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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Brian Doyle: IMG The Rude Burl of Our Masks

One day when I was 12 years old and setting off on my newspaper route after school my mom said will you stop at the doctor's and pick up something... Continue »
  1. $13.27 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

    Children and Other Wild Animals

    Brian Doyle 9780870717543


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Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com has commented on (359) products.

Always Emily by Michaela MacColl
Always Emily

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, May 22, 2014

Charlotte and Emily Bronte are two of the most enduring authors in English literature. Charlotte, who wrote Jane Eyre, and Emily, author of Wuthering Heights, were no strangers to tragedy in their own lives. Their mother died young and so did two sisters. They were raised in a parsonage with their father, brother, and younger sister Anne, who also went on to become a published author.

Michaela MacColl brings these beloved authors to life, and adds a bit of mystery for them to solve, in her new book for young adults, Always Emily. MacColl draws heavily upon known facts, like Charlotte teaching at a boarding school where Emily briefly attends, to weave a fictional story that takes place on the moors, so much a part of the sisters’ writing. She shows Charlotte and Emily as two very different people, often in conflict, but who nonetheless love and admire each other’s strengths.

An Author’s Note at the end gives a bit of background information about the Bronte family and the tragedies that befell it. Mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 12 and up may have fun reading Always Emily and then picking up the classics by the Bronte sisters, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

The publisher gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Catch a Falling Star

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, May 20, 2014

When superstar and bad boy Adam Jakes rolls into Little, California to film a movie, most girls would be thrilled to meet him. But Carter Moon is not most girls. She’s focused on working in her family’s café, watching the night sky with her best friends Chloe and Drake, and worrying about her brother, who has a gambling addiction.

When Adam’s manager approaches her and tells her about a plan to revive Adam’s image by having him date a small town girl, Carter, while he’s filming in Little, she’s against it. Until she realizes that the money could buy the help her brother needs to get his life together. Plus, Carter knows there’s no way she could fall for someone as self-centered at Adam Jakes.

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson is a beautiful story about finding yourself, second chances, life in a small town, and branching out. One of the reasons Carter isn’t impressed with Adam is because she’s content with her life. But her parents worry that her lack of interest in leaving town to continue her education after high school will limit her future options.

While Carter’s developing relationship with Adam is a central focus of the book, there are many interesting things happening in Carter’s life outside of this that keeps the story flowing along. Culbertson provides lots of opportunities for the characters to ponder what’s important in life and their place in it. Catch a Falling Star unfolds in unexpected ways that entertains all the way to its satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend it for readers aged 14 and up.

The author gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Spoils by Tammar Stein

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, May 16, 2014

What would you do if you won $70 million dollars in the lottery? For Leni’s family in Florida, it meant lots of spending on both selfish pursuits and worthy causes. Which is why it’s nearly all gone only seven years later. Most of what remains is in a trust fund for Leni for her to claim on her 18th birthday a week away.

Thinking about what she’ll do with her money she reviews where the rest went: her older brother Eddie spent his on travel and extravagance and now rarely leaves the basement of the mega-mansion their parents built. Her sister Natasha bought a tea shop that struggles to stay afloat even though business appears to be doing well. And her parents? They bought lots of stuff and gave some away to friends and relatives who really needed it. Now they are counting on Leni to turn over her trust fund to them so they can continue leading this lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to for just a little longer.

Leni is resigned to giving up the money, even if it means revising her dreams of college. But when she finds out that Natasha may have made a deal with the devil to win the prize and an angel appears telling her to make it right, she begins to have doubts about what to do. She takes a hard look at what having money has done to her family and struggles to find a solution that may put her family back together.

Even without the devil/angel element, Spoils by Tammar Stein fascinates with its look at how lots and lots of money can change people. Believing they have no reason to earn money ever again, they often make decisions that don’t fit with the values they have lived with in the past. They don’t know how to judge who likes them for their money and who likes them for the people they are.

I recommend Spoils for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 15 and up. It can spark interesting discussions on how book club members speculate they would deal with a sudden windfall. It could touch on the presence of real forces of good and evil in the world working to influence people’s minds and hearts. Another big issue to discuss includes figuring out what’s important to you in life and determining how to pursue it.

The author gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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The Summer I Saved the World... in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz
The Summer I Saved the World... in 65 Days

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, May 16, 2014

Thirteen-year-old Nina has the whole summer stretching before her, but instead of being excited she can only feel dread. Her beloved grandma died a year ago, her parents�"both divorce lawyers�"are wrapped up in a high profile case, and her brother works or keeps to himself most of the time. To top it off, if feels like her best friend and neighbor, Jori, with her interest in clothes, boys and makeup, is pulling away from her. But then she gets an idea. What if she could make things better for herself and her neighbors by performing small, anonymous acts of thoughtfulness, one for each of the 65 days left before school starts? Nina’s small idea becomes big in ways she never could have imagined.

The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz is a simple tale that carries a big message: while you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control how you react to them. Also, it’s easy to think that only big actions can bring big results, but in reality small things are more manageable to take on, and small things can snowball into big ones.

The people in Nina’s cul-de-sac are typical of those living in many American suburbs: a harried single mom working hard to take care of her sons, a grouchy recluse, a suspicious woman who’s determined to get to the bottom of all the “strange” happenings, and a house that sits vacant while the weeds grow up around it. Each person is focused on his or her own situation until Nina’s acts force them all to look beyond themselves and see the neighborhood in a different light.

The story is inspirational without falling into preachiness, I highly recommend The Summer I Saved the World for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 through 13. It may even inspire individual members or the whole group to take on a similar project in their own neighborhoods, anonymous or not.

The publisher gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, May 16, 2014

When Maggie receives a beautiful leather-bound journal for her twelfth birthday she knows what she wants to write about: the story of her life since she turned eleven. That’s because a lot of things happened during the past year, and with her dad in the hospital she has a lot of time to think about it as she waits for him to get better.

The youngest of three daughters, Maggie considers herself the responsible one. She’s super smart in school, she plans to be president one day, and her older sisters spend all their time working on their looks rather than helping out at home. But something’s going on with Maggie’s dad, and her parents think she’s too young to hear the truth. She realizes she needs to “pull herself up by her bootstraps,” as the family likes to say, and face what’s happening even if it is hard.

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern is a coming of age story with a plucky heroine. Maggie walks the line between wanting to stay a little kid who loves chocolate and tattles on her sisters and being grown up enough to know about her dad’s health problems and why her mom had to go to work full time. She talks about his “sleepy legs” and “sleepy arms” as the reason he had to quit his job and be home in a wheel chair.

She’s frustrated because every time she ask her dad about something important, he says he’ll “tell her in ten years.” And her mom is too busy working and taking care of everyone else to have time for Maggie. When her dad takes a turn for the worse, she finally learns about his illness while gaining insight into the lives of everyone else in her family.

The story is a good one for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 8 to 12. Book club discussion can cover the good and the bad of parents keeping big issues from their children and when it may be appropriate to share that information. Other discussion topics include the ways siblings may or may not have accurate pictures of each other, having disapproving grandparents, and family illnesses.

The publisher gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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