Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book Y: LibraryLove April 2, 2011

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Book description~ Zoe Baxter has spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true – she is seven months pregnant. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare – one that takes away the baby she has already fallen for; and breaks apart her marriage to Max.  In the aftermath, she throws herself into her career as a music therapist – using music clinically to soothe burn victims in a hospital; to help Alzheimer’s patients connect with the present; to provide solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa – a guidance counselor — asks her to work with a suicidal teen, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then, to Zoe’s surprise, blossoms into love. When Zoe allows herself to start thinking of having a family, again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos that were never used by herself and Max.

Meanwhile, Max has found peace at the bottom of a bottle – until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor – Clive Lincoln – has vowed to fight the “homosexual agenda” that has threatened traditional family values in America. But this mission becomes personal for Max, when Zoe and her same-sex partner say they want permission to raise his unborn child. SING YOU HOME explores what it means to be gay in today’s world, and how reproductive science has outstripped the legal system. Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation – two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind – enter the courtroom? And most importantly, what constitutes a “traditional family” in today’s day and age?

After recently reading 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult ( pronounced Pee-KOE), I didn’t think I could like another of her novels as much…then I read Sing You Home, and I ate my words. This novel is incredible in every way. Before I get into the meat of my review of the actual novel, I want to share with you what made my reading experience even richer this time around; the experience I shared with some of my book club babes at the book release event for Sing You Home we attended in DC two weeks ago at the 6th & I St. Synagogue Cultural Center. The event was unlike all the other book events I’d ever attended and probably will attend. The event was at a synagogue and cultural center, which in itself alone expanded the horizons of many. Just because you do not relate to one religious group or another, tolerance of others beliefs, I believe, is paramount in being a good member of society and leading by example. The setting was a perfect backdrop for an evening of thought-provoking discussion about our current societal intolerance. Naturally, the idea that Picoult and her team wanted to show acceptance in the scene of the event, I thought, really spoke to the ideals in the book she was promoting.

The event was also not a standard vanilla reading, Q&A, and signing. Instead, it was an actual live interview between Picoult and a very well-known columnist from The Washington Post newspaper. The interview was insightful, thought-provoking, and truly an evening that left me feeling changed. In typical fashion, the girls and I made an event out of it so we got into town plenty early, dined in ChinaTown and then camped out on the steps of the cultural center and were first in line for the event. About 30 minutes after us, the line was wrapped around the city blocks. Picoult draws a crowd wherever she goes! This afforded us the ability to not only be front and center but we also got to meet Picoult before anyone else (and got us out of there at a reasonable hour for a work night)! Having read more than a handful of Picoult’s novels, we were all impressed with the interviewer; he really knew the body of Picoult’s works and had such great questions that spurred fantastic dialogue about truly controversial topics. Picoult also shared with the audience that one of her sons is gay and it is her moral, ethical, maternal obligation to raise awareness for tolerance around the country and for generations to come. What gave me an even deeper appreciation for Picoult as an author and an artist, was the fact that she stressed how in her books, her goal is NEVER to sway you or convince you or preach right and wrong. But what she does is try to make you, the reader, walk in someone else’s shoes and learn about a viewpoint you may have ignored. Through this, you will hopefully learn acceptance of others regardless if they believe what you do, or live the way you do, or even love the way you do. You may believe one thing. But is it your right to dictate your neighbor’s beliefs?  If it were only that simple, we’d have no hate crimes.

I digress…the event was also so unique because it was the first novel I’ve ever known that used mixed media; Picoult wanted the main character, Zoe, to have a real voice. Picoult wrote 9 original songs to each accompany the 9 chapters of the novel. Her friend and musician performed at the end of the interview portion of the event before the Q&A session, bringing Zoe’s voice to life. Even cooler? The CD of all 9 songs was included in the flap of the novel for everyone to enjoy in tandem with their reading experience!

Ok, so the book! Wow, wow, wow. Not even sure where to go begin because this book was SO incredibly thorough and spanned so many controversial topics, all woven and paced SO impeccably it left my head spinning (in a good way)! Obviously as you know from reading my reviews, I don’t rehash the books’ events, I rather react to them. You can tell by the description blurb up above if it’s a book you want to read or not. So with that, the shear idea of reproductive rights and embryo donation alone would’ve been more than enough fodder for an entire novel. But then add to it gay rights, radical religious viewpoints,  abortion, the power of music therapy on teens on the edge of suicide, whether a zygote or embryo are considered a life, where the love goes when a marriage dissolves, and how these issues play out in a court of law will leave you with paper cuts you’ll be turning the pages so fast (or a blister from pressing your e-readers)!

“Once, Zoe and I went to a wedding of one of her clients. It was a Jewish wedding, and it was really beautiful- with trappings and traditions I had never seen before. Th bride and groom stood under a canopy, and the prayers were in an unfamiliar language. at the end, the rabbi had the groom stomp on a wineglass wrapped in a napkin. May your marriage last as long as it would take to put these pieces back together, he said. Afterward, when everyone was congratulating the couple, I sneaked underneath the canopy and took a tiny shard of glass from the napkin where it still lay on the grass. I threw it into the ocean on the way home, so that, no matter what, that glass could never be reconstructed, so the couple would stay together forever. When Zoe asked what I was doing and I told her, she said she thought she loved me more in that moment than she ever had before.”

What I loved most about this novel and her other works is just how ridiculously fair Picoult can be as a writer. My favorite thing about her writing style, that many have started to copy, is how each of her character’s get their own voice as the book  is told from each of the main character’s perspectives. It’s amazing how Picoult is able to craft their voices and develop their characters so distinctly from one another. This allows the reader to feel such compassion for both the protagonist and antagonist simultaneously, even if you never thought you’d see eye-to-eye with certain life viewpoints. Picoult is never afraid to tackle the controversy of our modern world, but she does it with grace, elegance, and respect. Oh, and the ending? So incredibly satisfying, like a cold drink of water in the desert.

If you’ve never read a “Jodi Book”, I recommend starting with My Sister’s Keeper. It’ll pull you in and leave you breathless. Eventually work your way through Change of Heart, 19 Minutes, then make your way to Sing You Home; you will not be disappointed!

5/5 stars

6 down, 20 to go!

xoxo,

Library♥Love



 

2010 Wrap Up: It’s all about the follow through! December 31, 2010

We made it! 52 books a piece. 52 weeks. Lots of sacrifice. PHEW. Challenge indeed.

We’ve done what we said we would and we’re here to debrief!

Also, at the end of this wrap-up, scroll down to get the inside scoop on the challenge we’re embarking on for 2011!

Yep. That’s right, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Have no fear, the Bookwormz will keep you in book suggestions for another year!  🙂

“So we hear you’re reading 52 books in 52 weeks” What’s been the most popular question people ask when you tell them about this challenge?

FBK: The first comment is always, “A book a week?”, to which (mathematically) is correct. 😉 Then they ask how many I’ve read already and what my favorite and least favorite books of the year are. It’s quite the challenge and most folks are surprised and astonished at the sheer volume of books. (Enough to make your head spin!)

LL: Folks always ask me what my favorite book is. Oh and then they say “how do you have that much time to read?” to which I say “Ah hah. The difference is I make time to read.”  I don’t go to the movies and haven’t been since I saw Avatar last winter. I barely make time to watch my Netflix movies so instead of going out, we stay in and when I’m ready for bed, I cuddle up and read every nightwhich relaxes me, gets my mind on something else and helps me sleep better. I also learned that I don’t go anywhere without a book. One time a friend got lost on her way to meet me so I had an entire 45 minutes to read! While I’m waiting for friends, waiting at doctor’s appointments, in airports,  sometimes if I take a lunch break and often times I’ll opt to read instead of chatting on the phone or watching TV. As you can see, lots of sacrifices are made for something that you make a priority in your life.

How did you select which book you would read and when?

FBK: That depended on a variety of things. If it was a book I was checking out at the library, that moved to the top of the list. (There are limits there, ya know) As evidenced in my selections for 2010, I read a lot of non-fiction. That being said, after about two or three non-fiction books, I like to get into a fictional story and sort of “lose myself.” So I tried to alternate between the two and it just depended on what was available and when!

LL: Pretty randomly actually. Publishers would send us books to review, or whatever became available on my queue at the library, or whatever bookclub may have selected for that particular month. I love that there was no rhyme or reason and we were free to read whatever, whenever!

Did you have a favorite character from a book  you read?

FBK: Without a doubt, Bailey from A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. (You didn’t say it had to be a HUMAN character!) 😉

LL: Even though the ending really let me down, I loved Jacob from House Rules by Jodi Picoult. He had great intentions but was so misunderstood.

Which book was your biggest challenge and why?

FBK: Precious by Sapphire. It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I realized it was actually a work of fiction. While parts of it are based on reality, the story in its entirety is fiction. It was a struggle from the beginning to get past the language and some of the horrific scenes. This was also the first audiobook I’d ever listened to and it was challenging for me to continue. Parts of this story actually made me nauseous and I questioned the author’s judgment upon learning it was a fictional story. Stories can be told without the vulgarity that makes up the story of Precious. Given the challenges of this book, I actually gave it a “No Rating” review on this blog.

LL: Oogy by Larry Levin. I have such a tender heart for animals, hence my involvement in Akita Rescue. I had a lump in my throat the entire book through. Although the story has a happy ending, it is truly horrific to learn how awful humans can be to innocent animals. The author’s choppy style didn’t flow well either so I felt uneasy the entire way through.

What was the hardest thing about this challenge?

FBK: The challenge itself! Reading 52 books in one year along with all of life’s other commitments is a daunting task. I had a slower start than I should have at the beginning of the year and I really felt the crunch by the time November hit. I began to pick the shortest books I could find which was only robbing myself because I wasn’t going for the story itself, rather the quick length to meet the challenge.

LL: 1) Toward the end of the challenge, feeling the crunch and not being able to read the books I wanted to read because they were 400+ pages. I kept my December reads to 300 pages and under which was quite tough. So as you can imagine, I have quite the stack of books to get to that I’ve been waiting until 2011 for and 2) having to make a conscious choice to opt to read instead of doing so many other things. I also didn’t factor in how time consuming it’d be to crank out a journal-style reaction/review after each book.

What was the easiest thing about this challenge?

FBK: Getting to read constantly!

LL: We love reading, meeting new people, talking about books and meeting amazing authors!

Would you have changed anything about this challenge?

FBK: No but I am pretty sure I won’t try to read 52 in one year again! 😉

LL: Nothing. I loved the learning experience of this challenge. Reading is FUNdamental and I truly expanded my horizons!

What did you think about having to post a blog review in addition to reading 52  books?

FBK: I didn’t really think twice about it. I’d been posting reviews on books I read on PaperBackSwap or Good Reads prior to this challenge. So it was something I was already familiar with, but I did like having them all in the same place. The reviews I shared on our blog are also posted on Good Reads as I still think that’s a great website for checking other’s opinions if you’re in doubt about a book!

LL: So many feelings one gets from reading are in the abstract and cannot be articulated properly, especially when under a time crunch. So, feeling pressurized to write insightful and thorough book reviews is tough. My goal wasn’t to give you a play-by-play of the book. I gave you the publisher’s book description followed by my personal thoughts, feelings and reactions and a rating from 1-5. If you’re intrigued to read the book, I think this is more than sufficient.

Are you glad you signed on for this challenge?

FBK: Yes and I’m also glad it’s over! 😉 haha!

LL: Most definitely! I met so many amazing authors, read books that took me FAR out of my comfort zone, and I loved sharing the blog with strangers I’d meet. I also feel an amazing sense of pride in the fact that I successfully completed my first ever New Year’s Resolution! It was also a shocking conversation piece. You wouldn’t believe what people share about reading and how disarming of a topic it can be. Reading spans religion, race, country, and political beliefs. Even if you don’t share the same walk of life, everyone can appreciate reading. Reading brings people together.

What was the most unexpected thing about this experience?

FBK: The following we received. I remember posting a review and less than 12 hours later had a comment from the author himself! I’m not sure how he knew I posted it but that was pretty cool 🙂 For me, it’s been fun to make friends with the authors whose work I really admire!

LL: Getting free books and meeting some of the most prolific authors!

What are you looking forward to most about the new 2011 challenge?

FBK: Next year’s challenge will be less in quantity so will be more on the “fun side” rather than “challenging” per se.

LL: Having a bit more wiggle room to read bigger books (aka Chunksters)!

What were your top favorite picks of 2010 (in no particular order).

FBK:

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2. Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush

3. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

6. Who Do I Lean On? by Neta Jackson

7. Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

8. Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey

9. Radical by David Platt

10. So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore

LL:

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2. ROOM by Emma Donoghue

3. The Thirteenth Take by Diane Setterfield

4. The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

5. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Jessica Skloot

7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

8. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

9. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

10. The Blue Notebook by James Levine

Was it hard to stay true to the book buying ban?

FBK: No way! There are too many resources to be spending money on every book we read. (And at 52 books a year, that would have been A LOT!) However, I love to support authors whose books I really enjoy and I do not hesitate to purchase a book at a signing that I will keep and share with friends. I love the chance to meet the author, thank them for their work and hear their thoughts and opinions on their books. So book signings are where I indulge guilt-free!

LL: Not at all!! I love the library, Paperbackswap.com, borrowing from friends or getting free books from publishers. Besides, I hate clutter, I love saving money, AND hate to buy books that I don’t know for sure I will love. Only my favorite books and those autographed by the author are worth keeping on my shelf! Less is more. 🙂

Talk about some of the sacrifices you made in 2010 to complete this challenge.

FBK: In hindsight, it seems I didn’t have as much free time…wonder why?? No really, this was a challenge of discipline and once finishing one book, it was literally time to pick up the next and start on page 1. To answer my sacrifice in a word…time. Time that I could be doing a thousand other things, but I was reading instead.

LL: Less time talking on the phone, less time watching DV-R’d shows, didn’t go out to the movies for the entire year either! I barely have time to watch my Netflix weekly movie so I definitely made the sacrifice and I am thankful I did. I feel so accomplished and thankful to have done this with Fabookulous as my partner in crime. It’s always better together 🙂

Alright, now for the information you’ve all been waiting for…what will we do in 2011?!

Click here for the skinny!

We hope you’ll continue to follow us, continue to stop by and give us your feedback, offer us your book suggestions especially for the tougher letters,  and most of all keep us motivated!

Happy New Year and we’ll see you around the alphabet…

Warmest wishes,

The Bookwormz

 

Cupcakes, friends, and Weiner! Oh My! July 15, 2010

Rewind! As you know if you follow this blog, Jennifer Weiner (pronounced WHY-ner) is one of our most favorite authors. She’s adorable, hilarious and approachable. I owe my love for Weiner to one of my best friends, Heather, who lives out-of-town. Heather got me hooked on Jennifer Weiner’s writing a few years ago. My gal pals, Fabookulous included, were hooked too!  We had the chance to meet Weiner last summer when she toured in our area where I also sparked a new friendship with another one of my besties, Planet Books! For Heather’s birthday last year, I gifted her with a copy of Best Friends Forever (how apropos?!) signed with a special birthday message from Weiner! We vowed that next time Weiner came to our area, Heather would be in tow. As luck would have it, Heather was planning a summer visit to stay with my husband and I this July so we could celebrate her early birthday together! We booked this on the calendar about six months ago. One fine day, Fabookulous sends me the serendipitous news that Weiner’s summer book tour stop in our town fell during Heather’s visit to us!

The stars aligned and we had such an amazing evening tonight, all together!  Oh and unless you live under a rock, you know that cupcakes are the latest craze all over the place, especially on the east coast. So as a perk for going to Weiner’s author event, she’s had each city’s best cupcakery cater cupcakes for the entire audience! After a quick dinner, we settled in to an evening of cupcakes (courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake), best friends AND Jennifer Weiner!!! What more could a girl ask for? Well, one of my other favorite author friends, Sarah Pekkanen, jet-lagged and all from her whirlwind European tour came by at the end. I was so glad to introduce her to my friends who enjoyed her novel, The Opposite of Me, as well! What a two-fer!

As usual, Weiner was dynamic, witty, and personable. She even gave Heather a hug and thanked her for coming from such a far distance. It was a truly magical evening getting to share so many wonderful things with so many wonderful people. When it was my turn to have my books signed, I asked Weiner how she ‘unplugs’ from all the distractions of Facebook, Twitter, email, blogging, writing…oh and being a wife and mother! She said that reading is her escape and an outlet for unwinding. I really enjoyed hearing that and could relate 100%!

Jennifer, we’re some of your biggest fans and we are so thankful that authors like you take time to connect with your fans the way you do. If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of Weiner or Pekkanen’s events, I highly recommend it! Thanks again to my wonderful friends who made the night the even yummier icing on the already delicious cupcake! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I have THE most wonderful friends a girl could ever ask for. Ladies, I’ll be your den mother any day of the week! *mwah*

Off to tend to my out-0f-town guests. We’re looking forward to our relaxing pool day tomorrow and Heather’s (early) birthday party Saturday! Back to your regularly scheduled programming. This bookworm is ZONKED. Over and out!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


 

Pardon the interruption:: Summer update 2010:: July 12, 2010

Hi! It’s me/us! Sorry we don’t have another book review quite yet. Just a few miscellaneous housekeeping items to attend to now that summer is in FULL swing!

First order of business- planning to attend any of the fantastic author events at this year’s Fall For The Book Festival? If you’ve been to their website lately, you may have noticed that our blog made the 2010 Fall For The Book Festival’s Blogroll! Whoop! Check us out! 🙂

Second order of business- many of you have been asking both Fabookulous  and I for beach/pool reads to stock up your library queue before you head out-of-town on that long-overdue vacation by the surf and sand. It is a fantastic time to soak up the rays and enjoy a good read before the hustle of the fall begins again. No, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom but when good information crosses my path, I feel compelled to share it.

Fabookulous and her family shared this important article with me about the dangers of what I found to apparently be ALL ‘convenience store’ sunscreens after hearing my continual plight about how sensitive my skin is to sun and how I burn with SPF 90 on! I love when my friends and their children join us for pool dates and want everyone to be savvy swimmers/sunbathers! Please do us bookwormz a favor and take a moment to read this article and educate you and your friends about what to look for next time you buy sunscreen. Take it for what you will, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry with your body’s first line of defense? Sorry, I can’t help but be passionate about wanting my friends and loved ones to live long and healthy with many more summers to share with me, by the pool!

Note: As an experiment, I went to CVS, Walgreens and just for kicks, found they had not ONE product without these harsh chemicals!! I went to my neighborhood Wegmans and found the Badger brand that is named below in the article, my new favorite brand!

I bought a bottle for my pool bag and a bottle for my husband’s work bag (his career involves a lot of time spent outdoors in the elements) and cleared out their shelves. I asked the manager to order a case.

Oh and if you won’t read the whole article, please at least scroll down to see my summarized “take away” of the most important things to look for when buying sunscreen. Enough already, here’s the article:

Is Your Sunscreen Dangerous?

As we’re all diligently slathering on sunscreen to prevent cancer, out comes a new report suggesting that ingredients in many brands — including the most popular ones — may actually raise cancer risk, and that’s not the only health problem associated with them. It isn’t just a single common ingredient that new research has raised some concerns about — it’s far worse than that. Many widely available sunscreens contain potentially dangerous ingredients… provide inadequate protection… and are portrayed by their marketers as far more helpful than they actually are. The list of offenders includes leading brands that you know and trust and even some products designed just for babies. When the Environmental Working Group issued its 2010 guide to the best and worst sunscreens, the nonprofit watchdog gave its OK to just 3 9 products — which amounts to a mere 8% of the 500 sunscreens evaluated! When I saw this newest report, I immediately placed a call to EWG research analyst Nneka Leiba, MPH, to find out what’s going on and to see what she thinks we all should know about our sunscreens. According to Leiba, the FDA bears some serious responsibility for this problem — she said that the agency has had no mandatory regulations for sunscreens or their ingredients. (Regulations may be in place by October 2010, according to the most recent official estimate.) Companies have not been required to verify that sunscreens work… to test that their sun protection factor (SPF) levels are accurate… or to show that other claims, such as whether they are waterproof or protect against UVA rays, hold up. We went one by one through the various health hazards we need to know about…

Danger: Cancer-Causing Ingredients
Leiba told me that nearly half the sunscreens examined by EWG contained one or two cancer-causing ingredients. One is a hormone-disrupting chemical that penetrates the skin, disrupting the normal functioning of the body in ways
that can lead to cancer and other serious medical problems… and the other is a vitamin A derivative that when exposed to sunlight — sunlight! — may encourage skin cancer.

What not to buy: Avoid sunscreens with these dangerous ingredients…

* Oxybenzone. A hormone-disrupting chemical linked with endocrine disruption and cell damage (and low birth weight when used by pregnant women). Oxybenzone can penetrate the skin and enter your bloodstream and is
an ingredient in about half of sunscreens.
* Retinyl palmitate. A vitamin A compound associated with the accelerated growth of skin lesions and tumors. Manufacturers put vitamin A derivatives in sunscreens because they are popular antioxidants that slow
signs of aging, such as wrinkles and rough skin. But FDA data suggest that vitamin A has photo-carcinogenic properties, which means that when exposed to the sun, it may speed up cancer formation. EWG found retinyl palmitate in
41% of sunscreens.

Danger: No UVA Protection
Many sunscreens offer protection only from UVB rays — the type of ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn — while it is known that UVA rays are also destructive and can cause skin cancer… in addition to all those other unattractive things the sun can do to our skin over time.

What to buy: EWG recommends purchasing broad-spectrum sunscreens that derive their protective properties not from chemicals that penetrate the skin, but from the metals titanium or zinc, which stay on the surface of the skin, do
their job to protect you and then can be washed off entirely.

Danger: Accidental Inhalation
Sunscreens are meant for external use only, but when you use them in the increasingly popular spray or powder forms, you are in danger of inhaling them. While inhaled particles of any size can pose a health risk, tiny nanoparticles — ultra-tiny particles used in many of these formulations — can more easily penetrate linings and tissues in your body and cause inflammation.

Advice: EWG suggests using sunscreens only in cream or lotion form and says
not to apply any type of sunscreen to broken skin.

Danger: You’ll Get Burned
The high SPF levels touted on many sunscreen labels are a growing concern at EWG. The organization says that these claims are misleading because the products may not provide more protection than sunscreens labeled with lower
SPFs — and people may therefore be misled into thinking that the higher number means that they can spend more time in the sun. It’s not widely understood that SPF applies to only one type of cancer-causing ultraviolet ray — UVB. It tells you nothing about a product’s ability to filter UVA rays. That’s a false sense of security, warns Leiba. People end up staying out in the sun longer than they can safely tolerate.

What to do: Apply safe sunscreen in lavish amounts. Studies show that most consumers use only one-quarter to two-thirds of the amount needed to reach a product’s SPF rating. Sunscreen should be applied generously (about an ounce or palmful to cover all exposed skin)… early (30 minutes before sun exposure) to allow its protective capabilities to work… and often, typically every two hours (more often when swimming or exercising enough to
make you sweat). There’s no consensus on an optimal SPF: The American Cancer Society recommends that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15… while the American Academy of Dermatology says 30… and the FDA says that
any SPF rating above 50 is “inherently misleading.”

HALL OF SHAME: THE WORST OFENDERS
Beware of sunscreens with SPF ratings higher than 50, especially when combined with “baby” on the label. The implication is that they are safe as can be, but the reality is that many offer little or no UVA protection and some also contain dangerous ingredients. The EWG’s “Hall of Shame” indicts…

*       Banana Boat Baby Max Protect, SPF 100: No UVA protection — and it
contains oxybenzone and vitamin A.

*       Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection, SPF 55: Label says “mild as
water,” but warns “keep out of reach of children and seek medical help from
poison control center if ingested.” Also contains oxybenzone.

*       Banana Boat Ultra Defense Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50: Misleading
advertising says “it doesn’t break down,” which might lead consumers to
think it will last all day.

*       Hawaiian Tropic Baby Crème Lotion, SPF 50: Does not have the
advanced UVA protection advertised on the label, and also contains
oxybenzone and vitamin A.

See a full list of EWG’s lowest-rated sunscreens at
<http://edhn.bottomlinesecrets.com/a/hBMMscJB74VNIB8NwDYNHDbUdAm/dhn4>
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/buyer-beware/.

HALL OF FAME: TOP-RATED SUNSCREENS

All 39 of EWG’s top-rated sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium
dioxide. Top recommendations include…

*       All Terrain Aquasport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30

*       Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 30

*       Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30+

*       Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick, SPF 30

*       Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+

See a full list at
<http://edhn.bottomlinesecrets.com/a/hBMMscJB74VNIB8NwDYNHDbUdAm/dhn5>
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/.

Source(s):
Nneka Leiba, MPH, research analyst, Environmental Working Group

In summary:

1) Don’t buy sunscreen with oxybenzone or retinyl parmitate

2) Don’t buy sunscreen above SPF 30

3) Don’t buy aerosol sunscreen

4) Buy sunscreen with high concentrations of Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Oxide

5) Be aware of sun exposure!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove & Fabookulous



 

Gearing up for Book Blogger Appreciation Week June 16, 2010

September 13-17th is National Book Blogger Appreciation Week and Year of the Bookwormz2010 is entered in the running for 2010 Best Eclectic and Best Written Book Blog!

We look to our readers, fellow book bloggers and favorite authors for suggestions and ideas. Many of our readers turn to us before loading up their library queue. What better time to appreciate your favorite book blogs than during the Book Blogger Appreciation Week coming this fall, especially if a book blog helped you discover some of your favorite reads!

We were asked to select 5 blog posts in each category that best represent our voice here at Year of the Bookwormz. This blog is not only unique in that we review ALL genres of books, but it’s jointly managed by both of us so the only way to fairly participate is to enter one category each. So thanks to our loyal fans, below are links to our most popular and/or most commented posts that we selected as entries. Thanks so much for making this blog a success and for all  your enthusiasm so far!

Entries for Best Written Category

1) Book #7: Fabookulous

2) Book #10: Fabookulous

3) Author Spotlight: Laura Bush

4) Book #17: Fabookulous

5) Book #20: Fabookulous

Entries for Most Eclectic Category

1) When World’s Collide: Sue Monk Kidd & Jenna Lamia

2) Book #26 LibraryLove

3) Book #24 LibraryLove

4) Author Spotlight: Garth Stein Author Event

5) Book #18 LibraryLove

As an added bonus, each blog entered in Book Blogger Appreciation Week is asked to select 1 work of fiction (wish we could pick 5!) as their favorite.

We selected Beth Hoffman’s best selling novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, as our 2010’s Best Fiction. Reviews of her novel here at YOTBWZ received the most blog hits and searches of all, AND she was kind enough to allow us to host a CeeCee Giveaway! Good luck Beth, we hope you win! we’ll also let you know closer to the time if voting is open to the public!

xo♥xo,

Year of the Bookwormz


 

Book #32 LibraryLove June 10, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Book description~ Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life. Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even, to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much. Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined. Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

Having read each of Emily Giffin’s previous novels, I couldn’t help but have extremely high expectations of her latest release, Heart of the Matter. I met Giffin during her summer tour with some of my best girlfriends beside me. At her event, Giffin was endearing, hilarious, and so accessible as a wife and mother of three small children.

HOM stresses the importance of life’s subtle nuances and hammers home the idea of not taking life for granted, especially for Tessa and Valerie, whose lives intertwine as a result of a tragic accident and an even more tragic circumstance. Tessa’s husband, a top surgeon, is married to his job and must leave her side when his pager beeps to go tend to another family.  Valerie is a single mother struggling to give her son the life he deserves. Early on, the book draws you in as the character development begins. I was right there with Tessa, the eternal optimist, as the daily minutiae set in of such things as what snacks to pack for her child’s classmates and gossip around the school. It is while Tessa’s friend April shares the latest town gossip, that Valerie and Tessa’s stories become interconnected. I was still 100% on board until I predicted the outcome 100 pages into the 350+ page novel. The book was not only a bit too formulaic for me, but the subject matter is one that disgusts me. If you’ve read Something Borrowed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And although it was bad in SoBo, what unfolds about 200 pages in to HOM is despicable. Every book needs a protagonist, a villain, I get that. But the situation in SoBo didn’t involve a married couple. Nick, Tessa’s husband, is so quietly self-contained that Tessa’s mother’s frenetic ways basically give away the plot early on, picking at their marriage and creating an aire of doubt within the reader, making it tough to fully commit to connecting with Valerie and Nick’s characters, knowing what’s to come. I just couldn’t help but feel like this story was one that was told 1,000 times before. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Giffin’s writing style, so conversational. But pair the awful subject matter, which is completely unoriginal, with the way this book was constructed and it just went off the deep end for me. The story is written in Tessa’s first person POV and then switches back and forth between Valerie’s third person POV. I would have liked this book better if, as the reader, we could’ve been inside Valerie’s head too. Authors make very specific choices for a reason. The next time I get the chance to chat with Giffin, I’d like to ask her why she constructed the book this way. If you happen to know, please drop me a comment and let me know why you think it was done. I’ve seen it done before and it worked from authors like Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult, and Anita Shreve; I just didn’t feel it this time. I’m sure she had a great reason and I’d love to find out what it is.  Regardless, Something Borrowed and Something Blue will still remain intact as my two favorite Giffin novels so far.

I look forward to hearing what my fellow book club babes think of HOM when we discuss next weekend.

While you’re here, make sure to enter our Second Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Beth Hoffman’s awesome novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt!

3/5 stars

32 down, 20 to go!

In progress- Wildwater Walking Club

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


 

Second Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway:: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt:: **WINNER JUST ANNOUNCED**! June 9, 2010

Twice is nice!  This summer is on fire already with more exciting news and another chance for you to win free stuff! Who doesn’t love free stuff?! Thanks to the kindness of Beth Hoffman, one of our biggest supporters,  favorite authors, and one of the sweetest ladies we know, I’m thrilled to announce our second super exciting sizzlin’ summer giveaway…

Enter now to win your very own FREE autographed first edition hardcover copy of Beth Hoffman’s New York Times Best Selling novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, packed with a ‘CeeCee slug-slingin’ pancake flipper and yummy bag of Wonka’s sluggles!

If you don’t get the joke, it means you need to enter this contest to win Beth’s laugh-out-loud pee-your-pants novel about the life-changing summer CeeCee spends in Savannah to hear what all the buzz is about.

How can you win this fantastic booty? It’s SUPER EASY!

Just leave a comment  below telling us your favorite summer memory, favorite summer getaway or favorite summer treat.

The contest will remain open until midnight on Tuesday June 22nd. Using Random.org, a lucky winner will be selected and announced here on Wednesday June 23rd. Don’t be shy if you’ve never commented before – now is your chance to win!!

Click here to read my review and click here to read Fabookulous’ review if you’ve not already done so. Our reviews of Beth’s novel received a record number of hits here at Year of the Bookwormz. With Beth’s paperback tour heading our way in early 2011, we’re keeping the buzz going about CeeCee’s story and spreading the word about Hoffman’s debut Southern Fiction masterpiece. Bookmark Beth’s beautifully designed webpage;  you will NOT want to miss her on tour in your city! If you loved books like The Help and/or Secret Life of Bees, you will LOVE CeeCee’s story!

We look forward to reading all your entries!

Good luck 🙂

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- my favorite summer memory is hanging by the pool feeling like I’m on a deserted tropical escape with no baseboards to clean, dog hair to vacuum, or laundry piling up! My favorite summer getaway is heading w/friends to my neighborhood “quiet pool” every weekend, and my favorite summer treat is frozen lemonade!

***WINNER JUST ANNOUNCED*** Check the comments to see if it’s you!