Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: What Color is Monday? How Autism Changed One Family for the Better by Carrie Cariello

Published by: Riddle Brook Publishing
Release Date: April 22, 2013
Number of Pages: 219
How I got this book: ARC from publicist
My rating: 4.5/5

Excerpt from book:

“What color do you see for Monday?” my son Jack asked as I heaved a chicken into the oven.  “What?” I said distractedly, turning from the oven to slice some potatoes at the counter.  It was late afternoon one day last fall, and I was preparing dinner and managing the demands of homework and tired toddlers.(One was in a tiara.)

 "What color is Monday?” he asked again, his robotic voice rising ever so slightly in irritation.  “I don’t see Monday as a color. Do you?” I asked, finally tuning in to what he was talking about.

 “Yes. All days are colors.”

 All days are colors.  On a seemingly ordinary day, Jack once again granted me the privilege to take a tiny peek inside his fascinating mind. Without preamble, he rattled off which color he associates with each day. And then, just as suddenly as the conversation began, he snapped his mind closed and moved on to something else entirely. I tried to probe further; why was Saturday purple?  Was the entire day purple, or just the morning? “I told you. No more,” he responded in a clipped tone.


First, a big thank you to Jocelyn Kelley at Kelley & Hall Book Publicity for sending me a copy of this book for review!

This book is about the beautiful Cariello family - Joe, Carrie and their 4 sons and 1 daughter. Their second son, Jack, has autism. Like all families affected by autism, they face many challenges and frustrations. But, they also recognize the hidden blessings behind autism as well. Jack is not his diagnosis. He is a brown- haired, blue- eyed fountain of knowledge about cars, dates, radios, and video games.

One of the features of being on the spectrum is having difficulties in social situations - whether that is picking up on social or verbal cues, reading facial expressions, making eye contact, or even initiating a conversation at all. Jack had a habit of sticking a finger in strangers' faces and demanding to know what color shampoo they used, or how many radios they had, or even when they thought they might die. Cariello initially found this to be quite embarrassing, but quickly realized that her sweet boy was communicating! He was initiating conversations and what started with a simple (and rather odd) question, often led to more in depth conversation.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is this:

"It's remarkable to me how their first question about Jack's autism echoed the very one I asked the doctor back in 2006 when Jack was first diagnosed. Will he always have it?

From there I quickly moved on to looking for ways to fix him, to repair his deficiencies, to make him normal. But in the past six years I've learned there is no "fixing" when it comes to Jack and his autism. Rather, we need to fix ourselves so that we can better understand and appreciate him."

I think this is an important lesson for everyone when it comes to children with special needs. Let's not focus on "fixing" them. We just need to focus on understanding them and loving them the way that they are.

I would definitely recommend this to anybody affected by autism, because I know that they will be able to identify with the Cariello family in some way. I would also recommend this to anyone who is not familiar with autism, because this book will give  some insight into what it's like living with someone on the spectrum.

To add this book to your TBR list on goodreads, click here. To order on Amazon, click here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday - I have "series-ly" put off reading these series!

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we are talking about the  top 10 book series that we have been meaning to get around to starting...but still haven't.

  Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzgerald - I own the first 2 so I have no excuse! The movie is slated to be made soon, so I have to get on this soon!
 Mortal Instruments series - seems like everyone in the world has read this but me! Movie will be out this summer, so it is a priority!
 Fallen by Lauren Kate - I own the first two and have forever. I've heard so many love/hate things, that I've kind of been scared to pick it up.
 The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner - I REALLY want to get to this, because I know it is very popular with the kids, especially the boys, at my school.
 Across the Universe by Beth Revis - bought this a long time ago and it looks really good, just keep putting it off!
 I started reading this one time in the book store and bought the first 2 books, because I was so intrigued...and then never got around to daughter recently read it and loved it!
 Unearthly by Cynthia Hand - love the look and sound of these books!
 The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Rodkin - I have been obsessed with wanting to read this - I look longingly at it all the time...and then it just ends up getting put off for some reason. My daughter read it recently and she fell in love and made me immediately order her the second one! Now she's mad that she has to wait for the third!
 Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - I've especially been wanting to get to this series after having the chance to meet JLB in person!
 Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck - everyone raves about this series! I need to see what it's all about!! I bought the first one about a year ago!
So, yeah, I've got LOTS of catching up to do! How about you? What series have you been putting off?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Stocking the Shelves #2 - clearance jackpot!!

I decided to check my favorite local bookstore for clearance specials since it had been awhile. They have a whole section devoted to YA markdowns, so I can get some pretty good books for great prices. I am so glad I went today - I hit a goldmine!!

1.) Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (with my membership, I paid $2.70!)
2.) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (2.70)
3.) It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han (2.70)
4.) We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (2.70)
5.) The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson (ok, this one wasn't on clearance, but I'd been listening to the audio book, and haven't been able to listen to it in the car, so I decided to buy it so I can finally finish it! Plus, I've been wanting to put it in my middle school library circulation!)
6.) When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (2.70)
7.) City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (I've been slowly building my collection - 2.70)
8.) Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff (2.70)

Such awesome deals, don't you think?! :) Thanks Books-a-Million for having a great clearance section!!

Next are my library of my goals lately is to read my way through the Sequoyah Master Lists (the Sequoyah Award is an award given by the state of Oklahoma for children's books. There are 3 categories: children's, intermediate, and high school) The nominees for the next year are posted in February - they just posted 2014 nominees - and the award is actually given every March.) I've been trying to read all the nominees in each category...there are 15 nominees per category! So, most of my library books are Sequoyah nominees...

1.) The Danger Box by Blue Balliet (2013 intermediate nominee)
2.) Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee (2013 high school nominee)
3.) Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald (2014 intermediate nominee)
4.) Payback Time by Carl Deuker (2013 high school nominee)
5.) Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender (not a Sequoyah, but wanted to read as it is very popular among our middle school students)

Well, my shelves are starting to overflow! If only I could add more hours to the day!

What books did you get this week? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter

Published by: Bloomsbury
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 320
How I got this book: e-ARC from Netgalley
My rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Summary:

"ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who's been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn's secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex - until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant - and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?"


First, a big thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book for review!

Ok, I'm a sucker for books about teen pregnancy - don't know why, but like books about psychological issues, I will read just about every book dealing with this issue that I can find. BUT, many of the books I've read are pretty cliche...girl gets pregnant, girl agonizes over what to do, girl ultimately decides that she can't bear to part with the baby and decides to keep it. Usually with much more help than is realistic. And they all lived happily ever after. This book wasn't like that.

I really felt connected to the protagonist, Evelyn. She was "real." She lived a party life, but still maintained a valedictorian status. She turned into "Bad Evelyn" (as she called herself) basically in an attempt to get her parents' attention, as they were too wrapped up in their own marital problems to pay her much attention at all. When she discovered she was pregnant, she was in complete denial at first. She refused to tell anyone...I think she was afraid that if she said it out loud, that would make it true, and if she kept silent, somehow it would go away. Then, she became angry. She expressed a lot of resentment towards her unborn baby...saying she hated it, slapping her stomach, and in her thoughts, referred to it as, basically, a parasite. I'll be honest, I kind of disliked Evelyn at this point, because I can't relate to those feelings. I loved every minute of my pregnancies and fell in love as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test. However, I know these are probably very normal feelings for a teen girl in her situation. And that is what made this such a "real" book. Slowly, we see that Evelyn begins to have some caring feelings towards "bean" (as she refers to the baby). She seems to be accepting her situation, but she seesaws back and forth in her feelings. She cares, but she still doesn't want it. The reader can really feel the confusion that Evelyn is feeling. We agonize over the choice that she is faced with...keep the baby or give it away. With her clear resentment towards "bean", it would seem like the choice should be easy. But, as Evelyn shows us, it's really not that easy.

At the beginning of the book, it seems that Evelyn is pretty much all alone. She doesn't let people into her world very easily at all. Even the baby's father, Todd - they had a sexual relationship for over a year, and she would not even refer to him as her boyfriend. She pushed both of her parents away, which is clear by her names for them - her mother was either "Ice Queen" or "Stiff *ss" while her father was "the Stranger." She couldn't even bring herself to confide much in her "best friend," Lizzie. She held everything in. She had us believe that she was all alone, but by the end of the book, the reader, and Evelyn herself, sees that there are many people who love her, and it is ok to let them into her world. Her aunt Linda and Linda's partner, Nora, and their 2 girls, have a lot to do with this.

I'm not going to tell you about how the book ends, and the decisions that Evelyn made. You will have to find out for yourself. It is well-worth the read!

To add to your Goodreads list, click here. To order from Amazon, click here.