What about those girls’ clubs?

As a child, I was a huge fan of the Baby-sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I watched the show, owned the movie, got a couple of the dolls (Stacey was one of them), and of course, I read as many of the books as I could. I even bought an audiobook from the bookstore which was not my preferred way of reading. Due to the limited accessibility of books for blind people, I barely made a dent in the series. There’s 200+ books althether; I might have read 25. I determined to read the entire series four years ago when I found it in electronic format. I still haven’t finished.
For one thing, I am a college graduate. Although I might read elementary-level books just for fun, I also read plenty of adult books, and I’m not one to read everybook by one author until I’ve finished all his/her books. Not to mention I’ve been distracted by another series targeted toward preeteen girls, the Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick.
In some ways, the Baby-sitters Club and Mother-Daughter Book Club are similar. They both feature a tight-knit group of girls forming a club for a purpose. The girls are all in middle school at the beginning of the series. Both groups have hometowns in the New England area.
However, the series’ have some major differences. I’m not talking about the fact that although each Mother-Daughter book club book is longer than an individual Baby-sitters Club book, the mother-daughter Book Club is a much shorter series. I am referring to the fact that both groups experienced lifechanging events, but the Mother-Daughter book club progressed until the girls went to college, the Baby-sitters Club characters were frozen time throughout the series. I never understood why Martin did that; I was confused when I first started reading the books. I once read if the characters had aged in real time, the eight-greaders would have been 28 when the series ended.
Another thing that bothered me about the Baby-Sitters Club was that the girls were pretty exclusive. Except Stacey, Jessi, and Dawn, who had best friends from their original hometowns, and Logan, Mary Anne’s boyfriend, the girls didn’t seem to hav any friends except each other. Even when one of them would break away to hang out with other people, those other people usually ended up as jerks.
The Mother-Daughter book club didn’t try to be perfect. Although Emma and Jess were quick to accept Cassidy into their group, Megan and Becca were much harder sells. The conflict added a lot to the storyline. In book three, I was initially disappointed that Jess transferred to boarding school, but her roommate, Savannah, was a perfect edition to the series. My favorite moment in the series was when the book club put cheese in her suitcase as revenge for putting taffy on their pillows. Yet, she turned out to be a close friend as did the girls’ Wyoming pen pals, and Sophie, the exchange student living with Megan’s family. The girls originally despised her assuming she was a spoiled brat after their boyfriends.
I have read the entire mother-daughter booclub collection and was very sad to finish it. It is definitely a reread. Maybe one of these days I will finish the Baby-Sitters Club except I might have to skip chapter 2 of every book. It just reintroduces everybody.


This is not a Book for Feminists

In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms by Laura Schlessinger
1.0 of 5.0 stars
I picked up this book because I thought it would be a tribute to moms who stayed home from their children, but I was wrong.A more appropriate title for this book is In Criticism of Working Moms. Apparently, Schlessinger and her mom did not have a good relationship because Mommy was never home.
First of all, let me say there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom especially if Mom’s salary is only good for day care fees. The problem is, the book is extremely one-sided.
Schlessinger never addresses mothers who have to work because they’re single or their spouse doe not make a high enough salary to single-handedly support a family. And she never suggests Dad be the one to stay home. Last time I checked, men could do everything involved in child-raising except breastfeed.
Schlessinger lists complaints made by stay-at-home moms: not getting a break from the household, feelings of inadequacy, and the loss of friendships with coworkers. Rather than offering coping strategies, she responds, “You’re doing the best thing fr your child.” That’s just words.
My biggest problem is I don’t see how Schlessinger is a cridible source. She is passionate wither opinions, but all she uses to back her points are anecdotes from people who called her radio show. I didn’t see any statistics. I won’t be calling he when I have kids.

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

5.0 stars. When Amy and I started this blog, we knew we would be reviewing books which had spoilers. While I will try not to include any of these in writing about the book I’m about to discuss, it may be tough to write this review and do so. If you want to be sure that you will not see any spoilers, even minor ones, you might want to stop after this paragraph and just know that the story at the heart of this book is a World War II era romance and if you are a fan of love stories set in this era, it should be up your alley. I really liked this book for different reasons from setting, to characters especially the World War II couple, to the issues which are brought up including ones we associate with that era such as antisemitism, and ones which we deal with in any era such as figuring out what to do about past secrets. This book deals in plenty of those and it takes place in two time periods, hence the earlier warning of possible spoilers. Lastly, if the inclusion of various prejudices like antisemitism is upsetting in any way and you don’t want to read a love story that gets dark and emotional before getting to a happy ending I would not read this book.
When our story opens in 1992, one of the main characters, a young woman named Juliana Martel, has been bequeathed a house by her great uncle William whom she has never met. This is the first time she has seen the house and as she enters, she notices it is like a time capsule and that it looks as it was in 1950 when William last lived there. She sees letters from and photos of a young woman named Lizzy, and she finds she wants to know more so she begins the process of finding out who William and Lizzy were and in doing so learns more than she ever thought she would about her family. For her whole life, she has been living under the assumption that her family consists of her mom, who abandons her after her parents’ divorce, her dad, and her grandfather and grandmother. Her dad and grandmother have died before the book opens and her grandfather Louis has not spoken since his wife Lillian’s death.
While Juliana is learning, the readers are as well, and as a result, some of the story is told in the era in which it is set mostly 1942 and 1943 with a stop in 1949. We meet William Martel, an Air Forces pilot, when he and his brother are invited to the Renner estate for a Memorial Day party. William’s brother Louis is beginning to date Lillian Renner, so he wants to go and William is tagging along. We first meet Lilian’s sister Lizzy when she runs the brothers off the road in her haste to get back to the same estate which is her house. William and Louis are from a new money family of Jewish descent whose Jewishness is hidden, while Lizzy and Lillian are from an old money family who are Christians, and this is important because not only is the Renner patriarch a Christian, he is among other less benign things sympathetic to the Nazi cause, to the point he provides materials to help them against the US. Therefore, our couple comes from two different backgrounds. Furthermore, being the authoritarian father that he is, Mr. Renner has ideas about who his daughters should marry, and that doesn’t include a Jewish soldier, or in the case of another daughter who is disabled with polio, marriage at all.
At this point, you can probably guess that our lovers are in a bind and if you think they are separated against their wishes, you would be right, although it is not by whom you would expect. When Juliana finds this story, she doesn’t know most of this at first, and initially, the people who know about this secret past are unwilling to talk. Juliana’s objective is to find out what happened to her great Uncle and his sweetheart, and furthermore, if they are both still alive. In the process, she gains a family and is along with her newly found family given a chance to heal from past hurts.
I’m not sure how well my review shows how multilayered A Moment Forever is, and this was one of the things I loved about it. I mentioned several things in this review and feel like I have just scratched the surface. For instance, I didn’t touch on how I enjoy the dialogue such as the use of period slang, or how I noticed other opposites in William’s and Lizzy’s backgrounds. I loved the story so much that I’m looking forward to the upcoming World War II book from this author. While this is the beginning and so far only book in a series, this book stands well enough on it’s own. If you enjoy books about the 1940’s or love stories, this is a book I highly recommend.

Broken by CJ Lyons

Broken by CJ Lyons: 5 of 5 stars
CJ Lyons’ books weren’t on my to be read list. One of my coworkers was reading one of her books when she encountered some technical difficulties and asked me for help in downloading the rest of her books.
As I believe it’s a crime to download a book and not read it myself, I decided I might as well read them. Broken was the first one I read.
I began reading at 7:00 one Sunday evening several months ago, and did not move for four hours until I had finished. (Not one of my best decisions considering I had to get up at 5 AM for work the next day.) I decided to read the book last month and did the same thing minus the having-to-get-up-for-work part.
After spend most of her 15 years in and out of the hospital, Scarlet Killian has been diagnosed with long QT, a rare genetic heart condition. Fearing the end of her life is near, Scarlet is determined to live her last remaining days to the fullest. Having been homeschooled since third grade, she convinces her parents to let her try one weak of 10th grade.
From the moment she walks into school, Scarlet is faced with many obstacles, including the burden of carring her oxygen tank, nicknamed Phil, at all times, the school bully, Mitchelle, the presence of her overbearing stepmother who happens to be the school nurse, and a biology project concerning genetics in which Scarlet discovers her family and medical history are not what she assumed.
I Find it difficult to review this book withought giving away the ending. Let’s Just say, two of my friends read this book after I finished, and neither of them predicted what would happen.

My Name is Love

4.5 stars.  This is Stefanie with my first review.  If you judge enjoyment of a book by how quickly you finish it, then you might say that I enjoyed My Name is Love by Singer Darlene Love, which is a memoir on her years in the music business.  Those who keep up with music may know this lady’s name either for the Christmas songs she has sung such as Christmas Baby Please Come Home, or other nonholiday songs which she sang both under her own name and the names of others such as the Crystals such as Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry and He’s a Rebel respectively.  All three of these examples, recorded in the 1960’s,  were sung under the direction of a famous producer named Phil Spector, and unfortunately for her, the songs not under Darlene Love’s  name were usually bigger hits.  Even so, I was interested in reading this book because of the story of triumph within its pages which includes being part of a famous music TV show of that decade, touring and singing with famous stars from Sam Cooke, to Elvis, to Thom Jones, and eventually a successful solo career.  I’m glad I read this book, becayse I felt that I had a windo into a lifestyle which I will most likely never experience from singing in the church run by one’s preacher father,to the aforementioned performances behind famous stars.  I thought the writing done by Love was engaging and I think anyone who wants a read of someone triumphing over adversity, this is it.  The only suggestion I would make is that further editions have more on what has happened since the book was published in the mid 1990’s.  Even so, it is a definite reread.

Do You Dream in Color

Do You Dream in Color by Laurie Rubin
5.0 of 5 stars
Hey folks, Amy here.
Time to get these book reviews rolling. I thought I’d start on a positive note with one of my favorites.
One might assume a blind person would spend all their spare time reading memoirs from other blind people. I admit, I have read a fair number of those. Usually, the writer was born with sight, got into an accident or came down with an illness, lost his/her sight and had to adjust. I found these stories reasonably fascinating at first, but after five or or six, they became redundant. When I heard about Rubin’s book, I began reading it with little enthusiasm.
And was I pleasantly surprised!
What I found most appealing with this book was that it was down-to-earth. It’s a memoir of a young woman who was born blind and all her trials and triumphs.
I would recommend this book to any sighted person who has questions about blindness but is afraid to ask. (Although no need to be afraid; we don’t bite.) I would also recommend this book to any blind young adult coming to terms with trying to gain independence in a mostly-sighted world. It is always nice to know just because the auther is a successful opera singer, she is human.

A Word on This Blog’s Beginnings

If any of you read the last post, you might know it was written by Amy. I am Stefanie of the aforementioned Stefanie and Amy sisters, and Amy and I have been besties since we went to college together.
While we have both enjoyed reading books, she was the more veracious reader initially. I had enjoyed reading as a child, but had gotten out of it, and didn’t pick it back up until after graduation.
We were inspired to start this blog as something to do together, and while I’ve done a bit of blogging previously, this is Amy’s first foray. I hope you will join us on this journey. 🙂