Pride and Prejudice Meets The Bachelor

imgresEligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
Curtis Sittenfeld
Published April 19, 2016
512 pages (hardcover)

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What it’s about: In this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet family hails from Cincinnati. Drily witty dad and hoarder/online-shopper mom live in a crumbling (and spider-infested) old mansion that they can no longer afford (they’ve squandered a sizable inheritance). Jane and Liz have fled Cincinnati for NYC (where Jane is a yoga instructor and Liz works at a women’s magazine), while the three youngest Bennet sisters still live at home. Middle-sister Mary is reclusive and secretive (because, the family suspects, she is a lesbian) and working on her third master’s degree. Kitty and Lydia are beautiful, unemployed CrossFit enthusiasts who are obsessed with the Paleo diet. Continue reading

Still Searching for Some Good Light Reading . . .

After the string of get-me-down books that I wrote about in my last post, I was determined to treat myself to some lighter, fluffier, more enjoyable fare. I managed to read two books that were definitely lighter and fluffier (hooray!) but weren’t very good (boo!). I also read a kids’ book about Japanese internment, which (although pretty good) was decidedly not light, not fluffy, and not enjoyable. So, my quest for good fluff continues. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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What’s the Opposite of a Pick-Me-Up?

I was trying to think of the opposite of a “pick-me-up.” The best I could do is “get-me-down.” Why on Earth would I need to know such a phrase, you ask? Because it’s all I’ve been reading. UGH.

I would estimate that I’m now reading approximately one-fourth of what I read pre-baby. Ideally, therefore, my reading would be confined to sweet-fluffy books or funny-fluffy books or super-interesting books or even helpful books of the parenting variety. Instead, I have managed to read three get-me-down books right in a row. For a sleep-deprived parent with limited reading time, this is not a reading strategy that I would recommend.

Don’t get me wrong: as a rule, I am not against get-me-down books. In fact, my very favorite book of all time is a definite downer (Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates). But that writing makes me swoon, so it makes the ridiculously depressing story somehow worth reading.

The three books I am reviewing this week were all billed as worthwhile get-me-down books. But it is safe to say that they are NOT Revolutionary Road-level get-me-down books.  Continue reading

Your Must-Have Kids’ Book List

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At only seven months old, my wee one already has over one hundred books in her library. We read about ten books every day and go to at least one story time each week. She has been to more author readings and book signings than most adults (Deborah Diesen, author of The Pout-Pout Fish, was her first; she saw Dan Santat, author of the Caldecott medal-winning Beeklelast week). This may seem a bit extreme for a baby, but let’s face facts: I’m pushing books hard.

So, when a friend asked me a couple weeks ago for some board book suggestions, I rattled off five or six without hesitation. Her reaction was a bit surprising. She responded:

I have to say, I mentioned to a couple of new mom friends that you gave me a few recommendations and they all went ape shit. I’ve had to send your list a couple of times. If you were to ever compile a Christi approved list of kid/baby books I think many moms would find it very helpful. There is just so much noise out there that it is really nice to get recommendations from someone who is actually using them and recommending more than the same old board books that everyone has several of in their library (I mean, Pat the Bunny is a classic, but it isn’t really stimulating and those pictures are downright creepy).

There are literally gajillions (LITERALLY) of board and picture books out there. And my friend is right–there aren’t many reliable, up-to-date lists to steer you in the right direction. To make matters worse, the pressure to add only quality books to your kid’s collection is high. Because, unlike adult books, which you normally read once before letting them collect dust on a shelf, you read each kids’ book approximately 700 million times.

So, here is a list of my favorite board and picture books. I tried to avoid the classics that everyone already knows and loves (but, just to be on the safe side, I did include a few that cannot be overlooked). Happy reading! Continue reading

A Floating Bookstore, Public Shamings, and A Manhattan Clematis

The good news: I’m back to reading regularly again. The bad news: I can’t seem to find sufficient free time for reading and writing. I have a backlog of books that I need to review . . . but when I have a free hour during nap time, I’d prefer to read (or, let’s be honest, watch Jane the Virgin) than sit down and crank out a blog post. So, I’m cheating by reverting to the mini-review system I used at the end of my pregnancy. No, there is not a common theme that ties these books together. No, I am not going to weave these reviews together, so they flow seamlessly one into the next. These are just three short reviews of three random books. Enjoy!

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Thirty Million Words

I’m pretty sure that, when I’m walking through the grocery store with my five-month-old strapped to my chest, people think I’m a little crazy. Why? Because I carry on a nearly constant conversation with a little person whose only response might be a loud and emphatic: “Waaa boo BOOO!”

We talk about the smells (pungent fish, sweet oranges) and the colors (yellow bananas, green poblanos) and the textures (prickly pineapple, tickly cilantro). We identify the animals from which the meats are derived (chicken breasts: cluck cluck cluck).

I was a foreign languages major in college, and I vividly remember learning a new language (I talked a little about my experience learning French in this blog post). I know that the one thing that helped me the most was that my fabulous host family spoke with me (well, at me, at first) constantly in French. Well before I felt comfortable speaking conversationally in French, I began to understand what they were saying to me. Individual words became more distinguishable. Vocabulary became more familiar. Sentence structure started making sense. It was clicking.

So, from day one, I’ve been talking to my daughter with this in mind. I have always assumed that language would start clicking well before she could verbally communicate. And several months ago, she already started showing me that this is true (for example, when she began giving high fives on command or when she started looking around the room when her daddy would say, “Where’s Mommy?”).   

This book reinforces all my crazy grocery store conversations. 
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Circus Mirandus

IMG_7093When you have a kid, there are certain expenses that you anticipate, like diapers (our sweet girl averaged about twenty diapers per day in her first several weeks) and clothing (she is now five months and transitioning into nine-month clothes. Babies grow fast. You’re lucky if you get two wears out of that adorable outfit on which you spent $35 dollars).

I did not anticipate, however, that I would be spending gajillions of dollars on books for her. Already. But I probably should have. Our amazing friends and family threw us two showers that requested books instead of cards (like this one), and her room is FILLED with books.

IMG_7094Santa even brought a new bookcase for her first Christmas to accommodate the growing number of tomes. Nevertheless, I still find myself buying at least a couple books every week. Books are lovely. I can’t help myself.

Right now, we read a lot of mind-numbing board books (we’re trying to drill letters, numbers, colors, and shapes, after all). But we also get to read her some glorious pictures books. She can turn the pages on the board books and, if she’s in a particularly good mood, she can pay attention through one or two picture books.

Before long, we’ll be able to read her some chapter books. And I’m keeping a mental list of ones I can’t wait to read to her (nothing on this list will surprise you):

And now I can add a new book to that list! Continue reading