Friday, September 30, 2011

Bigger Than a Bread Box review

Rebecca's parents have just separated and she is having an incredibly difficult time dealing with the changes. Her mom takes her to live with her Gran, far away from her father and her home, mixing up her entire world and confusing her even more. 

When she discovers a bread box in her Gran's attic, one that just happens to be magical, delivering whatever Rebecca asks for, she believes she's found the answers to all of her troubles. Not only can she use the breadbox to fit in with the kids at her new school, asking for cool clothes and such, but she can also use the breadbox to help get her parents back together. Or so she thinks...

A very eloquent and intelligent child, Rebecca explains her emotions regarding the separation of her parents in a thought-provoking, yet age-appropriate way. It definitely has a touch of fantasy, but the bread box portion of the story is blended so seamlessly into the different changes in Rebecca's life that it felt like complete realistic fiction. I would imagine it would be quite difficult to accomplish that, so kudos to Snyder!

Bigger Than a Bread Box is a smart story with great elements of humor and hope. I could definitely see this being helpful to children going through significant changes in their lives, as well as being simply an enjoyable leisure read. Super cute cover too!

Buy from Powells

Bigger Than a Bread Box
Laurel Snyder
240 pages
Middle Grade
Random House
9780375869167
September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Monday, September 26, 2011

Non-Fiction Monday: Swirl by Swirl

Swirl by Swirl is not only a great resource for teaching about different kinds of spirals found in nature, it is SO gorgeous and visually stimulating. I suppose that's what happens when you take Joyce Sidman, winner of the Caldecott Honor for two books and pair her up with Beth Krommes, Caldecott Medalist for a book as well.

Told in beautiful verse, the reader can go through each page reading and imagining all types of different spirals that are out in the world, while also seeing all sorts of different animals, insects, and plants all of which are identified with small text.

My favorite page is easily the spread featuring a tornado and thunderstorm. Just so pretty and a nice lesson, as most of us wouldn't even think to place a tornado in line with other spirals and swirls.

The last page spread expands on the non-fiction portion of the book, explaining the purpose of certain spirals, their use in nature, and even goes into the concept of the Fibonacci spiral, though just a little. Enough to get kids interested!

This is going down as one of my favorite NF books of the year. Great for reading aloud, as the text flows perfectly and the illustrations will definitely grab the attention of young listeners. I highly recommend ordering it for your library or bookstore.

Buy from Powells

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
Joyce Sidman
40 pages
Non-Fiction
Houghton Mifflin
9780547315836
October 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week in Review

Since getting back from NY last week, I feel like we haven't stopped moving. I worked this week, which is totally normal for most people, but I've cut back on hours since September 1st (to supposedly relax and help this baby cook), so the work definitely was exhausting. Long commutes = extra long days. It was really nice to be back in the store though and catch-up on all that's been going on. 

The highlight of my week was definitely meeting up with Jackie and her husband and having lunch and gelato! She lives in Seattle and I'm all the way over here on the East Coast, so even after "knowing" each other for something like 5 years, we'd never met up in person. YAY for finally doing so!

Here's what else I've been up to:



Books:

I've finally kicked the reading slump, hopefully for good. Finished a bunch of good books this week, including Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King and With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo, as well as the audio of The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. Look for reviews of those in the coming weeks. All were really good! 

I'm in the middle of Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman for my book club and though it's not a book I would automatically pick up and I'm not even sure I like it, I'm enjoying the reading experience, if that makes any sense. Plus, it's a quick read, so even if the amount of language and sex talk really start to get to me, at least it's going by quickly ;)

I'm also listening to The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai and really, really liking it. The narrator is perfect and the story is great for librarians (or even booksellers). 

TV:

It was finally premiere week! LOVED The New Girl and hated Whitney. The Office was hilarious, though how I didn't hear anything leaked about Jim and Pam having a 2nd baby, I don't know. We also watched The X Factor (even the husband wanted to see it) and both agreed that it's already way better than Idol. We'll see if that lasts. 

I'm still very much loving Project Runway, though I really can't decide who my favorite is. I think Laura makes clothes that I would buy, but I love Anya's style and personality. My admiration for Bert ended after week 2, I promise...now he just bugs the heck out of me.

Still not sold on Up All Night. Has it's chuckle-worthy moments, but nothing I wouldn't be ok with missing out on. Same with Season 3 of Glee. Uhhh...boring premiere. And we still have Grey's on the DVR. I love having too much to watch!

Baby:

This week our munchkin is the length of an ear of corn and I'm definitely enjoying the interaction he gives me alllll day long. Seriously, this kid already never sleeps, I'm in for it in a few months. During church today, especially during worship, he had his own little dance party...it was quite adorable :)

We made a few nursery purchases this week too, which was a lot of fun. Just window treatments, but we're doing a white blackout shade with this cute valance:

It goes with our super simple, but cute bedding set:

When we had Jacob we did the whole "register for a $300.00 bedding set" thing and yes, it was ADORABLE. But, we won't even use the bumper and if this baby uses the quilt at all it will be to puke and poop on, so we definitely went the more frugal route this time. Plus, we really didn't want to do a room theme (just splashes of hippos around it), so the blue and green will go nicely with the yellow and white walls, rather than having the theme decided by our bedding choice.

Blog:

Just a quick note on some brief changes to the blog. Up until last year, I was an Amazon Associate and made a tiny bit of money on any books purchased via this blog and Amazon.com. Working at an indie, I could no longer justify supporting Amazon, especially while making like .35 cents a purchase. Now that the work I'm doing for real money has become almost non-existant, I'm back to looking for other ways to bring in even the tiniest bit of income. Therefore, I've become affiliates with both IndieBound and Powells. You'll see links to each site after each review I do. Just wanted to give a heads up!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Picture Book Saturday: New books from favorite authors

Three of my favorite picture book authors have new books popping up right about now and I know you all are fans of some of these too. Enjoy!

The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker and illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton

This is the third installment in this adorable series featuring Bear and Mouse. Bear is his usual grumpy self, though he also happens to have a very bad cold, making him even grumpier. Mouse, always overeager in his willingness to help, makes Bear snippier and grouchier, until of course, Mouse starts to feel yucky and the roles are reversed.

These books are always cute and sweet with soft illustrations that make them perfect for bedtime reading. The silly relationship between Bear and Mouse is definitely giggle-worthy, great for storytimes with toddlers.

Other books in the series include A Visitor for Bear, A Bedtime for Bear, and the early reader A Birthday for Bear

Buy from Powells

The Sniffles for Bear
Bonny Becker
32 pages
Picture Book
Candlewick Press
9780763647568
September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson and illustrator Jane Chapman

Karma Wilson's "Bear" books are some of my favorite to read aloud. The rhymes are always done really well in terms of flow and the silliness of the story comes through perfectly.

In this latest Bear installment, poor Bear has a loose tooth! He's worried about what it means to have a loose tooth, until his faithful friends come to his rescue, as they always do. If you've read the other stories, you'll know Bear is a big worrywart and his friends are always there to comfort him and make him feel better.

Just enough silliness for some giggles and a touch of that sweetness I love in picture books. These books are great to read aloud with your family or for a storytime. I highly encourage checking out the others in the series, as well as Karma Wilson's other titles. She has a lot!

Bear Snores On, Bear Wants More, Bear Stays Up, Bear Feels Scared, Bear Feels Sick, and Bear's New Friend.

Buy from Powells

Bear's Loose Tooth
Karma Wilson
40 pages
Picture Book
McElderry Books
9781416958550
August 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas

Poor chicken has some very excited (and slightly hyper) friends visiting, all of whom insist on jumping on his couch! Well, first they jump, then they dance, then they wiggle, etc. Each time Chicken scolds them for messing around on the couch, they happily stop...but begin again with an equally raucous manner of play.

Very silly with bold, fun illustrations and great text. Books by Jan Thomas are awesome to read to a group of 3-4 year olds, as they are still enthralled with the illustrations and love the hilarity of the words. This one isn't my favorite (that would go to Can You Make a Scary Face?), but it's still a lot of fun.

Others by Thomas include: Can You Make a Scary Face?, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, and A Birthday for Cow, along with a whole bunch of other fun ones!

Buy from Powells

Is Everyone Ready for Fun?
Jan Thomas
40 pages
Picture Book
Beach Lane
9781442423640
September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Friday, September 23, 2011

Breadcrumbs review

For years, Hazel and Jack have been neighbors and best friends, talking about books, playing together, and just having that special type of friendship that comes out of growing up together. When Jack starts acting strangely, treating Hazel poorly and acting as if he doesn't like her anymore, Hazel knows something is wrong, despite her mother trying to tell her that Jack just wants to spend time with boys now that they're growing up. Hazel knows her friend and vows to get to the bottom of whatever is plaguing Jack. 

"Hazel had read enough books to know that a line like this one is the line down which your life breaks in two. And you have to think very carefully about whether you want to cross it, because once you do it's very hard to get back to the world you left behind. And sometimes you break a barrier that no one knew existed, and then everything you know before crossing the line is gone. 

But, sometimes you have a friend to rescue. And so you take a deep breath and then step over the line and into the darkness ahead." (pgs. 151-152 of ARC)

Sometimes, I just become so incredibly enchanted by a book that I just want to shove it into everyone's hands...kids and adults. Breadcrumbs is most definitely one of those books. Inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, "The Snow Queen," you will become completely enthralled with Ursu's writing and her magical manner of telling such a pure friendship story. 

And though this book is a GREAT friendship story, it really does incorporate a lot more into the pages. We get race, fitting in, family relationships, adoptions, a fairy tale, and an overall feeling of what it really means to care about someone...without the mushiness. 

Hand this to boys or girls, young or old, and I would be totally surprised if the reader didn't fall in love as I did. I especially loved all the bookish references, from Harry Potter to The Golden Compass and tons in-between. Such a lovely story.

Buy from Powells

Breadcrumbs
Anne Ursu
313 pages
Middle Grade
Walden Pond Press
9780062015051
September 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wonderstruck review


As a reader completely entranced by The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I was thrilled when I saw Selznick had a new book coming out and grabbed a galley as soon as the box was opened at the store. The cover is gorgeous and an excellent precursor to the story inside and even the spine had something mysteriously lovely about it. I knew, even from the cover, that I would be in for a true treat.

We are given two independent stories, Ben's in words and Rose's in illustrations, set 50 years apart, and the manner in which their stories intertwine and weave in and out of each is almost like a puzzle. And a beautiful puzzle at that! Rose is searching for something in her lonely and isolated life and Ben is searching for answers after the death of his mother. Both are on personal journeys that lead them to many of the same places, both literally and figuratively despite the difference in time period.

A bit of mystery, lovely and detailed writing, and amazing illustrations add up to an absolute gem of a book. Another Caldecott in Selznick's future perhaps? I might be one reader crossing my fingers for him. I still think I liked Hugo Cabret a teensy bit better, feeling a tad more magic in the pages, however I loved Wonderstruck and would happily recommend it to children and their parents.


Buy from Powells



Wonderstruck
Brian Selznick
608 pages
Middle Grade
Scholastic
9780545027892
September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Shel Silverstein?!

As a kid, I LOVED Shel Silverstein's books. I think I borrowed Where the Sidewalk Ends from the local library more than any other book from ages 6-10, mainly because it was just so darn funny! And in an event that I can now refer to as a huge compliment to Mr. Silverstein (though was quite embarrassing at the time), I even attempted to pass some of his poems off as my own. Yep...I plagerized Shel Silverstein. I was about 7 and brought his book up to my room, proceeded to copy four or five of the poems in about 20 minutes and quickly ran downstairs to tell my mother I had decided to become a poet, handing her the poems. I was so  proud of myself. She, however, was not impressed and I was punished for lying. So tragic.


Now, even all these years later, kids are still entranced by the silliness that is a Silverstein poem. His family has apparently given permission for some never-before-seen poems and drawings to be published in a fourth collection, hitting shelves tomorrow. If you were a big fan like I was or are just now introducing your children or students to the hilarity inside these books, make sure you check out the new one!


Every Thing On It
Shel Silverstein
208 pages
Poety
HarperCollins
9780061998164
September 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week in Review

Well, it has definitely been a busy couple of weeks around here, though not necessarily all "good busy." Started off with the in-laws staying with us for the long Labor Day weekend and though we didn't really do a whole lot, it's always "busy" when you have guests in a small house. I never feel like I can just relax when we have people staying with us, so I was ready for a long nap after a few days.

The plan was to then head to NY last Friday morning for my baby shower. And as life always seems to throw curve balls at my family, I found out my grandmother died Thursday afternoon. This, of course, happens as we're attempting to pack up the car and dealing with a sump pump pipe explosion while it's pouring outside. Oh, and did I mention I found out this horrible news via FACEBOOK?! Such drama. 

So, we didn't have a baby shower, but instead headed up to NY for almost a week of sad family time, calling hours, and a funeral. Talk about mentally exhausting. We got home late Wednesday night and I've spent the weekend attempting to clean my house and spend some time in the kitchen. I'm almost looking forward to filling in at work this week. 

In baby news, this week, the bean is the size of a papaya and weighs just over a pound. I have a huge belly, but I'm still feeling good, though definitely sticking with the tired trend. Also starting to feel lots of kicks and tumbles...very exciting! Blood pressure was up quite a bit at my doctor's appointment this week, but after the couple of weeks I've had, they weren't totally concerned, so I'm staying optimistic that things are still going well. 

TV:

Last week brought back one of our favorite shows of fall, Sons of Anarchy. I still find it incredibly strange how much I love the show...I mean, I'm a tad on the conservative side and it's a show about a motorcycle gang that smuggles guns, kills people, has a whole lot of sex, and doesn't exactly use the cleanest language. That being said, the acting is fabulous and the whole drama of the show just totally sucked me in. I love Katey Segal, she's just fabulous in her role on this show, and I highly recommend giving the show a try if you haven't already.

Etsy:

I haven't had a whole lot of browsing time in the past week, though I am in love with the idea of handmade burp clothes. I've seen several that I would love to try out, like these:



They just seem like such a great shape! Inevitably the baby will puke all down my back and these are nice and long...

That's all I have for this week, friends. As those who follow me on Twitter know, I've been in a crazy reading slump and am having a horrible time getting out of it. Send recommendations my way if you have read something good lately!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Glow review

Waverly and Kieran are teens living aboard the Empyrean, the space ship where both were born. Dating and with plans to eventually marry each other (life moves a bit quicker in this future world), the pair are pretty typical 15-year-olds with the worries of regular teenagers, despite living aboard a moving aircraft in outer space. Waverly is fairly certain she wants to spend the rest of her life with the dependable Kieran, but there's still the mysterious and intriguing Seth lingering on her mind. 

When another ship launches an attack on the Empyrean, stealing women and girls off the ship and taking them onto their own, Waverly and Kieran are separated, each being forced to lead their friends and family in different ways, attempting to stand up for what they personally believe in at the same time. 

Waverly and Kieran are joined by an intriguing mix of characters, keeping me on my toes! I was never quite sure who was going to turn out to be a "good guy" and the fast pace of the story kept me turning pages. I liked that we were able to get both Waverly's and Kieran's stories, rather than having a single narrator and I actually enjoyed the whole sci-fi/space ship aspect a lot more than I had expected to. 

Unfortunately, I did have some issues with parts of the plot that I felt were a bit unnecessary. There's a religious aspect that kept popping up, one I bet will be expanded upon in the next couple of books, and I was totally confused by it. I didn't think it needed to be there, it made me uncomfortable, and it just made the whole story feel unbalanced. Like...let's take an adventure story with tons of thrills and add in some religion to...spice it up...? Weird. 

I also had a hard time really liking Kieran, which is ok, I liked enough of the other characters, but something about him just didn't quite feel real to me. Again, maybe his character "flaws" will be explained more in a subsequent book, but in Glow, I was left a little disenchanted. 

Overall, a good choice for fans of books with a certain excitement factor. It's not a perfect book, but it definitely held my attention and kept me turning pages. More exciting than Across the Universe by Beth Revis, but a whole lot less than The Hunger Games

There's a pretty neat Facebook app out there for the book too. You can take a quiz, join a ship, etc. Head over here if you're interested. 

Glow 
Amy Kathleen Ryan
307 pages
Young Adult
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312590567
September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Night Circus review

Magic. Fantasy. A beautiful love story. Competition. A circus unlike any other. You'll find all of these in the pages of The Night Circus, in a brilliant mish-mash of the fantastical and the realistic. A girl and a boy, both magicians, have been bound together in a competition that neither can escape and that spans their entire lives, told that it will only end when one wins. No rules, no boundaries. The story follows the pair, their personal experiences within the circus, and the love that eventually grows between them, as well as a cast of other utterly unique characters, each with their own beautifully written stories. 

I can't think of the words to properly describe the plot without giving away the magic that pours off each page. The reader deserves to experience the brilliance of the writing and the feeling I got as I took my figurative "walk" through Les Cirque des Reves without any clues other than what I've described above. Vague...yes, but necessarily so. Just trust me on this one. I was able to actually visualize every aspect of the circus described, proving just what a talent this new author is and that should be reason alone for you to want to pick this one up!

I couldn't put the book down, yet I wanted to read it slowly to savor this world Erin Morgenstern created. The comparisons to Harry Potter have been made and I totally get them...I wish I could experience those books as I did for the first time and knowing how it feels with HP, I knew I need to truly savor The Night Circus, because no matter how many times I read it, it will never be the same as this first time. 

I finished this book satisfied and thoroughly in love with the characters (ALL of them) and the circus. A beautiful debut that I'm going to be shoving in everyone's hands this fall. 

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
384 pages
Adult Fiction 
Doubleday
9780385534635
September 2011
Review copy 




Monday, September 12, 2011

Non-Fiction Monday: Fall's Here!

Calling all teachers and homeschooling parents! Fall is definitely making its presence known in my part of the country, as I'm sure it is elsewhere, and school has started. Though I don't have any school age children, I do live directly across the street from a small elementary school and watching the kids walk to school each morning in the fall, with leaves starting to fall and that chill in the air always makes me miss my own school days!

 A great new "fall" oriented series is just out and if you have a kindergartner or first/second grader, you'll want to check them out. Focusing on everything from weather to animals, the "Fall's Here" series is both kid-friendly and totally educational. I don't think I've come across such an appealing mixture of story and fact for this age group and the illustrations are bold and attractive. 

 Each book tells a story of a child experiencing a different aspect of fall. In Fall Pumpkins: Orange and Plump, the characters grow pumpkins all summer long, then harvest them in the fall, make pumpkin pies and jack-o-lanterns and then save the seeds for next year's garden. There are various short fact boxes that tell the reader about different types of pumpkins, how to grow them well, etc. Even a recipe for pumpkin seeds is included in the back. 

The books are incredibly readable, making them great for classroom use on a variety of topics during your fall season. The activities included would be great to incorporate into your units. A full list of the titles in the series is below. 

Fall Pumpkins: Orange and Plump
Fall Harvests: Bringing in Food
Fall Apples: Crisp and Juicy
Fall Weather: Cooler Temperatures
Fall Leaves: Colorful and Crunchy
Animals in Fall: Preparing for Winter

Fall's Here series
Martha E. H. Rustad and illustrator Amanda Enright
Non-Fiction
Millbrook Press
September 2011
Review copies provided by publisher

Friday, September 9, 2011

South of Superior review

After receiving a letter from the last person she would expect to hear from, Madeline Stone finds herself moving away from her life in Chicago to care for a family friend in the backwoods of Northern Michigan. Faced with a complete lifestyle change, including the quick dwindling of her bank account, Madeline has to adjust to life in a small, close-knit community, where the residents consider each other family and resources are shared, no matter the cost to an individual. 

While learning the ropes, Madeline is also uncovering family secrets, dealing with the reality of her past, and becoming enchanted in the world of McAllaster...though she doesn't always realize it. 

This was definitely a character-driven novel, allowing the reader to make those deep connections with the people they're reading about. A whole lot of characters are introduced at once, which made for a bit of confusion in the beginning, but once I had everyone sorted out, I was good to go. Each had a distinctive personality and their individuals troubles are both believable and relatable, and I had compassion for each one. 

Growing up in a very small, poor town, I understood the community life and the sense of obligation and willingness to help a neighbor, even if you don't necessarily agree with the choices they're making. I think Airgood did an excellent job at creating a setting that could really be any small town in America and brought to light the concept of money not necessarily buying happiness. 

The length of the book was a bit much for me. It probably could have done with a good 50 pages less, though the details of the setting and the lives of these people were definitely necessary. I just felt it dragged a tad towards the end and if some pages were dropped it would have flowed better. 

If you love digging into characters and really getting to know them, without a whole lot of action or thrills, this would be a good story to try out. Great to read in the fall or winter when you want a nice, cozy story!

South of Superior
Ellen Airgood
384 pages
Adult fiction
Riverhead
9781594487934
June 2011
Library copy


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

All These Things I've Done review

Anya Balanchine lives in New York City in 2083, where both caffeine and chocolate are illegal. She also happens to be the daughter of the city's biggest crime boss; a man notorious for smuggling both chocolate and caffeine and for being the ringleader of a huge crime ring before his death. In charge of her family, including two siblings and an ailing grandmother is work enough for Anya, but being her father's daughter throws a lot more responsibility on the young girl's shoulders and she often finds herself in situations normal 16-year-olds wouldn't be placed in. 

When Win, a new guy at school, starts to fall for her (and she for him), Anya knows she's in trouble. Win is the son of the assistant district attorney... definitely a many Anya wants her family to stay far away from. And as is dealing with a "forbidden" romance isn't enough, someone is setting Anya up to take the fall for a very serious crime. 

The concept of this novel was unique and fun to get into. I liked the whole "crime daughter" aspect, but I also really appreciated the solid head Anya had on her shoulders. She was definitely a strong, confident female character (always a good thing to me), but she was able to make and recognize her mistakes, as well, making her relatable despite the time period and the whole mafiya thing. 

There were a few things that bugged me about the book, mainly the chapter titles. The book is, for the most part, fairly serious with a few chuckle-worthy moments mixed in, but the chapters are almost corny. Well not almost, I DID find them corny. I also had a bit of trouble suspending my disbelief in a couple of situations, even despite this being dystopian and Anya being a mafiya daughter (and I'm not mispelling that word btw, it's the way Zevin spells it in the book). I was able to connect to the characters more than to the actual story. 

I did find the references to NYC landmarks a lot of fun...in 2083 everything has obviously changed. The museums have all been turned into speakeasies for caffeine fixes and the detention center Anya is sent to in the beginning is actually Liberty Island. Kinda neat. 

I would definitely had this to fans of Ally Carter's "Gallagher Girls" series or those that aren't quite ready for the heavier dystopian books. 

All These Things I've Done
Gabrielle Zevin
368 pages
Young Adult
FSG
9780374302108
September 2011
Review copy

Monday, September 5, 2011

Non-Fiction Monday: A Zeal of Zebras

Happy Labor Day everyone! For today's Non-Fiction Monday I'm featuring a book I had a great time looking at and learned a little something from as well. 

Collective nouns, when referring to animals, is always an interesting subject to learn about(or at least it is for me). I've known for years that a group of crows is called a murder and a group of ants is referred to as an army, but almost every single grouping of animals in this book was new to me. 

From a galaxy of starfish and an embarrassment of pandas, to a journey of giraffes and a kaleidoscope of butterflies, these groups are COOL! Each letter of the alphabet is paired with a specific grouping of animals/insects/etc., with a short blurb about the animal mentioned.

The illustrations that accompany the animals are amazing and beautiful to look at. The entire book is put together by Woop Studios, which features a group of four friends in graphic design/photography that create gorgeous prints. Their website can be found here and you can actually purchase prints of the animals in the book. 

Librarians and teachers should definitely check this out when teaching on collective nouns and those that just love really cool illustrations will enjoy it as well.

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns
Woop Studios
64 pages
Non-Fiction
Chronicle Books
9781452104928
September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Dirty Life review

Kristin Kimball was living in New York City, working as a writer, when she meets Mark after venturing to his farm in Pennsylvania, wanting to interview him for a story. Love is born! A strange type of love, but still...love enough to convince her to drop everything she's ever known and start a farm with this handsome man in Upstate NY. 

Knowing nothing about raising animals or growing food, Kristin is really thrown head first into the difficult and exhausting world of farming. She reads books, watches Mark in everything he does, but mostly she learns by doing. From the frigid winter, through the harvest in the fall, the work is back-breaking, yet awe-inspiring. She often thinks about why she's doing what she's doing, but realizes quickly that she has fallen in love with the work, just as much as she has the guy. 

I love a good memoir and this one combines three of my favorite things: books about food, books about growing food, and books about real relationships. Kristin writes in a manner that leaves you wanting to read more. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the plants she was growing, the animals she was raising, and what delicious meal would come from the garden and barn. 

I was completely inspired during the entire book, wishing I had the guts to do something as drastic with my life as Kristin did. There is such a dramatic difference in eating food from the grocery store and food from your own yard, that you fed and raised and it's awesome! I loved the honesty that came off the pages, as she described how incredibly hard the work was and how heartbreaking it was to have to put animals down, but how rewarding the end result was. 

Though I was a little surprised at how quickly Kristin caught on to certain aspects of farming and I definitely had a hard time with all of the portions dedicated to injured/sick animals, I did find myself believing in her story and in her reasoning for doing what she did. I would love to take a trip to Essex Farm and see what they've made of the place over the years!

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love
Kristin Kimball
288 pages
Adult Non-Fiction
Scribner
9781416551607
October 2010
Library copy