Archive for October, 2010


Book Review: ‘Have a New You By Friday’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes


Guten Thanksgivenen…nen… er… okay, so I don’t speak German and I live in Canada. But it IS Oktoberfest, so that’s my excuse! Hah!

And now that you’re quite sure all the pumpkin pie has gone to my head (I’d rather it go there than anywhere else, if you know what I’m saying, ladies), I’ll get to the point.

The point is… it’s time for the September Blog Tour!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Yes, I know it’s October. But the books arrived a little late, so we had some extra time to read them & get our reviews up, so let’s just pretend it’s still September and that I’m not on a ridiculous sugar high, m’kay?

Here we go!

Have a New You by Friday 

by Dr. Kevin Leman


Release Date: September 2010

haveanewyou Back Cover Copy:

You can change your life–in just 5 days!

How many times have you tried to change your own habits, only to find that changing yourself is even harder than trying to change someone else?

Now, what the bestselling Have a New Kid by Friday has done for families and Have a New Husband by Friday has done for couples,Have a New You by Friday will do for you. With his signature wit and commonsense psychology, Dr. Kevin Leman walks you through your own personal five-day action plan. You will come to

  • Accept the truth about yourself
  • Boost your confidence by identifying the lies you’re telling yourself . . . and putting them to rest for good
  • Change your life by concentrating on becoming who you really want to be

I’ll admit it: I love Dr. Leman’s books. I’ve read nearly all his books about birth order, marriage, sex, and childhood memories. I’ve read his book on women who struggle with perfectionism, and I have his book dedicated to First Borns sitting next to me just begging to be read.

So, I come to this book with a bit of a bias. I love Dr. Leman’s easygoing writing style, his funny anecdotes, his sense of humor (self-deprecation is something I can definitely appreciate)… I think in some ways, Dr. Leman reminds me of my Dad. That might sound weird, but my Dad is pretty great (*waves* Hi Dad! I don’t know if you read my blog…) so I think that’s a good thing. Also, they’re both Last Borns, so that’s probably where I’m seeing some similarities in personality.

Anyway, parental reflections aside, if you’ve never read anything by Dr. Leman and you like self-help books that challenge you, here’s a great place to start. (Okay, one more plug, he also has tons of resources for parents, so if you have kids I highly recommend his books.)

This book is designed to force you to think and challenge yourself: What is it about your life that you want to change? Why haven’t your attempts at change worked before? What can you do differently, and what are the lies you’ve been telling yourself that have stopped you from changing in the past?

We all know that changing ourselves is much harder than changing others… we’re our own worst critics, and we all have these little “truths” we’ve carried around for our whole lives, whether we know it or not. Dr. Leman looks at these lies we tell ourselves, and challenges us to change our thought patterns. He looks at things like:

  • Birth Order
  • Love Languages
  • Childhood Memories
  • Your Real Personality

Now, here’s the thing – because I’ve read all of Dr. Leman’s books on birth order and childhood memories before (and Gary Chapman’s Love Languages book, which Leman references), this book in particular didn’t contain anything new for me. It was a bit of a re-treading in familiar territory, so I didn’t find it all that exciting or helpful.

However, if you’ve never read his stuff before, this is a great synthesis of the material he’s known for. If you’re looking for real change in your life that lasts, Dr. Leman’s methods are an excellent place to start!

leman About the Author: Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known psychologist, radio and television personality, and speaker who has taught and entertained audiences worldwide with his wit and commonsense psychology. He has made house calls for hundreds of radio and television programs, including The View,Today, Oprah, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’sAmerican Morning, and LIFE Today with James Robison. He has also served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.

A bestselling and award-winning author, Dr. Leman has written more than 30 books about marriage and family issues, including The Birth Order Book, Sheet Music, Making Children Mind without Losing Yours, and Have a New Kid by Friday. He is coauthor, with his son Kevin Leman II, of a series of illustrated children’s books for each child in the family. He is also featured on 6 video series on marriage, parenting, blended families, and single parenting.

Dr. Leman and his wife, Sande, live in Tucson, Arizona. They have 5 children and 2 grandchildren.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


(Nothing) In My Mailbox

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

…that’s right, I didn’t get any new books this week!

I think that’s some kind of record… also… I feel strangely empty… MUST… HAVE… NEW… BOOKS…

Juuust kidding. :)

It was kinda ‘one of those weeks’ in some ways; I’m behind on reading your blogs (sorry!) and didn’t even manage to participate in the Crusader Challenge this time around. *sniff sniff*

But, on the bright side, the Muse Online Conference starts this week, tomorrow is a holiday, and I had a great Thanksgiving weekend with the family (I’m Canadian, so our Thanksgiving is tomorrow).

The coming week is going to be a good one, I’m sure of it.

Did you get anything in your mailbox this time around? If not, reading anything interesting?


A Brief Interlude

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I was going to post a book review for you all today, but I received something in my inbox yesterday that I’m going to share instead. I know it’s not exactly writing-related, but it’s an important issue that people are dealing with in schools and in the media this week, so I thought it rather appropriate (especially considering many of you either have children or write for teens).

The article below is all about educating children on the harmful effects of bullying and teaching them how to understand empathy. I particularly like the last paragraph, which says something I think we all need to be reminded of.

Please feel free to publish the article on your own blog or email it to anyone who needs to hear this message.


Responding to the Bullycides: How We Can Stand Up & Honor Their Memories
By Rachel Simmons 
Author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence

It’s been said that once you have a child, you look at the suffering of other families in a different way. You know what it means to love someone with your entire being, in a way that you never could have imagined before bringing your child into your life. In a way, every child becomes your child.

The suicides this week of two young men, Asher Brown and Tyler Clementi, are devastating, and they are sounding an alarm to all of us about the crisis state of bullying in this country. These tragic events are also a call to parents everywhere to stand up and speak out on behalf of tolerance, respect and dignity for children everywhere.

I can’t stop thinking about these two young men, and the burning humiliation they must have felt as they were dehumanized for their gender identity and sexuality. For parts of themselves they were born into, and could not change. Both were fighting to embrace who they were in a community as small as a dorm room and as large as a public middle school.

The suicides are also jarring wake-up call that we’re a long way off from an easy life for gay youth. I’m getting a little tired of hearing about how much easier it is to be a gay teen today. I don’t argue the point, but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook.

According to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) National 2009 School Climate Survey, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students experienced harassment at school in the past year, and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Nearly a third of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns. And while, yes, there has been a decreasing trend in the frequency of hearing homophobic remarks,  LGBT students’ experiences with more severe forms of bullying and harassment have remained relatively constant.

For all the rules and workshops and policies that anti-bullying advocates like me call for, there’s one pretty powerful weapon we can all use against bullying. It doesn’t cost anything, and you don’t need to bring any experts to your school to use it. It’s empathy. All of us – parents, teachers, mentors, big brothers and sisters – can talk with kids about what Asher Brown must have been feeling as he went to school, day after day: as he was tripped down the stairs, had his backpack emptied and its contents scattered, berated with insults like “fag.” You can ask: What emotions did he feel? Is there anyone at your school who goes through that? What can you do to help that person?

If your kids aren’t old enough to talk about the suicides, there are opportunities to model empathy all around you: when you give food to a hungry person, make eye contact with someone who is hurting, or acknowledge your own child’s pain by saying, “I know you must feel hurt right now, and I’m sorry.” Your children will learn to connect with the suffering of others, and feel the moral imperative to help, by watching you.

If you don’t already, institute a zero tolerance policy in your family for gay slurs. In schools all over this country, even the progressive ones, “gay” is a stand-in for stupid or weird. When kids use the word “gay” or “fag” as a slur, disrespect becomes part of their slang. When kids call other people or things gay, they dehumanize the people who actually are gay.

If you hear it in the backseat, in your kitchen, in the bleachers, say something. Be the person who stands up. Even if it embarrasses your child, do it. Check out this PSA and consider showing it to your kids, too.

Talk about and embrace the continuum of masculinity and femininity. An overwhelming number of kids get bullied because they look, act or speak in a way that deviates from the tough guy or girly girl. Most kids walk into schools every day where conventional gender identity is a source of respect and status – and a reason to put others down and disrespect them. Be the voice that exposes this injustice. Praise and support the gender-unconventional in your children and their friends. Support boys for being sensitive or unathletic; tell girls it’s okay if they don’t want to wear makeup, date or go shopping.

Talk about every human being’s right to dignity. This is a point Rosalind Wiseman makes beautifully. Even if you don’t support gay marriage or even a gay “lifestyle,” as some call it, you likely do believe that every human being is entitled to respect and dignity. Talk with your children about that distinction: we may not like every person we meet, or agree with everything they do, but each and every human being deserves to be respected and feel safe.
We can honor the memories of Tyler and Asher, and the others who took their lives this past week, by standing up for them and the countless other children who suffer every day at school. If not us, who? They are our children, too.

© 2010 Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence

Author Bio: Rachel Simmons is the author of New York Times bestseller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. She is the founding director of the Girls’ Leadership Institute. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Do You NaNo?

   Posted by: Faith    in NaNoWriMo

IT'S A MONKEY!!! Yes, it’s that time of year again… the time when aspiring novelists from all over the globe turn off the TV and pick up the laptop (okay, okay… or pen and paper, if you want to be all old-fashioned about it) to write that novel they’ve always wanted to write.

My question today is simple: Will you participate in NaNoWriMo 2010?

I will. I’m going for my fourth year of participating, and here’s why:

(Well, aside from the fact that I’m running my region for a second year. Yay!)

National Novel Writing Month is the only time that I’ve been able to consistently produce 1500-2000+ words per day, every day, for 30 days straight. I’ve tried in other months… can’t do it. I’ve tried other ‘boot camps’… still can’t get that amount written.

Why is this? I’m not sure, but I think it might have something to do with the thrill of the event AND the giant support network that takes off around October 1st and keeps on trucking until about the second week of December.

The forums on the NaNoWrimo site are amazing. Not only are they great for procrastinating, but they’re full of other writers who are also panicked about their plots, care for their characters, and who have great suggestions for times when you get stuck or feel like you can’t write anymore.

And the support is immediate… post about your troubles, you’ll get a response within the hour.

Where else and when else can we get that?

nanowrimo_01_120x90No, the greatest quality of work may not be produced during NaNoWriMo, but look at it this way: You can’t edit words that aren’t there.

It’s easier to rewrite crap than write a whole novel from scratch… so why not get those words down all at once so you have something to shape and mold in the months to come?

Plus, write-ins are a lot of fun and a great excuse to drink sugary lattes that you might not be able to afford (or bother with) during the rest of the year. And you’ll meet a lot of fun people in the process.

So… are you NaNo-ing this year?

Have a plot lined up and ready to go, or are you going to just jump in and wing it? :D

Come join me in the madness!


In My Mailbox (14)

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

So… there’s been a bit of chat around this week concerning this particular meme. It seems that some people think the ‘In My Mailbox’ posts might promote jealousy among bloggers, or be intended by some bloggers as a way to ‘show off’ the amount of ARCs they get or books they can afford to buy.

I think this is an interesting perspective, but an unfortunate twist on what I see as a way to promote awareness of different books among readers, and to take a peek at the bookcases of fellow bloggers and readers. I love seeing what books other people are reading and discovering books I didn’t know about, and it’s my hope that that’s why you’re here too.

What are your thoughts on ‘In My Mailbox’? If you feel it’s egocentric, I apologize, that’s not my intention when I participate. Do you enjoy it? Are there certain things you’d like to see inside ‘In My Mailbox’ posts when you visit the blogs that participate? I’m curious to know what you think! Hopefully this meme can remain a fun event between blog friends – I’d hate for a few voices to bring it down or turn it into something it’s not.

Anyway… here’s what came for me this week! Rather, here’s what I bought (I was weak… so weak…!). :P

FYI: In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!

(The last book is the only one that actually came in the mail for review this week… most of the others came out of a persistent weakness for Scholastic book orders…!)

So, with all that out of the way… what came in YOUR mailbox this week? :)


Book Review: ‘Radiance’

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Radiance Alyson Noel

Middle Grade Fiction

Release Date: August 31st, 2010

Synopsis (from

Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. She has picked up life where she left off when she was alive, living with her parents and dog in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. When she’s summoned before The Council, she learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a possibly cute, seemingly nerdy boy who’s definitely hiding something. They return to earth together for Riley’s first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But all of that was before he met Riley . . .


I’ll start off by saying that I’ve never read anything by Alyson Noel before, but I adore Middle Grade fiction. The cover of Radiance is also gorgeous… so props to the department that put it together. Very eye-catching.

But for me, the cover was one of the best aspects of the book. Gasp, horror, I know, how could I say such a thing? Well… I didn’t really like the main character, and I found the voice a little inconsistent. I wanted more development in Riley, more emotion. I think there was more emotion from her dog. But it’s not all bad! It’s a sweet book, with some notable flaws.

The sentences in the story are brief, choppy (in a good way!), and Riley definitely comes across as a snarky 12-year-old who thinks she knows everything. I get that – I was twelve once, and while I definitely didn’t have the confidence that Riley has, it’s clear that Noel has spent time with young girls and knows how they speak and think. This is great!

However… 12-year-old girls are also very squeal-y, are deeply affected by their emotions (it’s the hormones that start to come out around this time), and struggle to balance themselves between still being a young girl and becoming an adult. Now, since I haven’t read Evermore, I don’t know whether we see this in Riley elsewhere (Radiance is a spin-off MG novel from a YA series). But here, I found it strange that Riley accepted her death so easily, and took to being dead without much fuss.

Riley also had odd moments of rather extensive vocabulary that pulled away from her voice… that was a bit distracting. However, I loved the fact that she had her dog with her during the whole story, and the anecdotes about the dog getting used to the afterlife were adorable.

Finally, I found that the main plot took too long to get going… by the time Riley and Bodhi got going with their assignments, we were halfway through the book. Then we whipped through the main plot (Riley’s assignment and then Radiant Boy) faster than you could say ‘Boo!’ and the issue was resolved literally without hindrance. I kept thinking ‘it couldn’t have been that easy… it’s all going to go wrong on the next page and she’ll have to really work for it’ but… that didn’t happen.

For me, the lack of development in Riley and then the rushed resolution spoiled the story for me. At the end, I got the sense that this is intended to be a series, so maybe Noel plans to further explore Riley’s character in future books. As I said, I’ve not read Noel’s previous YA series where Riley is also featured, so I didn’t come into this one with any background knowledge. Maybe that would have helped.

Ultimately, I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this one more… but I’ve seen many other good reviews for it, so I think it may be a matter of personal preference for the author. If you’ve enjoyed her other series, pick this one up and give it a shot. Otherwise, maybe you’ll like it if the description piques your interest, but it just wasn’t for me.

About the Author: Alyson Noel is the #1 New York Times, and USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling, award-winning, author of FAKING 19, ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, LAGUNA COVE, FLY ME TO THE MOON, KISS & BLOG, SAVING ZOE, CRUEL SUMMER, FIRST KISS (THEN TELL)- an anthology, and the IMMORTALS series including: EVERMORE, BLUE MOON (July 09), SHADOWLAND (Jan 2010), and more to come in 2010/11/12. Her books have won the National Reader’s Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Books for the Teenage, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, Reviewer’s Choice 2007 Top Ten, nominated for YALSA’s Teen’s Top Ten Award, chosen for the CBS Early Show’s "Give the Gift of Reading" segment, and selected for Seventeen Magazine’s "Hot List" and Beach Book Club Pick. She was born and raised in The OC and has lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan, but now finds herself settled right back in California where she lives and writes full time.

(I received an ARC of this book for review from the publisher, they were not guaranteed a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.)