Thursday, December 19, 2013

On My Amazon Wish List

I've really taken to using my Amazon Wish List to keep track of books that look great, but I have no time to read right now. It's also a great thing to be able to point to if someone asks what I need. Here are a few books on my Wish List right now.

In 1856, the political unrest is growing in the South. Lucas Mailly gathers his granddaughters and sends them west by wagon with a handful of men to lead them. He must stay behind to sell their beloved Riverton home and timber mill. The recently widowed Elizabeth Bromont doesn't want to disappoint her grandfather and pushes her own emotions aside to do what is expected. She takes charge of this band of women on their adventure across the frontier.

With every turn along the wagon trail, these cousins, filled with city social graces and charm must learn how to handle the hardships and heartaches they face. Elizabeth finds herself with an unexpected suitor-her deceased husband's best friend. Her sister, Megan, encourages her, while keeping a secret of her own. Abby and Emma, the Mississippi cousins that have journeyed west, peel away the emotional layers put there by their heavy-handed plantation owner father and mother.

On the road west, through wagon accidents, total exhaustion, raging storms and wild animals the small band of travelers learn about survival on the prairie and the individuals they need to become to survive.

Relieved to finally arrive at the abandoned military post at Fort Worth, Texas they begin the hard work of establishing a home. The cousins help build schools and churches, and try to civilize the community with manners. Friendships are mended together around the quilting frame. But, they soon realize it that heartache has followed them. When their strength is put to the biggest test of all, they become true warriors of their heart, mind, and souls.

When her unwed medical student daughter discloses that she is pregnant, Dr. Laura Branson is torn between excitement and fear. Until now, her beliefs and stance on pro-life issues have been more theoretical than personal. It isn’t until she receives a Christmas gift—a quilt that depicts the life of pioneer Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in America—that she is forced to wrestle with her beliefs. What does she really believe, and will she have the courage to stand by her convictions?

She's smart, pretty, and runs her own business. So then why does she feel so dead inside? Between work, two kids, and a husband who finds her about as exciting as furniture shopping, this is the story of a (formerly-exciting but now way-too-typical) suburban mom who diagnoses herself with Momnesia and sets about finessing a new version of her old vivaciousness:
Momnesia (mahm-nee-zhuh) -noun-
Loss of the memory of who you used to be. Caused by pregnancy, play dates, and trying to keep the house cleaner than the Joneses.

She finds some adventure pursing her own interests, and does make some new friends (including the battery operated variety), but still feels like nothing more than a caretaker.

In between dealing with her husband's manic-depresssive behavior, drama with her friends, and some naughty Internet escapades, she ponders, Is it that I haven't been myself? Or is it that I am being myself, but just different than I used to be?

It isn't until she tosses the Invisible Rule Book altogether, that she discovers life--and love--have more to offer than she ever imagined!

With custom-painted cover art that perfectly epitomizes the struggle of finding balance between "momminess" and "sexiness," Momnesia is a must read for anyone who has ever been a mother, had a mother, wanted to be a mother, judged a mother, or even just wondered about mothers. A great gift book, too!

I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is television, screen and stage star Tony Danza’s absorbing account of a year spent teaching tenth-grade English at Northeast High -- Philadelphia’s largest high school with 3600 students.

Entering Northeast’s crowded halls in September of 2009, Tony found his way to a classroom filled with twenty-six students who were determined not to cut him any slack. They cared nothing about “Mr. Danza’s” showbiz credentials, and they immediately put him on the hot seat.

Featuring indelible portraits of students and teachers alike, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had reveals just how hard it is to keep today’s technologically savvy – and often alienated -- students engaged, how impressively committed most teachers are, and the outsized role counseling plays in a teacher’s day, given the psychological burdens many students carry. The book also makes vivid how a modern high school works, showing Tony in a myriad of roles – from lecturing on To Kill a Mockingbird to “coaching” the football team to organizing a talent show to leading far-flung field trips to hosting teacher gripe sessions.

A surprisingly poignant account, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny but is mostly filled with hard-won wisdom and feel-good tears.

MTV’s original VJs offer a behind-the-scenes oral history of the early years of MTV, 1981 to 1987, when it was exploding, reshaping the culture, and creating “the MTV generation.”

Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn (along with the late J. J. Jackson) had front-row seats to a cultural revolution—and the hijinks of music stars like Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Duran Duran. Their worlds collided, of course: John Cougar invited Nina to a late-night “party” that proved to be a seduction attempt. Mark partied with David Lee Roth, who offered him cocaine and groupies. Aretha Franklin made chili for Alan. Bob Dylan whisked Martha off to Ireland in his private jet.

But while VJ has plenty of dish—secret romances, nude photographs, incoherent celebrities—it also reveals how four VJs grew up alongside MTV’s devoted viewers and became that generation’s trusted narrators. They tell the story of the ’80s, from the neon-colored drawstring pants to the Reagan administration, and offer a deeper understanding of how MTV changed our culture. Or as the VJs put it: “We’re the reason you have no attention span.”

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