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    “Lakeshore Christmas” Blog Tour

    2009 - 11.12

    I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by MotherTalk on behalf of “Lakeshore Christmas” and received a copy of the book to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

    I’m a busy gal.  I don’t have time for a lot of things anymore… shoot, I hardly have enough time to blog.  One activity that has sadly fallen by the wayside is reading.  Sure, I made time for each and every Harry Potter book when they were released and there was the two months or so last year when I fell victim to “Twilight Mania”.  But I used to read every day.  Every night, before I went to sleep.  And I haven’t done that in a long time.

    When I was contacted about joining this blog tour, I very nearly passed up on it.  But then I saw that it was a Christmas novel.

    I have a history with Christmas novels, particular those of the romantic variety.  Every year at Christmas, I would find at least one Christmas-themed “anthology”, of sorts.  I would devour the stories because not only were they sappy towards love, but sappy towards the holiday.  And I am an admitted Christmas Nutcase.

    I’d heard great things about the author of this particular novel, Susan Wiggs, and maybe even read a book or two of hers back in the day.  Adding to my intrigue, was learning that this particular book was part of a series, called the “Lakeshore Chronicles”.  I have a hard time resisting a series.  There’s something about a book that is part of a series.  The side-characters are more interesting and intriguing, the atmosphere is almost homey, lived in.  So here we were taking about a Christmas romance that is part of a series of books based around this one little town in upstate New York.

    I was THERE.

    And you know?  I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.  I was excited to receive the book in the mail and each night before I went to sleep, I would read a chapter.  Or two.  Or three.  You know how it is.  I quickly found myself engrossed with the story, the setting, the characters, the whole shebang.  And before long, I became aware that I was going to have to track down some of the other Lakeshore Chronicles books because I want to read about these other characters.  Particularly one, who’s sub-plot was left on a rather intriguing cliffhanger.

    Still, despite being part of a series of books, I never once felt like I was picking a story up halfway through.  The author did a splendid job of summarizing past stories and getting you comfortable and friendly with the town and it’s inhabitants.  Never once did I feel there was a joke I was missing out on, a common problem with reading a book mid-series.

    This book was an easy, quick and fun read.  I was rather disappointed when I was finished because that meant a) I would have to leave these lovely characters behind and b) I now no longer had anything to read before bed!

    I would suggest, if you are a Christmas nutcase like myself, are a fan of romantic novels or just of reading in general, and want a cozy and entertaining story to read while snuggled up in front of the fire this season, you look no further than “Lakeshore Christmas” by Susan Wiggs.  You won’t be disappointed!

    Review of “Once Upon a Potty”

    2008 - 10.24

    If there’s one phrase that strikes fear in my heart more than any other it’s “potty training”.  Training my oldest son, who is turning nine in two weeks time, was a nightmare of epic proportions.  Now that my youngest son is two years old and coming up on the “potty years”, I’m scared practically stiff by it.  At this point?  I’ll try ANYTHING that will work.

    Enter: the Parent Bloggers Network and their offer of a chance to review the immortal classic “Once Upon a Potty” by Alona Frankel.  I’m sure everyone, whether they have children or not, has heard of these books.  They should; they’ve been around since 1975.  And what sets them apart from other books of their kind is that they were the first of their kind (as far as I’m aware) to offer a book to both sexes.  There is a Girl Version and a Boy Version.  Each book contains a small anatomy lesson given in easy to understand terms and accompanied by cute but accurate drawings.

    The book is essentially the same as it was 33 years ago. However, that is both a good and a bad thing.  It’s good in that the “retro” feel of the story is appealing to today’s stylish parents and that the simplicity of the tale is what makes it effective with the preschool crowd.  It’s bad in that there are a few items that could use with an update.  Well, actually just one notable item.  I don’t take issue with the cloth diaper, obviously, since I have become a cloth diaperer myself.  But the potty that the child receives as a gift from Grandma isn’t recognizable by today’s standards as being a potty.  It looks like, quite simply, a pot.  And not exactly like the pottys that line the shelves as Babies R Us and Walmart.  It wouldn’t hurt to do a little revamping of the illustrations to show a potty that today’s toddler could easily identify with.

    However, there ARE some updates that are rather nice.  For one, the book comes with an audio cd that includes a reading of the story and various potty-themed songs and sing-alongs.  You can even find the lyrics to “The Potty Song” online.  Also nice is that the book comes in board-book form now and that is so much more durable.  This is a book that has a prayer of standing up to my destructive whirlwind toddler.

    I have a feeling that with this book under my belt (and the girl version for my daughter), I’ll feel maybe a little better about tackling potty training.  If this book makes it at all easier?  It’ll be SO WORTH IT.

    Guys suffer infertility too – “Maybe Baby” review

    2008 - 09.23

    You may or may not be aware that my husband and I spent six long years dealing with secondary infertility.  Those were the hardest years of my life HANDS DOWN.  What would I have given during that time to have a firsthand account of how a guy feels, going through it?  As it was I gobbled up every book about infertility I could get my hands on.  But the story from a guy’s perspective… that’s something I know would have appealed to me.  Shoot, it appealed to me now and infertility is a diagnosis that we’ve left far, far behind us.

    Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story” is a memoir written by Matthew M. F. Miller that was sent to me to review by the fabulous Parent Bloggers Network.  But more than a chronicle of this couple’s journey through infertility, it’s a tale about romance.  About how this couple was determined to weather the storm together.  And that was the facet of this story that I related to the most.  Because even when we were at our lowest, burying our stillborn son, I always knew we had each other’s back.  We were going through it together.  More than anyone else, my husband knew what I was going through and it was the same for him.  In fact, I would argue that a couple needs to come together in order to make it through infertility intact.

    This story has it all, humor, drama, sadness and perspective.  If you haven’t been through infertility yourself, it gives you a good window into what it really feels like to be on that side of the fence.  If you have been through it, then you find in Matthew a blood-brother of sorts.  Comfort in numbers, misery loves company… that whole shtick.

    All in all, this book is definitely worth a read.  Check it out.