You might be looking at the title of his post and saying, “Say what?”
See, 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.
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.
For lovers of the Dork Diaries series, look for Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker on June 4.
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.
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.)
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.
Moody Mom here.
Lucky Mama here. For those of you who are regular readers of Book Nook or my blog, you might remember my love of Lela Davidson’s first book, Blacklisted from the PTA. Lela is an awesome lady and an Arkansas Woman Blogger to boot — she lives in Northwest Arkansas.
Starting today (Thursday) and running through the weekend, you can get Money, Murder, & Marriage: A Slightly Skewed Celebration of Love for free on your Kindle! Go here for this awesome deal.
If you haven’t picked up any of Lela’s books yet, and you want to know why she makes me fall on the floor laughing, this is your chance. Money, Murder, & Marriage: A Slightly Skewed Celebration of Love contains an essay from Blacklisted, an essay from her new book, Who Peed on my Yoga Mat?, and a new essay that has never been published before. Ooh-la-la.
Lucky Mama here. Just in time for Christmas, I was handed a copy of Christmas Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, to review. List price $16.99.
First off, to really enjoy these books, it helps to know what a wombat is. It is a marsupial that is native to Australia – I like to think of them as Aussie moles.
Last year for Christmas, Alaina received Diary of a Wombat from her Nana, who just happens to live Down Under. So I thought it was kinda cool that we got a copy of Christmas Wombat this year.
Like in Diary, the Christmas Wombat really digs carrots. In fact, he likes carrots so much that he ends up facing down Santa’s reindeer for the delicious treats. Then he decides to hitch a ride with Santa and the reindeer to find more carrots. During the course of the ride, he eats (a lot), makes friend with the reindeer and enjoys himself immensely.
This is a really cute book. The story isn’t as good as in Diary, which was just incredibly heartwarming, but it is still a fun Christmas read. The illustrations are very crisp and just generally adorable.
All in all, Alaina and I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it for children in the older toddler/preschool age range. Besides being cute, its also educational — most American children aren’t going to be exposed to wombats anywhere other than books, or maybe the occasional zoo.
But you don’t have to just take my word for it. This book got the Alaina stamp of approval. When she really likes a book, she will read it to herself after storytime with me or Matt. Check it out …
Hi, all! I’m Katie Doherty, an online news editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a co-worker of Moody Mom’s. She asked me to give the children’s book “Together at Christmas” a spin and let you know what I think. Since our family just polished off the last of the Tofurkey leftovers (mmm, Tofurkey!), Christmas seems officially fair
game. So I tested it out on my 6-month-old daughter, Vivian, who’s just learning to appreciate books, mostly by gumming them.
Written by Eileen Spinelli, the (less creative) wife of Jerry Spinelli, the Newberry Medal-winning author of “Maniac Magee” and my personal favorite, “Do the Funky Pickle,” this little storybook is about 10 mice, shivering in the snow on Christmas Eve, who find warm refuges one by one, only to realize (spoiler alert!) that they’d rather spend the special day together.
Since I read this to Vivi as a bedtime story when she was already getting droopy for the evening (more like late afternoon — the time change has her thinking 5 p.m. is a suitable bedtime), she didn’t register pleasure or displeasure at the story or illustrations, mostly wanting to turn the pages backward as I was reading, so I’ve assessed it on the basis of these new-mom metrics:
Illustration cuteness factor: Moderate. The mice are nice, but on most pages they also closely resemble wombats with rat tails. Which is weird. But possibly also cuter than actual mice. Also, the color scheme is a little drab, so smaller children who gravitate to high- contrast pictures may be unimpressed. My bambina, who seems to prefer
Vogue magazine to anything else, didn’t seem enthralled, but I think she’ll grow into it.
Rhymes, on the Seussian creativity scale: Yawwwwwwn. The rhyme scheme is pleasant and soothing, but the meter is broken once midway through the book, which bugs me each time I read it. However, I don’t think
the babies will mind.
Chewability factor: Low. Even a 6-month-old didn’t want to put this hardback in her mouth.
Christmasy-ness factor: Low. Children and parents of other faiths won’t be offended, which I love for my Christmas-AND-Hanukkah household.
ADD factor: Low. The book’s short and sweet.
Moral of the story: Sadly, this is weak: This book’s theme is that holidays are meant for together time, and that’s all it has to say. Presumably we’re supposed to find the end, in which one of the mice finds a haven suitable for all to share, heartwarming, but I couldn’t get past the every-mouse-for-himself majority of the book. Even at the
end, only one mouse does the work for the entire group. So if you’re looking for a book on cooperation, move along; there’s definitely nothing to see here.
Overall sweetness factor: Moderate to high. I’m a sucker for rodents snuggling in a great pile.
Buy, borrow or skip: Borrow. But pick up a few additional books just in case.
Lucky Mama here. I’ve got another one of my finds from Amazon Prime, which lets me borrow books for free, here.
Death Is A Relative Thing by Holly Patrone is absolutely hilarious! It is about this woman, April Serao, who is well known in her area for a rather unfortunate event — her husband died during sex, with her. Its been six years and every man runs from her as fast as possible, fearing that what happened to her Sal will happen to him.
Or as Patrone puts it: “Men make sure they put physical distance between me and them as if WHAM! they’ll have an orgasm right on the spot and keel over if they are within five feet of me.”
So April is raising three teenage sons by herself. She finally gets asked on a date by a work associate and Sal shows up. Yup, Sal — the dead husband. Apparently he has played too many pranks in Heaven and needs to do a few good deeds on Earth in order to get his halo. Suffice to say, hijinks ensue.
This is a laugh out loud kind of book. I highly recommend it for a day you need some humor in your life.
It’s sometimes more difficult to find series that will engage little boys. At least, that’s been my experience. But lo — while looking for books to tide the E-man over until the next Wimpy Kid comes out — I stumbled across The Zombie Chasers.
Here’s a quick summary from Amazon:
Seventh-grader Zack Clarke’s suburban Phoenix neighborhood seems normal–until almost everyone mysteriously transforms into a zombie. Zack, his geeky friend Rice, and his eighth-grade sister Zoe’s glamorous but snarky friend Madison are seemingly the only ones unaffected. That means that all the zombies in the neighborhood–including Zoe–are determined to devour them. They need to defend themselves but can only find a plastic baseball bat and a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, Zack and Zoe’s parents are at a parent-teacher night at their school–do they even know what’s going on? This first volume in a new series leaves readers hanging at the end, but it’s a quick, fun read, loaded with jokes and middle-school sarcasm. Kloepfer’s descriptions of the zombies and their feeding habits, and Wolfhard’s cartoon characters with guts and drool hanging out, are not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach).