne threatens Diggy’s chances at the State Fair, horns in on his girl, and rattles his easy relationship with Pop.
What started out great quickly turns into the worst year ever, filled with jealousy, fighting, and several incidents involving cow poop. But as the boys care for their steers, pull pranks, and watch too many B movies, they learn what it means to be brothers and change their concept of family as they slowly steer toward a new kind of normal.

What the synopsis doesn't say is that the story is hilarious. And touching. And containing several mentions of fair food that made me very hungry...but I won't quote them here, because it's Lent, and that would just be mean. :) supplied a number for the next proud owner of the ARC, and that is: 
Charlie Holmberg! Congratulations!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Steering Toward Normal comes to Connecticut (and maybe to you!)

From Wisconsin and the shelf of Marcia Hoehne, the ARC of Rebecca Petruck’s debut novel about two brothers (and a father, jealousy, a steer, a handful of yetis, and the state fair) has arrived in my mailbox here in Connecticut.

Rebecca’s goal is for Steering Toward Normal to travel to as many states as possible before its release in May; so far it’s seen North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Connecticut. 4 down and only 46 to go. :)
I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I’ve really enjoyed the first 80 pages! However, I’m going to get the giveaway ball rolling now to expedite the process of sending this story along. So: if you live in a state other than the ones listed above and would like to read this ARC and pass it along to someone else when you’re done, leave a note in the comments. On Friday I’ll let you know what I thought of the book and pick a winner for the story to steer toward next!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What we're reading Wednesday: Fairy Tales

Apparently, February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day! I could pretend that's the reason we're reading a bunch this week, but the truth is we're almost always reading them. Did you ever hear this Albert Einstein quote?

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."


This tome gets pulled out about once a week:

Andrew Lang's Pink Fairy Book, and yes, we do have this Folio edition, so it really is a tome. 

And this is our current audiobook listen:

Because I love it dearly and also because it's a great example of a book
that tackles relevant issues (bullying) without ever becoming an "issue book."

Finally, last night's trek to the library, during which I told them they could pick out "just one book each this time" ended with me demonstrating my total lack of will power where books are concerned along with my rule-bending super powers ("Okay--you each only get one, but I'm checking out these 12 to read to you.") and the borrowing of these fairy tales, along with, you know, the other dozen books:

Lastly, though it's not technically reading, I have to tell you about The. Coolest. Game. Ever. My father-in-law gave this to the girls for Christmas, and we love love love it:

As you spin, you collect fairy tale elements: a hero, a villain, a magical helper, a magical item, a treasure and a setting. Whoever collects all the elements first gets to tell their story first. We have had so much fun with this--and by "we" I mean everyone from Ginny, who is two, to Mark and myself. Through great will power, we do not get it out to play with after the girls are in bed. It's hard...but it's just more fun with them. :)

Do you have any plans to tell a fairy tale today? What are your favorite fairy tales or favorite retellings?

(To read what some other lovely folks are reading this Wednesday, you can head over to Jessica's to check out the links)