Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday 56: Week 56 - You Had Me At Woof by Julie Klam

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

I just received You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam:

You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness

Here's the blurb:
The hilarious and heartfelt chronicle of a woman learning the secrets of love, health, and happiness from some very surprising teachers: her dogs.

Here's my Friday 56:
"I don't think I'm going to be able to get him to obey for my Friskies when he's got his own buffet."

About the Author:
Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, New York.  After attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and interning at Late Night with David Letterman, she went on to write for such publications as O:The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, and The New York Times Magazine and for the VH1 television show Pop-Up Video, where she earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Writing.  She married the show's producer, Paul Leo. They live with their daughter and three dogs in Manhattan.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review for The Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman

The Home for Broken Hearts

The Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman

The blurb:
For young widow Ellen Wood, her Victorian home is a refuge -- a place to feel safe with her eleven-year-old son, Charlie.  But when money grows so tight that Ellen could lose the house, her sister, Hannah, makes a radical suggestion. . . rent out some of the rooms.  Soon Ellen has three lodgers: Sabine, a German coworker of Hannah's recently separated from her husband; Allegra, an eccentric but wise novelist; and Matt, an up-and-coming young journalist in search of his voice, who has just landed a plum job in London.

Ellen thinks three strangers are the last complication she needs, but they make her realize just how isolated she has become. Their presence exposes a secret she's been keeping hidden, as well as a conflict with her sister that is both shocking and revealing.  And while a love affair with a younger man seems like a fantasy powered by her imagination, Ellen can't deny her deep connection to Matt, or the changes he inspires in her and her relationship with Charlie.  Outside her home's sheltering walls lies a world of opportunity as well as danger.  Now that she's had the courage to open the door, does Ellen dare step through?

It's nearing a year since Nick was killed in a car crash. His young widow and their nearly twelve-year-old Charlie are still recovering from the loss.   Emma has retreated into her home and her sanctuary but their depleted finances have led them to open their house to three special lodgers: Sabine, Allegra, and Matt.  The lodgers bring much needed change for Charlie and Emma.  The friendships that come about,  the unexpected kindnesses  and camaraderie push the book forward and make it a fun read.

Emma is in a difficult situation and it is was to understand how she retreated into her home and her books, but I did want to shake her at times.  In contrast, Charlie is both charming and strong and quickly became my favorite character.

The Home for Broken Hearts is a story about family,  love, loss, renewal, and the power of friendship set in a beautiful suburb of London.  It's a fun and heartwarming read.

ISBN-10: 1439156859 - Trade Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (September 7, 2010), 352 pages,
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Rowan Coleman is the author of The Accidental Mother, which became a bestseller in the United States and Great Britain, and its sequel, The Accidental Family: Another Mother's Life, which was named an Indie Next Notable Book; and Mommy By Mistake.  She lives with her daughter and son in England.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review of The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt

"The most exciting saga about a flying pig nanny ever told.  There is a laugh on every page and a lesson in there somewhere.  I recommend it highly."                                           - former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright
The Adventures of Nanny Piggins
The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt and illustrated by Dan Santat

The blurb:
When the world's most glamorous nanny just happens to be a pig.

When Mr. Green plants a NANNY WANTED sign on his front lawn, he has no idea the ad will be answered by a pig.  Yes, a pig.  A fabulously sassy and impeccably dressed pig, as a matter of fact! With her insatiable urge to eat chocolate (and feed chocolate to everyone she loves), her high-flying spirit, and her unending sense of fun, Nanny Piggins takes the children on a year of surprises, adventures, and sugar highs that they'll never forget.

Paired with Dan Santat's charming illustrations, comedian and children's TV writer R.A. Spratt's wildly funny debut novel will have children and kids alike laughing and rooting for the feisty porcine nanny and her lovable human charges.

The book is eye-catching and with the endorsement from Madeleine Albright, I couldn't wait to start reading.

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins reminded me of P.L. Travers's Mary Poppins with the nanny suddenly showing up to respond to a wanted ad that is practically invisible.  And just as Mary Poppins brought all sorts of treats and magic to the Banks children, Nanny Piggins vastly improves the lives of the three Green children.

But the Banks had two loving parents, even if Mr. Banks was a little distracted by his work at the bank.  Mr. Green is much less sympathetic with his "job at a law firm helping rich people avoid paying their taxes" and his belief that  "he could not be expected to look after his children as well." 

The book also reminds me of Betty Macdonald's Mrs. Piggy-Wiggle because of the animals and adventures that seem to follow in Nanny Piggins.  Perhaps also because of the names of the characters are a bit similar?  Although Nanny Piggins doesn't teach the children life lessons or use all sorts of magic to curb bad behavior the way that Mrs. Piggy Wiggle does, Nanny Piggins brings a  sense of  adventure to the kids' lives. 

A playful and updated version of a nanny story, The Adventures of Nanny Piggins is a delightful, beautifully illustrated book that is sure to appeal to child everywhere.

ISBN-10: 0316068195 - Hardcover $ 15.99
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (August 16, 2010), 256 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author and Illustrator:
R.A. Spratt is an award-winning comedy writer with twelve years of experience in the Australian television industry.  She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and daughter.  Unlike Nanny Piggins, she has never willingly been shot out of a cannon. You can find her at

Dan Santat is a children's book writer and illustrator and Nanny Piggin's neighober. He graduated from Art Center College of Design and lives in California with his family, a rabbit, a bird, and one cat (but no pig -- she lives next door).  You can visit him at

Book Review of The Daughters by Joanna Philbin

The Daughters

The Daughters by Joanna Philbin

The blurb:
Unconventional-looking Lizzie Summers always expects fawning photographers and adoring fans to surround her gorgeous supermodel mother. But when fourteen-year-old Lizzie is approached by a fashion photographer who believes that she's "the new face of beauty," Lizzie surprises herself and her family by becoming the newest Summers woman to capture the media spotlight.

Author Joanna Philbin thoughtfully explores what it's really like to come of age in the thick of the celebrity world.  As Lizzie and her two best friends and fellow daugthers of celebrities, Carina and Hudson, juggle normal high school events with glamorous family functions, they experience the pitfalls of fame and the importance of friendship.

To be honest, I hadn't expected to enjoy The Daughters as much as I had. But the characters were so fun and sympathetic that I kept wanting to find out what would happen next -- I read the book in one sitting.

Lizzie Summers's at that uncertain stage that you can't help but feel for her.  She feels ugly and awkward and her mother's beauty and celebrity makes it all the more painful.  But her sense of humor and her close friendships with Carina and Hudson make her come alive as a character.  Their mix of sophistication and vulnerability, their quick wit and their united front draw you in.

Their world of NY privilege and fame remind me of Gossip Girl -- in the best possible way. Although The Daughters are much younger and more innocent, they're just as fun.

ISBN-10: 031604900X - Hardcover
Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (May 1, 2010), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Joanna Philbun
is the daughter of Live with Regis and Kelly host Regis Philbin.  Joanna lives in Los Angeles, California, where is is currently working on her next Daughters novel, coming in November 2010.