November 30, 2010

review: Five Flavors of Dumb

 eta:  This book won the 2011 ALA Schneider Family Award for best Teen book.

Five Flavors of Dumb
Antony John
published November 2010
publisher Dial
source of book: bought it myself

Goodread's summary
The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she's deaf?

A great book!!!!!! (I'm trying to refrain from adding too many exclamation marks).  When I first read the summary (a deaf character manages Dumb,a high school band), I had to buy it right away as I'm deaf.   
Before people say deaf people cannot be in a band, I have to mention Rebecca who went to my daughter's hearing high school and was in the marching band --- on the flag squad  and played an instrument as well. 
The author has done an excellent job of not adding unnecessary paragraphs about deafness.   He tells about Piper's baby sister's cochlear implant by showing how Piper feels about it.  He explains how she gets by in school.  He does a great job characterizing the family members and the problems of their relationships.

The band --- a melange of "odd" characters.  They even have a brawl while performing -- that's how mismatched they are.   The author says it best:  "There was no togetherness, no blending--just five separate flavors of an indigestible dish called Dumb."   The plot and the characterizations are excellent.  Piper and crew live in Seattle, so they take two local road trips to learn more about Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix.   

This is one of the best books of 2010.   Do yourself a favor -- go pick it up.   You won't be sorry.

November 29, 2010

review: My Sister's Voice

My Sister's Voice
author Mary Carter
published June 2010
publisher Kensington

Mary Carter is a sign language interpreter who graduated from National Technical Institute of the Deaf.  She writes what she knows;  My Sister's Voice is about a deaf woman and her family.   Here's a summary from Goodreads
      What do you do when you discover your whole life was a lie?
      At twenty-eight, Lacey Gears is exactly where she wants to be. An up-and-coming, proudly Deaf artist in Philadelphia.  ... she receives a letter that begins, “You have a sister. A twin to be exact…”
       Learning her identical, hearing twin, Monica, experienced the normal childhood she was denied resurrects all of Lacey’s grief, and she angrily sets out to find Monica and her biological parents. But the truth about Monica’s life, their brief shared past, and the reason for the twins’ separation is far from simple.

      The book starts off with a bang -- with the letter and Lacey's search for her twin.  The middle part drags out, and the ending is rushed chock full of events.
      I recommended this book to my book club.  We are all employees at a school for the deaf: one principal, one guidance counselor, the rest teachers, and I'm the lucky one to be retired.  
      We had a good discussion.  Some of us felt the author spent too much time or too many paragraphs explaining things about deaf culture and deaf education.  
      The reason for the twins' separation took us by surprise.  We thought another element at  the end of the book was unnecessary (I won't give any spoilers here). 
     This is a good book for book clubs to discuss:  pros and cons of various elements inside the book. 

disclaimer:  I received this book from the author for my honest review.  Thanks, Mary!

November 28, 2010

review: The Girl in the Green Raincoat

  The Girl in the Green Raincoat
author:  Laura Lippman
    to be published January 2011
    publisher: Avon - Harper Collins
    source: NetGalley

The newest Tess Monaghan novella has Tess on mandatory bedrest because of her high-risk pregnancy.  Remember James Stewart in Hitchcock's Rear Window?  He has a broken leg and can't get out of his apartment so he watches his neighbors.  Tess is more frustrated, stuck in one room of her house, able to look outside at a park.  Not many neighbors to see,  just a woman in a green raincoat walking her dog to the park.

One day, the woman and the dog go into the park;  only the dog comes back out.  Tess immediately calls on the people around her to help her solve this disappearance.  Tess ends up stuck with the neurotic dog;  she finds out about the dog's family.   Her background as a private investigator makes her insist on getting more details about that family.

I've admired Laura Lippman the past ten years, even more so after I saw her interview on Today Show (or Good Morning America) when she wrote To the Power of Three.    She is an artist with words ---  I highlighted many of her sentences in The Girl to share:  Tess's baby-to-be, a girl, is "a taskmaster in amniotic fluid."  Tess has mood swings, "Mood swings?  Try mood teeter-totters, mood elevators, mood escalators, mood rockets.  Add a daily dose of Oprah and Judge Judy to the mix and she was truly unpredictable." 

The story's whodunnit and howdunnit was also unpredictable for me and took me by surprise.  I like that!  The characters in the book are a hoot.   Now I'm curious how Tess will be a working mom.  In the meantime, I'll be reading earlier Tess Monaghan novels.    This was the first Tess I've read, and it is a good standalone.

November 27, 2010

review: The Locket

author Stacey Jay
to be published February 2011
       Goodreads summary:
What if you got a second chance to fix your worst mistake?
One very scary piece of jewelry. 

     Time travel into the past to fix your worst mistake --- sounds like a dream!  But dreams can become a nightmare.   Katie makes a mistake, and now her boyfriend Isaac is angry with her.    She finds her grandmother's locket sitting on the counter and puts it on.  The locket takes her back into time, into "do over land" to avoid this mistake, but.......

Things are different.  Little things like the color of the door of the coffee shop or the school lunch schedule.  Big things are different too -- more tragic.  Problem:  Katie can't take the locket off.  "Right now, two different versions of reality were existing side by side, layered on top of each other like filo dough."

I enjoyed this book full of twists.  Even though parts were predictable, there were enough surprises and suspense to keep me reading as fast as I could.  It was a wonderful read, highly recommended.

On a personal note, I was tickled to see the book is set in and near Nashville where I lived until I was five years old.  Katie and her friends go to the Parthenon.   Mitch's dad is a doctor at Vanderbilt.   Katie does volunteer work at Belle Meade.   She goes to the pit behind Lovelace Restaurant (sounds like Loveless -- a place I want to visit soon.)  
source:  Arc received from Around the World Tours

November 26, 2010

Friday Blog Hop - November 26

Book Blogger Hop  Welcome to the Friday book blog hop sponsored by Jennifer.   Sarah asks
"What is your favorite book cover?"
 Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood.

I had a successful lesson with this while teaching.  Loved the "a-ha" moment when the students figured out which item was which child. 

November 23, 2010

spotlight: Bending toward the Sun

Spotlight on
author:  Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie
published September 2009
publisher Harper Perennial
from Julie of FSB Associates 
Mothers and daughters and granddaughters --- a bond,  passing down feelings, traditions, celebrations, and stories to the next generation.    When childhood is interrupted and celebrations forbidden, the legacy changes.  The bond becomes more haunting, deeper, yet love continues.  
This is the story told by Rita Lurie, who was a child during the Holocaust.  She survived, her mother did not.  Rita went on to have a family.  Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, the middle of Rita's three children, has written a lovely memoir in three parts.  This is one of the most moving books to behold.  

I will be visiting a Holocaust museum in a few weeks --  I plan to put a copy of the Lurie family tree in my purse to look at while we are at the museum.

In the meantime, Gilbert-Lurie has written  a moving article on 15 Conversations to Have with Your Parents.  Scroll down to the next post to make some reflections of your own.

Reflections with Your Parents

My parents in the early 1940's.
On the back of the photo, my mother wrote "when long dresses were in"

Guest Post - perfect during the holiday season:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's

15 Conversations to Have with Your Parents
By Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
Author of Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

For readers who still have the chance, there may be no greater gift you can give yourself and your children than to know more about your parents' early years. Sometimes the opportunity to ask questions simply presents itself, perhaps at a family reunion, or in a relaxed setting on vacation. But for many, it will not. I've found that since my memoir of my mother and I, Bending Toward The Sun, came out, people have told me that they wish they had asked their parents more questions about their pasts. We often have to pro-actively initiate these probing, more intimate conversations, which are not always in our comfort zones.
However the opportunity arises, what follows are 15 suggestions that will help open up these important discussions among family members.
1. Create a family tree with your mother, father, or both. Ask them to tell you everything they know about your ancestors, including birthplaces and important dates in their lives.

2. Ask your mother or father to describe his or her primary childhood home. Perhaps he or she can go on to tell you about a particularly happy memory of an event that took place there, and a painful memory as well.
3. Ask your parent what books, movies, and music were his or her favorite as a child. You can then move from there to ask about current favorite books or movies.
4. Childhood heroes provide a rich topic of conversation. Ask your parents who their childhood heroes were. Again, you can move from childhood to present day and explore whom they most admire and why.
5. Explore the family vacations your parents took as a child. Ask about where they particularly liked to go, and whether there were any trips they disliked.
6. Try and discover what the rules were in your mother's or father's family, and which of these rules, if any, they felt were unfair. Also use this opportunity to learn what responsibilities your parents had as children, and how these contributed to the people your parents evolved into.
7. Inquire about the things your parents wanted to do as children but could not because your grandparents wouldn't allow them to, they were unaffordable, or your parents did not possess the talent or skills to do them.
8. Ask your parents what questions they wish they had asked their own parents but never did.
9. It is not always easy to ask parents about their own fears, but it provides a good opportunity for mutual understanding. Ask your mother or father what he or she was afraid of as a child and about what he or she fears most today.
10. Ask your father or mother to describe a crush he or she had, or a special teenage romance.
11. Explore how your parents perceived themselves as children. Ask them how they thought adults and peers viewed them, and which aspects of these perceptions were accurate or inaccurate.
12. Ask your parents what first attracted them to each other, and what they most respect or respected in the other. If they are no longer married to one another, see if they will discuss what drove them apart and why.
13. Probe into the highs and lows of your parents' lives. Ask about their proudest accomplishments and greatest disappointments. If they had one thing to do over in life up to this point, what would it be and why?
14. While they are reflecting, ask your mother or father what they would most want to be famous for, if they were destined to be famous for something.
15. Don't miss the opportunity to explore how your parents view you. Ask your parents what about you reminds them of themselves at the same age. Ask what they are proudest of in you. And, if you are feeling particularly comfortable by that point in the conversation, ask if they have any questions to for you.
Most people have neither the time nor the desire to spend a decade writing a memoir about a parent or close family member, as my mother and I had the opportunity to do. But even a couple hours spent exploring the past with a parent could provide new and deeper appreciation and understanding. Moreover, a few pages of heart-felt answers could be very satisfying and useful to future generations.
©2010 Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, author of Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

Thanks, Leslie!

November 18, 2010

Book Nominations Needed

 As 2010 draws down to a few weeks left,  reflect back upon your reads of this year's releases.  Did any strike you worthy of an award?   Here's your chance to nominate.

The Independent Literary Awards are book awards given by literary (book) bloggers.  This is the first year. 
  • You must be a book blogger; and a link to your blog provided. (You may not be the author, publisher, or publicist of the book you are nominating).
  • Books nominated must have a 2010 release date.
  • You may nominate books in more than one genre, but only one per genre.  Here are the genres.  Please go to these links to nominate.
Literary Fiction
Speculative Fiction

Nominations are closed December 15, and the winning book in each genre will be announced in February.

I'm on the panel for Non-Fiction and very excited about it because non-fiction covers a wide world of topics -- variety is the spice of life.

November 17, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaway Follower Appreciation Hop!   I Am a Reader, Not a Writer is sponsoring the hop with almost 200 blogs.   There are two winners here on Reflections with Coffee, one book for each winner.

Giveaway 1
Winner is J.L. Jackson 
When you want to show appreciation on a birthday of a family member or a friend, what do you do?   Have some cake!  Read about the master of cakes, Cake Boss.  Delight in the story of his life.  Choose one of his recipes.  Free Press will mail the winner a copy.
Giveaway 2
Winner is Linda H. of Missouri.
During this time of Gratitude, reflect upon the One we are most grateful to.   Blessed Beyond Measure devotional journal gives you some ways to reflect upon His Goodness.  Thanks to Hachette for this copy.  I'll add a green felt pen for the winner to use to write in his/her book.

To enter --- leave a comment here along with a way I can contact you if you win.  I don't require people to be followers -- I want you here because you want to be.
Extra entries:
Comment on the Cake Boss review with the name of your favorite cake.
Comment on the Blessed Beyond Measure review with what you are grateful for.

To see other blogs participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop, here's the link.   Drawing will be early November 29 by; the winners will be contacted by email and given 48 hours to respond.

November 16, 2010

Cake Boss: Giveaway

Cake Boss:  Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia
author: Buddy Valastro
publisher:  Free Press, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
published November 2010

Drool.  Drool.
Ooops, sorry you caught me.  I've been drooling.  And my stomach has been grumbling from hunger.  And my eyes have been tearing up from all the laughter and sentimental sweetness from reading Cake Boss by, who else!, the Cake Boss Buddy Valastro.

Carlo's Bake Shop opened 100 years ago, in 1910.  Buddy's dad bought the Bake Shop in 1963; everyone in the family works there.    Buddy is a fourth-generation baker.  He states because of technology, he is "an endangered species --the pure bred baker, one who can do it all,  armed with nothing but his hands, a rolling pin, a mixer, and the knowledge passed down"

We learn about Buddy's family -- a family with their own squabbles and love for each other.  Buddy tells  how he figured out how to bake cupcakes that don't have a rounded mound on top.  Of course, there are recipes at the end of the book.   This is a great read! 

Simon & Schuster has a way for you to browse inside Cake Boss (the book, not the man).  Take a look-see, then rush to get your own copy.  In the meantime, I can't go up to New Jersey, so I'm heading  down the road to the Bakery Lady who makes the best sugar cookies.

Maybe you can win your own copy.  This is part of the Gratitude Giveaway.  Leave a comment here with the name of your favorite cake and a way for me to contact you.  If your name is drawn by, Free Press will mail you a copy.
Disclaimer:  received from the publisher.  No monetary compensation.  The opinions of the book are my own.

giveaway: Blessed Beyond Measure Devotional Journal

Blessed Beyond Measure Devotional Journal
Gloria Copeland
publisher:  Faith Words
received from Hachette Book Group for review

During this Thanksgiving season, it is time to reflect upon all our blessings.  It is a time of gratitude for little things and big.  What is the biggest thing?  God.  God is Good.

Gloria Copeland's devotional journal is based upon her study of the goodness of God and her book Blessed Beyond Measure: Experience the Extraordinary Goodness of God.

The pages inside the devotional journal are pale mint green with a vine of leaves adorning the margins.  Beautiful beautiful!  Makes me think of John 15:5.   I want to go find a green felt pen to begin writing immediately.

There is a short devotional followed by a page for reflection.   Your reflection may include more scripture to read or a thought-provoking question such as "When have you seen evidence of .....?"   A second page is for application in our world of 2010-2011, and a third page is Praying in His Goodness.   You can read an excerpt here

We are so blessed.  Our blessings are impossible to measure, but it is well worth writing down all the ways God is Good.  This journal is one of the giveaways in the Gratitude Giveaway November 17-28.  

What are you grateful for?   Please leave a comment here and tell us. I'll need your email address or a way to contact you if you win.

Linky List for Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, November 17-Sunday, November 28

November 13, 2010

Favorites of the Week 1

Some of my favorite readings this week while blog browsing:

Two Women on a Plane posted by Whatever He Says
I'll be on several planes the next two months.  I long to be like the first woman, not the second.

The Book Blogger Balancing Act by Jennifer of Crazy for Books
Great suggestion just before the holiday season!  Speaking of holidays.....

The Thanksgiving Table: The Mashed Potatoes
by David Jeremiah from Today's Turning Point
Nevertheless . . . the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you.Deuteronomy 23:5 

There’s nothing simple about mashed potatoes. A combination of soil, sun, and water produces an underground crop of tubers that are dug up, cleaned off, and cooked in a pot of boiling water. The heat and kinetic energy bursts the walls of the starch within the potatoes, which releases an enzyme named amylase that breaks down starch and creates a kind of sugar. These chemical interactions trap water, creating a glue that thickens the dish. Peering into the pot, we decide to add butter to the whole thing, and milk, maybe cream, probably salt and pepper, often cheese, perhaps some parsley . . . Well, you have your own recipe. But somehow these dirty underground roots become a beautiful, white, whipped addition to our dinner table.

Think of mashed potatoes as an example of God’s ability to whip blessings out of the daily, dirty tubers of life. He knows how to grind our circumstances in the potato masher of His providence, turn curses into blessings, and bring good out of bad. And that’s a perfect accompaniment to thanksgiving.

What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow. A. A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh

November 12, 2010

Friday Blog Hop - November 12

Last week's challenge, described here, was to follow a blog and post comments.  I chose to follow Ashley's Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing because I liked the title of her blog.    Don't we at times open a book, start reading, and then go bleh.   Other times, of course, it is an amazing read -- or else we'd all stop reading altogether!

She started a new meme or posting this week:  Memory Monday -- about her childhood favorite reads, "with the emphasis being on the memories they created."  What a fun idea!   I remember books I read as a child much more vividly than what I read last month.   Hmmmm, is this a sign of aging?

Today's Hop question:  "If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"
Not necessarily.  At times I know enough about the character in the series;  in fact I'm reading a book from NetGalley for review.  It is by an author who writes both stand-alone books and a series.  I adore her stand-alones, but have never read her series.  This time, I decided to go ahead and jump in the middle.  Look for a review on The Girl in the Green Raincoat in couple months.   No, it is not by  Steig Larsson!

November 7, 2010

Six Generations of Women; Giveaway

Mothers and their daughters -- a bond is made through the generations. 

My daughter made a little family tree to go next to the picture.  The picture and tree sit on top of a highboy chest that belonged to the oldest woman -- top corner of chest is in the "tree" picture.  When Jessie (the one in the middle) married in 1912, her parents bought back the highboy from whoever had it and gave it to her.    If you click on the picture itself, you can see it was the style to wear a portrait of one's husband at the neck (top two mothers).

We mothers go to bat for our children.   The day my mother found out I was born deaf,  she immediately planned to teach me and to go back to school to specialize in deaf ed.   I've gone to bat for my kids in their school -- example:  when my daughter's 4th grade teacher made them write each spelling word 10 times and copy the glossary from the back, I formally objected because she already knew how to spell all the words in the book.  

Another mother that went to bat for her daughter is Chynna Laird.

GIVEAWAY: A comment on today’s post will enter you to win a copy of Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder.  A name will be drawn here via and that name will be sent to the Muffin for the final drawing.  Contest here ends 11/30/10, at midnight EST.

Today's post about mothers  is part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Not Just Spirited: A Mom's Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder by Chynna Laird. The book is a memoir of a mother fighting for a diagnosis when countless doctors told her that her daughter was just "spirited".

Chynna shares the reality of mothering a child with a severe "No touch" rule. She calls it "Mothering without touch." Although Not Just Spirited is the perfect match for parents of children with SPD, the determination and victories shown in the book will encourage anyone parenting a child with special needs or working to overcome an obstacle in their own life.

Chynna has also written a children's book, I'm Not Weird, and resource book about SPD, At-Home Strategies for Managing Sensory Processing Disorder: A Guide for Parents.

To read Chynna's post about parenting and a list of other blogs participating in Chynna's Blanket Tour visit The Muffin.

November 5, 2010

Follow Me Friday - November 5

Book Blogger Hop

The question in today's Follow Me Friday is:
"What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?"
Great questions!   When I run contests, I don't ask people to follow me ---  I want people to want to be here and to choose to follow, not because it is mandatory.   As a G.R.I.T. (girl raised in the South), call it Southern Hospitality!

Yes, I've stopped following a blog for a few reasons:  too many posts coming through my email or posts not relevant to my interests.   

I liked Jennifer's challenge to us on her Crazy for Books blog.  She says:
 I want you to find ONE blog in the Hop list that you genuinely WANT to follow (try to find a new blog, if you can!) and make at least 5 comments on their blog this week on 5 different posts.  



November 2, 2010

review: Law of Attraction

Law of Attraction
author Allison Leotta
publisher Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
source:  Crazy Book Tours

What a book!  The cover says it all --- a woman running through the streets of D.C.  From the time you open it, you are led by Anna Curtis, a rookie federal attorney investigating a domestic violence case.  I lived and worked in D.C. seven years, a city I miss -- it was great to see the city again through Anna's eyes.

The author, Allison Leotta, herself is a federal prosecutor in D.C., specializing in sex crimes and domestic violence.  She knows what she is writing, and it shows.  Her characters,  Anna,  Laprea the battered woman,  Nick the defense attorney, and Jack the prosecutor are all well-characterized.   Leotta also explains law well.  Two great paragraphs:
Anna felt proud every time she introduced herself in court.  She represented the interests of the entire country.  That usually meant putting the bad guys away -- but not always.  She had a duty to be fair.  If she thought the police violated the Constitution, it was her job not to use the tainted evidence -- and to train the police not to do it again.  If she thought a defendant hadn't committed the charged crime, her job was to drop the case.  her duty wasn't just to win, it was to do justice.
An explanation of the law of attraction:
 Something happened to little girls who grew up watching their mothers being hit--something that created an internal compass steering them into their own abusive relationships. ... It was a peculiar law of attraction.  Each woman subconsciously tried to re-create the relationship she'd seen between her parents.
Another thing Leotta did that I really enjoyed and appreciated:  while the fictional lawyers and judges talked, they used acronyms and jargon such as  "I can drop the APO" and  "only if it's a C plea".  Before you start going "huh?" her next sentence explains what those things are.

Can't you tell Leotta is a new favorite author of mine!  This book is her debut, I'm eager to see more. In the meantime, I'll be reading her blog, some posts tell what the tv show SVU does right and wrong.

November 1, 2010

Jack o'lanterns 2010

Granddaughter Maddy prepping her pumpkin.
Age 7, she did this all by herself!
Daughter-in-law did Harry Potter.  She's an expert in all things HP!
Son added Sirius.  I asked "who?"  D-i-L told me HP's godfather.  I know nothing about HP.
Daughter's Trio.  Things that fly at night.

Trio in the daytime.  Meet my friend Dry Bones.  He helped me when I did a devotional on Ezekiel 37.