Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

On this trip, we hit the streets of New York, in a quaint little neighborhood where everything seems so right, but-surprise-is going so wrong. Having grown up on a street similar to the one portrayed in this story, I can relate to the struggles the main characters face. This book, told in alternating perspectives, tells the story of families in turmoil. It is easier to exude the image of the perfect family, when inside and behind those closed doors is a father who cheats on his wife with the neighborhood mothers, boys and girls who pass joints around and play spin the bottle in the basement, and when it's all said and done, you have kids just trying to figure it all out. 

Sam, Suzie, Bella, Michael, the parents, illness, infidelity, betrayal...this book navigates through a world that is so well-written you will not realize you are swiftly turning the pages of a book. Prepare to become immersed in the lives of these characters. 

Sam and Suzie have a fling that has been kept hidden from their group of friends. In their private space, they are woven together like a tapestry, but in front of their friends, they are two separate people. Suzie and Sam. They have secret escapades, typical teen behavior, but never reveal their feelings publicly. Do they share the same feelings? Is this this just for fun, or are there deeper emotions at the heart of this story? When Suzie moves from their town in order for her family to get a "fresh start", Sam moves on from their relationship, and on to Bella. After Suzie cuts ties with everyone, no one knows what happened to her, and Sam and Bella's relationship buds in to a romance.  Complication begins knocking when Suzie arrives back on the scene with Sam's older brother Michael in tow. 

I have given you enough to have strapped you in to the NY roller coaster, and now I want you to enjoy the ride. This book was wonderful! I truly flipped the pages quickly, and it read like I was watching a movie. I thought the author did a fabulous job of capturing the difficulties of growing up, and what happens when the patchwork of our lives are tattered.
*A huge "thank you" to Book Sparks for a copy of this book in exchange for a review.* 
About the Author
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart (HarperCollins 2010) which was chosen as a Target Breakout Book. The Summer We Fell Apart was also published in Turkey by Artemis Yayinlari. Her non-fiction work has been published at The Weeklings, The Nervous Breakdown and collected in The Beautiful Anthology, Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema, and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review and Literary Mama among others.  Robin has received three honorable mentions in Glimmer Train's Family Matters and New Fiction Writer's contests as well as an honorable mention for the Tobias Wolf Fiction Award.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday #wanttoread List-The Worrier's Guide to Life

Made you laugh edition!

The Worrier's Guide to Life by Gemma Correll

"If you're floundering in life, striking out in love, struggling to pay the rent, and worried about it all -- you're in luck! World Champion Worrier and Expert Insomniac Gemma Correll is here to assure you that it could be much, much worse."

The growing genre of adult "comic" books has been a wonderful addition to my reading repertoire. From The Oatmeal to Allie Brosch, I have enjoyed many belly laughs thanks to their work. Their honest portrayal of adult concepts in a whimsical, cartoonish way. This book was read thanks to an early copy I received via Netgalley, and it was incredibly hilarious!

I read it in a flash, and you will as well. It gave me a bely laugh when I desperately needed one. I'll leave you with this image from the book. It was hilarious!

I wish we still got stickers for doing hard things like getting waxed and not crying. Or how about "I Did My Taxes?"

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen

In this timely and provocative novel, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen takes us inside a family in crisis and a marriage on the brink after a tragic shooting.

How far would you go to save your family?

Intrigued? I thought so.

Have you ever heard the saying "it was like art imitating life." I remember being vaguely aware of what that really meant. Until I read this book. Then it was as if all of my feelings came rushing at me, and I found myself desperately praying "Please God, don't let this happen to me." This was a raw, and honest portrayal of police work. What happens when things go so wrong, and a family is caught in the public eye's crosshairs?

Let me first start with a little confession, I did not request a galley or an early copy of this book. I always request Sarah's books, but life got in the way, and I did not get around to it with this book. I love her books, and am usually diligent, but know how it goes. I am a member of a Facebook group for fabulous readers and authors (Great Thoughts, Great Readers), and a friend of mine received an advanced copy of the book through that group, and then passed it on to me. I am certain this book was meant to make it in to my hands. When my husband read the back cover, his response was "why the hell would you read that?" I understand his reaction, but I just couldn't help myself!

I am a police wife. My husband is a police officer. This book was very difficult for me to read because it forced me to face my worst fears. The type of nightmare-like situation that is the result of something going terribly wrong while protecting and serving the people left me feeling raw and vulnerable. It was not difficult for me to put myself in Jamie's shoes because I am Jamie. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, and someone who loves her husband deeply and knows that mistakes can and do happen while in this line of work. There have been many times I have feverishly prayed nothing happened when he stopped answering his phone. Oh how I wished I made more money so he didn't have to work in a job that was so risky, and one that is under (fairly and unfairly) scrutiny all the time. So for all those reasons, I am Jamie.

Book clubs be ready! Your next pick to spark those difficult conversations has arrived in stores! Things You Won't Say will get everyone talking. Prepare to play both sides of the coin, because this one will have people experiencing a range of emotions, and will get your discussions rolling. Thank you to Bianca and Andrea at Great Thoughts, Great Readers for providing an early copy of this book to my friend, without whom I wouldn't have been able to read this book!

Things You Won't Say-ORDER HERE

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Monday Run-Down

Here's what you can expect to see at Read Baby Read this week!

I'm headed to BEA (Book Expo America) so that I can grab copies of all the latest and greatest books to share with all of my wonderful readers! I cannot wait to share my experience with you all. It is on my bucket list, and thanks to my wonderful husband, my dream is coming true!

Still time to enter my giveaway for The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart: Giveaway here

Tuesday: Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen review. This book really hit close to home, so stop by Tuesday to find out why it resonated with me.

Wednesday #wanttoread List: The Worrier's Guide to Life by Gemma Carroll. My obsession with graphic novels is reaching fervor thanks to this book!

Thursday: #SRC2015 is traveling to NY with The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek. Read my review of the book, and sign up for the challenge!

Speaking of bucket lists, I have always wanted to meet Jodi Picoult (fangirl alert!) and it all started when my husband and I started talking about what was on our "bucket lists." He said, "what author would you want to meet given the chance to meet them." My first reply was Jodi Picoult! This Saturday, my friend Nancy and I met her! It was an ultimate fangirl moment, and Jodi thought I should've chosen something more exciting for my bucket list, but I think it was awesome to meet her!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart will entice readers into a world of secrets and running from those secrets, and what happens when what was once hidden comes to the surface. Often the unavoidable truths will rise whether you intend them to or not. The hand of fate can be cruel and unforgiving, but also just what you need to admit that secrets (even those that are small) don't stay secret for long. 

"Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.
Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves."
Doesn't this pique your interest? I know it made me want to dive in and read. As an educator, I am always cautioning the children not to lie, because it is difficult to remember what you said, and it'll be easier to be caught lying than it would to face the music and be honest from the outset. Don't you wish adult would subscribe to this advice? I know for years I felt it was necessary to occasionally lie because I wanted to "protect" people. I realized that lies don't protect anyone but the person attempting to disguise the truth. Oh how I wish we would all realize this! But authors, take note, sometimes we need those lies to read awesome books! 
Author Spotlight:
Nicole Baart via

I first became exposed to Nicole's work through a Facebook "book group" that I am a part of, and I am so delighted we became acquainted! Nicole has written many other books, and you can find her biography on her beautiful website here. She is a beautiful soul, and you will thoroughly enjoy the book. A special "thank you" to Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, as well as the author for a copy of the book. 

Fun Giveaway!
If you would like to be entered to win a copy of the book, please enter the giveaway in the comments section for a chance to win Nicole Baart's Beautiful Daughters! Entrants, please be certain there is a way to contact you via e-mail to receive a copy of the book. To be entered to win, tell me what is one thing you think people should not be honest about? I'll start-I think people should never be honest about how old they think someone is! I've had students tell me they thought I was in my 40's when I was actually in my 20's. So tell me, what is something we should not be transparent about? 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Kid Reads

My Pet Book
My Pet Book by Bob Staake

I think you must agree with me when I say that books make the best pets! Books do not bark, meow, or make a mess. Books are loyal companions that you can tote along everywhere with you. They won't disturb your seatmate on the subway, they definitely don't need to be fed. In this book, a creative little boy finds a very unusual pet-a book. When the book goes missing, the journey to find it will have readers wishing for a happy ending.
Fun Reading Questions
What do you think is the best pet? Why?
What would you do if you saw someone with a pet book?
What was your favorite part of the story?  
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Bob Staake is an illustrator and author who has written several books to delight young readers. Mr. Staake has also illustrated for several famous publications including the New Yorker, TIME, and Vanity Fair. Mr. Staake lives in Chatham, Massachusetts. 
Product Details
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 7/8/2014
Pages: 40
Age range: 3 - 7 Years
Lexile: 560L

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Flash Giveaway!

Today is your lucky day! I was cleaning my garage when I came upon a fun Jane Porter swag bag. Rather than keep all of this greatness to myself, I decided to do a fun flash giveaway on my blog!

Here is what you'll win:

1-"I Read Jane" Tote bag
Not actual tote!

1-Flirting with Forty book

1-Signed copy of The Good Wife

+a ton of other goodies!

To enter to win, simply comment below on a vacation you have planned this summer. Where are you headed? I'll start be telling you I am actually going to BEA (Book Expo America) in May, and then my family and I are headed to Aulani in Hawaii this summer! I am so excited. Hope you have a fun Friday! Good luck!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

The Year My Mother Came Back

From the minute I opened the pages of this book, I was immediately drawn in to the story. Cohen's writing style is such that you are aware that you began reading a memoir, but it is as if you are talking to an old friend. You are in the midst of a conversation about life being hard, and about how each of us struggles through the journey. Motherhood, marriage, health and wellness. It is all part of the path we must take. We cast blame on ourselves for the things that can and do go wrong. How many of us have thought that something that happened to us was the result of our own creation? On this point, the struggle, we are all on an even playing field. We kick that ball around until it goes out of bounds. Then we sit and wonder how we can get it back in bounds, so that everything is flowing and the game is once again being played. I was born into this world a woman, and for that simple fact I have been equally blessed and cursed. The author details her struggle with her body, the breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery that trumped the surgery her daughter so desperately needed. Once again, the ball runs out of bounds. It is when we need our mothers the most that they are with us both in life, and after death. 

Such is the case for Alice, whose mother appears to her thirty years after her death.
The fondest memories of my childhood are of times spent with my parents, particularly my mother. My own mother stood up for everyone, but especially for the voiceless. The small people who couldn't rise up in protests for themselves. I smiled fondly when Alice shared the story of her mother below the tide line, defiantly refusing to leave a rich man's property because the ocean should be for everyone to enjoy. It was so reminiscent of my own mother. refusing to give up on a fight she knew was an important one to teach. After all, her daughters were watching.

This book was quick, and enjoyable, and I made many connections to this novel as one of my favorite books The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. 
*A huge "thank you" to Book Sparks for a copy of this book in exchange for a review.* 
Inline image 1
About the Author
Alice Eve Cohen is a writer and solo theatre artist. Her new memoir, The Year My Mother Came Back was published by Algonquin Books in March, 2015; audiobook (read by the author) published by Highbridge/​Recorded Books. Her first memoir, What I Thought I Knew (Viking /​ Penguin) won the Elle's Lettres Grand Prix for Nonfiction; it was selected as one of Oprah Magazine’s 25 Best Books of Summer and Salon's Best Books of the Year. Her solo theater adaptation of the book has been produced at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca and other venues. She has written for Nickelodeon, CTW, and CBS, and has toured her solo shows and plays to theatres, festivals and schools, nationally and internationally. Her writing about arts in education has been published in nine languages, and she has written for various print and online publications. The recipient of fellowships and grants from the NYS Council on the Arts and the NEA, she has been an artist-in-residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Voice & Vision Theatre's Envision Retreat. She was a writer-in-residence at Frank McCourt high school for writing and journalism, and has taught writing and performance workshops at schools and universities around the country. She holds a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from The New School. Alice teaches at The New School and lives with her family in New York City. She is currently working on a novel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday #wanttoread List

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin

Being close to Hollywood myself, it is a different kind of place. Full of sharks waiting to snatch up the bait. New jobs, new faces, illustrious assistant positions for celebrities. It all seems so glamorous and wonderful. Right? Wrong. Any insider will tell you that the industry is full of pretentious people who would do anything, and stab anyone who stepped into their path to success. It is not an easy road, and can certainly be a thankless one. This book was featured in the NY Times!

Here is a synopsis of the book:
"Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking.

Enter Jess’s mother—a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter’s downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade.

As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet.

When her food garners the attention of an actress on the rise, well, she’s all too willing to throw it in with the composer and upgrade again, a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications that could explode all her relationships.

All the while, her mother looms ever closer, forcing Jess to confront the traumatic secrets she’s been running from all her life. 

Oh! You Pretty Things is a dizzying ride at the carnival of fame, a fast-paced and sharply funny work that dares to imagine what happens when we go over the top in a town of gilded excess."

Sound like something you'd want to read? 

What's in your TBR pile?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge


This summer I hope your beach bag is full of sunscreen, water, good food, and of course, amazing beach reads! Your summer full of reading fun will not be complete without the Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge. This yearly reading challenge intended to expose readers to wonderful authors, and fantastic books to delight you whether you decide to stay local or on your glamorous vacation.


Book Lovers: Travel along with us by purchasing the books, reading them, and then tagging us in your posts to win prizes all summer long. Check out the instructions to participate in the challenge HERE.

RSVP: Be sure to RSVP on the official Facebook event page and share the news with your friends!

I cannot wait for you to join me this summer in the #SRC2015! 

First book on the tour is The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen. Look for my review Thursday! 
year my mother

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Saturday Kid Reads

Fox's Garden by Princess Camcam 
Oh, how I love wordless picture books. Wordless picture books are where you experience the richness of conversation with your child. Having nothing but the illustrations to guide you in conversation-wordless picture books are a gift to parents and their children. This book was awarded the American Library Association's Notable Children's Book award for 2015! If you have never experienced a wordless picture book, you must start with this one!
Here is a synopsis of what the story will tell:
"One snowy night, a fox loses its way, entering a village. Chased away by the grown ups, Fox takes shelter in a greenhouse. A little boy sees this from his window. Without hesitating, he brings a basket of food to the greenhouse, where he leaves it for the fox. His gift is noticed and the night becomes a garden of new life, nourished by compassion and kindness.
Princesse Camcam's cut-paper illustrations, along with the beautiful lighting of the sets she creates, make the experience of looking at these illustrations both touching and transcendent. Their beauty and essential simplicity reflect the beauty of the story. The reader is left charmed by the fox and the child and thoughtful about the emotional lives of both humans and other creatures."
If you have fallen in love, like I have, here are some other popular titles in the "Wordless Picture Book" category:
Product Details
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Product Details
Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Product Details 
Journey by Aaron Becker
Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday #wanttoread List

This book slipped into publication with what seemed to be a little fanfare. Often you hear about a book because it is written by an author who publishes a ton of books, and has their social media warriors making sure that the word about their book spreads. To tell you the truth, I love it when a book that doesn't blare the trumpets and sound the horns comes in and blows everyone away! This book is one that readers, once they read the last page, immediately get on their phones, tablets, or computer and immediately start sharing how awesome the book is. It's always the same sentiment-"Read this book! NOW!" So here it is. I bought this a while ago, and in the business of life have not had the privilege of sitting and reading it...yet. It's in the queue.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

I thought about posting some books I am looking forward to reading in June and July, but thought you all might want something you can go out and get your hands on right now!

Happy Hump Day & Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

One Good Life by Jill Nystul

One Good Life by Jill Nystul

This book is part memoir, part "Pinterest-style" tips to make your life easier, and your relationships with your loved ones stand at the forefront of importance. This book was inspired by Jill's own experiences with life, and finding one good thing every day. She now has a website devoted to finding one good thing, as well as ideas you can use. The book is a wonderful compilation of the ideas found in the pages of her book, and I also found the anecdotes about her life endearing, and honest. Truthfully, many of the insights she writes about are blatantly obvious things that you don't need a book to understand. But, I find the timing of this review fitting especially when there has been so much negativity in the media of late. The obvious bits of advice are things we know, but fail to put into action. As parents, wives, husbands, and family members, we often lose ourselves in the daily tasks that we have deemed important. You cannot venture out, or even stay in the four walls of your home without seeing people glued to their devices. Eyes cast downward, they forget that what is really important is to look up. In order to see and appreciate the beauty that is in our world, you have to look up. The smile of your child, the conversations you have that tell you what you didn't know, and everything that gives our lives sustenance cannot be found in pixelated images or in scrolling through your feed. The good things, the many good things in life are in front of us, beside us, and all around. We must pay attention and look. 
Here is a way that you can get started right now creating your good things. Think positive karmic energy!

Random Acts of Kindness
  • Pay for someone's meal
  • Compliment someone (seriously)
  • Volunteer to help out at a shelter/soup kitchen
  • Donate food to the local shelter
I'm really digging this DIY Cereal Box + Washi Tape organizers!

All this and more can be found via Kill's website One Good Thing by Jillee and the book One Good Life is on sale today! A special thank you to G.P. Putnam and Sons (A Penguin Random House Group) for an early copy of Jill's book. Thank you for helping to inspire me to find the good things.

Happy reading!

Monday, May 4, 2015

If You Read This...Then Read This: Books That'll Make You Cry

If you're like me, you find it incredibly difficult to follow up a great read with another equally appealing and enticing book. The disappointment that comes from successive books that just don't hit the mark can leave you feeling hopeless. I never shop at Target without walking past the book section to see what new friends have arrived. And by friends, I mean books. One of the best ways for books to sell is to see a book that you loved with an arrow pointing to your next read. If you loved this, then you are certain to love this book! I am pulling together some of my "If you loved this, then you'll love that" suggestions for you. Just like the Target book section, but without the cool pop-up sign.

If You Read This...                                                              Then Read This!
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese                   A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

If I Stay by Gayle Forman                                              Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Still Alice by Lisa Genova                                          Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

As the school draws to a close, curl up with a good book that'll have you doing the ugly cry in the comfort of your own home. I hope you have a wonderful week. Be sure to mark these books into your TBR list!

Happy Reading! 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

If You Read This...Then Read This! Saturday Kid Reads Edition

If you're like me, you find it incredibly difficult to follow up a great read with another equally appealing and enticing book. The disappointment that comes from successive books that just don't hit the mark can leave you feeling hopeless. I never shop at Target without walking past the book section to see what new friends have arrived. And by friends, I mean books. One of the best ways for books to sell is to see a book that you loved with an arrow pointing to your next read. If you loved this, then you are certain to love this book! I am pulling together some of my "If you loved this, then you'll love that" suggestions for you. Just like the Target book section, but without the cool pop-up sign.
If you read this....                                               Then Read This!
Image result for Wonder                             Image result for el deafo

Image result for Don't Let the pigeon                             Image result for we are in a book

Image result for diary of a wimpy kid                              Image result for big nate

Image result for crossover book                               Image result for brown girl dreaming

For the Teen/YA Audience
Image result for 3:59                            Image result for darkest minds

Happy Saturday, Happy Reading.