Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swallow This!!

Tanya Plank is a fantastic writer of the young, priviledged, slightly disturbed and disoriented New York professionals. She's the voice of the over-educated, preppie, ivy-leagued-to-the-max, "now what do I do to one-up everyone" generation. She "gets it" and she's telling!!   LOL

I thought her author's voice--her book was hilarious and riveting! It helps to know these Harvard-types she writes about, but I think anyone can understand a pompous person when they see or hear one...or read about them. Her characterizations are golden. Sophie, the swallower in question, is a loveable and genuine young woman for whom I immediately took a liking. I was on her side right away and kept by her like a glove to her hand throughout her struggles and humorous/humiliating revelations.

Tanya is right on in her dialog and descriptions; particularly in her scene at the fancy art show with Sophie's fiance's Harvard friend, Alana. Oooo, as slick and slimy as they come in a tightly wrapped ivy package. As well as with Sophie's own would-be friend, Samia, who keeps referencing herself and Sophie as "when you're young," as if to say she is now so mature and beyond it all--and that living and working in New York for even a short time has jaded and matured them like hot house roses....which it may, in fact, have done. At the very least it's caused Sophie to choke, hasn't it?

It's caused Sophie to revisit a childhood dysfunction...a fist-sized ball (FB) that blocks her esophagus and causes her to choke, actually not being able to swallow anything but tiny bits of food, drink or even her own saliva. Sophie is struck again by her swallowing FB shortly after her boyfriend proposes, and prior to a big Public Defender's Office advocacy case that she must orally present before a presumably hostile, multiple Justice panel.

Sophie is diagnosed with a psychological problem called Globus Sensate, but not before it has run amock within the strictly held confines of her fragile life. Sophie's secrets of the pornographer father, the wacky sister who pops in to humiliate and horrify...and the fiance' who can't believe his eyes, ears and understanding about the FB!!!...all make for a fun ride!!

I loved Tanya Plank's book. I loved NYC through the eyes of the Arizona girl and the Yalie mix. I loved the story through the words of a choking, swallowing dysfunctional lawyer!!! LOL What could be better than the image of a poor lawyer who can bearly talk for choking on her words! (with apologies to my sons)

This is a wild and fun romp full of satire, symbolism and insight into the lives of the educationally priviledged and spoiled vs the "real" people. It's a look into the workings of the public defender's life and the big city lawyer's mindset. It's a glance at the young bucks and brave girls who come to Town with all the credentials and hautier but missing some of the heart and raw bones of real life. And, a look at the other young "brave ones" who come hoping to make a difference against some mighty odds that aren't in their favor.

This is a book that's easy to swallow. Though, I have to admit, I suffered with Sophie when she was having problems swallowing. I felt myself closing up. I found myself putting my hand to my throat and getting a smothering feeling and practicing swallowing, myself. That's how good Tanya Plank is at writing!

You have to get this book. Ms Plank is going to be heard from again, and you're going to be listening and loving her!! Just like I do.

Oh, that this was a swallow!!!  Tanya would be tap-dancing her way to success!

Your Bookish Dame

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Not Just Spirited: A Mom's Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

"Blackbird"  by The Beatles ~  Jaimie's and Chynna's favorite song

Having struggles and successes with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder is an exhausting and bittersweet battle. Chynna Laird's book offers messages of both hope and a sense of "you're not alone in this" to the reader who seeks more enlightenment on this somewhat obscure and misunderstood problem called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder.

Often mislabeled in the categories of autism, Asbergers, or even "gifted," SPD is a neurological or genetic problem that a child manifests as early as infancy, and which may be progressive up to later years if it's not discovered and facilitated for the child's health and well-being.

The Disorder is often recognized when a child fails to make eye contact, withdraws from or rejects human contact of any kind including being picked up and hugged even by parents, exhibits hyperactive or underactive behaviors at different times, has a multitude of issues with clothing, fine motor skills, eating foods, smells and noises, making transitions, and going into the outside world in general.

It is amazing to me how Ms Laird even had a moment's time to write her book! Her precious daughter, Jaimie, has a severe case of SPD requiring nearly constant care and intervention. But her dedication to her daughter, her family of 3 other children, her husband, the therapists and doctors and teachers who worked in tandem to reach her child...and to families who may feel isolated as they wonder what is wrong with their child and how to find help, gifted her with what has to be a Herculean strength to set down a lighted path for others. She is to be highly commended for her efforts and her love to all concerned.

This is a book for parents, family members, teachers and professional care-givers. It's a word of instruction as well as a word of caution and hope. It's a book that deserves a hardback edition and much more press!

The only thing I found missing in all her suggestions to parents was an urging to take care of themselves! Strangely enough, Ms Laird doesn't mention taking time out to refresh, recoup and relax so one can be ready to meet the challenges a child with SPD presents. Of all the suggestions...I think this should be high on the list. In her writings about recognizing and finding help for Jaimie, she doesn't mention having taken time for herself or with her husband and other children apart from Jaimie. As a mother who had gifted children who demanded my attention in a similar fashion; that is, they weren't on the average track of most children, I found this advice sadly absent from Chynna's book because I know how important it is.

I hardily recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject matter, in seekers of "what's wrong with my child," as well as for therapists interested in a teaching tool for parents of SPD children.
It would prove an interesting read for parents who may have a child with SPD being integrated into their own child's classroom. And, if you are an adult with such issues as described above, you may want to read this comprehensive book. I found it most helpful in many respects!

Deb/Your Bookish Dame
For more information from Chynna Laird and about SPD visit her at her blog:   http://www.lilywolfwords.ca/

*Additionally, please read the comments left by Chynna to all of you and me recently, after she read my review:

Hi Deborah! Thanks so very much both for reading "Not Just Spirited" as well as for your wonderful post about it. I appreciate your support so much. I thought I would drop by and comment. =)

First of all I just wanted to talk a bit more about SPD in case any of your readers had questions. The nervous system has the very important job of taking in sensory messages from the environment through the various sensory systems then turning them into appropriate sensory, behavioral and motor responses. SPD interferes with this 'sensory processing' and the messages, then, aren't understood or processed properly causing what Dr. A. Jean Ayres (who discovered SPD and began the important reasearch on the disorder) described as a 'traffic jam' in the brain. In a nutshell, this means that children and adults living with SPD aren't able to interact with or respond to things or people in their environments appropriately because their brains aren't able to 'read' the messages from the sensory organs and, therefore, can't tell the body how to react to sensory stimuli effectively.

The symptoms you listed are what we noticed in Jaimie. These are not 'typical' of all children who have SPD as each child has a unique form of the disorder and will, therefore, display different symptoms. Jaimie's form of SPD is considered on the more severe side of things because all 7 of her sensory systems are affected and deals with tremendous anxiety because of that. She is in therapy now and is coping much better.

Another point is that many of the symptoms are 'comorbid' with other conditions (that just means that there are symptoms that resemble those in other conditions) such as Autism, Asperger's or ADHD. And, as you mentioned, there are gifted children who also display certain traits of SPD. Having SPD doesn't necessarily mean these individuals have the other conditions--only an appropriate professional can determine this.

What's important to mention is that if caregivers suspect their child struggles with sensory issues, they should seek the assistance of a trained professional who understands sensory processing, SPD and knows how to assess and diagnose it properly. I cannot stress enough how important that is. Find someone who will listen and guide you to the RIGHT resources!!

For more information about SPD, including finding a therapist close to you, please go to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation's website (www.spdfoundation.net). This is the main portal for anyone wanting more information or direction for helping their child or loved one.

And on a sidenote, I thank you so much for mentioning the importance of parents taking that "Me Time". I do not discuss this in the book as much as I should have (and that's because I was so focused on helping JAIMIE first) but readers will truly understand WHY you need it after reading our story. I now write many articles on the importance of taking that time to recharge, regroup and get back in touch with ourselves and ways you can do it. VERY VERY important.

I hope this helps to clarify a few things and I welcome your readers to check out both my website as well as my blog (www.the-gift-blog.com)and feel free to contact me through either. I also have a Facebook page for the book that your readers are more than welcome to join, chat and share.

Thank you for participating in this blanket book tour.


Chynna Laird.




Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Southern Writers and Okra Picks Challenge

If you haven't already heard about it, I'm delighted to tell you about the Souther Writers "Okra Picks Challenge." 

Please click on the headline above to find out all about this Challenge which was inspired and founded by Southern authors, themselves!  And, I for one am glad they  thought of it!

I have to admit to a favoritism for Southern writers. There's just something about their gothic vision, their love of the grotesque, family secrets, dark arts, legends, mysteries, old customs and humor that's based in the roots of our people. I love Southerners and those who write about them and all their idiosyncracies. Anyone remember "A Rose for Emily," by William Faulkner? That's the best short story I've ever read to date!

Here's a link to "...Emily" just in case you want to read or reread it: http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/litweb05/workshops/fiction/faulkner1.asp

At any rate, this blog entry has to do with the great Challenge (not Oprah but Okra...thanks be to God!) having to do with reading until March, 2011. Such fun! Follow the link at the beginning to find about it in detail.

We have to list the books we've chosen to read from a suggested list of fiction and non-fiction of recently published books.
I'm reading the following:

This might be the only novel, novel I'm reading that's for the storytelling.  I'm expecting it to be one that captures my interest like a Pat Conroy novel did.  We'll see....

Oh, yeah!  A real Southern, downhome gothic, and grotesque novel about a Louisiana family with all the gusto that comes with weirdness and strangeness!  Just my cup of tea!

This one really got my attention: stories of celebrated musicians and famous people who came to Nashville and why they came in the first place!

I can never resist a Kathy Reichs forensics novel! She's just awesome and frightenly good at what she does.  What a talented author, doctor and tv advisor!

Pat Conroy's story of how books saved him in a life of hardtimes.

I hope you'll join us.  I'd love to see what you've chosen and to keep following up with you as you review and talk about why the books chose you!

Bye for now, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving,

Your Bookish and Southern Dame/  Deborah

Miami Book Fair 2010

Miami's Bicardi's Building

This was such fun yesterday!  DH and I walked for miles, ate so many different things I felt like the proverbial child whose mommy tells her she's going to have a stomach ache, and touched hundreds of books!  We saw and listened to talks by authors...of "The Postmistress,"  "Major Pettigrew...,"  "Something Red,"  "Swan Thieves," and even ran across Jonathan Franzen and Susan Cheever, who has just written a book "Louisa May Alcott, a Biography."  

DH went with me for my sake as a "date day," and decided he wasn't going to miss next year and wanted to plan to get a hotel room for several days so we could hear more authors!!  How's that for a success story!

Miami was just gorgeous.  I haven't been to the city in years, so was very shocked at how beautiful the skyline is.  The architecture is stunning:  contemporary, artistic, shimmering mirror glass with structures of steel polished or smoothe...daring and dramatic.  Miami is a new city and proud of it.  New, big homes crowd the waterways with boat docks and beautiful, interesting boats.  The harbor is crowded with gigantic cruise ships of every variety and taste....streamers, colorful side painted logos, huge fins on top, and glimmering decks of windowed cabins.

There's such a mix of people from the wealthy cuban immigrants, new poor immigrants with multiple children, Muslims, Anglos, Americans (I mean those of us who have been here and integrated for more than 100 years!), and the horribly destitute and  homeless. 

We were horrified to see groups of the homeless like we've never seen before just a couple of blocks away from the Fair lining the wire fences of a car lot.  They were sitting on blankets, wrapped in blankets or cardboard boxes, or just sitting on the hot concrete while we circled in our Mercedes looking for a place to park.  DH and I felt the shock and the guilt of seeing them like a  hot wave of sickness.  He kept say, "Just look at them.  They're homeless.  I've never seen anything like this!" I was ashamed of our car.  I felt like I had intruded on them...as if I were invading their privacy...or desecrating their souls by just passing by them as if they were chosen for such a trial in life and I wasn't worthy.   It was a feeling like I've never known except when I've visited the dying.

As we left the City to come home last night, I think we both carried so many things with us.  I only bought one book..."Something Red," by Jennifer Gilmore, which I can't wait to read and review for you.  A new vision of Miami the City and its people.  I found a reawakening of love for authors I already loved.  And, a renewed sense of the homeless and poor in our country.  I also was confronted head-on with that dilemma of Muslims who reside in America and how to feel about the whole thing.  And, I left with that touch of wide-eyed, child-like joy of having been completely absorbed in books and bookish people for hour upon hour.  I also have a logo mug for my coffee!!  :]

It was a wonderful day that I still need to absorb and sort out.

Let me know what you think.  And, what's your favorite pair of shoes???

Your Bookish Dame/Deb

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Interested in Readings

Please just click on the title above to read my reviews of these two books.   I'm sorry not to give the full ones here!
Did I say, "I'm sorry," ???
Your Bookish Dame

What a darling book for 'tweeners! Theodosia is just the most precocious little girl who lives in a museum with her absent-minded curator/researcher of a father and a motley crew of others. Her mother is an archeologist who moves in and out of her life, bringing new, interesting and dangerous things into their lives. Theodosia  is the most awake and aware of the dangers seeping into the bowels of the museum, of course, and she's bountifully to the rescue!

I loved Theodosia and her funny ways...so smart and sassy...so Nancy Drew on ritalin. I can't wait for my little granddaughters to get old enough for Grammie to send them Theodosia mysteries!

And, here's a secret...Grammie liked reading this book on her own. I may be checking back with Theodosia to see what else comes into the museum that she needs to take care of!

Bookish friends, you have to find copies of this little book...it's absolutely perfect!   I'm talking to you, Vonna...and Katie!


Deb/Your Bookish Dame

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Dragon House" A Heartwarming and Healing Novel ~ and Giveaway

"Dragon House" is a fabulous book, a heartwarming novel of love, restoration, healing and dreams come true.

John Shors has become one of my favorite authors of the 21st century. I believe he is the voice of our recent past, and a voice of the humanity in all of us as we struggle to keep what is good and moral against a tide of selfishness and instability in our world.

Mr. Shors is an author of exceptional capabilities with characterization conveying feelings and angst that will so touch your heart that you feel actually set within the place and time with his characters.

Having lived through the Viet Nam War as a child of the '60's, I found this book especially interesting. I have not been able to read about the War, per se. It was a time of loss and anger and confusion for me. A time I just haven't cared to scrutinize. But, this book gave me a way of "looking" that was thoughtful, caring and healing.

Through the eyes of Iris, the daughter of a Viet Nam veteran left with post traumatic stress syndrome and memories he could only heal by going back to create a home for street children; we see, hear, smell and feel the thriving, messy, whirling, beautiful, dangerous and noisy place called Ho Chi Minh City -- formerly Siagon. I found many of the things surprisingly familiar to me...through pictures that were flashed daily on the t.v. when our boys were over there, I suppose. I could see through Shors writings the brightness of colors, smell the food, hear the horn blasts, and shiver at the sufferings. John Shors didn't miss a beat.

Iris goes to Viet Nam to continue her father's dream and to help the street children, bringing with her a life-long friend...a now wounded, permanently handicapped vet. of the Iraqi War, who is suffering and suicidal. This character boldly gives the reader insight into all veterans returning with injuries of body, mind and spirit from the horrors of war. Along with an eternally hopeful Vietnamese woman, they work to complete the Center for Street Children that will become the catalyst for their own salvations.

Through their work, inspiration, and close companionships with a little group of starving, abused and critically ill children, Iris and Noah find a new place of rest for all. And, that included me.

I highly recommend this book for all and everyone. John Shors is an author who needs to be read because he will be one to make a mark in these coming years. He's an American writer of note and value.

I also recommend this book because it's good for those of us who have come through the Viet Nam War (a war not successful and not popular with the American people) and are going through the Iraqi/Afghani War...another one which may have a similar outcome. We might find some solace in the fact that we will survive. Timely and healing.... please read this book for many reasons.

Your Bookish Dame

PS:     Please go to my other blog listed above for a GIVEAWAY!!!!  You'll see all the details there... :]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beautifully Written Story of 9/11 Muslim-American Widow "Saffron Dreams"

Shaila Abdullah has written a beautiful and inspiring story about a Muslim-American young woman caught in the horrific web of tragedy of 9/11's World Trade Center disaster.  This book has changed my perspective on who suffered....not only Americans, but other nationalities and immigrant-Americans, as well.

"Saffron Dreams," is about letting go and learning to live despite every challenge life brings. It's about the strength of women and relationships. It's about the experience of women left behind in the 9/ll Twin Towers/World Trade Center terrorist attack. And, it's about the Muslim woman's experience in America. It's also about what immigrants have to leave behind and let go of when they choose to become a part of a new country and people. ...a letting go to gain something else of value.

Ms Abdullah has a big order to fill, and she comes shining through like a bird of paradise! I loved this book for so many reasons, it will be difficult to convey them to you, so you'll ultimately just have to read the book for yourself to understand. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a novel and not a memoir...looking back again and again at the gorgeous cover and searching the eyes of the beautiful Pakistani woman for clues of the inner soul of such a writer.

The main character, Arissa, is a young woman who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. After having survived a home of material wealth and non-existent maternal love, Arissa becomes wed in a traditional "arranged marriage." Surprisingly, this marriage is to a young man she had previously met on a trip to New York visiting relatives! Fortune seemed to be with them from the beginning. On the flip side of that fortune, however, rests a bad omen flung at them by a seer woman who predicts that the young husband will dance with fire. Arissa and Faizan also have dreams of flames and smoke, but set these things aside and ignore them. Of course, these omens find their fulfillment as Faizan is killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.

We learn along the way such interesting information as Muslim life in the everyday workings of the kitchen cookery (recipes are included), the different meanings of the veils the women wear, the landscape and gardens of Pakistan, and the role saffron plays in the life of Arissa. I will never look at or smell Night Blooming Jasmine in quite the same way again. Arissa is an artist, writer, observer of the world, and faithful woman. Her agony is quietly and honestly shared with us.

Ms Abdullah knows grief and heartbreak. Her novel tells us truly the pain of loss and the redemptive qualities that keep one living despite them. I was widowed at a young age with young children so I speak from experience, when I say that this book conveys the feelings and experiences I had so profoundly and gently that it was shocking to me. I was moved by Ms Abdullah's gift for giving life to her characters.

I learned that women and widows are the same no matter what their religion or culture. I learned that not all Muslims are terrorists. I knew that children can save you, but was delighted to see that Arissa found that gift. That family can hold you up but can't save you. It was good to know that somebody else unknown to you can have the same experiences and live to tell about it.

Please do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book. It will help you know how it feels to be a widow of the 9/11 attack.... It is a gorgeous and poetic book with an abundance of truth and beauty for everyone who loves fine literature.

I  hope you will share your thoughts with me whether you decide to read this book or not.  I have to say that it has been very difficult for me to pick up a book about and/or written by a Muslim woman because of my feelings about 9/11.   In this case, I'm so glad I did.

With greatest affection,

Your Bookish Dame

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No, I Did Not Just Read There Are 53 Days Until Christmas!!!

Pleeezzzeee! I'm hardly over Halloween and I just can't think of Christmas, yet.  My pumpkin is still sitting on my kitchen center island uncarved... Little grands did get their annual care packages for Halloween from Grammie and Granpop, though, and they were tickled with parts and pieces of that.  So, we did have a happy one!

My new handcrafted, designed and created~one of a kinds, by "Talis Bijoux," is up and running and I'm so thrilled.  Jessica and I have put hours of work and emotional effort into the venture.  Mostly, I've had to begin to let go of my art work, which has always been difficult for me.  Lots of heart and soul goes into it, and it's always been fascinating to me  how the whole creative process just takes over my mind and body....it's very out-of-body, to those of you who've not experienced it.

If you get a chance in the next week, it would be so good of you to visit my new website at:   http://www.talisbijoux.com/     It's in its infancy right at the moment.  I need to download pictures and start from scratch with things, so there will be nothing on there except the welcome right now.   I should have some pictures up by the 12th or so.   Thanks in advance for coming by!

I also have a new book blog that I'm really happy about.  It's addy is:  http://abookishlibraria.blogspot.com/   Very lonely over there at the moment...so please come visit me.  It's just up this past week and I'm trying so hard to get things running.  I'll be doing lots of book reviews there for new and up-and-coming authors, as well as my regular reading lists of books.   Also, haven't abandoned my very practical book blog at:  http://boundtobebookish.wordpress.com/   either.  Except this one will be having more of the extreme books from now on instead of the mainstream books of my ordinary reading.  I've found some interest in new lines of thinking that authors are developing, and I'd like to explore talking about things like "steampunk" and where it all started and what's happening with the trend in our current world, as well as other ways art and fashion affect authors and our reading material, and vice versa.  I hope there will be more video and pictures on that site in the future, of things having to do with books as well as reviews and lists.

So, that's me in the coming year!   See, that's why I don't have time to think about Christmas this year....  "]
He's still not made into a Santa stand and he's been finished for at least 5 years!!!  Oh, man!!

Happy (fast approaching) Holiday Wishes,