Profile for Paula M. Schuck > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Paula M. Schuck
Top Reviewer Ranking: 38,555
Helpful Votes: 16

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Paula M. Schuck "Inkscrblr" (London, ON. Canada)
(REAL NAME)   

Page: 1 | 2
pixel
The Dovekeepers: A Novel
The Dovekeepers: A Novel
by Alice Hoffman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
87 used & new from CDN$ 0.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely but lengthy, Dec 30 2011
Dovekeepers was a beautiful read I lined up to get a crack at months ago. Told separately by four amazing strong women, the common thread of dove keeping binds them together as women's work during the days of Masada. There are hInts of magic realism here and some remarkable characters that may break your heart. Against the backdrop of the Judean mountain called Masada these four women come together to learn and unravel their own secrets. My only criticism of this novel was the shyer length. It might have benefitted from a more aggressive edit.

Paula
Thriftymommastips
Thriftymommasbrainfood

Search, The: A Novel
Search, The: A Novel
by Suzanne Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.30
73 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Search - A Quiet Charmer, Feb. 10 2011
This review is from: Search, The: A Novel (Paperback)
For More Award-winning reviews come and visit my blog at [...]

Search, The: A Novel

The Search is a quiet little charmer of a book. A romantic story set in Amish country, The Search is part three in the Lancaster County Secrets series of women's Christian romance novels. This story centres around two young women, one named Bess and the other Lainey O'Toole. At first it is unclear what the two women might have in common and how their stories are intertwined. Bess is the grandaughter of Bertha Riehl, and she is sent for the summer to Pennsylvania to help care for her grandmother after some surgery has left Bertha in need. Well, the surgery turns out to have been a bit of a stretch and the grandmother, a bit of a scheming puppet-master. Bertha is a comical character who Bess learns to love over the course of the summer. Bess and Bertha and the farmhand Billy will all work together throughout the summer at Rose Hill farm, living off the land and learning how to grow roses. The roses, of course, are a metaphor for the characters within the book, some blooming like Bess, others slowly withering like Simon and Bertha and, yet another group still twinning together like the hybrids Billy has learned to graft into new variations on the traditional flower. Throughout the summer Bertha mischieviously tells Bess she must teach her how to drive a car and repeatedly "borrows" a police car to give her lessons. When Bertha manages to get herself and Bess thrown into jail, her son Jonah must return home. Thus Bertha successfully orchestrates the return of her son Jonah, Bess's father. Lainey O'Toole has remained in Stoney Ridge following some car troubles. She is an aspiring chef who once lived in Stoney Ridge and didn't intend to return, but winds up spending far more time there than intended. While she is there revisiting her old home, she is confronted by her past and the choices made so long ago, on a night when Jonah and his young family were involved in a horse and buggy accident just outside Lainey's old childhood home. When Bertha Riehl's brother, the drunk Simon, who has been shunned by the Amish community for many years, is near death, Bertha seeks a family member to donate bone marrow. Finding a match for the old miserable Simon starts a whole subplot that will call DNA and lineage into question. When Bess is eventually found to be a perfect match, everybody but Jonah, it seems, understands what that must mean. This is a story well told. Suzanne Woods Fisher has successfully created several strong female characters that really are the heart of this book. The author shows restraint and purpose in capturing the reality of Amish life. Suzanne Woods Fisher is the author of The Choice and The Waiting. I have not read either one of the earlier stories, so I know that this novel can stand on its own, or in the context of the series. Based on how much I enjoyed this story, I would happily choose either of those other books. Getting to know the characters in The Search was enjoyable. The characters are engaging and well rounded and driven by psychological struggles and romantic desires. I found this book to be a nice surprise and truly enjoyed the strong female characters.

The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Jan. 2001, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, US $14.99, 297 pages with discussion guide.

Thriftymommastips rating is $$$$ out of $$$$$.

I received a copy of this book in order to review it. The opinions in this blog are my own.

Little Princes
Little Princes
by Conor Grennan
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Talent Meets Passion and Becomes Change, Feb. 10 2011
This review is from: Little Princes (Paperback)
When I received Little Princes in the mail for review I made a snap judgement call that this was about to be a story of an American who adopted some children internationally. Turns out, I proved the old adage you can't judge a book by its cover. Little Princes by Conor Grennan combines passion, talent and a desire to change the world. On a quest to journey the world and fill a gap year of sorts, Grennan chooses in 2006 to travel to Nepal and work in an orphanage named Little Princes. He is young and single. He is also not prepared for what meets him there. Grennan is plunged right into a civil war zone. Despite little experience with children, Grennan is quickly enamoured by the tiny orphans. Nevertheless he does his three months there and leaves to travel the Globe. In Thailand, while visiting a friend, he feels the need to return. This book is a lovely and inspiring memoir about Grennan's passion. It is sparked when he first sets foot in the orphanage and it continues to grow after he leaves, causing him to return again. He stays to learn more about Nepalese culture and as he learns more of the nature of poverty, he also discovers that the orphans in his charge, are, in nearly all of the cases victims of child traffickers. Despite horrific violence and danger posed by Maoist rebels, Grennan risks his life to find their families and return them home. This is the story of a man who refused to look away when he realized death certificates had been forged and that government corruption was rampant in Nepal. It is a passionate story and a moving memoir. Over the years that he worked at Little Princes, Grennan, visited family in the United States. In 2006 on one of the visits home, he set up a foundation to protect the Nepalese children. Next Generation Nepal is still active in the country and has a web site for more information. In light of the discoveries made here in this book, others should more thoroughly investigate other areas of the world where child trafficking may very well be just as rampant.

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, Conor Grennan

ISBN 9780061930058, publication date Feb. 1, 2011, William Morrow publishers, $25.99, 304 pages with colour photo insert and Index.

Thriftymommasbrainfood rating $$$$$ out of $$$$$

I received a copy of this book to review. The opinions in this blog are all my own.

Little Princes

The Lake of Dreams: A Novel
The Lake of Dreams: A Novel
by Kim Edwards
Edition: Hardcover
81 used & new from CDN$ 0.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lake of Dreams, Feb. 10 2011
Fans of the mega-best-selling The Memory Keeper's Daughter will be thrilled to know that Kim Edwards has a new novel out.The Lake of Dreams is a worthy second novel from an author that is quite skilled at spinning a good yarn. The Lake of Dreams is a lovely story, a tale I initially thought had little in common with the first novel, which was the story of a doctor who helps birth his own twins, one of whom is born with Down's Syndrome. In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, the doctor with a perfect life, gives his child with special needs up to a nurse he works with, tells his wife the one twin died and never really expects to be bothered by the whole affair again. But, as I began to write this review I realized the many similarities between the novels. The Lake of Dreams is also a book centring on themes of secrecy, betrayal, grief and family relationships. The Lake of Dreams begins in the past, a scene in which the main character rebuffs her father, shrugging off a fishing trip as a rebellious teen, only to wake in the middle of the night to the news that he has drowned. Grief propels Lucy though life and her many thwarted careers and relationships. As an adult, Lucy lives in Japan, temporarily between jobs, living with her lover Yoshi, until news that her mother has had an accident forces her back home again for a visit. Transported to the sprawling home of her childhood on The Lake of Dreams, Lucy will question her place in her family and confront her grief as she grapples with the idea that her mother may be ready to sell their home. But, as she does this, she stumbles upon a secret, a package of odd items, and letters hidden in a window seat within the home and sealed up for many decades. The discovery leads her to a distant relative, a woman named Rose whose story unravels bit by bit to intertwine with that of Lucy's own family. Edwards is very talented at crafting beginnings that grab you by the throat and haul you into the first chapters of her books. Less talented at maintaining that momentum, I think. Perhaps, not surprising as her books centre on the inner workings of character's minds and the complicated relationships we have with other human beings, especially those who are related to us. There are glimpses of brilliant imagery here, with the stained windows used as a unique metaphor, that would on the surface seem obvious as a reference to a window to the past. But there is a lot more here, contained within the puzzle of the windows themselves. On finding the tackle box that went missing after her father's death, Lucy describes the many fishing lures they made: "They were like gemstones, smooth and spherical, and trailing feathers, streamers, bits of lace." I enjoyed this book very much, and could even see genius at work in the crafting of the chapters and the story, but in some ways it was more appealing to me academically than emotionally. Edwards is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky. She has also written one collection of short stories: The Secrets of a Fire King.

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards, fiction, Viking, Jan. 4, 2011, $26.95 US Hardcover and $33.50 Canada, 378 pages.

Thriftymommastips rating is $$$$ out of $$$$$. A nice read, with moments of brilliance, but falls slightly short of superstar status, perhaps because it lacks emotion on some levels.
Originally published on [...]

The Kingschristmas List
The Kingschristmas List
by Eldon Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 13.32
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The King's Christmas List, Oct. 5 2010
The King's Christmas List is a very sweet story about a little girl named Emma and her dog Shu -Shu, who set out to make their way to a birthday party, but encounter obstacles, in the form of people in need all along the way. Emma and her dog are invited to the King's birthday party. But they cannot go empty-handed, so together they craft and bake presents to take with them. Emma and her dog are to travel in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage with her new Christmas cape, a cake they have baked, and her favourite bear, Cherry Bear. First they meet a grandmother and her grandson who are cold and hungry. Emma gives them both the cake and she wraps the boy in her Christmas cape. A little further down the road she and Shu-Shu meet a little girl crying because her bear has fallen into a river. Emma selflessly leaves her with Cherry Bear. Finally they arrive at the castle and are slightly embarrassed to have no present to give them King. Emma begins to tell him of her presents and the story of their trip, but he tells her he knows what she has done and that her gifts to others on his behalf have been the greatest present he could ever receive.
The King's Christmas list is a really lovely story with opulent drawings and a great message about materialism that is not harsh or heavy-handed. Bonnie Leick's illustrations are gorgeous and rich and magical. Author Eldon Johnson has taken a simple message and a grown up message and pared it down to a child's level, pulling it together with very realistic examples of a child's natural inclination to give from the heart. This is a gorgeous book that, in the end, also relates real life examples from World Vision of how we can all give to others to carry out the true spirit of the season.

Forfeiting All Sanity: A Mother's Story of Raising a Child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Forfeiting All Sanity: A Mother's Story of Raising a Child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
by Jennifer Poss Taylor
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.00
25 used & new from CDN$ 4.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Forfeiting All Sanity, July 27 2010
Ashley Taylor is a "beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed angel" in the words of her adoptive mother, Jennifer Poss Taylor. Ashley Taylor also has profound brain damage, done prior to her birth, the result of prenatal alcohol exposure. In other words, because her biological mother drank while pregnant, the beautiful eldest daughter of Jennifer Poss Taylor and her husband David, faces a lifetime of struggles with behaviours, physical and neurological challenges, all stemming from a largely preventable birth defect. Forfeiting All Sanity is a quick and educational memoir or perhaps, a momoir, about one child's struggle with fetal alcohol syndrome. Ashley cannot tell her own story as her IQ falls below 80 and she is developmentally delayed as a result of her brain damage. In Canada, it should be noted that we have generally been using the term FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, to describe the array of birth defects arising from prenatal alcohol exposure. In Canada there are an estimated 300,000 people living with FASD. My youngest daughter is one of them. In the United States, another common statistic that is quoted is that of 40,000 babies born each year with FASD. Children diagnosed with an FASD have IQs ranging from 72 upto 120 and a good number of those function within the normal range of intelligence. But the impairments can be apparent to areas of memory, impulse control, emotion regulation and social difficulty. As well, thoses with FASD can have heart, kidney, lung, vision and hearing abnormalities. They often have sensory integration dysfunction. Forfeiting All Sanity is quite compelling and frankly I couldn't put it down. There is little out there for parents of children diagnosed with FASD to read regarding this devastating disorder. Our entire community has already responded keenly to this new book. Taylor is a savvy entrepreneur and very motivated to get the word out regarding FASD. She is also a deeply religious and spiritual person who clearly finds strength to deal with the challenges of raising two special needs children through her church and beliefs. I am certainly not criticizing that in any way. People who parent these really difficult and also, at times, rewarding children, need to find their source of support somewhere or they will quite simply not survive. This memoir contains many spiritual references and quotes from the Bible. This sometimes gets in the way of the narrative. Poss Taylor notes that it is a known fact close to 80 percent of parents of children with autism end up divorced. I have, in fact, read that close to 85 % of marriages end in divorce when one of the children is diagnosed with special needs. It is beyond difficult and unimaginable for most people, the path many have to travel to fight for their children. Poss Taylor is intriguing in that she has one child diagnosed with autism and one with FASD. She has a unique perspective then on the similarities and differences between both of these spectrum disorders. There are, in fact, numerous similarities between the two, but she notes: "It is not a secret how difficult raising a child with autism can be, but I will reiterate this right now - Grant is a breeze to raise compared to Ashley." Initially I was concerned this book would simply be all positive inspirational anecdotes about life with Ashley, but in fact it is a balanced account of the rewards and challenges. Poss Taylor is not unlike most adoptive parents in that they are resourceful and often well educated, talented at advocating for their children. Ashley's mother indicates she gained further insight into her daughter in the process of writing this book and I am not suprised by that. FASD, is a largely invisible neurological brain disorder. It is a physical deformity of the brain that is not seen when one looks at the child or adult in front of them. There are some common facial symptoms of alcohol-related brain damage, but only a small portion of people with FASD have that precise combination of facial abnormalities. This disorder often goes undiagnosed, unrecognized or misdiagnosed because it looks like so many other things. It is a bizarre life parenting and dwelling with someone on the spectrum. Learning how to manage a child with these special needs is experiential and demands flexibility. FASD is not linear or progressive, but somewhat cyclical and often unpredictable. A child may know how to print the number eight on Friday and then lose it by Monday and retrieve it again two weeks later. Their memory literally has big gaps and holes. There are good days and bad days, peaks and plateaus and in periods where our children are functioning well and knowing what to expect it is almost possible at times to forget they have a disability. Then out of left field comes a period of intense destructive behaviour or rage and it can leave the whole family reeling. Poss Taylor does a good job describing her daughter's destructive behaviour and the lengths to which they have had to go to find things many others take for granted, like a school that supports her special needs. She also refers to the behaviours that impact the other siblings in the family. FASD is gaining more recognition slowly in North America, but it still lacks the level of commitment by researchers, educators and politicians that many other physical and mental disabilities have received.

Forfeiting All Sanity, by Jennifer Poss Taylor, Tate Publishing &Enterprises, USA, 2010, 130 pages, paperback, $10.99.

Thriftymommastips rating is $$$$ out of $$$$$. Educational, not overpriced.

Thriftymommedia is not compensated for reviews. Opinions are my own. I received a copy of this book free from the author.

Baby Beluga
Baby Beluga
Price: CDN$ 9.51
10 used & new from CDN$ 5.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A family favourite, July 22 2010
This review is from: Baby Beluga (Audio CD)
This reminds me of the days when my babies were both young. When our children first joined us, we were eager to create new traditions. My youngest joined us in 2004 and our eldest joined us in 2001 through domestic adoption. One of the first things I did with my new baby was spend time getting to know her and often we would just play this Raffi CD Baby Beluga in the living room and dance around. We loved the tunes and my baby liked music. My daughter is now nine and my youngest is now six and they still love to read the little board book with Raffi's Baby Beluga lyrics in it. We sing it together at bedtime some nights and it is still a comforting and calm song. I will always have a special corner of my heart for this sweet song.

Paula
[...]

Even The Dogs
Even The Dogs
by Jon Mcgregor
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.78
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Style in Abundance if You Can Stick With It, June 9 2010
This review is from: Even The Dogs (Paperback)
If this book were a person it would be your rambling Uncle Reggie with all the skeletons in his closet, you know the relative with a genius level IQ and possibly undiagnosed schizophrenia, the guy that drank it all away and then showed up at Christmas to start a fight. Nobody really likes to be around Uncle Reggie, because he reminds them how fragile the balance of mental health and life, but in reality at the end of the day when you are quiet with just your thoughts, even you have got to admit that Uncle Reggie is far more interesting than all the rest of your relatives combined. At the start of Even The Dogs, is the death of a homeless man, Robert, a person found on a day between Christmas and New Year's inside an abandoned apartment building. The fictional story that arises out of this sad event is more real than most. What follows is a makeshift eulogy, a strange remembrance of the pitiful man who died, as told by his friends and acquaintances. The key here is the friends and acquaintances. They are each homeless addicts living on the fringes of society, drugged and searching for drugs, drying out and then checking into rehab and then relapsing again. Their remembrances are heartfelt to be sure, but also dreamy, nebulous, frantic, rushed, interrupted, disjointed, confused, urgent, pressured and half forgotten. "Had to find someone and tell them was all he could think. Had to find Laura and let her know, had to find Mike." We are told Robert had a daughter named Laura and her father's friends speculate where she might have gone, until the end of the novel when she is forced to reveal, at an inquest, that she abandoned her father to score drugs.

Even The Dogs is an odd novel at first to get into and slightly off-putting with strange use of punctuation and rambling sentences and the continuous use of the pronoun "we." And yet, if you stick with it and invest yourself fully, by the end of the book all of these stylistic devices truly make sense. In fact, not unlike a drug, when you let this novel fully wash over you, the brilliance of it hits and you are left in awe. Jon McGregor's latest tale appeared with much advance praise and buzz about the Booker prize and yet it is a difficult read. It is one of the more deceptive reads I've been given lately for review here at brainfood. The style is very evocative of the Virginia Woolf school of stream-of-consciousness and this reminded me a great deal of some of the duty reads from university English literature classes of years gone by. At first it left me cold and then I realized that was partly the point. You are supposed to feel hot and cold about the topic matter at hand and the death of a homeless drunk is really not poetry to most. He will be given a pauper's funeral and his friends wonder at the sadness and hopelessness at the end of this life. McGregor is a stylist of the highest calibre and a writer's writer for sure. Here we will find sentences paused mid-thought, punctuation dropped or forgotten, mishmashed grammar and rambling odd rants about life on the street. McGregor's characters have strong voices and his talent for dialect is nothing, if not realistic. McGregor has also written If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways To Begin. He has won the Somerset Maugham Award and The Betty Trask Prize. He was born in Bermuda and now lives in England.

This review originally posted at [...].

thriftymommastips rating $$$$ out of $$$$$

Not for everyone, but realistic, highly intelligent and brave writing.

Bloomsbury USA New York, 2010, $17.50 Canada. $14 US.

Walter The Farting Dog: Banned From the Beach
Walter The Farting Dog: Banned From the Beach
by William Kotzwinkle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.16
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walter Rocks!, May 10 2010
My family adores this hysterical series. It is quite simply laugh out loud silly. The stinky dog Walter who suffers from excess flatulence is this time banned from the beach, but not for long. This series is not to be read right before bed because I find it makes my kids laugh so much they have trouble falling asleep. A funny problem to have really.

My New Family: A First Look at Adoption
My New Family: A First Look at Adoption
by Pat Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.99
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adoption tool, May 10 2010
This is a great and educational look at adoption for anyone from age 5 up. I have often used this tool with both of my daughters when trying to explain or answer adoption related questions. I very much like the respectful tone and the emotions contained within My New Family.

Page: 1 | 2