Saturday, August 29, 2009

North! Or be eaten

Amanda read both of these books when I received them. It's her thing -- they are targeted to a YA audience (though apparently enjoyed by many), and it's fantasy, which she loves. When I told her the second one was coming out, she was really happy. I hadn't remembered that she had enjoyed the first one that much, but she said, "Oh yeah, it was one of my favorites!" If you are looking to catch up on the series, I just noticed that there's an audio CD for On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness, which I think would be a really fun listen. Here's Amanda's review of the first book, and without further ado, her review of the second (I typed it up from her handwritten copy and was instructed that it should be in purple ink):

North! Or Be Eaten: Wild escapes. A desperate journey. And the ghastly Fangs of Dang. by Andrew Peterson was a very good book. After I read On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness nearly a year ago, I couldn't wait until the second book in the Wingfeather Saga came out.

North! Or Be Eaten involves
  • Toothy Cows

  • Gray Fangs (wolf-like creatures)

  • Stranders (murderous people kicked out of town for being horrible)

  • The Ice Prairies

The poor Igiby children are forced to cope with these things, along with the fact that nearly everyone wants to kill them.

I enjoyed this book because it kept me on the edge of my seat! People who liked the Inkheart series or Harry Potter would enjoy this fantasy book.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Miley Cyrus is NOT Hannah Montana

As I was watching Miley Cyrus perform on the Today show this morning, I couldn't help but think about this girl. She -- Miley Cyrus -- does not have the best of both worlds. Miley Stewart is the fictional character portrayed on the Hannah Montana show on the Disney Channel who manages to have it all. Miley Cyrus herself has only the "Hannah Montana" personality. She's a superstar and a marketing machine. Her family is there supporting her, and she's taking advantage of the opportunities that are before her right now, and I hope it works out for her.

Matt Lauer explained that this was by far the largest crowd that has built up for one of their Summer Concerts in the Plaza. The people spanned several blocks (many of whom could not even see the stage), and waited and waited on a cool and rainy morning. He asked Miley Cyrus if she could even understand it. Of course she can't. But she seems to have a decent (if very calculating) head on her shoulders.

She was singing songs from her new CD The Time of Our Lives, which as a strong rock influence, and she stated outright that they weren't really the kind of songs that were really "her." She said that the CD came out to help promote her new clothing line at Wal-Mart. She's got the image down -- the rocker hair, the head-banging and everything.

If you've been in Target or Children's Place, you've seen this British rock style that's stocking the children's departments this fall. I don't mind the look (although pleather leggings at Target -- really??). This is along those same lines.

I think that Miley is trying to live up to the idol status that she's earned. But just because Hannah Montana is a fun character for our kids to follow, that doesn't guarantee that Miley Cyrus always will be, especially if our kids are much younger than the 16-year-old star.

Miley Cyrus is not Hannah Montana.

Miley Cyrus poses on the cover of Elle magazine in a cleavage baring shot.

Miley Cyrus pole-dances, not Hannah Montana, although it did happen at the Teen Choice awards, where she landed because of her role as the Disney princess she is (I was tipped off to this story by redblog, one of my new favorite movie sites, after I did the interviews with Erika Olsen for our 5 Minutes for Books Books on Screen column).

I didn't even know that Miley Cyprus had a CD Breakout from 2008, and that a new one was coming out (available exclusively at Wal-Mart apparently). This summer we've been enjoying Hannah Montana, Volume 3 and the Hannah Montana: The Movie CD. Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart, not the real teenager Miley Cyrus.

Amanda didn't start dipping her toe into that tween media frenzy until she was almost 9 -- a genuine tween. When she was a preschooler (and an only child), I fed her a preschool-friendly diet. Now her much-younger brother is fully immersed in what his tween sister watches, so I'm not pointing fingers at those of you with Miley/Hannah-crazed six-year-olds. But I am saying that we have options.

As parents it's our responsibility to decide what our children will be exposed to. We are Hannah Montana fans (Yes "we" all enjoy her -- the 11-year-old, the 38-year-old, and the 5-year-old boy). But that doesn't mean that we need a steady stream of Miley Cyrus as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Going Through the Motions

I'm not very tuned in to the music scene these days. I don't really listen to commercial radio -- it's kids' music or NPR most of the time. I like music, I just don't have time to listen. When I'm home and not involved in child-care responsibilities, I don't really like background noise. I prefer peace and quiet.

I'm thinking that all of this will change, but for now, I'm a little out of it.

So I was surprised when I heard that Matthew West had a new CD out. I love Matthew West. His first CD Happy is awesome (and that link will give you a GREAT price). I rushed to buy his second, History, which I enjoyed (not as much as the first -- I renamed this one "Sad."). When I find an artist I like, I generally rush to buy (or occasionally now -- download) the artist's latest. Something to Say has lived up to my expectations.

I didn't know the story behind the song "The Motions" which has gained so much attention. Watch the video of "The Motions" to listen to his unique sound and see a little bit of his story. Actually, that's one thing that I like so much about Something to Say -- it seems to be very personal.

My colleague Erica has posted a review and giveaway over at 5 Minutes for Giveaways. Click over and enter through Friday to win one of five copies.

More giveaways written by me:

Last call for all the awesome Back to School Giveaways at 5 Minutes for Books. You can enter all of them through Sunday.

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting awesome giveaways (as usual) in their Back to School Giveaway -- Today is the last day to enter!

These giveaways are open for a couple more weeks:

Amanda has really been enjoying the Klutz Paper Fashions Fantasy.

A year's supply of Pond's Cleansing Towelettes

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mail Call!

Yesterday was the day that the students at Amanda's intermediate school have been waiting for since they got out of school last June. August 24th the letters with their homeroom teachers were mailed out.

She's been checking the mailbox obsessively for the past week. Maybe it will come early?

But yesterday while we were at a friend's house, the postman came (letter carrier?). He brought with him the letter that they had all been waiting for. There were already three phone calls that had come in while we were at the park asking "Who did you get?"

The arrival of the letter made for a fairly easy departure for us. "Drive faster, Mom," the tween urged.

As we rounded the bend of our street my daughter, who seems to take 10 minutes to get out of the car, slipped on her flip-flops, picked up her lunchbag and said, "I'm ready to get out. Let me out at the driveway."

I parked in the garage and got out. I heard the shout of glee and saw a flash of her aqua shirt through the trees as she ran back to the house. "It's here! It came!" She dropped the rest of the mail in the driveway and ripped into her letter to see the name printed there.

When we got into the house, there were 8 messages on our machine. Two were hang-ups and two were the same person leaving two messages, but of course they all said the same thing, "Who did you get?"

After returning phone calls and making a few of her own, she found out that only one person is in her class, but a few are right next door "so maybe we'll have lockers near each other," and she thinks that she'll have the same lunch period as her best friend.

We still have a week before school starts, but at least we know where we are going.


Photo credit: Random summer photo taken by Mom of the tween enjoying summer (and growing up SO fast)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Nightstand -- August

Last month I shared that I was happy I made time for some personal reading (as opposed to review reading, which is no less satisfying). This month, I also completed two books from my personal list. Each are linked to semi-reviews:

The House of Sand and Fog

The Time Traveler's Wife

This month, I'm continuing the tradition of trying to read some other books on my personal list.

America America was on the "top of the pile" in last month's Nightstand, and I actually did start reading it (a few pages), but needed to put it aside for some review reading, so I do hope to get to it this month for sure.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
recently jumped from my personal list to the 5 Minutes for Books list, since we are doing it for our Bookclub. Follow the link on the title to find out more, but you can join in our September 1 discussion whether or not you are a blogger, and no matter how long ago you read it. I've heard it's a very quick read. It's up next in my stack.

You'd Be So Pretty If . . . was listed in my Nightstand posts forever! Many of you commented that you were interested in it. Well I'm finally reading it. Expect a review at 5 Minutes for Books in September. It's good.

Hell Is Other Parents: And Other Tales of Maternal Combustion is cracking me up. It's a book of essays, and I've read a few of them. It's sort of along the vein of Free Range Parents, so I've enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I'm also halfway through After You: A Novel, and enjoying it a LOT. It just released today.

I have a few other parenting titles on my Nightstand/Bookshelf, but I have to be inspired to dig into those. The others that I think I'll end up at least starting are

Await Your Reply: A Novel

And some middle grade/YA fiction:

The Secret of Zoom


Escape Under the Forever Sky

Amanda has already read and enjoyed both of these, so I know that they'll be fun.

Go see what others are reading around the blogosphere at 5 Minutes for Books' What's on Your Nightstand.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pajama-ed, the Mommy Version

Because I've had work going on in my house for the last forever, I haven't been able to spend many mornings pajama-ed, even on days when we didn't have much going on. Because people could show up at my house at any time (of course, I didn't know when or if they were showing up), I wanted to make sure I was showered, dressed, and my bed was made no later than 8:15 or so each morning.

Today I luxuriated in the ability to postpone the shower until almost 9:00 a.m. The bed is still unmade right now at 9:45 (although I will remedy that shortly, because even though I'm not a good housekeeper, having my bed made does make me feel better about the general state of my bedroom).

We still have about a week of summer here at the Snapshot house until the buses start to roll. We've had a busy summer. Not too busy, but we've certainly not had any time to be bored. Back-to-School will be good. I appreciate the accountability of that schedule, and it's about time.

But today, I enjoyed the ability to act just like Kyle, and say "Woo-hoo, I can stay pajama-ed!"


Speaking of Kyle being pajama-ed, I was browsing through my posts labeled food (so that I could find the recipe for Chalupa Dinner Bowls). I couldn't help but notice that my posts about food featuring Kyle also featured him wearing pajamas. Not only pajamas, but the exact same red race car pajamas (which you can see by scrolling down to July 2008).

I found the recipe for Chalupa Dinner Bowls (I'm making it tomorrow), and I also enjoyed the stroll down memory lane as I browsed through the archives.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm Reading the Time Traveler's Wife

Okay, okay -- I'm reading it! Yes, I had heard that it was wonderful. Many people said it's the best book that they ever read. I know, I know. I had resisted -- mainly because I heard that the sexual content was fairly strong. But I'm about halfway into it, and either it gets worse, or I have a higher threshold than some people. Nonetheless, I'm enjoying it thoroughly, although I think it should have been called Henry and Clare. Anyone else? The Time Traveler's Wife makes me think too much of The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve. And it's not really just about Clare. It's about Henry and Clare.

My fellow 5 Minutes for Books reviewer Dawn, who I also consider a good bloggy friend now, is the one who really sold me. You have to read her funny (you can laugh at her -- I don't think she minds) account at her own blog my thoughts exactly about seeing the movie. Then you can also check out her more professional review of the book and the movie at Books on Screen. If you've seen it, or haven't seen it, but want to -- or have vowed never to see it, weigh in over there.

And let me know what you think of my alternate title right here (but no spoilers since I haven't read the end).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Amanda's and Kyle's Picks -- August

Earlier this month, Amanda asked, "You didn't ask me what book I liked for this month." I told her that it wasn't the third Tuesday yet, but I'd let her write up a review for the book she had just finished that she knew would be her favorite.

So yesterday afternoon she sat down and wrote her review. I'm going to leave it as is -- font, color and all.

Guest review from Amanda, age 10 11/12:

I read two good books this month. The first was Turnabout by one of my favorite authors Margaret Peterson Haddix**. Its about two 100 year old women who are offered the chance to get younger. Who wouldn't say yes??????So, after many experiments, they are injected with a chemical that makes you get younger every year.
After 85 years there is a problem. One girl gets an email from a mysterious woman, and they don't know what will happen next.

Another good book I read was Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem. I liked it because it had good details.

**Note from Mom: Margaret Peterson Haddix has a cool website with discussion questions for many of her books, including this one.

I also remembered to ask Kyle (age 5) this month, and he wants to recommend I'm The Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. This book caught my eye, because the lovely librarians had set it out on top of the bookshelves (I'm SO glad that they do that to highlight some books. Otherwise I'm lost). This book is oversized, bright, with only a few words on each page. Perfect for Kyle. It's also a little silly, which is always a hit.

Find out what other kids are reading in 5 Minutes for Books Kids' Picks carnival.

4 BR 2 1/2 BA

Finally! After a marathon journey, we finally have all three of our bathrooms back in complete working order.

I posted the before and after pics of the results of our first two bathrooms three months ago. The original plan was for there to be a short break in between projects, so that we'd have all the bathrooms in use while we had guests. However, the rule about contractors is "If you have them, don't let them go!" After me delaying an additional few weeks while deciding what I wanted to do in the master bath, getting the work crew back to start the second phase of the job turned out to be difficult.

They eventually started in late June, and then due to layoffs and other issues, took almost two MONTHS to finish a project that should have been finished in two WEEKS. Nonetheless, it's done, and can I say that it looks beautiful??

The reason that we went with this particular contractor is that he does his own carpentry work, and made these custom cabinets. I think that it was worth it.

Forgive the very bad focus and angles, but here are a few more pictures, including the painted ceiling which so many people were curious about when I posted What I Learned About Paint.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Feeling Lucky??

It appears that I've become a book blog -- mostly posting bookish thoughts lately, and I'm okay with that, I suppose. But for those of you who aren't such a fan of the booky posts (and I know who you are), I do have thoughts ruminating about the mall, remodeling, and growing up that should be coming soon.

In bookish news, we celebrated 5 Minutes for Books' one-year bloggyversary last week without much fanfare (and a month late). However, I am thrilled of the list we compiled of our 5 Star Reads -- the best of the best books we reviewed this year. We'll be adding to the list as the year goes on, so even if you don't always read the book reviews, click on through and see what we can highly recommend: novels, nonfiction, memoir, and children's books are represented on the list.

I also just posted a review for a book that I really really enjoyed. It was my first novel by Laura Moriarity, and it's called While I'm Falling. It wasn't literary or symbolic, but just a really great read.

Books aside, everyone likes a good contest, right?

One of the coolest things about managing 5 Minutes for Books has turned out to be putting together giveaway events. The other reviewers and I always get pretty excited when we're hosting one of these. There are already six giveaways up, including one for my favorite BusyBodyBook planner, but just check out the main giveaway page to see everything that you could win.

5 Minutes for Mom has kicked off their Back to School contest as well, and the first giveaway is posted from yours truly, a Lands' End Eco-Friendly Lunch Pack and Backpack. This new line is excellent! As you've come to expect from 5 Minutes for Mom, they'll have all sorts of goodies to give away in the next two weeks, so check out their giveaway event page to see what else is in store.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Julia Child: My Life in France

I've mentioned the reason that I picked up Julia Child's My Life in France several times. One reason was because I had read that it was an additional source for the movie Julie and Julia, which I knew I wanted to see (I've posted my full review of the movie in the Books on Screen column at 5 Minutes for Books today).

Not long at all after beginning this lovely memoir of sorts, I was captivated. I was captivated by Julia Child's complete joy, as the French say, her joie de vivre. That kind of excitement about life is contagious.

This book chronicles her late-start in her life-changing love of food -- life-changing not only to her, but to others all these years later who have caught her vision -- when she and her husband moved to France (she also got a late-start on marriage).

But My Life in France is really a love story -- a love story between Julia Child and France and its food, but overall the love between her and her supportive husband, Paul gives the story warmth.

Before reading this book and seeing the movie, I didn't know anything more about Julia Child than the iconic bits about her that show up in comedy and pop culture. However, after reading this delightful book (and watching the excellent movie), I'm intrigued. She was really a pioneer in the cooking world -- becoming a cooking personality years before there were such people.

I do not consider myself a cook. I like to cook, and I am a serviceable cook, but I barely eat French food, much less cook it. However, I think I may give it a go. There are many full-length episodes of PBS' The French Chef available to watch online. After reading about how much of Julia's time and energy and heart went into writing the book, I've reserved Mastering the Art of French Cooking from the library, and I believe I'm going to try her famous beurre blanc on some fish tonight.

If you like travelogues, you'll enjoy this story of Julia Child's immersion and complete infactuation with France, its food, and its people. If you want to feel inspired, or just to smile at someone's can-do spirit and success, I can also recommend it.

Read it with a stick of butter nearby. And read my review, and then go see the movie as soon as you possibly can.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Children's Advenure Books

Children's Classics

This month's fun topic at 5 Minutes for Books in the Children's Classics carnival is Adventure!

When I asked 5-year-old Kyle his choice of an adventurous book, he said, "Scaredy Squirrel." Yes, we love Scaredy Squirrel, and I was impressed with his reasoning. He said especially Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend (which I reviewed in a rambly sort of way at the link). I probably wouldn't agree that that one is the most adventurous, but that's okay. The truth is that Scaredy Squirrel, as penned by Melanie Watt, encourages children to explore new boundaries and directions.

I had an idea of what Amanda might suggest, and I was right. She said that The Mysterious Benedict Society was definitely an adventurous book. Incidentally, she's been trying to get me to read it. I do want to read it, but she wants it to be our next read-aloud, and it's all we can do to finish a 275 page read aloud book, so the size is daunting to me.

Check out the other recommendations at the Children's Classics carnival

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thank goodness they weren't working on the sewer

Did ya hear the one about the girl who fell into an open manhole into the sewer, because she was texting? It really happened.

Last week, we went into NYC to meet a friend who was in town visiting. The kids and I drove in quite uneventfully. In spite of the fact that it was late afternoon at the beginning of rush hour, we had absolutely no traffic. We were walking through Times Square, towards Toys R Us, which is a must-stop for the kids anytime we are in town. I'm not sure what the appeal is, because I never buy anything for them, but if you are visiting, it's definitely worth a stop to see the Lego displays.

I was holding Kyle's hand in one hand, and texting with the other hand, letting my friend know that we had made it, as we walked on the median down the middle of Times Square. And then. . . .

Well, let's just say that I'm glad that there wasn't an open manhole that day. There was about a four-inch curb, which I walked right off of and did a firm face plant. I landed right on the heels of my hands, badly scraping one of them. My knees felt scraped through my jeans as well.

"Are you okay?" my children asked me. "Are you all right?" the strangers who witnessed the spectacle asked.

"I'm fine," I replied, crawling out of the main footpath. I examined my hand, which was not only scraped, but bleeding, and fished out a bandaid from my purse.

Once we got to Toys R Us, I washed up in the bathroom and rebandaged my hand.

A week later, I'm still nursing my wounds. My hand has scabbed over, and I did indeed scrape and bruise my knees. But you know what? It was worth it.

We had a great dinner at Tony DiNapoli's (and most importantly to Amanda -- for the first time ever we ordered dessert).

I got to see an old friend, and our kids got to meet, which was especially poignant to me, since the reason we came together is over our kids. Almost eleven years ago, we started an email group when our big kids were just babies to help us get through those first few months of scheduling feedings, sleep training and more. Eleven years later, the eleven of us moms are still in touch.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Julie Powell, the Ulitmate Blogger Success Story

Here's a dirty little secret: I started blogging because of Julie Powell. Sometime in the spring of 2006, I came across some information about her book that was going to be published (or had recently been published) that was taken from her blog which was all about her project to cook and blog her way through Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking. I found her original blog online and read through it, entry by entry, four years after she wrote it.

Eventually I read the book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously as well.

When I found out that there was going to be a movie made -- starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, no less -- I was beyond excited. I knew I had to see it. And though I see only a few movies in the theater each year, I knew that this was one I would see. I couldn't wait. My husband and I tried to get a babysitter, but we couldn't, so I went off all alone and saw the first showing this morning.

It's a wonderful, lovely, perfect movie, and you can hear all about how much I loved it if you read my Books on Screen column at 5 Minutes for Books on Thursday. But I urge you to go see it if you can squeeze it in this weekend.

Now back to Julie. Watching the movie reminded me that she is the ultimate blogger success story. There are others such as Heather Armstrong aka Dooce, Ree Drummond (check out Janice's interview with her), and even "our own" Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer (have her seen her professional news?) who are probably achieving more success -- financial and otherwise -- from blogging than they ever dreamed. But Julie did what she set out to do. She had a goal to cook and blog her way through Julia Child's landmark work. She did it. She grew her blog, and in the end she published her book and sold the rights to a movie as well.

Now obviously I am nowhere near a book contract, nor am I at all seeking one (nor writing anything other than this blog and book reviews). My goal in blogging was to get back into the habit of writing. I did that, while also enjoying the community that I found online. Thoughts of the blog actually getting discovered or becoming something more than what it is were fleeting.

BUT has this little blog changed my life? Indeed it has. Not in a "I've found my calling" sort of way, but in a way that provided income for a bit as I worked administrating contests for 5 Minutes for Mom, and more importantly, being reminded of my love of reading and turning book reviewing into something of a gig over at 5 Minutes for Books.

It's forced me to record family memories -- sometimes simply and other times in a more literary fashion. It's brought me closer to real-life friends who are also blogging, and introduced me to a whole new batch of people I never would otherwise have known. And professional opportunities continue to crop up, for which I am amazed and grateful (and excited!).

So, thanks Julie. Just as Julia changed the course of your life, I believe I have to say that you changed mine.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


With the nominations open for Book Blogger Appreciation Week and on my mind (check it out and nominate by August 15!), I've been thinking booky recently. When I woke up this Thursday morning, I thought that I would check out the topic for the Booking Through Thursday meme.

They ask, "What's the most serious book you've read recently?"

I have to say it's the book I'm reading now: House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (can't get any more recent than that, can you?).

I picked up this book because I've wanted to read something by Andre Dubus III for some time now. I had seen that movie years ago, and it definitely made an impact on me (I hope to review both in a future Books on Screen column at 5 Minutes for Books). Then I read and enjoyed Rooftops of Tehran*, and in an appendix the author suggested a reading list, which included this novel.

I'm reading it on my Kindle (which I've actually grown to love since I wrote that review, linked), which means it's the book that I read when I'm out and about, but I haven't been able to just put it down that easily.

This novel is full of the weight of choices, the injustice of chance and bad luck, and the difficulty of doing what's right. It's definitely a serious and thought-provoking read.

You can check out the other particpants' answers HERE.

*Rooftops of Tehran really is one of the best books I've read this year. We are going to discuss it on October 6 for our bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books. Anyone can join in (blogger or not).

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Freeze It. Just Freeze It.

I just bought a delicious watermelon today. They were $3.88 each at my Stop and Shop. I got a fairly big one, and picked it out to the best of my ability. It seemed heavy for its size and had a yellow spot where it had been sitting in the field. I've heard that these things are good in watermelons. Also, it was dirty -- like it actually had dirt on it -- for fresh produce (with a thick inedible rind) that is a good thing, right?

I bought it because it was on Amanda's list for the fruit salad that she was going to make us for dinner tonight (as a part of our dinner, of course). Amanda makes a mean fruit salad. Her secret is a squeeze or two of fresh lemon or lime juice.

Even though the watermelon is delicious -- juicy, firm not mealy, and flavorful -- fresh fruit often goes bad before we eat it. There are only four of us, and while our first reaction is "Yum! Delicious watermelon!" after a couple of days, we sort of forget or get burned out.

My solution? Freeze it. Just freeze it. Not as some sort of long-term storage method, but as a frozen treat. I cut my watermelon into wedges, and then slice it fairly thin (maybe 1/2 inch). You can leave the rind on. It's better to let it freeze on a flat cookie sheet, but once it's firm, just store it in a freezer bag.

This works great with grapes too. With the grapes, I usually switch them from fridge to freezer as they are starting to go bad.

Do not let the fruit thaw and try to eat it, or it will be mushy. Just eat it straight out of the freezer.

I got these pictures from the National Watermelon Promotion Board -- How cool is that? There's even a watermelon blog. I grabbed all these images legally from their media page.

We Are That Family sponsors Works-for-Me Wednesday. This week's theme (suggested -- my free range watermelon post is still welcomed) is Back-to-School, so check out what the other ingenious bloggers have to offer.

Subscribe to my feed. Follow me @jenndon.


Classics Bookclub

I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier for the first time. I enjoyed it. Unlike other classics, I didn't find it hard to get into (for example, I do enjoy Jane Austen, but I can't just pick it up and get sucked in).

I'm finding it hard to put together any coherent thoughts, so I'll just use some of the discussion questions Lisa posted.

How would you classify Rebecca? Love story? Ghost story? Tragedy? Mystery? It’s been called one of the greatest gothic romances; would you agree?

I wasn't really sure what to think before I read it. I had read The Thirteenth Tale (see Melissa's review) a year ago, and in the edition I read, it suggested other "gothic tales," including Rebecca. The Thirteenth Tale was unlike any book I had read, and I enjoyed it -- that sense of eerie foreboding following me as I unwrapped the mystery of Vida Winter along with the narrator.

Of course I had to consult Wikipedia for this assignment, and I do agree with the characterization of both of these books as Gothic fiction to an extent. Perhaps to add my own characterization, it's realistic gothic fiction, since there are no vampires or werewolves, and the devil himself doesn't make an appearance -- or does he??

Did you like Maxim at first? Did you trust him? Why do you think the narrator was so unsure of his affection? Did you share her doubt? What gave her confidence in his love–or did she remain insecure? Did you alter your opinion of either Maxim or the narrator in the course of the novel? What made you change your mind?

I liked Maxim, but were I in his new-wife-to-be's shoes, I would have found him maddeningly distant, so I'm not sure why she loved him. However, I do understand given her choices why she married him. I think that when Maxim revealed the truth about his marriage, she came to trust his love completely. I was a small step ahead of her, and saw glimpses of the truth before it was revealed.

However, unlike Maxim, I'm not sure that this creepy revelation made me love him!! It did make me feel happy for her though.

Without giving too much away (hate spoilers), were you satisfied with the ending? Why or why not?

(slight spoiler here--avert your eyes if you haven't read it)

I'm not sure I was satisfied. It seemed a little too easy. In the wake of destruction, no one had to go on and deal with their choices in life. It was a type of fresh start if you will. It seemed a bit too easy (or perhaps a bit too dramatic, which isn't usually my style, but probably fits with the Gothic genre quite well).


I enjoyed Rebecca so much that when I saw a copy of Jamaica Inn, another of her best-selling works, on the clearance rack of a used book store, I snatched it up. I don't always have a lot of time for personal-choice reading, but it will be nice to have around to get to "someday."

See what others have to say about Rebecca in the 5 Minutes for Books Classics Bookclub. If you've read it recently, you can write up your own post and link it in, or just hop over and leave a comment.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Wanna Win?

I've posted some fun review/giveaways over at 5 Minutes for Giveaways this week. Check them out:

Michael Buble CD/DVD

F-Secure Online Backup software

Dying for Mercy
, a new novel by Mary Jane Clark

I've also posted some reviews on 5 Minutes for Books, and while you can't win per se, isn't discovering a delightful new book or author like winning??

When You Reach Me -- a really fantastic book for your 9 - 12 year-old reader (or the one inside of you!)

The Immortals series by Alyson Noel -- a new series involving yearning, immortal teens and more

I also invite you to check out my post on Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and why you might be interested.