Category Archives: books

Two Promising Memoirs: One by Michele Norris of All Things Considered and Condolezza Rice

It’s a crying shame that as a busy mother and business owner that I don’t have time like I used to to simply delve into books at my leisure. I spend so much time working and mothering that books far too often fall to tenth and eleventh place in my priority spectrum. That said, I want to let you know about two upcoming memoirs that just may move up to sixth or even fifth place.

Michele Norris, the beloved host of All Things Considered, has penned a memoir, The Grace of Silence, about race, but in doing her research she unearthed hidden secrets from her own family. It sounds like a great book. In fact, it has been heavily endorsed by Henry Louis Gates, Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw, Richard Wolf and Doris Kearns Goodwin. With their recommendations I know it’s good!

And, Condoleeza Rice is back in the limelight with a book about her family, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family. I have been wondering where in the world she has been hiding. Apparently behind a computer screen like the rest of us.

Book and Tech Wednesday: Raindrops and the New Microsoft Phone

Raindrops: A Shower of Colors Raindrops: A Shower of Colors by Chieu Anh Urban

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Spring is just around the corner and for young ones who are just beginning to learn their colors, Raindrops: A Shower of Colors is an excellent board book to teach them about animals and the various hues of the rainbow.

More and more I judge toddler books primarily by their illustrations.When my daughters were quite young their little eyes feverishly gazed across the pages of vibrantly-colored books. And while their young ears heard the stories the illustrations really told the story. That said, the illustrations in Raindrops paints the entire story beautifully and the wording is ideal for young children whose brains are constantly learning new things.

What I love most about Raindrops is each page has a see-through raindrop of its respective color.

Why I love this book: Raindrops: A Shower of Colors is a perfect book for young children to read alone when they’re sitting on the floor using their tiny fingers to explore their piles and piles of board books. The illustrations in Raindrops are vibrant enough to capture and keep your child’s attention and the story is simple enough to teach them new insects, animals and colors without overwhelming them or taking away from their favorite things: pictures!

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Reading “The Help” on My iPod Touch

I have been wanting to read “The Help” for about three months. A couple of weeks ago when I was in the airport on my way to Chicago I almost plunked down $24.95 for a hardcover copy, but couldn’t bear to do it because I knew I could get it somewhere, anyway cheaper. Then it dawned on me that I can read it as an ebook and save a lot of money and that’s what I’m currently doing. I’m reading “The Help” on my iPod Touch and it only cost me $8.55 from Barnes & Noble.
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Discovering the Real John Henry + a Review of the TwitterPeek

Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry Ain’t Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Even though Ain’t Nothing But A Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry is a children’s book I had a real problem putting it down. That is certainly not to say the content will fly over the head of children. Rather, the content is so stellar it will keeps kids and adults alike riveted to the pages as the author recounts his quest to find the real John Henry. Read more after the jump.


On Christmas Eve I decided to take my TwitterPeek with me when I went shopping to see how it worked. I received the TwitterPeek to review and I wanted to take it out into the field, so to speak.

The TwitterPeek is a device that allows you to mobile tweet only. You can’t check your email and you cannot surf the Net. The only function of the TwitterPeek is to use Twitter.

Although I had some initial problems with it because apparently you can’t use the same email as the one that’s synched to your Peek ( if you have one), the TwitterPeek proved to be a great device, especially for those who can’t tweet from their phone.

The TwitterPeek allows you to see tweets come in, respond to tweets, write your own tweets and see your @ mentions. Additionally you can see images that people upload into their Twitter stream and read links.
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Harriet Tubman: Secret Agent and the TwitterPeek

I had no idea that National Geographic publishes so many books with African-American themes. I was thrilled to received several books to review and will be posting my reviews now through the beginning of the year.  Today I am posting my review of Harriet Tubman: Secret Agent, Also look for thorough reviews of 500 Miles to Freedom, Students on Strike, The Ground-breaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver, Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry and Liberty or Death.


If you are looking to tweet when you’re on the go, you might want to check out the TwitterPeek. It’s the first dedicated Twitter client, allowing you only to tweet from it. You can’t check your email or upload pictures, but you can tweet, read tweets, read your @ mentions and also reply to your Twitter followers.

I am currently reviewing the TwitterPeek. Look for a review next week during Books and Tech Wednesday.

On the Net:
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Review: How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist

How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 289 No-Cost Ways to Live a Generous Life How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 289 No-Cost Ways to Live a Generous Life by Nicole Boles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is the annual season of giving and there is no shortage of requests for donations to charitable causes both in our local areas and nationwide. While someone, somewhere is in dire need of help, it seems as though the demand is higher than ever before. People, families, and children less fortunate than us desperately need a helping hand. The sheer numbers are overwhelming to be sure, but there is a lot we can do that does not always entail writing a check.

A new book, How to be an Everyday Philanthropist, has hit book stores just in the nick of time for the giving season. With brilliant strategies and thorough research, Nicole Boles lists a plethora of charities in which you can donate your time and talents and that will make a measurable difference in the lives of those in need.

Reading through How to be an Everyday Philanthropist I was shocked, but delighted, by the types of charities you can volunteer your time to at home like reading documents to the blind over the phone or becoming an e-mentor to a young girl. As a busy mom, these are the types of charities that piqued my interest first and may pique your interest as well.

Giving to charitable causes does not always mean giving money, especially as the economy continues to do scary things to our savings accounts and discretionary income. But there are always ways of giving that utilize our skills and talents that really make a difference in the lives of others and that you can even do at home.

Learn more about charities that can benefit from your skills and devotion in How to be an Everyday Philanthropist by Nicole Boles.

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Great Surprises Always Come in Unexpected Packages

jane_rayA few weeks ago I wrote about how I love Jane Ray’s work. She is a brilliant illustrator of many great children’s books. Last week, she left a comment right here on my blog and my jaw dropped. I love her art. My daughters love her art. I can’t get enough of her illustrations!

If you’re not familiar with Jane Ray, do hop over to her web site and learn more about her. And, do take a peek at the comment she left. This is even further proof why I think she’s a marvelous children’s book illustrator and a fabulous person!

I’m already looking forward to her next book, The Dollhouse Fairy, which comes out next May. Can’t wait!


Four Scary Reads for Halloween


Melissa Jenkins, assistant English Professor at Wake Forest University, suggests four stories that are frightful, yet stellar reads for Halloween. If you’re like my mother, there’s always room for a scary novel.

Jenkins suggests:

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson/Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

“You think that you know these stories, because so many of the details have trickled down into popular culture. So, reading the originals will be a surprise. Frankenstein and Strange Case have been popular for so long because they both ask universal questions about loneliness and guilt and human responsibility.”

Thinner by Steven King
“A truly terrifying tale of a man who begins to lose weight uncontrollably after … an accident.”

Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
“One of the greatest terror books ever written using the power of suggestion to induce fear in the reader.”

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
“With 60 novels and 19 plays to choose from, you can’t go wrong.”

And, if you ask me, anything by Toni Morrison will frighten your socks right off. Her fixation with knives, fire, and her characters’ inherent sadness are perfect for a scary Halloween week read.

My New Favorite Illustrator: Jane Ray

Snow White Snow White by Jane Ray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Every so often I run into an illustrator whose images are so beautifully rendered I become a bit obsessed with their work. It’s akin to when I discovered Miro and Gustav Klimt while in college. I traveled to New York twice in one fall semester just to see their masterpieces up close and personal. I didn’t care if those trips left me penniless by semester’s end. It was worth it!

My latest creative hero isn’t a dead artist. No, she’s jane_rayquite alive and well and utterly brilliant. Her name is Jane Ray and her illustrations are not only gorgeous, but quite magical and ethereal.

Her latest work from Candlewick Press is Snow White. I know what you’re thinking: how can anyone put a new twist on such a legendary fairy tale? I’m here to tell you, she doesn’t attempt to control the story or add any new flair to it. But she certainly adds a layer of beauty, novelty and suspense simply with her illustrations. I also love Jane Ray’s illustrations because she isn’t afraid to add people of color in her scenes, even making major characters like princesses and princes 510zSBooL1L._SL500_people of color such as in The Apple Pip Princess and Classic Fairy Tales. And to make the book even more appealing, it is a three-dimensional pop-up book that Candlewick Press is widely noted for.

Jane Ray’s Snow White will be a marvelous gift to any girl for the holidays. Not only will they get lost in the story, but the 3-D scenes will take their breath away.

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January’s Sparrow: One of the Best Books of the Year

January's Sparrow January’s Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You might be a bit like me; only buying great books once they’ve come out in paperback. It’s least expensive and the story is the same as the hardback edition. But, if there is one book you should pay extra for this year, I highly recommend January’s Sparrow by Patricia Pollaco.

I was a bit surprised to get January’s Sparrow in October to review as it seems like a book ripe for Black History Month. After reading January’s Sparrow I now know it’s perfect any time of year. January Sparrow is a children’s book dripping with the harrowing true tale of a family of runaway slaves. Intended for an audience of eight-year-olds and older, this story will stick with your children for a lifetime, especially as they identify with the main character, Sadie, who’s around eight herself.

Pollaco does a masterful job infusing history and the horrors of slavery including merciless whippings and escaping in the middle of the night to reach free states. But amidst all of the terrifying pages of the Crosswhite family seeking freedom is a heartwarming story of a family that stuck together, escaped together, and a Michigan town that refused to hand them over to the perils of the south.

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