Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Despite the bright title, Shine is a dark book. It deals with uncomfortable subjects(poverty, meth addiction, homophobia) and is not an easy, breezy read. But it's an important one nonetheless.

Sixteen-year-old Cat lives in what some might call a backwoods town in North Carolina. The novel opens with a newspaper article describing a horrific hate crime committed against Cat's gay friend Patrick. Cat, who has retreated from the world because of an act of violence committed against her a few years before, decides to take a stand for her friend and find out who hurt him. Along the way, she reconnects with friends and family and finds the courage to let her light shine again.

This is definitely not one for the faint of heart, or for those bothered by foul language. But it is definitely food for thought.

*I was provided a copy for review by the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fashion Statement

I'm sporting a new look these days: the Darco surgical shoe. I think the velcro is especially spiffy. Would you believe that a trip to the mall in ill-advised flats a few weeks back led to a stress fracture? Yep, second metatarsal. I'm supposed to wear the lovely shoe at left and stay off my feet (ha!) for at least three weeks. There go my exercise aspirations...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Review: Okay for Now

I have to admit that I was predisposed to like this book. Gary Schmidt is a professor at Calvin College here in Michigan, and I've heard him speak and met him in person. But read Okay for Now and see if you don't agree with me.

Middle-schooler Doug Swieteck (a character first introduced in Wednesday Wars) just moved to a new town and things aren't looking so great. His family situation isn't so good, he's already been labeled trouble by adults, and he's following in the footsteps of his jerk older brother. But then he's introduced to Audubon's bird paintings, and an artist is born. How art helps him to become the person he's meant to be is as beautiful as one of Audubon's birds (the artic tern, not the puffin).

Doug tells his own story, and Schmidt's use of voice is masterful. I believed every word Doug said, and I got tears in my eyes more than once (though Doug might call me a chump for that). The late '60s setting lives and breathes. I wanted to applaud the adults who stepped in and helped Doug along, and I wanted to give his friend Lil a big hug. This is a coming-of-age story in the truest sense of the word, and I feel privileged to have grown a little with Doug and his friends and family.

Read this book. I promise you won't regret it.

* Copy provided for review by NetGalley. It will be published in April.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

Confession: Though I read and loved Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes several years back, there have been so many books in between that my memory of it is not too good. So while I was excited to read the sequel, I thought I might have some catching up to do. I needn't have worried; the sequel could easily stand alone. And it's just as good as I've come to expect from Maureen Johnson.

In the previous book, Ginny's backpack -- containing the last little blue envelope from the series of letters written to her by her now-deceased aunt -- had been stolen in Greece. She was in Greece following instructions set forth in the letters by Aunt Peg, a free-spirit artist type whose dying wish had led Ginny on a rather wacky trip and also to some of Aunt Peg's paintings, which were Ginny's inheritance.

When mysterious Brit Oliver contacts Ginny to let her know he's found the last envelope, she begins another adventure, this one taking her from London to Amsterdam to Ireland and back again, on a road trip with Oliver, her crush Keith, and Keith's girlfriend. I truly enjoyed going along with them, and I recommend this fun YA read whether you've read the first book or not. Johnson's characters are living, breathing people you will want to spend some time with.

*I was provided an ARC (in the form of an e-book) by the publisher through NetGalley

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cloth Diaper Update and Reviews

Thanks for asking, cloth diapering is going pretty well. So far, I have several brands in my rotation. If you're interested, I thought I'd share my personal pros and cons for each brand. I have had the occasional leak (liquid, not solid, thankfully!) with every single brand except for Rumparooz (which I've had the shortest amount of time) and I think it's because, on top of Evan being a very heavy wetter, I have a problem with repelling. I've tried lots of things (stripping with Dawn dish detergent, vinegar, etc.) but now I just do lots of extra rinses for each load, and don't have as many problems. (This takes a lot of time, though, so if anyone has any other suggestions, I'm open to it -- I use Rockin' Green detergent and have a front-loader that isn't HE.)

BumGenius one-size

I have mostly 3.0s and one 4.0 (though, to be honest, I can't tell much of a difference between the two versions).

Pros: Daddy's favorite -- with the velcro, they're easy to put on!

Cons: Since it's a one-size, it's pretty bulky. I've had more leaks with this diaper than with any other brand. I probably need to start using doublers regularly, but that will make the darn thing REALLY bulky. Also, the velcro is staring to show quite a bit of wear already, and while they sell replacement velcro for the tabs, they don't sell it for the panel.

Fuzzibunz One-Size

Pros: Fairly trim; snaps hold up better than velcro

Cons: The snaps aren't as easy as velcro, especially when Evan decides he'd rather not be having his diaper changed.

Kawaii Diapers

I got my first Kawaii as a free-with-purchase deal from Kelly's Closet. Since then, I've purchased several more from Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique (free, fast shipping!). I love the Minky ones; they're sooo soft.

Pros: Cheap! I like these double-stuffed for overnight; I've had very few leaks.

Cons: With the velcro ones, I can already tell it's not going to hold up as well as the BumGenius, and they create laundry chains. (The snap ones are faring better.) These are pretty bulky, too.

There are some more brands I'd like to try, like Bright Star Baby, but since the whole point of cloth diapering in the first place was to save money, and I don't necessarily NEED more diapers (as long as I do wash every other day), I'm going to try to hold off for now. Although, if any diaper companies out there would like to send me a cloth diaper to review, I'd be happy to do it!