Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's a Girl!

Claire Audrey arrived by C-Section at 10:24 am on Weds Jan 13. She weighed 5 lbs 4 oz and was 17 3/4 inches long. She was about 3 weeks early and is still in the NICU. She is doing very, very well. She is currently in an ioslette as she has jaundice. In addition to the heart defect that we knew about, there is a second condition that the Drs are watching. There is a vessel in the heart that usually closes within a couple of days of birth. Claire's vessel is still open, so they started her on meds last night to hopefully close this without surgery. They will do another echo on her heart on Friday and hopefully the meds will have worked their magic. If not, there is a possibility that she may have to have surgery to close this.

As you know, there was a suspicion before birth that Claire might have Down syndrome. This was confirmed by a genetic screening. What this extra chromosome means to us is that there is more of her to love! She is already an absolute joy and we can't wait to get her home.

I will be moving any parenting/Down syndrome content to my personal blog. There may be some books that deal with Ds reviewed here, but my focus on this blog won't change much. I haven't had any time to read lately but hopefully will be back in the groove soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unfinished: The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

by Diane Ackerman
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780393333060
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: My Shelves
Rating: 0/5

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

When I read (or listen to) a book about WWII or the Holocaust the one thing I expect in the book is emotion. How can you tell a story about such a devastating time and not have the emotions come through loud and clear? I didn't think it was possible until I started reading The Zookeeper's Wife.

I made it about 100 pages into the book and the story was terribly dry. I know that a story needs to be set up and explained, but those 100 pages were pretty much background info. I was a third of the way through the book and these still wasn't any mention of helping to smuggle Jews out of the country.

Since I left this one unfinished, that means my WWII Challenge was left one book short of completion. If any of you have read this one, does it get better? 0 stars

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Bottom Line, #6

The Bottom Line is a feature to designed to give quick and dirty reviews of books I've read, but I either don't have the time or the inspiration to write full reviews on them.

Book Info:
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (October 13, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781416989417
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Friend's copy
Rating: 3.5/5

I've been reading a lot more YA lately and Hush, Hush was another hit with me. This one included a bad boy character that I couldn't help but be attracted to, a heroine that did some amazingly stupid things sometimes, and an ending that was apparently changed from the ARC to the final copy. Hush, Hush was entertaining, but didn't contain anything too deep.

Book Info:
Lost Girls by George D. Shuman
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star (June 30, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781416553045
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: My Shelves
Rating: 3.5/5

Lost Girls is the third book featuring blind psychic Sherry Moore. Moore can 'see' the last 18 seconds of a victims thoughts before the die. The first book in the series hooked me, the second was ok at best, but I enjoyed this installment. Lost Girls also included a storyline on human trafficking and I found it very interesting.

Book Info:
Wicked Prey by John Sandford
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (May 12, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780399155673
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: My Shelves
Rating: 3.5/5

I think this series is my favorite one, and I follow a lot of them. It's one series that still holds my attention, had believable plots, and Sandford isn't turning out 3 books a year. This one wasn't my favorite as the Republican Convention was the backdrop and I don't really enjoy politics, but it was still another solid installment.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: Gifts by Kathryn Lynard Soper

Book Info:
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Woodbine House (May 15, 2007)
ISBN-13: 9781890627850
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: My Shelves
Rating: 4/5

Having a baby with Down syndrome is not something most parents would willingly choose. Yet many who travel this path discover rich, unexpected rewards along the way. In this candid and poignant collection of personal stories, sixty-three mothers describe the gifts of respect, strength, delight, perspective, and love, which their child with Down syndrome has brought into their lives.

One of the things I like best about reading reviews from other bloggers is that the reviews aren't written by nameless, faceless people. We all get to know other bloggers and little bits of their personalities come through in every review. While I think all reviews have a personal touch, this one hits closer to home for me.

Some of you may know that we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first baby at the end of the month. What you don't know, is that there is a very high likelihood that our baby will have Down syndrome. In an attempt to educate myself and my family as much as possible I have been reading everything I can get my hands one. Gifts was provided by a local DS organization.

Gifts is a collection of stories written by mothers of children with Down syndrome. The stories are short, anywhere from one to four pages, but they are all filled with hope, strength and love for their children. All of the thoughts, questions and concerns I have for my baby have all been experienced by these other women, and it is a comfort just to know that we are not alone in this journey.

Most of the stories are written by mothers whose children are about 4 years old or younger. I really wish there were more stories from parents of older children included, but other than that I have found this book to be comforting and would highly recommend it to other parents or families facing a diagnosis of Down syndrome. 4 stars

Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: Lift by Rebecca K O'Connor

Book Info:
Lift by Rebecca K. O'Connor
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Red Hen Press (November 1, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781597094603
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Author for review
Rating: 4/5

The culmination of a ten-year career in falconry, Lift is a memoir that illustrates the journey and life lessons of a woman navigating a man’s ancient sport. Captivated by a chance meeting with a falconer’s peregrine as a child, the indelible memory eventually brings the author’s life full circle to flying a peregrine of her own. Exploring themes of predator and prey, finding tribe, forgiveness and femininity, the memoir asks universal questions through a unique backdrop. Lift illustrates the beauty and meaning the sport of falconry can add to a falconer’s life, echoing the challenges and triumphs of being human.

I've never considered myself a bird person. My mom has birds and for the most part I find them noisy and messy. So when I agreed to review Lift I was hoping for an animal story that was different than the usual "my pet is wonderful story". Lift met, and exceeded, my expectations.

Falconry is a completely new sport to me. The terms of the sport were unfamiliar, but O'Connor worked her explanations into the story so flawlessly that I never felt like she was stepping out of the story to teach me the basics. I appreciated all the explanations, but don't think they would have taken away from the story if you already knew falconry fundamentals.

I also loved the relationship between O'Connor and Anakin, her falcon. I appreciated that the relationship was a partnership built on respect. So many books tend to treat animals as human, and because of this you lose their true nature. O'Connor worked with her falcon, instead of trying to change him.

Whether you are a bird lover or a sportsman, I would recommend Lift. This memoir is a quick, but very informative and interesting read. Lift doesn't just focus on falconry either, but includes personal stories which provide a well rounded story. 4 stars

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2010 is a year filled with happiness for all of you!

Thank you all for making 2009 a wonderful blogging year. I have truly enjoyed all the comments and friendships that have come about because of this blog. Here's to many more wonderful years!