Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A few reviews

These days, I get online to

  1. Read/respond to e-mail.
  2. Briefly read snippets from my favorite blogs or the NY Times.
  3. Update books on Goodreads.
So, here are a few reviews from recently read books. First, though, if you like Robin McKinley (or would like to try her out), go to this post on her blog to see a contest to win a new copy of her novel Sunshine. I'm just now rereading this (I liked it but didn't love it the first time), and that I enjoy it much more on the reread, especially after all the Twilight books and look-alikes. Good luck, and you have to enter the contest by Saturday!

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thoughtful history of childbirth/obstetrics--organized by theme (where women give birth, pain management, doctors vs. midwives, etc.). Made good points about death rate for mothers not spiking until women started going to hospitals, but it's not a political treatise for natural birth advocates. Very interesting, but I would not recommend reading while pregnant (I waited until just after my second was born)!

My two favorite facts: first recorded woman to receive chloroform during labor was so thrilled when she woke up that she named her daughter Anesthesia, and wet nurses from one culture (I don't remember which) would suckle piglets in between having babies to nurse to keep their milk supply up!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Told in alternating chapters by two high school guys from the Chicago area named Will Grayson. Follows the two as they have a chance meeting and then end up having more to do with each other over the course of the book. I liked both Wills, although it took me longer to like the second Will (once I realized that he was actually depressed and not just teenage-angsty, it was easier to give him more credit). Had some laugh-out-loud moments and at least one chapter that I read with a goofy grin on my face the whole time. I liked that the parents were good parents--not perfect, but good, and there when their kids needed them. The major (in several ways!) character of Tiny Cooper I liked less--I definitely feel like he was the most self-centered character in the book--but at the same time, I think the authors painted him in such a way that we could see he, too, was a person with his own problems who needed to be appreciated just like we all do.I could possibly give this a 4, but I feel like my reviews suffer from star inflation, so I'm trying to work on that. DEFINITELY need to find more John Green to read, possibly also more David Levithan.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Follows Miranda through both ordinary school and family issues (an old friend grows apart, new friends made, conflict with her mom, the difficulties of not being rich) and a mystery provoked by odd notes she begins receiving. Mostly realistic (set in 1970's New York), with a science fiction twist near the end--both Miranda and author love Madeleine L'Engle. Given this fact, I thought I would like the book more than I did. It's VERY well done, and I can understand why it won the Newbery, but I just don't feel like it's a book I will come back to again and again, which I do with the books I love most.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I heard about Owly from Unshelved's book club comic strips, so when I passed this at the library, I picked it up. Super cute! It takes me awhile to get into reading a graphic novel, but this one was great.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great fun for toddlers but (sadly) easily ripped by same toddlers!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good message, inelegant packaging, and I didn't like the main character. But it's won lots of awards, so what do I know? :-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

June 2010

Phew, it's been awhile.

Our little girl arrived on June 5, so I've been out of the loop for awhile. We've had family visiting, a family wedding to attend, and just regular getting to know our new daughter and figuring out how to parent 2 children instead of one.

I've found it surprisingly easy to "unplug" most of the time, but this is mainly accomplished by not going on the computer at all when the kids are up--I'll check my e-mail once in the morning if I have a specific reason to, but I've been trying to confine my online time to naptime and after bedtime. Once I do sit down at the computer, it's very easy for me to be too distracted, as a recently destroyed library book can attest to.
(I was also inspired to try to be more unplugged by this article in the NY Times, which came out just after our daughter arrived.)

In any case, I will probably be on here a little less during the 5 months remaining in my leave (a month down already, ahh!). However, I will try to get some book reviews up, if nothing else.