Friday, March 25, 2011

Book review: "Your Favorite Seuss" a Dr. Seuss collection

Well I completely missed the boat on this one. I can barely pay attention to my own scribbled-all-over calendar of personal events to notice much else, so I guess it makes sense that I’m a few days late. But it sure would have been a great entry to post on his birthday. Happy belated birthday, Dr. Seuss!

His work is one of my favorite things to share with my children. I love his quirky style, and the clever ways his rhymes stumble off the tongue is just as much fun for the reader as it is for the listener.

A fantastic Seuss collection, Your Favorite Seuss, contains several of his most well-known pieces and some of my absolute favorites. The Cat in the Hat is my boys’ favorite story, followed closely by Oh the Places You’ll Go and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (MY favorite). There was a time last winter - while I was seven months pregnant with Joey and unable to do much else but sit and read to my boys - when I had nearly all of Cat in the Hat memorized. So well, in fact, I could recite it to my guys while we made dinner.

I think what’s the most amazing of all, though, is the fact that even though this book is chalk-full of great Seuss stuff, it doesn’t even come close to encompass the magnitude of his work. A great friend of mine recently had a Seuss-themed baby shower, and we played a lot of Seuss-themed games. I couldn’t believe how many stories are out there that I wasn’t even aware of, and I’m a pretty big fan of the guy.

So I encourage everyone to look beyond the over-commercialized Seuss and find some real gems.

A couple of my favorites:


What other good ones am I missing?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book review: "Everything’s Eventual" by Stephen King

I hate how something as simple as a cold can come careening through your home and, inevitably, your routine. Our family has been bogged down with this cold/flu thing for nearly a month now, and although we’re lucky it’s nothing serious, we’re all still a bit irritated. Couple that with a semi-major home-improvement project and an in-law visit, and you’ve got yourself one very neglected blog. My apologies to my readers, all 19 of you.

I pick up my current read, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and within five minutes, I’m asleep. Not because of the content (it’s a good book) but because I’m utterly exhausted.

So it got me to thinking, maybe I should pick up a quicker read, perhaps a collection of short stories. I always seem to forget about those when searching for my next book, and they are perhaps some of the most well-written types of stories. Think about it. You have merely a fraction of the space to tell a story that encompasses everything a novel would: a cast of multi-dimensional characters, a plot, some good dialogue, some sort of action and an ending. That’s tough and would take some concise writing. Which is what makes my choice of authors a strange one when reaching to my shelves for a short story: Stephen King. King is not necessarily known for his quick, punchy writing, but he is a master of short storytelling all the same.

I have a confession to make: I am a Stephen King junkie. A nut. I. Love. His. Work. One year for Christmas, my husband rounded up most (there are a few rare books that are either way too expensive or nearly impossible to get) of King’s work in hardback and built me a bookshelf to house them all. It is my prized possession.

Of course I’m still young, and I have a lot of reading to do, but as of right now, in my opinion, no one writes dialogue like King. (Richard Russo (Empire Falls) is a close second). Dialogue is an important part of any writing effort; it’s a big part of how characters are formed and even how scenes are set. While writing dialogue, authors become each character, slipping in and out of them as the conversations bounce back and forth.

King writes long, usually taking his books into the thousand-page territory with tons of distractions from the story and plot. Despite that, he is always able to hold my rapt attention, even when he takes three pages to describe a spot on a window. But some of his best stuff is in his short story collections, and one of my favorites is Everything’s Eventual.

This collection contains a wide array of King’s writing abilities, from what he’s best known for: the macabre; to what he should be revered for: his dramatic and haunting character pieces. My favorite bits of the book, though, are King’s musings before and after the printed stories. He gives a few sentences - just a blurb really - of insight into how the story came about. Even his casual words are so real, you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up because you can almost feel him behind you, reading over your shoulder.

Although I love a good thriller, and there are a couple doozies like The Road Virus Heads North and Autopsy Room Four, nothing chills me to the bone like my favorite story in this collection, All That You Love Will Be Carried Away. Mostly because it’s so sad and dark and yet is edged with a lining of hope. Or I should say, the possibility of hope, since we aren’t really sure how it ends. I’m usually horrible at remembering characters and plots, but there’s something about this one that sticks. It’s the story of a lonely travelling salesman, Alfie Zimmers who has a quirky habit of collecting bathroom-wall graffiti at his many stops along his sales’ routes. And who, almost as casually as I’m mentioning it here in this entry, plans to kill himself in a Motel 6. 

Maybe the hope-lined edge isn’t really there. Maybe I’m creating it by wishing for hope because the story itself is so bleak. Which I guess is why it has stuck with me over the years. Although there is no dialogue, you feel you know Alfie, and you leave the story feeling quite sad and alone, much the same way Alfie apparently did. And I like that. Not the whole feeling sad part necessarily but feeling something, anything.

And that’s what King does best. He makes you feel, and his collection of work runs the gamut of emotions: He scares you of your mind in Bag of Bones, makes you sad and even angry in The Green Mile, frightened yet determined in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and connected to and hopeful for each and every character in The Stand. Regardless of what type of reader you are, a sci-fi nut, a horror junkie or a character-driven type, King has anything – and everything – you could ever hope for. And, thanks to my amazing hubby, I have nearly all of ‘em.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pay it Forward

I am very flattered to have just won a Stylish Blogger Award! (Although, I must say, I'm not feelin' too stylish right now, sitting in front of my computer in sweats and a sweatshirt riddled with apple sauce stains and swipes of peanut butter) But I love that I'm included in this list! Thank you so much Small Town Mommy!

Here are the rules that go along with receiving this award ...
  1. Thank and link back to the person that has given you this award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Award 15 blogs you have recently discovered.
  4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

    Here are 7 things about me ...
    1. My life is exactly as it should be. I am blessed with three beautiful children, an amazing husband, healthy family and friends and the ability to run my family business with my husband. Although I didn't end up in Hollywood married to George Clooney like I was certain I would, I have never been happier, and my life just keeps getting better. (My husband even kinda looks like George Clooney).
    2. This is my first month as a blogger. 
    3. I am deathly afraid of spiders, snakes, beetles (well, bugs of any kind) and everything else that my boys are becoming interested enough in to pick up and run to me, yelling, "Look Mommy!! Wanna touch it?"
    4. I turned 33 yesterday (March 13th) and spent the day eating birthday cake and doughnuts.
    5. I don't feel so great today after spending yesterday eating birthday cake and doughnuts.
    6. I am only 4'11".
    7. I love professional football and am starting to get a bit peeved at the owners and players and wonder what we're going to do every Sunday this season.
    And here are 15 amazingly stylish, well-written and hilarious blogs that I am awarding. Check them out, read a bit, laugh a lot and give 'em some love ..
    Shopper Gal
    Coco Photography
    Texas Type A Mom
    The Meanest Mom
    The Thrifty Wife
    Mommy Only Has Two Hands
    Acting Balanced
    Library Girl Reads
    Reading with Tequila
    Emily's Reading Room
    The Type A Housewife
    Triple Duty
    I'm A Lazy Mom
    As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!)
    A Book Obsession

    If you are one of these lucky recipients, don't forget to pay it forward!

    Thank you!