Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not That Kind of Girl: Sex and the City

I'll start with a confession. I've never watched the popular TV show, Sex and the City. In fact, as I started to write this post I thought the name of the show was "Sex in the City"--I've paid scant attention to it over the years. All I know about the show is that Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis (who a cashier once told me I resemble, but I don't, really, it was just that my hair was long at the time), and Kim Cattrall star in it. Even though I grew up in NYC, I have little interest in the show, and even less interest in the movie spin-offs. So I must apologize to my friends for not being able to discuss the show properly with them over the years; I had to fake it, to say "yeah, yeah" when they talked about a show that I've never seen.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. Obviously the title refers to sex, and so I thought that Not That Kind of Girl by Carlene Bauer, published in 2009, might be a ribald memoir about sex. Religious girl goes wild, gives up God, discovers sex, that sort of thing. But it really isn't. It's not that kind of book. Actually, it's rather low-key in the sex arena, which makes it sexier in a way, at least to me. But I have a problem with memoirs. Many memoir writers, I think, believe they must reveal all the sordid details of their pasts, far more than you'd really care to know about. Isn't that why many write them, to purge themselves of the past? In some cases, their stories may help those with similar struggles. When I read such a memoir, though, I often feel a bit guilty because I've not had the same problems growing up. (Has everyone had a difficult past?) Some of us have led less tumultuous lives, which are interesting in more subtle ways. This is the case with writer Carlene Bauer, who recounts her struggles with religion and sex, and those between the intellectual, the "bookish" (she is quite well-read) and the corporeal.

Carlene's memoir begins with her childhood in suburban New Jersey, a sensitive, anxious child who fears the "Jersey Devil", and attends Christian school. As she matures, her status as a devout Christian changes and she begins to question her beliefs.

"My Christian education taught me that you could take the tiny pliant soul out of the world, but the world would find the tiny pliant soul. Some girls would get pregnant before they graduated. Some would become alcoholics. Some would make local headlines for nearly starving their children to death. Some would get married and have affairs. Some would move to New York and give up on God. We were all a lesson in the impossibility of peace of mind and purity of heart."
~Not That Kind of Girl, Carlene Bauer

In high school and college, she questions her faith in God and her values, and moves to NYC after attending Johns Hopkins University, to pursue a writing career. Although NY changes her, she is still "reluctant to use certain four-letter words" and is responsible rather than reckless. In her story, she also searches for something akin to love, for something sacred in a city where perhaps nothing is deemed sacred.

Overall, I found this book to be understated and introspective, as if written under the influence of chamomile tea during stormy nights. Carlene's quest seems to be in part a yearning for a meaningful connection with a partner, preferably someone she can discuss religion and literature with. The author is modest but not overly self-effacing, and manages to view herself with enough distance to write with humor, intelligence, and grace. This is a quiet, thoughtful memoir to be enjoyed, guilt-free.


Special thanks to Trish from TLC and Harper Perennial for including me on this tour. For more reviews of this book, please visit the other stops on TLC's Not That Kind of Girl blog tour.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Really Random Tuesday














Pictured are the reading glasses (and the matching case!) I won from Reading Glasses Shopper on Natalie's lovely blog, The Book Inn. Thank you very much, Reading Glasses Shopper and Natalie! They arrived quickly and are very cute.



Author Daniel A. Rabuzzi asked me to let my readers know that his book, The Choir Boats, illustrated by his wife Deborah A. Mills, published in 2009, is featured as Wowio's July Book of the Month. During July 2010 only, a free e-book version of The Choir Boats is available. While I don't usually read this genre, YA fantasy, the book sounds captivating, and I peeked at some of the wonderful illustrations.










What does this Really Random Tuesday post need to be complete? How about a few writer quotes from Random Quotations?

"Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others."
~Virginia Woolf

"Truth is always exciting. Speak it, then, Life is dull without it."

~Pearl S. Buck


"The woman whose behavior indicates that she will make a scene if she is told the truth asks to be deceived."
~Elizabeth Jenkins


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Hop and Giveaways Galore

It's time for another Book Blogger Hop (already?) hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books. If you haven't participated in the hop before, I encourage you to do so. It's an excellent way to expand your connections in the book blogosphere. This week, we're asked to talk about the book we're currently reading. I've started reading a new book, Not That Kind of Girl by Carlene Bauer, which has raised more than a few eyebrows around me due to the provocative title. I won't reveal much about it here, but please stay tuned for my upcoming review.

Please note that I have have some wonderful book giveaways posted, so take a moment to scroll down and enter the ones that appeal to you. If you'd like me to visit your blog, simply leave a comment. Thank you very much for stopping--or hopping--by!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Interview with Laura Lyseight, and a Giveaway




















Where were these books when I was a teen? I could have used some inspiration, advice, or lists of literature for teenagers. Today, there's an abundance of books for teens. A quick Google search for "teen books" gave me 58,000,000 links! Recently I reviewed Boys Lie, a book for teen girls, and now I'm presenting an interview with the author of multiple books for teens.

Laura Lyseight has written four books for teens, Don't Learn 4 Exams!, Teens - Beat Future Economic Crisis!, The Teen With a Millionaire Mindset, and 1001 Life Changing Quotes 4 Teens. She is generously offering one autographed book as a giveaway, which follows this interview. Please indicate in your comment which book you'd like to win.


1) Welcome, Laura! I am thrilled to have the honor of interviewing you. Please tell us a bit about your background, and why you do what you do.

LL: I am equally honored to be interviewed by you, Susan. I am a teen coach, private tutor, and author, who loves and is inspired to write for teens. I also own two businesses, making me an entrepreneur. My passion and drive is to help the teens of this generation discover their true purpose and potential as teens, before they face the adult life. My obsession is to rewire them for success.

I was originally born in Ghana and had the opportunity of teaching across most secondary schools. Upon arrival in the U.K., I noticed a lack of drive, direction, and ambition in the teens and wanted to help, to reprogram their mindset to value their teen years and tap into their hidden potentials. I thought to myself, these teens have all it takes to succeed, but why are they practically overlooking or abusing resources?  The light came on when I realised they needed more understanding and genuine interest from the adults around them, and that this could be achieved through coaching and personal development.


2) Your books are targeted to teenagers. Why are teens your ideal audience?

LL: I am sure you will agree with me that the teenage years are very crucial in everybody's life. This is the stage where you can easily make or break yourself. Our teen years have a significant bearing on our adult life and who we eventually become. Most of the problems that adults face today, could have been easily avoided if they formed the right habits in their teen years.

Most teens are confused about their true identity and this is perfectly normal, as unknown to them, their hormones kick in and cause chaos. I strongly believe this is the time that they need the most help and understanding. They need coaching, mentoring, and sound advice to help them realise this is a passing stage, and they must be wise in their undertakings, rather than succumb to peer pressure, fashion crazes, forming gangs, and the list could go on. Somebody needs to point them in the right direction, so they do not end up as most adults who are dissatisfied with their lives. The earlier you catch and mend any errors in life, the better you stand the chance of being a success, and this is why teens are my target audience.


3) I am intrigued by the idea of creating an entrepreneurial or millionaire mindset in teens and want to know more. How can parents help cultivate this in their children?

LL: Most parents were once teens themselves and can now better advise their teen children against the very mistakes and wrong turnings they took in their youth. However, as we all know, teens normally ignore advice from parents and those in authority. I personally think the work must be done from childhood even before they reach their teen years. One parent that I worked with encouraged a saving habit with her two year old son who is now seven and has three piggy banks. I actually share the full story in my book Teens - Beat Future Economic Crisis!: Habits of the Go-getter Entrepreneurial Teen. This young person I believe will forever be wise with his money and probably learn how to invest his money.

The work of creating that entrepreneurial spirit or millionaire mindset in teens, and I call it work, because it take will take an extra effort to help a teen see their life from this perspective, if all they see are parents or adults in 9 to 5 jobs.

This can be done especially by getting your teen child personal developmental books, encouraging them to read biographies and autobiographies of successful men and women, going to seminars, being coached, etc., so that their mindsets are gradually changed to see the abundance that God has already put out for us.

Most teens have heard time and time again, how money is the root of all evil, that money does not grow on trees, money is hard to come by or we cannot avoid this or that by parents or well meaning adults and unfortunately teens carry this notion into their adult lives. Our teens need to be taught how to vibrate at the millionaire and entrepreneurial frequencies.


4) You talk about the importance of delaying gratification--how can parents encourage this in a world of cell phones, email, instant messages, and texting?

LL: Delayed gratification is a BIG issue with this microwave generation, they are not entirely to be blamed, as society has contributed largely to this credit card way of life and instant gratification.


What was discovered in the Marshmallow Test that was conducted in the 1960's showed that young children who were able to practice delayed gratification at four years of age were more likely to be socially competent, assertive, trustworthy, dependable, able to cope, and likely to embrace challenge.
Parents should encourage their teens to hold back, so they can get something better later and this is in support of this quote, "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't." A student from W.G. Tracy's class quoted this.

The truth, though, is that this beneficial habit cannot be forced on teens. It takes time and parents should aim at being in friendship first, and not try to impose this on their teens.  In my books, I share lots of interesting stories about teens who practiced delayed gratification and went on to be achievers.


5) As a parent of teen girls, I try to minimize the importance of physical appearance, but my daughters exist in a culture which is often very superficial--and damaging to self-worth. Do your books address the extra challenges teen girls may face?

LL: My heart goes out to teen girls and my passion is to help them look beyond themselves and place the price of the queen on who they are. They need to understand that there is more to them than meets the natural eye. They are created in the image of God. Their lives are not all about the next fashion craze, hairstyle , make-up, etc..

I will be the first to admit that, yes, these things have their place, especially in the life of a teenager, but you should not want to be, do, or have something just because your friend has it or is doing the same thing or that is fashion trend.

Here is my message for teenage girls: Young, beautiful, and promising lady, you are unique and are created with the most exclusive genetic code. There is no one person who looks, talks, walks or acts like you. You are one of a kind, look at yourself in the mirror and look at the positioning of your eyes, nose, lips--you are a masterpiece.

All those superficial things cannot define your identity. They should not be your sole focus, you are a success waiting to happen, the whole world is waiting on you, focus on the right things. You are too valuable and should not let anybody's opinion of you become your reality.  All of my books are designed to build self-value and worth in our teens.


6) Who are some of your personal role models or mentors? Do you have a favorite motivational quote or quotes that you'd like to share with readers?

LL: Jesus Christ is my role model, my mentors are uncountable: Robert Kiyosaki, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, Donald Trump, Jim Rohn, Napoleon Hill, Denis Waitley and that is to name a few.
Some of my favourite quotes:
"Teens are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves."
~Virginia Satir

" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
~The Bible

" To be a winner, one simple rule to follow is, hang around winners."
~Laura Lyseight

7) Do you feel as if you have met your professional goals, and what's next for you?

LL: I just love what I am doing, as it gives me a sense of fulfillment- impacting, challenging, and transforming the lives of our future generation by helping them create their own unique success stories. My next book, which I am still working on, The Three Coolest Teens That Ever Lived!, addresses identity crisis amongst teens in detail.

Thank you, Laura! It has been a pleasure to learn more about your work, and you are gracious to offer a book giveaway to my readers.

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment. Please indicate which book you'd like to win: Don't Learn 4 Exams!, Teens - Beat Future Economic Crisis!, 1001 Life Changing Quotes 4 Teens, or The Teen With a Millionaire Mindset.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, August 2. One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, August 3. Good luck!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Boys Lie: Review and Giveaway

Lie #13: Don't worry, I won't show anyone these pictures.

Things have gotten worse. When I was a teenager, young girls worried about their reputations, getting pregnant, or catching venereal disease. Today there are many more dangers, including HIV, other STIs, and date rape drugs, and technology has created some risky new activities for teens, such as sexting. I'm glad I'm not a teenager in 2010! But I do have two teenage daughters, and I realize that raising them requires me to be aware of these dangers.

Belisa Vranich and Holly Eagleson are the authors of a new book for girls, published in 2010, Boys Lie: How Not to Get Played. The title of this book led me to ask this question: do boys lie more than girls? To be honest, I can't really answer that question. I think I was pretty lucky as a teenager. For the most part, the boys I met back then were decent, respectful guys, and didn't seem to lie any more than the average girl. In fact, I think in some ways they were more honest than girls, or at least a bit more open about their feelings. That being said, though, these are different times, and as I mentioned already, there are new risks and dangers for today's teens, and so as I read this book I changed the question in my mind from "who lies more?" to "how can this book help girls?".

Belisa Vranic is a clinical psychologist with over twenty years of work experience, and Holly Eagleson is a former features editor for Seventeen and Cosmopolitan magazines, and the author of a book for teen girls; together they do a thorough job of presenting lies, truths, and information in this book. Much of it pertains to sex and sexuality, and is quite candid. Each chapter starts with a lie told by boys. The authors provide a lot of explanation about the lie, and other ways that the lie might be told. Next they give ideas about what to say in response to the lie. Each chapter concludes with suggestions about what to do if you've already bought the lie. In this format, many common lies are presented in seventeen short, easy-to-read chapters that give girls the chance to think and prepare themselves to respond in strong ways to these lies and situations.

I shared Boys Lie with my daughters. Here are their very brief reviews:

Angela (age 13): Alright, I'm ready to revert back to kindergarten thinking... BOYS HAVE COOTIES.


Jasmine (age 17) : Boys Lie gives common sense advice and ways to deal with relationship problems in a very straightforward manner. I enjoyed reading it.

My thirteen-year-old is definitely too young for this book, and I think that my seventeen-year-old is as well--thankfully! Boys Lie is startling explicit at times, but as a source book it provides valuable information for teens about the very things that are so difficult to discuss with others. Information and knowledge are powerful, and lead to preparedness. This book is designed to make girls think about the consequences of their actions, and to develop a healthy sense of caution and responsibility about their sexuality, and in a more general sense. This is especially important for girls because they're the ones who seem to suffer the most and the longest as a result of impulsive actions; unplanned pregnancies can limit educational and financial success for years to come, and sexually transmitted diseases may be devastating. With such grave consequences it pays to think ahead, to plan, and to protect yourself or loved ones from these dangers.

Are you interested in reading this book, or do you know a teenager who'd benefit from reading it? Health Communications, Inc. is generously offering a copy of this book as a giveaway (U.S./Canada).
  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, August 2. One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, August 3. Good luck!


Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for including me on this tour. For more reviews of this book, please visit the other stops on TLC's Boys Lie blog tour.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Let's Go to the Hop

Welcome to my book blog! Thanks for spending some time here. If you'd like me to visit your blog, please leave a comment.

Jennifer's Book Blogger Hop is a fun way for bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs. I have discovered many wonderful book blogs in this way. This weekly, virtual event is an opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends and followers, and share an appreciation of books. It gives us a chance to "hop" over to other blogs, to comment and "party" (after all, it begins on a Friday!). Visit Crazy-for-Books to sign-up for the July 16 - July 19 BOOK PARTY, and start hopping!

This week, we are supposed to let readers know which book we are dying to get our hands on, old, new, or soon to be released, but in my case, my TBR stack is so large, that I can't answer that question!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday: I'm Back!

I'm back! My family had a fabulous vacation in Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York, to see family and some friends.

While away, I read--and thoroughly enjoyed--The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees, the book I won on Kristi's blog, peetswea. In Cambridge, MA, we stopped by The Coop, Harvard's bookstore. Even though I didn't buy anything, it was wonderful to visit this bookstore and browse for a few minutes.


When we returned home to California, I was excited to find three new books in the mail, a novel and two memoirs. I received Whiter Than Snowby Sandra Dallas from St. Martin's Press, Not That Kind of Girlby Carlene Bauer from Harper Perennial for a TLC book tour, and What We Have by Amy Boesky from Gotham Books, also for an upcoming TLC book tour.



Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page, is one of my favorite memes. What new books have you gotten recently, by mail or from elsewhere?




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Some of the books reviewed here have been provided
to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents,
in exchange for my honest reviews.