Archive | September, 2014

The Scandolous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

25 Sep

That title is a little incongruous for the very Victorian feel of the story. It conjures up crazy sexual behavior, especially with the “prickwillow”…and yet, this book is not that at all. It is a charming, quirky story of girls in a boarding school in the Victorian era, who decide to run the school themselves when their mean headmistress and her unpleasant brother are suddenly poisoned by persons unknown. Each of the girls has her own special personality, and they come together as an unlikely band of heroes to try to determine the murderer, and avoid being sent home.  They find in each other the “sisters” they wish they had.  Sort of a Miss Marple tone – likeable, pleasant and not demanding.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place


Thoughtful Insight on How to Rewire Your Anxious Brain

25 Sep

Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic & Worry, by Catherine M. Pittman PhD, ad Elizabeth M. Karle, MLIS.

We all feel it – that sense of impending doom in the pit of our stomach, an anxiety about what might happen…some feel it in a debilitating way. The authors of this book paint a very clear picture of how the brain works, why we feel anxious, and how to consciously rewire the neural pathways.  They establish the role of the amygdala, our primitive brain, in fueling the “fight, flight or freeze” response that is hardwired into our subconscious, and then explain how the newer, “thinking” part of the brain, works in connection with that. They are advocates of “teaching your amygdala through experience” – meaning you need to expose yourself (in a safe way) to the stimuli that trigger fear, and “show” your amygdala that you are not, in fact, in danger.  This exposure process creates a new neural pathway.  “Repeated exposure to a seemingly threatening situation without anything negative occurring can teach the amygdala that the situation doesn’t require a fearful response.”

They sympathetically illustrate that just because one feels the sense of fear and panic, it doesn’t mean that there is actual danger.

I found this very helpful, both on a personal basis dealing with ordinary anxiety, as well as a good structure for understanding others in my life who feel anxiety and fear on a much greater level.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject.

The Hawley Book of the Dead – the next “All Souls”?

18 Sep

Just by coincidence, I went from reading the third book in Deb Harkness’ All Souls Triology, the Book of Life, to reading this first book in a new four part series.  Very different take, but some interesting similarities – witches, a grimoire, New England…

I found the descriptions very evocative, liked the sense of place and people that was created, and enjoyed the combination of “real” magic with Las Vegas magic. More a mystery than adventure, with the protagonist, Revelation, more of an observer than a participant. I liked the characters of her daughters, and hope that the additional books delve deeper into their personalities and magical powers.

Good read – recommend.


The All Souls Triology Comes to an End

18 Sep

First of all, let me say that I am a huge fan of Deb Harkness and the first two books in the series.  So I was quite excited to read the third book. I plunged in…and found myself wandering and wondering – Who are all these people? What is happening? Why is there so much talking and so little action?  I blamed myself, thinking I should have re-read the first two books so that I could seamlessly pick up the threads (kind of a pun). I persevered, remembering most of the characters, but still felt like I was reading A LOT of talking. The vivid descriptions of place, character and tension that made the first two books such a delight to read are largely gone. What little action there is feels like forced resolution of conflict, over & done in a few pages. No tension builds at all. The antagonist Benjamin has no motivation other than being evil. Diana’s revelation is that she stops being afraid. If each of these three books ends up as separate movies, this one will feel like a let down. It’s like the part in Harry Potter where they just wander around the woods for half the book.

If you are already a fan of the All Souls Trilogy, then of course you’ll want to read this book. Please do and I hope you enjoy it. I love the world that Deb has created, and I want to go back there – but I want more energy, more action, more tension, more substance. Someone suggested a Gallowglass book – yes, please! Write more! Still a fan.Book Of Life

Creator of “Clarissa Explains It All” Now Channels Magic of Audrey Hepburn & the LBD

10 Sep

Mitchell Kriegman, the multi-talented creator, writer and producer, scores again with his latest book, Being Audrey Hepburn. Told in the voice of a teenage girl from New Jersey, Lisbeth has long escaped into the fantasy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and seizes the chance to wear THE LBD from the movie. Like Cinderella, the dress makes the girl, and she embarks upon an adventure thru the wealthy circles of NYC and the Hamptons.  A satisfying novel, with well established characters and a lovely attention to fashion, this book will delight fans of Audrey Hepburn and the act of self-invention.Audrey

Masterminds and Wingmen – New Rules of a Boy’s World

8 Sep

Written by the author of Mean Girls, this book is a great handbook for parents of boys – especially boys entering adolescence.  It gave me such insight into my twin boys – each of whom is different. There were parts where I laughed, others where I cried, and then I went out and bought the book for friends & family members who also have boys.  She is so straightforward and clear in describing what boys experience, and how to parent them to the greatest success.  Much of the content comes from her interviews and work with hundreds of boys. You can also download a free workbook for your son – written without any adult condescension and helpful.  I highly recommend this book.



Gentleman Bastards Series Is a World You’ll Want to Stay In

8 Sep

I’m a big fan of fantasy and these three books by Scott Lynch are SO richly detailed that I never wanted to finish. Luckily, I’d downloaded all three books, (each of which is quite meaty) so that upon finishing one, I could slide neatly into the next.

Started on the first book, and was thrilled to discover that it is part of a triology – meaning I could stay within this elaborately envisioned, rollicking adventure world. Loved the characters, loved all the plot twists, and the world is so beautifully detailed and described. Treat yourself – read all three books in the Gentleman Bastards series!!