Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kid Konnection: One Big Pair of Underwear Blog Tour

Summary: Count and share with…underwear! Come along on a zany adventure with hilarious pictures from the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.

What’s one thing that two bears, three yaks, four goats, and six cats have in common?

They hate to share.

But look out—here comes a pack of twenty pigs ready to prove that sharing makes everything twice as fun!

This seriously silly picture book with artwork by the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site irresistibly combines the concepts of counting and sharing. -Beach Lane Books


I am so excited to welcome author Laura Gehl to my blog today. She has written a picture book called ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR that looks perfect for little ones! The book has gorgeous illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld, bestselling illustrator of GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE; and it doesn't have "too many words." You'll see what I mean after you read Ms. Gehl's guest post!

Thank you so much to Julie for hosting me on this stop of my ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR blog tour!  

Have you ever hidden a book from your child?  Well, I haven’t.  I would never do such a terrible thing!  Just kidding.  I do it all the time.  Sometimes, I hide books because the books themselves are...let’s just say…sub-par.  Such as books written around a TV character.  My 4-year-old daughter finds Dora books at the library, and she knows how to check them out herself with the scanner.  So we bring home the Dora books (or Thomas the Train books), we read each book once, and then I hide them.  Or sometimes I hide a really good book because we have read it one hundred times in the last week and I am craving some variety.  But the most common reason I need to hide a book is because it has TOO MANY WORDS.  I am happy to read these books during the day.  But at bedtime, the fewer words, the better!  It is true that this rule leaves out many wonderful books, including most Dr. Seuss and my beloved A BIRTHDAY FOR FRANCES.  But I am exhausted and frazzled by the end of the day, and a short book is a welcome book. 
  
Since I know other parents are similarly worn out by bedtime, I thought I would talk about some of the favorite books at our house with very few words.  Keep in mind, this list does not include any books with NO words.  I find that books with no words actually take a very long time to read, because I end up talking about each picture with my daughter. 

Of course, board books almost always have few words.  Some of the best in my opinion are GOODNIGHT GORILLA by Peggy Rathmann, MOUSE PAINT and MOUSE COUNT by Ellen Stoll Walsh, DEAR ZOO by Rod Campbell and HUG by Jez Alborough.

But when you want an actual picture book without many words, here are a few to try:
  1. CHU'S DAY by Neil Gaiman.  A little panda bear causes havoc with his enormous sneezes.  Prepare for a lot of fake sneezing from your children.  
  2. DINOSAUR KISSES by David Ezra Stein.  A baby dinosaur wants to learn how to kiss.  As with Chu, disaster results.  This book contains chomping, stomping, and whomping….My 4-year-old and 6-year-old both collapse in giggles at the final “Whomp.”
  3. THE PERFECT NEST by Catherine Friend.  One of our favorite books to give new parents, The Perfect Nest features a hapless cat whose delicious omelet hatches before he has a chance to eat it.
  4. KNUFFLE BUNNY by Mo Willems.  Trixie’s dad loses her precious Knuffle Bunny at the Laundromat.  This book has been turned into a musical and an animated short movie…a theme park may be next on the agenda.    
  5. RHYMING DUST BUNNIES by Jan Thomas.  For some reason, Bob can’t manage to fit in with the other dust bunnies, who joyfully rhyme all day long.  But maybe the other dust bunnies should be paying a bit more attention to Bob….
Note: I could have picked any book by Mo Willems or Jan Thomas to include on my list.  All of their books are short, funny, and fabulous.

May your bedtime reading be enjoyable…and brief.  And while we’re talking about briefs, ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR by Laura Gehl doesn’t have too many words and makes a fun, fast bedtime read.  Or so I’ve been told.      
*****
Laura Gehl is the author of ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, which was released in September 2014, as well as several other picture books to be released in 2015 and 2016.  Laura lives with her husband and their four book-loving kids in Chevy Chase, MD.  You can read more about Laura and her books at www.lauragehl.com and www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraGehl.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Drunk Mom

Summary: Three years after giving up drinking, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. It was a special occasion: a party celebrating the birth of her first child. It also marked Bydlowska’s immediate, full-blown return to crippling alcoholism.

In the gritty and sometimes grimly comic tradition of the bestselling memoirs Lit by Mary Karr and Smashed by Koren Zailckas, Drunk Mom is Bydlowska’s account of the ways substance abuse took control of her life- the binges and blackouts, the humiliations, the extraordinary risk-taking- as well as her fight toward recovery as a young mother. This courageous memoir brilliantly shines a light on the twisted logic of an addicted mind and the powerful, transformative love of one’s child. Ultimately it gives hope, especially to those struggling in the same way. -- Penguin

Earlier this week, I reviewed Lena Dunham's new book NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL and I enjoyed it quite a bit. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that when she recommended DRUNK MOM by Jowita Bydlowska, I wanted to read it. Here's what she said:

“An intense, complex and disturbing story, bravely and beautifully told. I read Drunk Mom with my jaw on the floor, which doesn’t happen to me that often.” – Lena Dunham

Basically, DRUNK MOM is Jowita Bydlowska's story about her problems with alcohol and her eventual recovery. It's disturbing. It's gut-wrenching. And it's almost impossible to believe for someone who only has the occasional drink. However, this book is also a beautiful story about the love a mother has for her child.

Ms. Bydlowska had just given birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy. Instead of basking in the glory of motherhood, she takes a drink at a party to celebrate the birth of her child and quickly descends into a personal hell. She returns to her life as an alcoholic and spends almost every minute of her life drinking or trying to hide her problem.

Fortunately, Ms. Bydlowska eventually sees that she is destroying her family and enters rehab. She realizes that she has to get her life together for the sake of her son... and herself. She shares her life as an alcoholic with the same honestly that she shares her path to recovery.

Ms. Dunham wasn't lying when she said that she read DRUNK MOM with her jaw on the floor. That's pretty much the exact same reaction I had. No matter how bad I thought an alcoholic's life could be, I never imagined it to be anything like Ms. Bydlowska described in this book. There is no way I can even describe her struggles -- you have to read this book, but she gives details on the blackouts, the binges, the fights, the secrets and more. The sheer desperation she explains in this book is almost unfathomable!

Despite being shocked by Ms. Bydlowska's story, I was very impressed with her courage in sharing her experiences. Truly, her life as a full-blown alcoholic is difficult to comprehend, and I had a hard time not judging her especially since she had a little baby. However, I never doubted that she loved her child. I also realized very clearly that alcoholism is a disease and Ms. Bydlowska needed an incredible amount of strength to fight it. Thankfully, she realized that her son needed her with all of her facilities... and not an alcoholic mother!

Ms. Bydlowska's story is extremely interesting, but I think DRUNK MOM worked because of her writing skills. I loved how she chose to tell her story. Much of the book was written in snippets and sounded almost manic... kind of like her life as an alcoholic. I admit that it took me a little while to get used to her writing style, but once I did, I really liked it. I think my inability to put down this book is a testament to that!

DRUNK MOM is a distrubing, yet fascinating, memoir about one mother's desire to return to her son.  Highly recommended.

Thanks the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giveaway: Ron Carlson Novels

Summary: Ron Carlson has always been a critics’ favorite, but Return to Oakpine shows the acclaimed writer at his finest. In this tender and nostalgic portrait of western American life, Carlson tells the story of four middle-aged friends who once played in a band while growing up together in small-town Wyoming. One of them, Jimmy Brand, left for New York City and became an admired novelist. Thirty years later in 1999, he’s returned to die. Craig Ralston and Frank Gunderson never left Oakpine; Mason Kirby, a Denver lawyer, is back on family business. Jimmy’s arrival sends the other men’s dreams and expectations, realized and deferred, whirling to the surface. And now that they are reunited, getting the band back together might be the most essential thing they ever do. -- Penguin

Summary: Ron Carlson, author of the critically acclaimed Five Skies, is an award-winning writer beloved by booksellers, reviewers, and readers alike. His most thrilling book to date, The Signal follows the story of Mack and Vonnie, a married couple who, after ten years together, are taking their last hike in the mountains of Wyoming to say goodbye to their relationship and to each other. As the troubled and tragic elements of their past gradually come to light over the course of their journey, Mack keeps a secret: he is tracking a signal, sent via a beacon that has fallen from the sky, that will lead them both into a wood far darker than they have ever imagined. -- Penguin

Summary: Beloved story writer Ron Carlson’s first novel in thirty years, Five Skies is the story of three men gathered high in the Rocky Mountains for a construction project that is to last the summer. Having participated in a spectacular betrayal in Los Angeles, the giant, silent Arthur Key drifts into work as a carpenter in southern Idaho. Here he is hired, along with the shiftless and charming Ronnie Panelli, to build a stunt ramp beside a cavernous void. The two will be led by Darwin Gallegos, the foreman of the local ranch who is filled with a primeval rage at God, at man, at life. 

As they endeavor upon this simple, grand project, the three reveal themselves in cautiously resonant, profound ways. And in a voice of striking intimacy and grace, Carlson’s novel reveals itself as a story of biblical, almost spiritual force. A bellwether return from one of our greatest craftsmen, Five Skies is sure to be one of the most praised and cherished novels of the year. -- Penguin

A little over a year ago, I reviewed a beautifully written novel called RETURN TO OAKPINE by Ron Carlson. I was extremely impressed with the author's prose and his ability to create such real characters. The book also had some thought-provoking themes and would be ideal for book clubs. I remember thinking that I wouldn't hesitate to read more of Mr. Carlson's books.

Well, I have some exciting news for you... and I admit I'm a little jealous!

To celebrate the paperback release of RETURN TO OAKPINE, I have copies not only RETURN TO OAKPINE, but also THE SIGNAL and FIVE SKIES to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before November 10th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Not That Kind of Girl

Summary: For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays establishes Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the most original young talents writing today.

In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.

“Take My Virginity (No Really, Take It)” is the account of Dunham’s first time, and how her expectations of sex didn’t quite live up to the actual event (“No floodgate had been opened, no vault of true womanhood unlocked”); “Girls & Jerks” explores her former attraction to less-than-nice guys—guys who had perfected the “dynamic of disrespect” she found so intriguing; “Is This Even Real?” is a meditation on her lifelong obsession with death and dying—what she calls her “genetically predestined morbidity.” And in “I Didn’t F*** Them, but They Yelled at Me,” she imagines the tell-all she will write when she is eighty and past caring, able to reflect honestly on the sexism and condescension she has encountered in Hollywood, where women are “treated like the paper thingies that protect glasses in hotel bathrooms—necessary but infinitely disposable.”

Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not That Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.” -- Random House

I remember awhile back when I learned that Lena Dunham got a book deal. I was really excited! I've been a fan of the HBO series Girls for a few years now and I think Ms. Dunham is extremely talented... and also a little outrageous. She's already accomplished so much as a director, producer, and actress; and she's not even 30 years old! Pretty awesome to say the least.

Ms. Dunham's memoir is titled NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL: A YOUNG WOMAN TELLS YOU WHAT SHE'S "LEARNED", and I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. However, I don't think it's for everyone. I am a big fan of Ms. Dunham's and I find her show to be both insightful and hilarious. I am pretty certain that most women my age (and most of my friends) wouldn't agree. Some might even be offended. So I guess what I'm saying is that I think this book is a must-read for fans of Ms. Dunham's. If you aren't familiar with her work, I wouldn't suggest started with her book.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL is pure Lena Dunham and I thought it was pretty entertaining. In fact, her comments and issues and wit reminded me a great deal of her show Girls. There is actually quite a bit of Ms. Dunham in her character Hannah namely her insecurities, her writing talents, and especially her OCD. I almost felt, at times, as if I was reading a companion piece to the television show.

Ms. Dunham is obviously fearless despite what a few of her stories referenced. She isn't afraid to discuss any issue whether it be controversial, outrageous or even gross. It's no holds barred in this book. There is sexual content, language, and more; and it's not for the easily offended. However, if you are a fan of this woman's, then I'm guessing that you'll enjoy her insights.

Some of the topics that Ms. Dunham explores include the loss of her virginity, the long list of jerks that she dated, her OCD issues, her obsession with dying, and the challenges she faced in her career. I think she's pretty darn wise and she's definitely funny; and I was impressed with how much wisdom she has to offer in such a few short years.

Overall, I think what impressed me most about this book was Ms. Dunham's honesty. It's probably tied to that courage that I think she has. There is no doubt that she touches upon some pretty ghastly topics, and there were times I was both uncomfortable and embarrassed to read this book. Having said that, I very much appreciated how honest Ms. Dunham was -- even it was brutal at times; and I loved she she opened her mind and her heart to her fans.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL was pure Lena Dunham and I highly recommend it all of her fans!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Leaving Time

Summary: Throughout her blockbuster career, Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that “not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe). Now, in her highly anticipated new novel, she has delivered her most affecting work yet—a book unlike anything she’s written before.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers. -- Ballantine

I just finished reading LEAVING TIME by Jodi Picoult a few days ago and didn't want to wait to write my review. As a result, I am featuring LEAVING TIME as part of Mystery Mondays. There is no doubt that the book did have a mystery element to it, but in all honestly, it was so much more that "just a mystery." It's been quite a few years since I've read a novel by Ms. Picoult, and this one was a great way to re-introduce myself to her writing. I absolutely loved this book!

Jenna Metcalf is a 13 year old girl who is still trying to resolve what happened to make her mom Alice disappear after a horrible accident. In her heart, Jenna knows her mother loved her and wouldn't leave her, but the evidence says otherwise. For years, Jenna has been searching online and reading her mother's journals in hopes of finding clues. Alice's journals are filled with her research on grief in elephants, but Jenna clings to the idea that there might be one little thing that gives a clue to her whereabouts.

Since Jenna hasn't been having any luck, she decides to approach a psychic named Serenity and a private detective Virgil, who just happened to be one of the cops on the original case concerning the accident and Alice. Both Serenity and Virgil have had their fair share of difficulties in the past and together they help Jenna discover the truth about what happened to her mother.

I had heard some good things about this book, but I honestly didn't expect to like it this much. (I know that sounds horrible.) I can pretty much say that I enjoyed every aspect of this novel -- from the mystery, to the wonderful characters, to how the story was told, to the intriguing storyline, to the way Ms. Picoult incorporated elephants in the story, to the rewarding (and surprising) ending. LEAVING TIME will probably go down as one of my favorite reads of the year.

I'm certain one reason I liked this book so much was that it did have a lot of amazing information about elephants... and I love elephants. Because Alice was a researcher who focused on elephant behavior especially as it related to grief, I found her journals to be fascinating! It was apparent that Ms. Picoult did a tremendous amount of research to write this book, and it definitely paid off. However, what impressed me even more was how she tied the elephants' behaviors to the characters' lives in the story. I loved not only how the story delved into grief but also how it focused on motherly love. Let me just say that elephants are wonderful creatures!

Another aspect of this novel that really stood out to me was the character development. I absolutely loved Jenna, and even though she did seem a little to mature to me at times, I thought she was a terrific character. I appreciated how she was portrayed with so much determination and faith, and I loved her sense of humor. In addition, I really loved both Serenity and Virgil. Because the story was told in alternating chapters between these three complex characters, I really got a sense of their back stories and how much vested they were in Jenna.

The mystery of what happened to Alice was really strong and I loved how it all came together at the end of the story. I appreciated how Jenna, Virgil, and Serenity got to the bottom of the issues as well as how they set out to learn more about Alice... each in their own way. I really don't think I can say much more about this aspect of the story without being tempted to give away a mind-blowing ending!

Needless to say, I am just skimming the surface of some of the main reasons I enjoyed this novel so much. I honestly feel as if I'm not doing the book justice because I'm not discussing it in even more detail -- I'm missing so much of what was really good about LEAVING TIME. I guess that means that I think this book would make for an excellent discussion. Unfortunately (and a bit surprising to me), I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide; however, I don't think one is necessary. Some of the themes you might want to explore include grief, mother/child relationships, friendships, marriage, love, passion, abandonment, determination, psychic abilities, mental illness, and loss. In addition, all of the characters are extremely complicated and would be incredibly interesting to dissect.

Overall, I can't say enough about LEAVING TIME. Highly recommended!

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kid Konnection: Kate the Great Except When She's Not


Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a fun graphic novel that's perfect for middle grade readers.

Summary: Fans of Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries will love this illustrated series by the New York Times bestselling author of All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat. Meet Kate Geller, a sassy flute-playing artist, who comes up with an original way to redefine friendship.

Kate’s older sister is way too perfect. Her younger sister is way too cute. And her mom wants her to be pals with her frenemy, Nora. Her art teacher, Mrs. Petty, is way too uncreative, and how can Kate pay attention at Junior Guides when her pod leader has a sweat stain the size of the town beach? Now she has to get through her Christopher Columbus role during Discovery Day and her “Colonial Buddies” report, but little does she know how much “help” she’ll be getting from Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein.

This humorous debut novel features more than 350 illustrations. -- Crown Books for Young Readers

KATE THE GREAT EXCEPT WHEN SHE'S NOT by Suzy Becker is another book that's sure to be a hit with middle grade readers... even reluctant ones. KATE THE GREAT is the first book in a new series that features a likable character writing her thoughts in a diary format. She also is a fantastic doodler so the book includes more than 450 illustrations!

KATE THE GREAT EXCEPT WHEN SHE'S NOT features Kate Geller, a fifth grader who plays the flute and loves to draw. She also experiences the frustrations of being a middle child and she has problems with friends (and even girls who aren't technically her friends.) When her mom asks her to be nice to Nora, the girl who runs in the same circles as Kate but isn't very nice to her, Kate discovers some valuable lessons about herself and what it means to be a friend.

I thought KATE THE GREAT was a very cute book. Fans of the Wimpy Kid series will be drawn to this adorable book that has a similar format. Personally, I love graphic novels like this one because they are both fun to read and have cute pictures to look at. Maybe I'm not so far removed from a middle grade reader after all!

Probably the best part of KATE THE GREAT was Kate herself. She is one terrific character and she's also a hoot! Many young girls will relate to her day-to-day activities like playing in the band, riding the bus, going to school, and attending Junior Guides (kind of like Girl Scouts.) However, I think almost every middle grade reader will feel an affinity with Kate for the dilemmas she faces with her family and friends (and "not" friends.)

As a mom, I appreciated many of the lessons in this story. Because the focus of this novel was on Kate and her and her friendship with Nora, naturally Kate learned some valuable lessons about what it means to be a friend. She also demonstrated some important insight into creativity and seeing things differently. Finally, I really liked that there were a few references to Eleanor Roosevelt and her wisdom. I hope this book might introduce Ms. Roosevelt and some of her famous quotations to a new audience.

KATE THE GREAT EXCEPT WHEN SHE'S NOT is a fun book. Recommended for fans of middle grade graphic novels and books about young girls and friendship. To learn more about the series, make sure you check out katethegreatseries.com.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Accidents of Marriage

Summary: From the bestselling author of The Comfort of Lies, an engrossing look at the darker side of a marriage—and at how an ordinary family responds to an extraordinary crisis.

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness. -- Atria

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked up ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE by Randy Susan Meyers. Actually, that's not entirely true. I have always enjoyed novels by Ms. Meyers, and I think she is a fabulous writer who creates memorable characters. So naturally, I wanted to read her latest novel. And while I know Ms. Meyers isn't afraid to take on difficult issues, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE dealt with an extremely disturbing issue. It wasn't exactly an easy read for me, but it was a very good one!

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE delves into a "normal" family that experiences a huge tragedy. The mother, Maddy, is a social worker who deals with abused women. She also is doing her best to hold down the fort for her husband and three children. (As any working mom knows, it's not easy!) Her husband, Ben, is a public defender who has become more and more aggressive with Maddy through the years. Maddy tries to keep the peace, but she sometimes challenges Ben if it's for the sake of the children.

One day, Ben's temper spins out of control when he encounters an aggressive driver. Ben gives new meaning to the term road rage, and he loses control of his car. Ben escapes with minor injuries, but Maddy is seriously injured with possible brain damage.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is a wonderful book; however, it was not an easy read for me. Maybe it's because I am a mother, but this book hit a little too close to home for me. Not because of Ben and his anger issues. Rather because what happened to Maddy could happen to me (or any of my family members for that matter), and it was terrifying to see how everyone was affected by this accident.

Ms. Meyers is truly a special writer and if you haven't read any of her novels, you are truly missing out. She has a unique ability to create not only memorable characters but very real ones. She gets to the heart of the matter in her stories, and she creates characters that resonate with female readers. She also makes her readers think and I think that might be one of her most special skills.

In ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE, Ms. Meyers explores what happens to a family after the primary caregiver can no longer complete her responsibilities. In the case of Maddy, she was initially fighting for her life and then she was trying to cope with the challenges of her damaged brain. Her husband, who wasn't always the most hands on dad, was "forced" to man-up and take charge of the house and family. Needless to say, this wasn't easy for him.

While my heart absolutely broke for Maddy and her children, my feelings about Ben were torn. (Honestly, torn might be too generous.) I was furious with him for his treatment of Maddy prior to the accident, during the accident, and even after the accident. I found Ben's behavior to be extremely interesting (you need to read this book to see what he did), and it was apparent to me that Ms. Meyers has "known" a man or two like Ben through her experiences with abused women.

I have to warn you that ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE isn't an easy read. Though being very well-written, the entire subject matter made me very depressed and uncomfortable. Having said that, I did "enjoy" the book and by that I mean I really appreciated it! I do think Ms. Meyers walked a fine line in dealing with such a serious topic, and she successfully managed to cover more issues than just the accident and Maddy's recovery. In fact, many of the issues she delved into are very relevant for women and families in today's society.

Finally, I don't want you to think that this book doesn't have its "good" moments -- it's not all sad! I admit that I was a bit surprised by how this book ended, but it was very satisfying for me. I really enjoyed seeing how Maddie recovered from the accident, but I also liked seeing how she eventually dealt with Ben. I also was touched by how Maddy's children coped with everything.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE would make a wonderful book club selection especially for groups with mothers. There is a reading guide available with twelve interesting questions. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include family, grief, abuse, anger, marriage, commitment, obligation, love, religion, and forgiveness.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is a well-written and thought-provoking novel. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.