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Content by Julie Lovisa
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Reviews Written by
Julie Lovisa (Indiana USA)

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Grosse Pointe Girl: Tales from a Suburban Adolescence
Grosse Pointe Girl: Tales from a Suburban Adolescence
by Sarah Grace McCandless
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.99
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Suburban life at it's best, June 28 2004
Spanning the years of Emma Harris's middle school to 10-year reunion experience, GROSSE POINTE GIRL is a short, yet revealing look at adolescence. Remember the days of 'going' with someone, terrifying, yet hopeful school dances, and navigating the dangerous waters of female friendships? It's all captured here in snapshot form.
Grosse Pointe is a suburb of Detroit and after Emma's parents divorce, she is living on the fringes of the affluent area of town. During the course of the book she ditches her best friend for the popular crowd, gets ditched by the popular crowd, loses her virginity, finds true friendship and love, and learns the meaning of loss.
The writing is spare, but it allows you to see through to the rigidity and sameness of adolescence and suburban life.

Good Grief
Good Grief
by Lolly Winston
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A novel of overcoming loss, June 27 2004
This review is from: Good Grief (Hardcover)
Sophie has just lost her husband of three years to cancer and is drowning in her loss. She can't imagine life without her husband and begins to spiral out of control until one day, she goes to work in her bathrobe and slippers, not caring who sees her or what happens. Diagnosed with a depressive breakdown, Sophie decides to sell her house and moved to Ashland, OR to be near her best friend.
There she finds a new job in a restaurant and takes on the role of Big Sister to Crystal, a 13-year old girl who's mother pays no attention to her and who sets fires and injures herself for release. She also begins clumsily dating again and meets Drew, a Shakespearean actor who threatens to sweep her off her feet. In the process of taking care of the people she cares about, including Crystal, Ruth (her friend), and her Mother-In-Law Marion, who has Alzheimer's, she begins to find new strength and a will to persevere after her loss.
Lolly Winston has written many moving scenes of grief that will resonate with you...when Sophie unthinkingly donates her living room furniture to Goodwill rather than the boxes of Ethan's belongings that she meant to, you will want to take her in your arms and try to convince her that everything will work out.
Sophie also lost her mother to a car accident when she was 13, and Winston nicely wove her feelings about that loss into the thread of the story. From the book jacket, I was expecting to read a comedic novel, and while there are some funny moments in the book, all in all, it was more touching and poignant than anything else.

Within Arm's Reach: A Novel
Within Arm's Reach: A Novel
by Ann Napolitano
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.29

5.0 out of 5 stars A touching and revealing family saga, June 25 2004
I feel very fortunate to have received an advance reading copy of Ann Napolitano's first novel WITHIN ARM'S REACH. Once I started, I coudn't put it down...I was swept into the story of the McLaughlins, an Irish-American family who are all struggling with their own personal demons.
The story is told from six points of view that all wind neatly into one another to form the crux of the novel which is this: sometimes family can be too bound together. In this case, they are bound by control issues and the need to show strength at the cost of intimacy at all times.
Catherine is the matriarch of the family who's father was a successful hotel manager and mother hid in the closet with a rosary during thunderstorms and spoke with invisible family members. She spends her life married to a man who doesn't make her happy, but who communes with her mother in way that she never could. After the deaths of three of her children, she unconsciously witholds the affection that the rest of them need in favor of holding them at arm's length with the fear that she might lose the others.
Kelly is Catherine's oldest living daughter who is struggling with conflicting feelings about her mother and dealing with a pregnant, unmarried daughter. She and her husband are drifting apart and she doesn't know why.
Louis is Kelly's husband who is living with the guilt that one of the men who worked for him died on the job when he fell from the roof of a house he was working on. He feels that he is somehow responsible and must make it up to the man's widow and family. In the process of obsessing about this, he is becoming estranged from his wife, Kelly, and blind to what is going on in his own family.
Noreen Ballen is the widow of the man who died under Louis's watch. As a nurse at the hospital where Catherine is taken on several occasions, she has the opportunity to get to know the family and eventually leaves her job to become a caretaker for Catherine. She is grieving over the loss of her husband and learns to let go of her pain and worry about her children through experiences with the McLaughlin family.
Lila is Kelly and Louis's younger daughter, a medical student who feels she is drifting through life at the same time that she is working so hard to become something she isn't sure she wants to be. She is abrupt and unpersonable, but learns that she can feel and be a caring person by following her instincts and living a life that she wants to live.
Gracie is at the middle of the story, Kelly and Louis's older daughter...she prefers casual sexual flings to intimacy and relationships. When she becomes pregnant, the entire family is thrown into a state of chaos because she is to be a single mother after her 'boyfriend' returns to his ex-girlfriend. As everyone tries to come to grips with the fact that she will be having this baby, their personal stories come to the forefront and you begin to learn why the family has been bound by pain and how they learn to let it go.
Napolitano's lyrical writing style and dreamy scenes of the shadows of family ancestors help to bring the family's struggle with each other and their legacy of estrangement to the forefront of the story. Where the past and the present collide is where they will find healing within arm's reach.

I Believe
I Believe
Offered by MusicShoppingParty
Price: CDN$ 8.81
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.65

5.0 out of 5 stars She can make a cheesy song sound soulful, June 22 2004
This review is from: I Believe (Audio CD)
From the very beginning, I was rooting for Fantasia to win the 3rd season of American Idol. Her voice, which is far from the normal cookie cutter material you hear on the radio today, is a little raspy, a little nasal, but punches an emotional wallop that is undeniable. She had me in tears on more than one occasion from the power of her vocals...she crawls into a song and works it inside out...her performances, while raw, are real.
Yes, I've heard better renditions of Summertime, but none have affected me the way hers has. I wish I could put into words what it is in her voice that has such an emotional impact on people, but it's beyond me. Kelly Clarkson has a big voice, Clay Aiken has a mellow voice, but Fantasia's will be the one that is remembered for it's ability to make you actually feel the song. Even I Believe, the typical AI sappy finale number (sorry Tamyra), is breathed new life by her...and I Believe that Fantasia will be around for a long, long time to come.

Making Gift Scrapbooks in a Snap: 20 Perfect Presents for Fammily and Friends
Making Gift Scrapbooks in a Snap: 20 Perfect Presents for Fammily and Friends
by Pam Klassen
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for those who prefer to give personal gifts, June 12 2004
There is nothing more appreciated than a gift from the heart, and making a keepsake scrapbook for a family member, friend, or really just about anyone who touches your life is a gift that will be treasured.
MAKING GIFT SCRAPBOOKS IN A SNAP is an indispensable book for ideas for small themed scrapbooks and for techniques (which many experienced scrappers will probably already know about) to include on the pages. However, for someone crunched for time, or a simple scrapper like myself, having step-by-step instructions to follow is exactly what is needed.
Some ideas included in the book are: year-in-review, bridal shower/wedding, timeline (i.e. for a pregnancy or baby's first year), family history, calendar of events, memorial, ABC albums, children's storybooks, altered books, and a brag book; but really, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of themes presented.
With 20 projects included and an additional 50 album ideas to inspire you, you will never be at a loss for ideas to show those close to you how much you care.

Desert Places: A Novel of Terror
Desert Places: A Novel of Terror
by Blake Crouch
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from CDN$ 12.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Guaranteed to unnerve, June 12 2004
I've never been into the slasher/thriller genre, but when I read the synopsis of this debut novel by Blake Crouch, I had to try it...and I'm glad I did!
Andrew Thomas is a successful writer of, what else, thrillers who has just completed his latest novel and is living his dream life. All that changes when he receives an anonymous note that directs him to the body of a missing teacher - who is buried on his property and covered in his blood. What follows is a descent into desperation and murder that will surely chill you. There is also an interesting subtext about the difference between the desire to kill that is in people's hearts and the people who actually commit the murder that's in their hearts.
While there were some horrifying scenes of carnage in the story, it is the randomness of the victims and emotions of the captors that will make you want to make sure you're locks are bolted. The only complaint I have is that the ending was a little too pat...while reading the conclusion, I could definitely envision the story as a typical Hollywood slasher movie.
Other than that, if you are looking for a book to raise your hackles, then look no further. The scariest part is that this is a book of potential reality - and the fact that there really are sick people capable of committing these crimes out in the world is what chilled me the most.

What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?
What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?
by Reitano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.18
45 used & new from CDN$ 3.10

5.0 out of 5 stars An important message for any age, June 11 2004
It's never to early to teach your child the importance of harmony and tolerance and this little book is a great place to start. When some zebras lose their white stripes and others their black stripes, they must look inside themselves and each other to learn to get along.
I especially appreciated the very last page which placed the zebras with many children of different races and nationalities so that my 5-year old and I could talk about the differences in people, too.

Queen Bees & Wannabes
Queen Bees & Wannabes
by Rosalind Wiseman
Edition: Paperback
86 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have a school-age daughter, you need this book., June 8 2004
This review is from: Queen Bees & Wannabes (Paperback)
I agree with 'A Reader from Washington D.C.' when she says that cliques shouldn't keep anyone from doing what they want to do and that a young girl shouldn't let the Queen Bees or any of her minions define her...but the unfortunate reality is that most middle/high school girls are living in the present and can't see to the future where all those school hierarchies will be just a distant memory.
With that in mind, I think that QUEEN BEES & WANNABES is a must have book for parents, especially mothers, navigating the world of adolescent girls and all it has to offer. Far from telling parents to act like your daughter's best friend, it offers excellent advice and samples on how to talk TO her at her level and not AT her at yours so that she will be more comfortable sharing her life with you, especially since so many tweens and teens are prone to clamming up totally in the presence of their parents.
It offers descriptions of each component of the clique, from the Queen Bee and her Sidekick, to the Wannabe and the Target. In the process of explaining the complicated politics of school-age girls, it opened my eyes to some of the things that went on when I was in school and allowed me to view some of my experiences through that lens.
The end of the book has a very valuable section on dealing with your daughter and boys...why some boys act the way they do, their motivations, and danger signs to look for in someone your daughter may be dating.
I think that the reason this book is so enlightening is because of the research the author did with adolescent girls...she took many of the suggestions they made and used them to formulate her tactics for parent/daughter communication. The quotes included in the book are both horrifying and poignant and will help to re-open your eyes to the reality of teenage life.

Renee Olstead
Renee Olstead
Price: CDN$ 21.61
39 used & new from CDN$ 1.45

5.0 out of 5 stars A voice way beyond her years..., May 28 2004
This review is from: Renee Olstead (Audio CD)
With a voice as nuanced and controlled as any jazz great, Renee Olstead is poised to take the music world by storm! Her phrasing is perfect and the maturity is amazing for a 14 year old.
This disc of standards performed by Renee is sure to become a classic and I can't wait to hear more from this talented teen. You have to hear it to believe it!

Creative Correspondence
Creative Correspondence
by Judy Jacobs
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Never send a boring letter again!, Dec 13 2003
You will be itching to send someone a letter after you read about and practice the paper crafting techniques presented in this book. And as a bonus, not only can you use them to create unique correspondence, but you can also use them in your scrapbooks, art journals, or altered books! Basic collage, painting techniques, paper cutting, and stamping ideas are presented with step-by-step instructions that are illustrated with detailed photographs so that you will make no mistake while putting these works of art together.
So get out that list of people you've been meaning to write to and just haven't gotten around to doing. You'll have a blast and they will appreciate the beautiful mail you send them.

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