A Summer Affair–Beach Reading at its Best

Idyllic island life, a rock star ex-boyfriend, an illicit affair hidden behind a cause for children–do you need any other elements for a juicy summer beach read? I didn’t think so.

In A Summer Affair, Elin Hilderbrand has crafted an idyllic setting for the most illicit of affairs. Claire Danner Crispin is married to an attractive, dedicated man and together they have built a life straight out of a magazine: a custom built home on Nantucket Island, four beautiful children, an au pair, and to top it off, a glass blowing workshop behind the house for Claire to practice her art.

Even though it looks like perfection from the outside, Claire is restless. She’s up to her ears in children’s activities, worrying about developmental milestones, laundry, and dinner preparations (sound familiar?).

Things take an interesting turn when a local philanthropist asks her to chair the biggest fundraising event of the year–and to make the item up for auction as well. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but put the pieces together as to why the book’s title is what it is.

Hilderbrand has crafted a tale that takes you away to the island–the dialogue is real and rich, the relationships complex and there are a few plot twists. I liked how she changed perspectives–the majority of the book was written focused on Claire, but other characters get their due as well. Claire’s best friend, who is not exactly equal in social status sees the whole situation differently than her best friend. One of the characters/relationships I enjoyed the most was that of Claire and her high school sweetheart, Max. Claire calls on him to deliver for the fundraiser, and he does so with gusto. It brought to mind some the friendships I made in high school, and how yes, if any of those friends called on a whim, I do whatever I could to help them. Hiderbrand’s descriptions of their young love, of how adolescent friends know you in a way people later in life just can’t, really struck a chord.

Of course, all plot lines in the book come to a climax at the actual fundraiser, one plot line literally comes crashing down around the event.

This book kept me interested the entire time–I read it over the course of about two days. It’s available through Amazon.com, and would fit well in anyone’s beach bag!

This post is part of the MotherTalk blog tour for A Summer Affair. Check out what other bloggers have to say at MotherTalk.com!

Mama Rock’s Rules

Mama Rock’s Rules: Ten Lessons for Raising a Houseful of Successful Children is a spunky parenting book written by Rose Rock (with Valerie Graham), who knows a lot about raising children. She is the mom of comedian Chris Rock, his nine siblings, as well as 17 foster children. She is also an early childhood and special education educator.

As the title implies, the book is divided into ten “lessons”–tenants that will lay the framework for a well-structured family life, one where the expectations are known and consequences enforced. This is a tell-it-like-it-is, YOU-are-the-parent sort of parenting book, where the first lesson is, in fact, that you can’t be your child’s friend and his parent at the same time.

Rose Rock fills this book with practical advice–ways to incorporate routine that children crave, ways to facilitate the family dinner hour, and ways to give your children responsibility. She talks about the importance of parents as teachers–about instilling a love of reading, teaching family and cultural history and instilling a strong self-worth. There are many stories and anecdote of the Rock clan growing up that illustrate the benefits of routines and high expectations.

This book picks up where most of the parenting books I have read leave off–as the children are entering elementary school. While she mentions younger children, the bulk of the book focuses more on the older child and what he faces in the world–and how you, the parent, can guide him through it.

See what other bloggers are saying about this book–check out Mother-talk.com!

Healthy Child, Healthy World

I can’t stop talking about this book. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are also moms of kids who want to do the best thing for them, maybe it’s because not only I am a mom, but a teacher as well. I have mentioned this book to almost everyone I’ve had a conversation with for the past two weeks.

Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, by Christopher Gavigan is a book I will refer to again and again. In a nutshell, it outlines a variety of environmental dangers and how to avoid/minimize them. There are recipes for homemade cleaners, guideline for buying baby gear, and the reasoning behind making sound ecological choices.

Many of the topics have been in the news lately-lead in children’s toys, toxic baby bottles and the dangers in our food supply are just a few recent headlines that come to mind. This book goes deeper than a three-minute segment on the evening news, and explains why each of these things are a danger, and more importantly, what to do about it. There are short essays by a few Hollywood types, including Brooke Shields and Tom Hanks, covering a range of green topics. The book also includes a lengthy “healthy resources” section, which includes sources for products as well as websites for further information.

For awhile now, I’ve been bringing my own grocery bags to the store for shopping trips, and I’ve been toting my own travel mug to the coffee shop. The price of gas keeps me fairly close to home and not foolishly driving my car around for fun. This book, challenges me to do more, and to do it for the sake of my child.

A major theme throughout each section of the book is how assorted toxic exposure obviously isn’t good for anyone, but that it is particularly bad for children. Children roll around on the floor, put things in their mouths and their smaller body mass means that chemicals they are exposed to stay more concentrated in their bloodstreams. The thought that the anti-bacterial kitchen cleaner I use might actually leave behind a residue that may make my daughter ill makes me eager to try something less toxic. Now that I know that half of our lifetime exposure to pesticides occurs in the first five years of life, I’m more motivated to seek out organic, regional produce for my fruit maniac.

I could go on and on–I have learned so much from this simple, easy-to-read, 300 page book. At the beginning, there is a sort of warning–not to be too overwhelmed by the information presented. To tackle a few things at a time, and that once something becomes a habit, conquer the next thing you’d like to change.

So as a result of this book, I am declaring here that I am not going to be buying any more toxic household cleaners. And I will divert the money I’ll be saving (face it, vinegar, Castille soap and baking soda are cheap) and put it toward organic produce (which is not cheap). Those are the two things I will be starting with this month. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

See what other reviewers are saying at Mothertalk.com!