Book Nook

Who Wants to Read More?

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Book Nook, Lucky Mama | 2 comments

A few friends of mine, plus a whole slew of people I only know from the resulting Facebook group, and I have banded together to read more and take on the 2015 Reading Challenge.

Put together by the website PopSugar, it challenges you to read books in specific categories — and not just romances, mysteries and graphic novels. Those categories are included, but you’re also asked to read a book your mom loves (Gone With the Wind is my mom’s fav); a Pulitzer Prize-winning book (working on The Age of Innocence); a play; a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit; a book at the bottom of your to-read list; a book turned into a movie; a book with bad reviews (you’d be surprised at some of the classics that got horrible reviews back in their day!); and a book written by an author with your initials (this is the impossible category for me — I’m pretty sure I’ll have to turn to the middle initial since YC or even YF are coming up empty).

In all, there are 50 categories. It has been so much fun looking at the categories and trying to decide which book to tackle. I’ve also been trying to read books that aren’t necessarily in my comfort zone. For instance, I probably would have never tackled The Age of Innocence if it wasn’t for this challenge. Literature set in high society in the late 1800s has never exactly been my cup of tea. But Edith Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for the book in 1921, making her the first woman to win that prize. So I’m giving it a shot!

The book worm in me is so very excited about how much this challenge will give me an excuse to read!

As part of this challenge, I will be writing about some of my favorite (and maybe some of my least favorite) books that I read this year. I hope that you’ll be inspired to pick up a book and join me. And if you’re intrigued by the whole challenge — well it isn’t too late to start!
If you haven’t already, you can see the full list of categories here— which one would you most like to tackle?

A Haunted Blog Hop — Part 4

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Arkansas Women Bloggers, blog hop, Book Nook, Halloween, Lucky Mama, writing | 4 comments

Welcome to Part 4 of the 2014 A Haunted Blog Hop! If you’ve hopped over here from Minivan Momma, Desperately Seeking Gina or Our Everyday Dinners, thanks so much for visiting me!

If you haven’t read the first three parts of the story, you’ll want to start here and work your way through the links to get back to me!

The Girls by JohnONolan, image found at IM Free

Ruby was awed by the dancing girls.    Photo by JohnONolan


The cookie was heavenly. She quickly finished it, licking the crumbs off of her lips. Eli handed her another one, which she devoured. Eli laughed and said, “Good, right?”

Then he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the crowd.

She followed, taking two steps for his one, as she was pulled along with Eli and the dancing girls toward the lights and the music. Suddenly, she stopped as she realized that she wasn’t limping. Her feet didn’t hurt. She wasn’t falling. Her body wasn’t betraying her. She felt whole.

She looked at Eli with questions in her eyes. He smiled and pulled her toward the carousel.

They climbed aboard and each mounted a pony. Ruby smiled because her pony had emerald eyes, just like papa. “Just like papa,” she thought and the smile vanished from her face.

Her sadness was quickly dispelled when the carousel started spinning, slowly at first, then faster, and faster and faster until the outside world was just a blur of lights and it seemed like they would be thrown off and dashed into a thousand bits. As Ruby opened her mouth to scream, Eli whispered in her ear, “Hold on. It will all be over soon.” Ruby couldn’t understand how he was whispering when he was on another carousel horse and they were spinning faster than a top.

But his words calmed her. And just like that, the spinning stopped.

As Eli helped her down from the carousel, she looked more closely at her surroundings. To her left was a Master of Ceremonies in a coat and tails with his top hat rakishly perched atop his head. In front of her were the dancing girls, laughing at something the Strong Man had just said. And to the right was Eli — handsome, perfect Eli.

“Eli, what is all of this? I don’t understand,” Ruby said.

Eli just smiled, “Just enjoy,” he said, as he pulled her further and further into the carnival.

And enjoy she did. Hand in hand, Eli and Ruby rode rides, played games and feasted on cotton candy and funnel cakes. Finally in the hallway of mirrors, Eli kissed her. Ruby thought she might die of happiness right then and there.

Hours later, Ruby hugged a teddy bear that Eli had won for her at one of the game booths. ‘This night is perfect,’ she thought to herself.

“It certainly is,” Eli said as he brushed his lips over her hair.

She jumped. “Wait, I didn’t say that out loud,” she protested.

“You didn’t have to,” Eli said. “Here, in this place, we are connected. I can hear your thoughts. I can feel what you feel. I live, I breathe because you live and you breathe.”

“This can’t be real,” Ruby said. “No wonder this seems perfect. It isn’t real,” she said, as she started to cry.

“But it can be,” Eli said. “If …” and his voice trailed off.

“If, what?” Ruby asked.

“If you’re willing to pay the price,” Eli said, as he grabbed her hand and pulled her toward another tent, one she hadn’t even noticed. As they neared the tent, she tried to read the sign by the door, but it wasn’t in English. Actually, it didn’t look like words at all — rather, it looked like some sort of runic inscription or hieroglyphics.

“Eli, what is this place? What price?,” Ruby said, her voice becoming more shrill with each word out of her mouth.

“Shh,” Eli said, as he held her tight. “All will be explained.”


What is the price? And will Ruby agree to pay it? Read the thrilling conclusion to our Haunted Blog Hop on Thursday at JunQue RethunQue.


2014 Haunted Blog Hop


Gently used books needed

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in Activities, Book Nook, Giveaways, guest post, Uncategorized | 1 comment

March is the perfect time to get excited about books —  it is National Reading Awareness month, and March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Springtime is also a prime time to think about donating gently used hardbacks and novels to Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. Huntington Learning Center in Little Rock is making it easy and fun to donate with a Book Drive from March 3-22.




When you donate a book at Huntington, you can enter to win fun prizes from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Little Rock Zoo, the Wonderplace and Museum of Discovery. Simply take your books to the Huntington Learning Center located in the Pleasant Ridge Town Centre at 11525 Cantrell Rd.  (You get one entry per book.)

For additional information, call Rebecca Brockman of Goodwill at (501) 372-5100 or Bryan Redditt of Huntington Learning Center at (501) 223-2626.


BANNED books = MUST read for me

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Book Nook, Lucky Mama | 5 comments

bannedThis week is Banned Books week and I urge you to celebrate it by reading something that someone else in the world has decided you shouldn’t.

Maybe it is the contrarian in me, but since I was a kid if someone told me not to read something, it made me all the more interested in reading it.

Take the romance novels of my sisters’ that my mom didn’t want me to read (I was 11 or 12 and probably too young for heaving bosoms and such) so she put them in a box and hid them in the garage. Sorry mom, I’m confessing now, I found your hiding place and I would rotate out the books when you left. Two or three unread books would go under my dresser and the ones I had finished would go back in the box.

In high school, I would seek out books that had been banned. The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace (which I read in 10th grade English because Lana Hampton was awesome), Brave New World, Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Fahrenheit 451 (yup, don’t you love the irony about someone banning or censoring a book about burning books?) are all books that I just cannot imagine not experiencing. Other kids drank and did drugs — I read banned books. Yup, that is just how I roll.

The Harry Potter books, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Streetcar Named Desire, The Color Purple, Beloved, Where the Wild Things Are, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hunger Games trilogy, The Red Badge of Courage, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the list goes on and on.

So this week, read a banned book. Read a banned book to your kids. The growth you experience might just surprise (and delight) you.

According to the American Library Association, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been challenged or banned. So you can start here for your banned book reading pleasure. The website Banned Books Week has this list of banned books that shaped America.

And while we’re at it — how about we stop banning books?  Just LAST WEEK, the school board in Randolph County, N.C., voted 5-2 to ban Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Are you kidding me? One school board member called it “a hard read,” while another said he “didn’t see any literary value” in the National Book Award-winning novel. Sheesh, good books often are hard reads — it is called thinking, people!

OK, I’m climbing down off my soapbox now. I’ll pass the microphone to anyone who wants to talk banned books. What is your favorite banned book? Or on the flip side, is there a book on these lists that you agree needed to be banned?


100: Lift the Flap and Learn to Count

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Book Nook | 1 comment

I recently acquired a copy of David Carter’s 100: Lift the Flap and Learn to Count.  This book, perfect for your 3-7 year old trying to master counting to 100, is filled with a brightly colored pages with different stackable flaps geared toward teaching children to count. Each page contains stackable flaps with illustrations for five consecutive numbers. I would not recommend this book for children under three. I think the flaps would be a bit too tempting for little hands not to grab and pull.

When my daughter was a little younger she loved any kind of pop-up books or  books with flaps. As a ten-year-old, she still enjoys thumbing through these books, but would rather have a mystery book with several chapters.

Book sells for $12.92 from Amazon and will make a wonderful and educational gift.

– Moody Mom



Brain on Fire

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Book Nook, Lucky Mama, multiple sclerosis | 1 comment

You might be looking at the title of his post and saying, “Say what?”

bof-cover_homeSee, last night I read Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. In it, she tells of her experience with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. I couldn’t help but see some similarities between her journey and mine.

First of all, we are both journalists — I’m an editor for the Democrat-Gazette, she is a reporter for the New York Post.

Our noticeable health problems started with a migraine, then a seizure. While her neurologist thought her seizures were from alcohol withdrawal, the neuros at the hospital thought I was suffering from viral meningitis. We were both initially prescribed Keppra as an anti-seizure drug. We both experienced pins and needles in our hands.

That is pretty much where the similarities ended though — thankfully.

She goes from that into total madness. Paranoia, hallucinations, manic episodes, depression, slurred speech, difficulty walking, loss of the ability to read or write — by the time she is diagnosed (in her third or fourth week of hospitalization) she is probably days from death. In order to confirm the diagnosis, she had to have a brain biopsy.

Once she is diagnosed, the treatment starts — and she is one of the lucky ones who responds to it. But she has a long road back to normalcy and to reclaiming her identity — what made her her. During her month of madness (and for quite some time afterwards) her loved ones wondered if she was still there. They would see glimpses of the person she was, but she couldn’t escape the prison that her brain had made of her body.

The author goes through some seriously scary stuff. And like MS, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is at its core brain inflammation. Our immune systems go haywire and start attacking our brains. In my case, lesions form. In hers, the entire right hemisphere of her brain was on fire, as the doctor put it.

Just wow. I have to say that after reading Brain on Fire, I’m feeling better about my new brain lesion. It still sucks, don’t get me wrong, but it could be worse. I’m still me — and that matters a lot.


Coming soon: New Big Nate, Dork Diaries & Wimpy Kid

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in Book Nook | Comments Off on Coming soon: New Big Nate, Dork Diaries & Wimpy Kid

So if your kids are like mine and simply can’t get enough of hapless or nerdy book characters, well … the new arrivals are a’comin’.

The first one you’ll see for sale is Big Nate: Genius Mode, which will be released on May 7.

Both of my kids love this series.

Both of my kids love this series.

For lovers of the Dork Diaries series, look for Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker on June 4.


A fave among the girls.

A fave among the girls.

And, of course, the one that is awaited most anxiously by my son: The next installment of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It will be released on Nov. 5.

Book 8 will be here this fall!

Book 8 will be here this fall!



Puff the Magic Dragon

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in body image, Book Nook, guest post | 2 comments

There are apparently two camps when it comes to Peter, Paul and Mary’s 1963 folk song “Puff the Magic Dragon”: those who find it a sentimental journey back to their most innocent moments of childhood, and those who maintain that the song has always been a veiled musical ode to marijuana and is therefore not child-appropriate.

Enjoyment of the storybook version, released in time for the original recording’s 50th anniversary, hinges partly on those preconceived views of the song. (Though I’d heard the song countless times growing up, I had managed to avoid developing strong feelings about it either way.)

More important, though, is one’s comfort with either unmelodiously reading aloud words that are clearly meant to be sung, or bellowing the folk song for what feels like an dragon’s lifetime. Incidentally, the book advises us, dragons are immortal.

“Written” by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton, the late ’50s Cornell University student whose poem formed the basis of the song, the book consists of the just song’s lyrics.
There’s no embellishment beyond that.
Want to know more about Puff’s relationship with little Jackie Paper (yes, that’s really the kid’s name), aside from their mutual penchant for frolicking in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee? Me, too, but apparently I’ll have to invent those stories myself.
I tested out the board-book version on my 10-month-old, Vivian, who has developed a strong affection for books, mostly gnawing them and flinging them off her bookshelf into a great pile.
The highlights of our impressions:
• Ooh, pretty!: We loved the gorgeous illustrations by painter Eric Puybaret. Puff sure looks like a sweet friend to have. Not at all like a “Reefer Madness” dopefiend, mind you.
• Mmm, delicious! The board book is the perfect size and durability for an infant to hold, throw, chew, pull at, and dampen with teething drool.
• Um, is that the whole story?: It seems like 70 percent of this book is chorus. By the time it rolled around the third time or so, I was tempted to start singing, “We established these facts already, la la la la laaaaa!”
• Oops! Where’s my attention span?! Little Vivi grew awfully squirmy on Mommy’s lap
• Ohhh, where’d my voice go?: I sing constantly to my bambina, but something about vocalizing this “book” left my me temporarily sounding like a cigarette-ravaged celebutante. It’s long, I tell you. The hardcover editions come with a CD, which I think would help to preserve weary parents’ larynxes.
Bottom line: With all apologies to Peter (not to mention Paul, Mary and Leonard), this song just doesn’t quite work as a book.
– Review by Katie Doherty
Vivi isn't sure what to think of the book.

Vivi isn’t sure what to think of the book.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!

Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in Book Nook | 2 comments

Moody Mom here.

I was given a copy of I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont to review for Little Rock Mamas.

Upon opening the package, my ten-year-old daughter immediately started laughing.

“Mom, my art teacher has a copy of that book and it is so funny,” squealed Rebecca. “This little girl, or little boy, loves to paint. She loves to paint so much she decides to paint on the everything in the house,” Bear explains.

“Her mom caught her painting on the walls  and took the kids paint away,” Bear continued.

“Now here’s the funny part. She finds her paint in the closet and makes up funny rhymes as she paints all over herself,” Rebecca said as she giggled with delight.

“Seems like you read this book before,” I replied.

“Oh yes, and I love it,” Bear responds as she snatches the book out of my hand and headed to her room.

Finally, I retrieve the book and decided to take a look at it.

Sure enough, it was just as Bear had explained.  In fact, the words were kind of like a song that gets stuck in your head all day.

The illustrations in the book were just as cute as the words.

Suggested retail price is $11.99 and it is worth every penny.

Bear enjoying her book.

Bear enjoying her book.


book 2

The butt part, one of Bear’s favorites.


Vanna, I mean Bear showing of her new book.

Vanna, I mean Bear showing of her new book.