Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation (Super Special #2) by Ann M. Martin

August 28, 2014 2014, reviews 7

Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation (Super Special #2) by Ann M. MartinBaby-Sitters Club Super Special #2: Baby-sitters' Summer Vacation! by Ann M. Martin
Published by Scholastic Inc. Source: Borrowed
Pages: 256


After gushing about the greatness of the BSC Super Specials not too long ago, I couldn’t contain my excitement when a friend brought a copy of this to my book club last month. Add in a readalong put together by Rebecca from Lost in Books and the stars all aligned.

In true Super Special fashion, the girls of the Baby-Sitters Club are off! This time to Camp Mohawk, where they’re acting as CIT’s (Counselors in Training, of course). But the BSC is split into separate cabins – the horror! – so they keep in touch by writing separate chapters entries in a shared journal. So, why was this was my favorite BSC book again? It sounds…not so great. Let’s dig in!


Hey, Stace, thanks for the lesson! I’m glad that Ann M. Martin/her ghostwriter at least made an attempt at pointing out a common misconception.


This TOOK ME BACK. It might be a description of this random Randi, but it’s the series’ quintessential Claudia description. I’m pretty convinced that those parrot earrings were regularly occurring, too. I was too busy wearing stretch pants and puffy painted sweatshirts to know what fashion was when I first read these, but had I cared I would have wanted to look like Claudia.


You and me both, Stacey. You and me both. This is the one thing I remembered about this book’s plot as an adult. I had forgotten about Kristy’s makeover and Claudia’s love interest, but Ann M. Martin was a master at making children fear ALL THE DISEASES.

BSC4And there it is. Go ahead and add impetigo to the things I learned from Ann M. Martin. If I had the internet when I read this back in the early 90′s, I’m sure I would have Googled it and found all kinds of disgusting pictures, but the images in my mind were just as horrific.

I can definitely see why I fell under the spell of The Baby-Sitters Club, though I’m not quite sure why I fell so hard. Right now I’m feeling a little bad for the other books I ignored for years.

Have you ever gone back and read books from your childhood? 



The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

August 27, 2014 2014, ARC, reviews 14

The Undertaking by Audrey MageeThe Undertaking by Audrey Magee
Published by Grove Atlantic on 8/19/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


In a desperate attempt to earn leave from WWII’s Eastern front, German soldier Peter Faber chooses to marry Katharina Spinell based only on her photograph. Though they are married on opposite ends of the continent, within weeks Peter has earned ten days of honeymoon leave to spend with Katharina in Berlin. Surprisingly, ten days proves long enough for the pair to develop a passionate love too soon torn apart when Peter is required to return to Russia. In Peter’s absence, Katharina and her parents learn both the risks and benefits of inching close to the upper ranks of the Nazi Party hierarchy.

Just as it starts, with duplicate wedding ceremonies, The Undertaking is a novel told in parallels. Magee peers into Katharina’s increasingly lush lifestyle, furnished by her father’s partnership with a high ranking Nazi officer, while Peter struggles to survive under mounting trials in Russia. Magee’s sharp, simple dialogue and pointed prose keeps the story moving at a clipping pace that grows increasingly tense as the couple’s lives diverge.

Magee’s characters walk a fine line between perpetrator and victim, often stepping into the shoes of both. The Undertaking‘s delicate balance is able to capture the true trials of war and challenges of history, making Audrey Magee more than deserving of attention and praise.



The Booktopia Asheville Experience

August 26, 2014 2014, Book Events, bookstores, discussion, personal, travel 33

Booktopia1You’ve likely seen the tweets, but now you need all the dirt on #BooktopiaAVL. If you’re not familiar with Booktopia, it’s a series of weekend retreats for booklovers hosted by Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman of the Books on the Nightstand podcast. Each year, Booktopia brings an amazing list of authors  to three different cities and this time around I was lucky enough to squeeze into the Asheville event at Malaprops Bookstore along with the Jennifers from Book-alicious Mama, Jenn’s Bookshelves and Literate Housewife. So, who joined us?

Booktopia Asheville

Each Booktopia event has a participant cap in order to keep the weekend intimate, which ends up making it truly special. Throughout the day, the authors speak in small sessions (with spoilers welcome!) that end up being more like conversations than traditional readings. If you’re not a regular listener of Books on the Nightstand (you should be, it’s one of my favorites!), Ann and Michael regularly include these talks on their podcast following each Booktopia. I won’t spoil that for anyone wanting to listen, but there were some great moments from the sessions I was in.

  • Denise Kiernan is hilarious and passionate and SO full of knowledge. Her discussion of The Girls of Atomic City touched on so many important corners of history and had me itching to read everything she writes.
  • Ariel Lawhon’s (1) session showed just how fully she absorbed herself in the characters of her novel The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress. She also shared an incredible story that detailed the real life connection she developed with the family of one of her characters.
  • As we turned over pieces of Anthony Marra’s (2) novel, it became clear what a treasure he is. I realized that part of my love for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena goes to Anthony for his willingness to buck trends and do what was best for his story.
  • It was so much fun to be in a session with E. Lockhart (3) talking about We Were Liars where spoilers were allowed. It seems like everyone has been really great about keeping the secret for those who haven’t read yet, but hearing how the book came together without having to tip-toe was wonderful.
  • Wiley Cash (4) made a direct parallel between author readings and Hell, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a story come to life the way This Dark Road to Mercy and A Land More Kind Than Home did when he read. We were also treated to a fantastic discussion of Southern fiction and a bit of Wiley’s new novel.

Booktopia AshevilleIt’s never stopped a bookworm before, but I’ve completely run out of space in the library my husband and I just put together upstairs. That leaves me doing some pretty consistent culling and (attempting to) limit the number of books I bring in. I usually fail miserably, but managed to keep the purchases under control this trip. I did come home with a few books I’d been dying to get my grubby hands on and kept one (What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund, which was out of stock) on the wishlist.

Next year’s Booktopia locations are still up in the air, but I definitely plan on going if possible. It’s a weekend full of great books and bookish people, all in a cozy setting…what more could you ask for? The events sell out crazy fast, so if you’re interested in being there I’d highly recommend signing up for the Booktopia mailing list to keep up with the latest announcements!


It’s Monday August 25th, What Are You Reading?

August 25, 2014 2014, It's Monday, What Are You Reading? 33

mondayHonestly? I haven’t picked up a book* in three days and I feel itchy. I spent the weekend in Asheville, North Carolina celebrating Booktopia, which was incredible, but despite all the bookishness I didn’t have any reading time. I have about 100 pages left of Matthew Thomas’ We Are Not Ourselves and I’m going to pick up Neverhome by Laird Hunt in just a minute to get my fix. Once I can function, I’ll be able to wrap up all the Booktopia greatness!

*I’m lying. I picked up dozens of books this weekend…I just didn’t read any.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook

August 21, 2014 2014, ARC, reviews 17

Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia GlazebrookNever Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook
Published by Little, Brown Book Group on 8/19/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 256
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


When Clive and Martha’s daughter, Eliza, begins piano lessons with a new teacher, the couple is shocked to see a face from their past. But Clive knows that the reappearance of Eliot Fox has the potential to shake his little family, as Eliot carries with her a secret Clive hoped would stay long buried.

At its core, Never Mind Miss Fox is less about the twist it’s sold on and much more about the complexities of marriage. While it fails to deliver truly unpredictable suspense, it’s quite successful at deconstructing the secrets and emotions that can destroy relationships. Glazebrook’s prose is perfectly succinct and particularly suited for detailing the lifestyle her characters live and the quiet emotions they carry.

“‘You’re only sorry because you’re frightened of losing your family. You’re sorry for yourself.’ Yes I am, Clive thought. What other way is there? ‘Sorry’ would always start and end with himself.”

Readers turning to Never Mind Miss Fox in search of a mind-bending plot that keeps them guessing may be disappointed, however, when revealed, Clive’s secret feels real instead of pieced together for effect. Combined with Martha’s struggle to adjust to motherhood, Glazebrook has written a novel that tests the breaking points of marriage and examines the fault lines some are built on.


Disclosure, Sponsored Content and Keeping It Real

August 19, 2014 2014, Book Blogging Tips, discussion 33


I see an awful lot of chatter in the book blogosphere around the importance of FTC disclosure for book reviews, so why aren’t we setting the same standards for the sponsored content floating around?

I limit the disclosure on my review posts to noting the source of each book. We all know that ARCs don’t have value and I’m not being paid for my reviews, which are the two requirements for the FTC guidelines. I let my readers know the source of my books in interest of transparency but, as Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness discussed in her great post about Blogging for Books versus Blogging Because of Books, I think that centering language on an “exchange” is problematic and pushes books closer to being payments for reviews.

I do, however, think the disclosure rules should apply to posts that do clearly fall under the guidelines. And this is where I think we’re letting things fall through the cracks, my dear bloggers. Sponsored content, whether it’s paid in pure cash or nice products, has been pretty standard in other corners of the blogosphere for a long time and seems to be working its way into book blogging. I don’t see anything wrong with sponsored posts, if they’re noted as such, but I’ve seen some content over the past few months that has me a little worried.

Back in June, Kelly from Stacked Books wrote a post On Blogging, Responsibility and Content Ownership that touched on the topic after a fallout over sponsorship in the BookTube community. The major issue with BookTube was sponsored reviews, which hasn’t bled over to blogging as far as I can tell. Recently, though, I’ve noticed a pretty significant uptick in sponsored posts that hide disclosures and even a few I suspect aren’t disclosing at all. Is everyone doing this? Absolutely not. There are some great sponsored pieces with fantastic, clearly marked content. But I’ve also seen a few that scream payment with nothing noted.

I’m not aiming to point out anyone specific, but I do think it’s important to think about. If you don’t feel fully comfortable with a sponsored post or want to hide affiliation for fear it won’t be read, it will be clear to your readers and likely isn’t worth the money. FTC aside, many of us are proud of the fact that our reviews reflect our own opinions; don’t we owe it to our readers to clarify if we’re sharing something outside that framework?

How do you feel about sponsored posts? Have you noticed posts that hide disclosure or seem to be dodging it?