July 29, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

We all know the cliché. Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true.

On Ellie’s 75
th birthday, she blew out the candles and made a wish. She wished to be 29 years old for just one day. It was silly and wishful thinking. Who knew such a wish could really come true? The next morning she woke up in a younger body. No blurry eyes. No hard hearing. No saggy breasts. No wrinkled neck. Before her in the mirror stood a gorgeous younger version.

After the realization that her wish actually came true, Ellie set out to do all the things she wished she had done. It was the perfect time to take back any regrets, be young again, fall in love with a soul mate, and just have fun. As her day went on, I wasn’t as excited though. I expected her to do more, but it was just an ordinary day in the life of an average 29-year-old. So will she turn back old? Or make another birthday wish to stay 29 forever?

I wouldn’t recommend for a book club or as a stand-alone read. It uses no brain cells whatsoever. Don’t waste your summer reading lengthy, deep novels. Read 29. It is perfect for a silly, light summer read.

Author Adena Halpern is funny and imaginative. I knew I’d like this cute book when I realized she was the author of Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown. It’s creative and explored an idea that women contemplate at least once in their lives. What if I could be young again?

So, here is something to think about. What age would you return to and why?

Rating: ♥♥♥

July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Literary Marie's Tuesday Teaser:

"I tell people that the best part of being older is the wisdom that comes with it. Truthfully, that's bullshit." 

~ p. 1, 29 by Adena Halpern

July 26, 2010

Ramona and Beezus

Back in April, I posted about the exciting news that one of our favorite childhood characters was hitting the big screen. Do you remember the young Ramona Quimby and her big sister Beezus? Well you can see them on the big screen now! Actresses Joey King and Selena Gomez star in this adaptation of the best-selling books by Beverly Cleary. Ramona is still filled with energy, accident-prone, and has a vivid imagination. She uses all of these qualities to help save her family's home.

It is such a cute movie! It was the perfect start to me and Chickadee's Mother-Daughter Day. So if you remember the old adventures of Ramona and Beezus Quimby, spend an early morning or afternoon at the theatre to check it out. Be a kid again!

Click here for a free trailer of the film. Click the images below to order the complete Ramona collection or the movie tie-in edition.

C. S. Lewis once said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty.” If you've never revisited a book you loved as a child, you should really treat yourself and give it a try this summer. Here are some other classics written for children that adults love and remember too:

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin
Fear Street Series by R. L. Stine
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Just As Long As We're Together by Judy Blume

Happy Summer Reading!

July 24, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear." -- Judy Blume

July 16, 2010

Virtual Book Tour: Color Blind Review & *Giveaway*

A mother decided she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, raise a child. She wasn’t struggling to make ends meet. She wasn’t a student trying to obtain a degree. In fact, she was a Nigerian princess. Yet one September day in 1971, she dropped her daughter off in a basket on a white woman’s doorstep.

Private fostering is supposed to be temporary; yet, nothing about Precious Anita Williams life is traditional. Her case is a little different. She lives in a small English town called Woodview with a white sixty-year-old foster mother, Nanny, and her invalid husband, Gramps. Their doormat may say welcome, but they discourage visitors. They rarely even want to welcome Precious’ birth mother, Lizzy.

Over the years, Precious’ family and friends consist of a close-knit bond of just Nanny, Gramps, Aunt Wendy, and Uncle Mick. Other foster children come and go, but their stay is short-lived. Lizzy visits occasionally, interrupting their comfortable home routine. Her random visits usually end with her telling Nanny how to run her household, threatening to take Precious away for good, and believing that material things and money are all that a parent has to provide. Through it all, Precious still manages to realize at a young age that the African rich world she is from isn’t for her. Yet, she doesn’t quite fit into the white world either.

Imagine wanting to learn your roots. Wondering about your rich family history and how you belong. What would it be like to live in Africa? What about the character that Nanny claims is a “living spit” of Precious? What is Topsy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin really like? One day Precious gets the answer to all of these questions, leaving her even more isolated.

Its no wonder when Precious has her own daughter that she is unsure of what a mother’s role should be. “Having babies is something African women can do, but – from what I’ve seen in my life so far – it’s only white women who can be truly maternal.”

Precious finally manages to find the answer and her role in life. This memoir tells her story. It will give you insight into private fostering, issues of race, identity, struggles of color and class, and even a lesson on motherhood.

While reading, there were passages that touched my heart, and others that disturbed me. I still cannot determine whether Nanny was a good influence, or if Lizzy was capable of doing more for Precious. I definitely enjoyed this memoir and recommend to others. In fact, I encourage you to participate in the giveaway below. Add this book to your collection!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


Precious Williams was first published aged eight when her poem took first prize in a poetry competition (she won £2).

Since then she has been a Contributing Editor at Elle, Cosmopolitan and the Mail on Sunday. Precious' work has also been published in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, Glamour, Korean Vogue, New York magazine, Wallpaper and several other publications. Her journalism focuses on health and lifestyle features and celebrity interviews. Notable interviewees include Nina Simone, Yoko Ono, Jon Bon Jovi, P Diddy, Bryan Ferry, Lenny Kravitz and Naomi Campbell.

Born in the UK, Precious is of Sierra Leonean and Nigerian descent and she has lived in London and in New York. She studied Periodical Journalism at the London College of Printing and English Language & Literature at Oxford.

Her first book, Precious: A True Story is a memoir about her childhood in foster care. The book is titled Color Blind in the US. Both editions will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2010.


Win a free copy of Color Blind by answering the following question in the comment section below. What are your thoughts on a black child being raised by white parents? Please submit your entries by 11:59 p.m. EST Wednesday, July 21, 2010. The winner will be announced by Friday, July 23, 2010. 

Contestants may also follow this blog, share this post via Twitter or Facebook, subscribe via e-mail, Google Friend Connect, and/or RSS feed to be eligible.

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher. This virtual book tour is sponsored by Books And… (www.booksand.net)

Virtual Book Tour: Precious Williams Interview

Welcome to the virtual book tour. Today we are interviewing the author of Color Blind, Precious Williams. Her first book, Precious: A True Story, is a memoir about her childhood in foster care. The book is titled Color Blind in the U.S. Both editions will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2010. For more information, please leave a comment below and visit www.preciouswilliams.com


L. Marie: Do you think your foster mother was really color blind?

Precious: I don't think anybody on the entire planet is color blind when it comes to race - and I don't think they should be either. Telling somebody 'I don't see you as black' is actually not a compliment. Hell, if somebody said to me 'I don't see you as a woman' I'd feel upset. I want to be seen as a woman - I love being a woman and it's the same with being black. I love being black. What my foster mother meant, I think, is that she doesn't see race as something that should separate people, and I'm with her on that one. In the UK there is sometimes a reluctance to even acknowledge a person's race, as if doing so is somehow impolite or something. I lived in America (New York) for several years and nobody - black or white - seemed to have a problem with coming right out with it and discussing race. In fact I remember throwing a birthday party there and one of my black friends chuckling away the next day about how I had "all these posh white people" at my party. I probably do have as many white friends as black friends and in America this seemed to be viewed as slightly unusual.

L. Marie: Yes, I have to agree with you and your foster mother. Race shouldn't separate people. What lesson do you want readers to walk away with after reading intimate details of your life?

Precious: I think despite how ridiculously awful much of my childhood and teenage life was, despite the rapes, the violence and the neglect from my mother, not to mention all the race issues - I strangely had quite a bit of self-belief. I think it was almost comical to those around me at times. I'd walk around as a child saying I was going to achieve all these good things one day, that I was going to become a writer. By about age ten I'd even already decided I was going to graduate from a particular postgraduate journalism course! The reality everyone around me saw was that I was this little black foster child living in poverty whose own mother wasn't even interested in her. I think they found all my talk of having a good future very odd and weirdly arrogant. So I hope people would take the message from my book that you really can achieve your dreams if you believe in yourself (and obviously work hard too).

L. Marie: Do you support private fostering?

Precious: I don't think private fostering is automatically a bad thing. In the culture I was born into - West African - it is not at all unusual for a child to go to live with distant relatives or even with people who are not their relatives at all. It could be temporary, it could be long-term and it might happen for a variety of reasons - the mother might be too young to cope, the parents might be studying full-time. The problem with the way I - and thousands of other babies at that time - were fostered is that it is potentially so dangerous. Our private foster carers were completely and utter strangers and not checked my police or registered by social services. We were literally available to anybody - that's an enormous invitation right there to pedophiles and other undesirables.

L. Marie: I have to admit I was shocked when I learned the major difference between private fostering and the foster care system we have in the United States. There is a lot of red tape here in order to get approved for fostering a child. However, as you pointed out, the private foster care there is not checked with the police or even registered. As a matter of fact, I remember reading that birth parents simply placed an ad in the paper. That's how Nanny found you!

Speaking of birth parents, how is your current relationship with your biological family?

Precious: My biological family is huge! I didn't know my Dad at all growing up. He was from Sierra Leone but had been sent to boarding school in England at the age of eight. I finally tracked him down in 2004, only to find he'd actually been killed in 1999 towards the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone. I got to know his two brothers, his sister and his mother - my grandma. They all live in America and they are great. I also have lots of cousins and second cousins from that side of the family, many of whom live here in England. I also have two wonderful half-brothers on my mother's side and they live in London. I am very close to my niece - who is 21 and reminds me of me at that age. My closest biological relative, obviously, is my daughter who is a beautiful and extremely clever young lady now. My biological mother does not appear to have changed much over the years. I love her in the way that I believe every human being should have love and respect for the woman who gave birth to them. But my mother has never seemed interested in me at all and has not been at all supportive. She doesn't have a relationship with my daughter at all. I don't really take it personally - it just is what it is.

L. Marie: Your goal was always to be a writer. Was your focus to write a memoir from the beginning? I get the impression that you would not have been fulfilled until your own story was told.

Precious: I think you may be right in saying I wouldn't have been fulfilled until I told my own story. However as a teenager or in my twenties the idea of writing a book all about my childhood and all its dysfunction would have been repellant to me. It's only been since I hit my 30s, had therapy and grew as a person that I even felt able to talk about any of this stuff. Up until my twenties I felt so much shame and distress about it all that I was unable to even admit to anyone outside the family that I had been given away at birth, fostered etc. My denial of my past was so intense that at one point, in my very early 20s I went to a routine gynaecological checkup but was still so traumatized from the childhood abuse that I leapt off the table during the examination and began crying and shaking. When the doctor gently asked me if perhaps I'd been abused in the past my response was actually to run out of the clinic and then, once I was on my own, there were floods of tears. But I never wanted anybody at all to know about my past. So this book is a big step.

L. Marie: Well I am glad you made the choice to tell your story. There are people who will be inspired and see that you made it through all the pain, struggles, and tears. Did writing the memoir help you deal with your childhood better, and to grow as an adult?

Precious: Writing the memoir was extremely painful. It wasn't a matter of just a few quiet tears here and there - it was explosive and digging up 'ghosts' like this is not for the faint of heart!

L. Marie: And look at you now: a journalist who focuses on health, lifestyle, and celebrity interviews. Notable interviewees include Nina Simone, Yoko Ono, John Bon Jovi, P Diddy, Bryan Ferry, Lenny Kravitz and Naomi Campbell. Of your celebrity interviews, which had the biggest impact on your writing career?

Precious: In 1998, fresh out of grad school for journalism, I managed to snag an interview with Nina Simone. A newspaper flew me to Nina's house in France to interview her. Nina can be - and was - a pretty tough interview so that was a real baptism of fire but it got my name out there a little bit in the journalism world and assignments rolled in quite regularly after that.

L. Marie: Okay this is a more personal question. I have always felt like I belong in London. How do you enjoy living there?

Precious: I love love love the enthusiasm for London that I hear so often from American people. It helps me appreciate London a bit more. To be honest, my friends and I who live here tend to complain a lot about London - it's too cold, the trains are too packed, it's too expensive, it's not as good as New York.... I love it when a friend from out of town comes to London and I get to see it through their eyes and feel some excitement for it. It is a great city and very easy to take it for granted. That said, my favourite city in the entire world is Brooklyn!
L. Marie: Cue Empire State of Mind! Well, Precious, thanks for the opportunity to interview you. And thanks to Books And... for coordinating this virtual book tour.
Readers, are you interested in reading Color Blind? Stay tuned for more about the author, plus a review and giveaway later today!

July 15, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Summer is a time to stray from the beaten track, to read books that might elude you in the busier season." -- O, The Oprah Magazine

July 11, 2010

The Carrie Diaries

Ever wondered how Carrie’s life was before Sex and the City?  Ever wondered if Carrie was always a fashionista writer with relationship tales? The Carrie Diaries is a coming-of-age story of an iconic character named Carrie Bradshaw.

Carrie grew up in a small town named Castlebury. She always knew she wanted more. The book focuses on her senior year of high school and her evolving into a writer. Some parts of the story brought back memories of my own senior high school days. I’ve had some of the same conversations with friends. Some parts reminded me of everyone but the Carrie we’ve grown to know and love. There are inconsistencies that cannot be overlooked. For instance, Carrie lives with her father and sisters after her mom passed away. But in the famous TV series, her father was absent in her life. Perhaps the book is better for young adults who didn’t watch the SATC series.

On the other hand, it’s a great “public read.” Public reads are what I call books that I am not ashamed to read in public. Qualifying factors include book titles and cover art. The Carrie Diaries is a cute feminine cover that resembles a brand name clutch. Underneath the book jacket is a hardcover design of “CB” initial logo. Very chic and fashionable, and eligible for a public read.

If you are looking to read how Carrie’s life was before the SATC book, TV series, and movies, then you will be disappointed. It a high school story about a high school girl dealing with regular high school drama.

Rating: ♥♥♥

July 4, 2010

Twilight Newborn

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is an Eclipse novella. I jumped on the Twilight bandwagon fairly late and have been hooked ever since. I guess you can call me a Twilight newborn. I've never been into vampires or supernatural beings. I am more drawn to the romantic aspect of the Twilight series. Nevertheless, I picked this book up since I'm still on a Twilight high.

It focuses on Bree Tanner, a newborn vampire first introduced in Eclipse. She is led by Riley, along with twenty-one other newborns. She usually hid behind Fred, a vampire with the ability to repel others and make himself invisible. Their relationship develops into a big brother, little sister respect. In true Stephenie Meyer fashion, Bree quickly becomes kissing BFF’s with the smartest newborn, Diego.

This novella expands on Bree’s short life and resembles fan fiction. The story finally meets up with Eclipse at the end. Bree is involved in a huge battle against the Cullen coven. We all know what happens at this point.

I understand Stephenie’s purpose in writing the novella. Like most series, the sub-characters are just as interesting as the main characters. She wanted to provide fans with a more detailed look into Bree’s life. I would have preferred reading about a more memorable character, perhaps someone in the Cullen coven instead. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Bree. This novella is just enough to feed your Twilight thirst, but your eyes will turn back yellow shortly after.

Rating: ♥♥♥

You can download it for free at www.breetanner.com until July 5th.

P.S. I hope that Fred meets the Cullens one day.

P.P.S. I am uber excited about seeing Eclipse on the big screen.

July 3, 2010

Books, Beach, & BBQ

Books, Beach, & BBQ on deck. 

Have a safe, fun Fourth of July weekend! 

Bitch is the New Black

Bitch is the New Black (BITNB) by Helena Andrews is a memoir that chronicles the young life of a single, smart-mouthed, sassy black chick from her early childhood to present time. Each essay tells a straight from the hip, funny, and sometimes sad memory. For instance, there was the time when she was kidnapped away from her lesbian mother. She talks about escaping reality every Thursday night via The Cosby Show. Walking her racist pug is a hoot! She also shares the events surrounding the loss of a sorority sister.

I literally started LMBO at page one when she’s instant messaging the “Nigerian e-mail scam of ex-sorta boyfriends.” I totally related to her equation: x + y = gtfohwtbs (if “x” ≥ 28 years old and "y" = socially retarded men). Heck, I don’t feel 28 years old or like an adult either, just adult-ish. At times, I also feel like the little old lady living in a shoe that nobody comes to visit because I’m too far from the city. I could relate to almost every essay, as I’m sure other chicks can too.

Helena is a journalist so I wasn’t surprised with how well written her debut is. This book is the talk of the town. It’s been a long time since I read a book that’s the new must-read. Actually, this is the first book that created a big buzz since Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. I recommend picking up a copy and joining the online book club. Follow @bitchclub on Twitter, search #BITNB, or comment here.

I seldom read books more than once, and hardly ever back-to-back. But I will definitely read BITNB all over again. Its that good! All ages, races, and even males enjoy this hilar memoir. It is something within its 241 pages for us all.

Also, if you enjoyed BITNB, I highly recommend Jen Lancaster's first memoir titled Bitter is the New Black. Another guaranteed LIRL read.

Rating: ♥♥♥