Monday, February 25, 2013

Two Great Picture Books...About Reading!

At the bookstore I often get customers lamenting the decline of print books. "I love to smell books," a customer said yesterday as she mimed holding a book in her hands. "I love the feel of books and just holding them," she said.

I love books too, and I want children to love books and reading. This last week I was delighted to discover two wonderful books that can help kids do just that.


In WILD ABOUT BOOKSicon a librarian named Mavis McGrew drives her bookmobile into the zoo by mistake. Not to waste an opportunity, she starts sharing books she loves, and the animals discover books that are of particular interest to them. The monkey chooses a banana cookbook, the hyena chooses a joke book. The animals enjoy reading so much that they also start writing. They start with haiku, with a scorpion as a tough editor.

There is much to enjoy here. The text is full of word plays and references that will be appreciated by adults as well as children. Children will enjoy the lively drawings as well as the text that is clever and lively.

I have a feeling we'll be choosing this book to give when we have an opportunity!

HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READicon is another wonderful book about learning to read and love books.


Rocket is an adorable dog who comes across a little yellow bird. The bird is looking for students. Rocket is at first reluctant to be a part of the little yellow bird's class. But the bird entices Rocket with a story. The bird's strategy works, Rockets is tantalized by the story, discovers that he does want to know how to read.

Rocket and the bird meet regularly, with Rocket starting with learning the alphabet and the sounds the letters. With the little yellow bird as his teacher, Rocket learns to put simple words together, and then on to reading and spelling everything. I really like how Rocket doesn't learn to read instantly. This book is great at showing that it's a process.

Both of these books would be GREAT additions to any home or preschool or kindergarten classroom. I might have read them to my third graders when I was teaching too!

Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's page for the book. Clicking on the underlined book cover may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 2013 Book Giveaway!

Going with the theme of "two" for this month (second month of the year, blog posts featuring two books each this month, etc.), this month's book giveaway will have two winners!

Like in January, you get to choose which book you'd like to receive! The only requirement is that the book you choose has to have been mentioned at some point on this blog (I did receive an entry last month where the person wanted to receive a book that was not mentioned on the blog. That entry was disqualified.)

To enter the giveaway:
1. Look through the blog and find a book that you'd like to receive.
(Hint: the blog started in January 2010. At the end of each year, or beginning of a year, I list all the books I read that year. Scanning one of the annual lists to find a book you'd like might be easier than reading through each blog post.)

2. Add a comment here on the blog that includes your name and the title of the book you've chosen. Entries will not be received through the blog's facebook page.

3. Enter by the end of the day, Tuesday February 26, 2013.
        That's it!

I will number the comments and randomly pick a number with a random number generator. I will send messages to the two winners and those winners will have five days to respond. If they don’t respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have confirmed winners, I will get their shipping addresses via email or private message and send each of them the book they've chosen!*

*Note: I don't want you to put your personal contact information in the blog's comment space. This is protect you. However, you will need to enable your preferences so you see additional comments on the blog, or be sure to check back on the blog or the facebook page to see if you've won! One person was a winner in January and I was never able to get hold of him. (Richard? You are still a winner for January! You can contact me and still receive The Dog Stars!)

Entries for the giveaway need to be comments to this blog post. If you'd like to send a private message, do so via email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or through a private message through the blog's facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review.

Thanks and good luck!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Two Stories About Women

Have you noticed a theme this month on the blog? The first post of the month went live on February 2. It was about two winners for January's book giveaway. The next post was about two excellent books. The last post was about two women dealing with cancer. AND, it's the second month of the year. This theming wasn't intentional, but I'm going with it!

To continue with February's theme of "two", in this post I am featuring two books, each about Jewish women.

In JUJITSU RABBI AND THE GODLESS BLONDicon, Rebecca Dana chronicles her love of all things New York - the fashion, the culture, the trend setters and the city itself. After coming out of a devastating break-up and moving into an apartment with a Russian rabbi, she examines her life - relationships, work, worshiping at the altar of New York - and tries to figure out if her chosen religion, following the guru Carrie Bradshaw, is what she needs to be doing with her life.


Self-indulgent? A little. She seemed compelled to name drop...celebrities she'd interviewed or famous people she'd seen at parties, and this got a little tiresome.

I mostly enjoyed her interactions with her rabbi roommate, Cosmo. He helped her reexamine her Jewish roots and delve more deeply into the Jewish faith. Dana wondered about the superficiality of her life and life choices. Is it enough to really love following fashion trends?

After her year of sharing an apartment with Cosmo, she came around to the New York life she'd chosen and was able to see it with new eyes and embrace it with new-found acceptance. And maybe a bit more appreciation for her Jewish roots as well.

In YOU WANT ME TO WHAT? THE DATING ADVENTURES AND LIFE LESSONS OF A NEWLY DIVORCED WOMAN, Nancy Lang chronicles "Ruthie's" story. (Ruthie may or may not be a thinly veiled - and I think unnecessary - cover for Nancy's own story.)

"Ruthie" signs up on a Jewish online dating service. "Ruthie" describes her dating experiences with men she met through the dating service as well as other men she's known and dated.


Sprinkled among her descriptions of often rather explicit dating exploits are Nancy's...uh, Ruthie's observations and insights that she learned through traversing the dating jungle. She shares the importance of trusting yourself, of being true to what you want, of communication, and not settling for second (or third or fourth!) best. Many of these seem to be hard won insights and life lessons. Learning the lessons the hard way seem to make them really hers.

She is honest and open about her mistakes as well as what she's gleaned from them.

She (Nancy) has a blog ( that has the sub-heading: empowering and educating women and men with humor, revealing insights, and raw honesty. In the blog, she doesn't just focus on dating. She brings in examples from other parts of her life as well. Nancy is honest, open, and engaging, both in the book and on the blog, whether writing in Ruthie's voice or her own. The book - and the blog! - are definitely worth reading, even if you, like me, aren't actively dating.

I encourage you to check them out!

Stay tuned for information about February's book giveaway in an upcoming post!

Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Clicking on the underlined book title may take you to Barnes and Noble's page for the book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog and these authors! You can send email to us: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Telling Stories Their Own Way

I know two people who have dealt with cancer (okay, I know a lot more than that, but I am talking about two particular people here). They are both women, and both have dealt with, or are currently dealing with breast cancer. Both have undergone chemo. And they both have been sharing their battles with cancer in their own ways.

Kate Matthews is a cartoonist. In her LITTLE PINK BOOK OF CANCER CARTOONS, she, with insight that can only be gained from going through it herself, uses humor to deal with and deflect some of the awfulness of cancer and cancer treatment.*


Jacki Kane writes a blog.** It used to be about her stand-up comedy. Now it's about her run-in with cancer (who her daughter named Weird Cancer Guy). She fuses comedy, gratitude and the reality of cancer and cancer treatment into her blog posts, also including (at least!) Three Positives. (I love the Three Positives idea...I've been trying to incorporate Three Positives into my own life.)

Both of them share their harrowing experiences with cancer and cancer treatment (the hair loss! pain! chemo! surgery! medications! exhaustion!) with humor and insight. And both of their works are worth reading, whether you're dealing with cancer or not.

Not only am I glad to share in their journeys even in the most tangential of ways, I love seeing how each of them seems to have found a way that works for them to express themselves.

*Read my full blog post about Kate's book here:

**And go to Jacki's blog here:

Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's page for the book. Please copy and paste the links to read more about Kate and Jacki and their work, which goes beyond addressing cancer. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Two Excellent Books

I love it when books give me new eyes with which to see the world. Adam Black's THE PRANKicon was one of those books*.

THE PRANKicon was written as though the reader were finding out about a breaking news story through internet news sources. The way it was written as well as the story it told brought questions to my mind about the value of how we ingest media and how that informs how we perceive truth. I loved it.**



Billy Lynn is back on U.S. soil, traveling on a victory tour with his squad of fellow soldiers. This after a dangerous mission in which some of their company were killed. The Bravos are heroes. They are traveling with a movie producer who, while they are traveling, is trying to work a deal to get their story made into a movie. As the culmination of their victory tour, they are invited to participate in the spectacle of a Dallas Cowboys football halftime show.

Written from Billy's point of view, BLLHW juxtaposes the harshness of being a combat soldier with the comfort and excesses of American life.


How does a soldier fighting in Iraq, daily battling dirt and blood and fear and enemies, missing family and home, reconcile the lavishness of American life? How can civilians even partially conceive of the difficulties and challenges faced by soldiers in combat?

Fountain gets us inside Billy's head as he and the other Bravos travel together, and by so doing, exposes the stark contrasts between the life of a combat soldier and life in the U. S. of A.

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALKicon is brilliant. Fountain gets us to examine soldiering and American life, which allows us to take a deeper look at our own lives. And isn't that ultimately the point?


*See my blog post about this most excellent book here (you'll have to copy and paste the link, but it's worth it):

**No, really, read the blog post about this book:

Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Clicking on the underlined title may take you to Barnes and Noble's web page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog! (Thank you!) You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Giveaway Update...Winners, Come Forward!

I have done something wrong.

The blog post announcing January's book giveaway went live on Friday January 18. Several people followed the directions and entered the contest with comments on the blog post. That was great! At the end of the designated time period for entering the contest, I used a nifty random number generator and chose a winner. So far, so good.

As I said I would, I replied to the comment of the winner to tell them they won, and gave an email address where the winner could give me their mailing address and I would send them the book. This is the part where something didn't work.

I never heard from the winner. So I posted a comment on the facebook page telling people who entered the contest to check the comments on the blog and I posted another comment to the winner's comment, saying I needed to hear from them by a certain day or I'd have to choose another winner. And I never heard from the winner.

So I chose another winner, and the same thing happened. I never heard from that person either.

The first time made me think that the winner wasn't set up to receive replies to her comment. But two people? That seems unlikely.

It seems as though the ways I set up the communication about the contest were ineffective. And I apologize.

So here's what I'd like to do...Two winners have been named, Jodie Sohl, who requested Gillian Flynn's DARK PLACES, and Richard Derus, who requested THE DOG STARS. I would like to send both of them the books they requested. It isn't their fault that I didn't set up the contest well!

So Jodie and Richard, I need to hear from you! You can send me an email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Or you can send me a private message through the facebook page for the blog: NOT The New York Times Book Review.

The rest of you? Keep an eye out for February's free book giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by the blog! You can send email to: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also "like" our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review.