February Book Reviews
A little post about one book we each have read and loved this past month. If you are looking for a great book blog that reviews a variety of books, including numerous Canadian authors, you should check out I've Read This. When I need a good book, I look to her blog for her latest recommendations.
Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare
Mitzi Bytes is the story of a "stay-at-home" mom named Sarah Lundry, who secretly authors an extremely successful blog that is kept hidden from everyone, including her closest friends, family, and even her husband. For 15 years, she has documented the pains and humility of her divorce, diving back into the dating world, finding her partner, and having kids. And she did it all on a blog that was no holds barred, cutting, witty, and deeply personal; but of course anonymously under the pen name "Mitzi Bytes." Now living what seems like a run of the mill mundane life, Sarah Lundry's biggest challenge is seemingly being called out for not volunteering enough in her childrens' school. That is until she receives a threatening message from a reader who discretely refers to oneself as Jane Q. Sarah's very existence is on rocky foundation as the threats from Jane Q escalate and she traverses new territory in her quest to discover who Jane Q is and get her life back on track.
I absolutely loved this book. I was drawn in by the story and I found the author's tone and flow easy, willing me to keep reading even when I should have been doing other, more productive, things. She draws you in with well developed characters; Sarah Lundry being the type of individual that doesn't seem to have many redeeming qualities and yet is so relatable. The book is not only humorous and well written but it is also brutally honest and that is probably what I love most about the book. The spot-on representations of motherhood and the inner dialogue that a mom often speaks but never out loud had me laughing (and cringing) as I read. No, this book is not for everyone but I would hate to pigeonhole it into a specific mommy only/chick lit category. It is much more developed than your average chick lit and is far more witty and eloquently written too. Definitely worth the read.
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
Eating the Dinosaur is a collection of eclectic essays ranging from the merits of sitcom laugh tracks to an analysis of Ted Kaczynski's manifesto. Klosterman (best known for his 2003 book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) marries obscure subjects with accessible logic. Reading the selected essays, it's obvious that Klosterman's knowledge base is distinctly varied and weird. An overly theoretical analysis on the ethics of time travel is in the same book as a treatise on the why liking ABBA ironically is wrong; at first sight, this is highly disconnected. The truth is, Klosterman's writing style is so compelling that it creates an intimacy with the reader that draws you into inapproachable topics.
Having read most of Klosterman's works, I will be the first to admit that his catalogue is uneven. His fiction novels are passable at best and 2005's Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story is overtly narcissistic. In his essay collections, however, Klosterman shines. I am an unabashed fan of his views on pop culture and effect on society. This month's reading of Eating the Dinosaur was my second read-through (a rarity for me) and I will likely revisit it again in the future. It's very telling that my favourite piece in the book was about American football - my least favourite of the four major sports. At this point, it's hard for me to tell if I'm a bigger fan of the writer or his writing. I kind of just want to have a beer with him and debate Federer / Messi / Jordan as GOAT only to have convince me it's actually Don Bradman.
Maelle (3 years old):
Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson
This book is all about a monkey who has lost his mum. A butterfly helps Monkey as he searches the jungle looking for her. Butterfly struggles to find Monkey's mum based on the descriptions he is giving her, not realizing that Monkey's mum would look like Monkey.
Julia Donaldson is a prize-winning author best known for her book The Gruffalo. Although not as well known, Monkey Puzzle, is a charming story that hooks the reader with its wonderful rhyming cadence. This book is sure to delight both parents and children alike. The illustrations are beautiful, colourful, and cute. The story doesn't drag on and, of course (spoiler alert), ends happily as Monkey reunites with his mum. What more could you ask for in a child's story? Maelle says "I like it because of the animals and the monkey is so cute."
Linden (11 months old):
Baby Beluga by Raffi
The story of Baby Beluga is a classic children's song. It tells the tale of a baby beluga's day from swimming and splashing to curling up warm in his water bed.
Linden is at the age where he would rather eat the books than sit for an extended period of time. Ultimately, that doesn't matter because we all know the impact that reading to babies and early literacy has on the future of our children; so come hell or high water he's going to hear some stories. I have found the best way to do this is through singing. Song books are his absolute favourite right now. He often walks around as I sing and will occasionally wander over and slap the book out of my hand. I love this book because of its sweet melody and it reminds me so much of my time teaching. Raffi songs and children are the perfect pair. It is gentle, light, and a feel good book for anyone, anytime. Even my daughter likes to hear me "sing" this book. The only drawback is the fact that you will be singing Baby Beluga on repeat until some other inane children song decides to take over.