Category Archives: books

Adirondack Chairs and an essay from the NYT on liking YA books

A thoughtful friend sent me this link and I am in love with the colors – perfect for the porch, patio, yard – love these chairs!

Grab a pitcher of lemonade, cloudy or otherwise and a good book. Here is a piece in the NYT about other adults who like YA… The Kids’ Books Are All Right Here is an excerpt:

By Ross MacDonald NYT

By PAMELA PAUL Published: August 6, 2010

While au fait literary types around town await the buzzed-about new novels from Jonathan Franzen and Nicole Krauss, other former English majors have spent the summer trying to get hold of “Mockingjay,” the third book in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian trilogy, so intensely under wraps that not even reviewers have been allowed a glimpse before its airtight Aug. 24 release. What fate will befall our heroine, Katniss Everdeen? My fellow book club members and I are desperate to know. When will the Capitol fall? And how can Collins possibly top the first two installments, “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire”?

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Tall Tales by Karen Day

capability:mom on tall tales by karen daySo on with my Young Adult fiction read-a-thon. Just read Tall Tales by Karen Day – – her first novel and it was wonderful.  Here is a summary:

Meg has a secret…actually it is the family’s secret. Her father is an alcoholic.  Meg makes up elaborate stories so that people won’t come over and set him off or see him drunk.  The whole family has learned to walk on eggshells around him and they have moved many times to accommodate his inability to stay sober and engaged on the job. No surprise, his father was an alcoholic, too, and he was physically and verbally abused as a child. Continue reading

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Inbox reminders from the library and Ten Marks and a good, no a great, read from Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman Indigo at capabilitymom.comIf your email in-box is anything like mine, it is cluttered with a random assortment of things.  While I generally like clutter (sorry, honey) my in-box is someplace I have decided to clean up (again, sorry, honey, not the physical one over the computer that even as I type this threatens to overflow – potentially causing injury, but I digress).

Right now the electronic version has quite a few sales notices (mostly Old Navy and Gap – I did finally unsubscribe to a ton of things, it was time-consuming but worth it) and news alerts that I like to get (even if I don’t always click on the link) and notes from friends and some blogs I subscribe to (yes, it is free and lets you know when a blog you like has been updated). You can subscribe to this site, too… just type in your email address in the sidebar.

So today, nice.  My in-box had a note from a friend, a blog update from Coffee Shop Bloggers, a library reminder that two books are due in two days and a reminder from Ten Marks that one of my daughters has some worksheets to finish up. Nice touch, Ten Marks!  I didn’t realize that I would get a follow-up email (it even includes a reminder of the sign-in code).  Super for the busy parent (and we are all busy – even in summer) and a nice matter-of-fact way for you to prompt your child to look at the other worksheets. (You know…”I just got an email from Ten Marks…” is much better than “Did you do your math worksheets?”)

So book reviews (see – I do eventually get back around to topics) and, no, I wasn’t asked to do this one – usually they are books I just have to share.  I do like the YA and I picked up this book last night and didn’t put it down until I was finished. Fortunately for my family (who would do the laundry, make dinner- oh, we did have take-out …but still), it is a short but beautiful read.

Indigo by Alice Hoffman for Scholastic. (Go to her website for a look at all of the other books she has written- many favorites)

Intense, moving and lovely.  A young girl, Martha Glimmer (her mother has recently died in that very YA way), and her two best friends, Eli and Trevor, (known to one and all as Eel and Trout because they are different in a charming, magical way – think webbed fingers and toes and a propensity for salt water and fish) decide to run away from their small landlocked town to the ocean. I actually stopped reading at one point because of this…

“…What mattered was that Trout McGill was the one person aside from her mother who believed that Martha would someday leave Oak Grove, and that no matter how tall she was, or how uncomfortable with herself, she would be a dancer.  He believed in dreams, in the endings that people told you could never happen, in disappointments reversed and luck that lasted.”

Yeah, so you should read it. Great pre-teen and teen book – one of two off-spring has read it – this morning – a very fast but great read.


Filed under Authors, books, Books and More, Feed your head, soul, self, library, young adult fiction

Rocky Road – a summer read worth reading – Take the ice cream personality quiz at the end

I do like to read young adult fiction, I can say it because I am pre-reading for my children but that is only a partial truth – I like the quality of the writing, the story lines and the fact that I can read it in the time I could read a Harlequin romance…not that I read those now – but I did in college – by the armful, and the occasional Danielle Steele novel, too. I did say I would read anything…and I have – if you are judging me now, so be it. I also read “grown-up” books and am reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog now. Back to YA…

The last young adult fiction book that  I read was Rocky Road by Rose Kent  – Pragmatic Mom let me borrow an advance copy back in June but I am just getting around to writing about it now – it was already published in hard-cover by the time I got the  pre-published bound copy but it was still kind of cool – I walked around with it casually…on purpose. No one asked about the advanced copy but I had fun.

Anyway,  the story involves a more than usually dysfunctional family (Note to YA writers – you know how Disney  kills off a parent for the sake of the story line? YA writers sometimes rely too heavily on family dysfunction for their conflict), having said that and loving YA the way I do, I really liked this book.  The family was dysfunctional in an interesting way with a lot going on. Tess, a seventh grade Texas transplant, whose bipolar mother (father is not involved in this family) moves them to Schenectady, NY in the dead of winter to open an ice cream shop. Tess’s younger brother, Jordan, is deaf and struggles to make himself understood by their mother who can’t seem to manage sign language. The mom is charming and high-functioning and Tess is an artsy-crafty girl who struggles to fit in.  The story is believable and you really care about the characters – and there are plenty of well-drawn characters here,  A strong sense of community and friendship and good values like hard work and responsibility also run throughout the story. If that sounds like a drag, it isn’t. I liked the characters, the writing and that the author dealt with tough topics – bipolar disorder, financial troubles and even caring for a younger sibling (when you may not really want to) are all interwoven in a way that make these topics accessible to younger readers but also engaging to – ahem – older readers, like myself.

All in all, a good read that makes me want to find other books by this author. I found this one: Kimchi and Calamari about an adopted boy who is researching his roots.

About Rose Kent  –  a native Long Islander who spent her summers in the great state of Maine. She is a former naval officer who also worked for a major food corporation. Rose’s first middle-grade novel, Kimchi & Calamari (HarperCollins Publishers) was inspired by her adopted children from Korea. Kimchi & Calamari has been nominated for the NY Charlotte Award, the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Award, and the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award.

Ice Cream Personality quiz that Pragmatic Mom found and I blatantly copied. Thanks, Pragmatic Mom!


Filed under Authors, books, Books and More, Creative outlets, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, mom blogs, young adult fiction

yummy goods store on-line at last!

yummy goods from capabilitymomI found this store on the Cape while staying in a sweet beach house last year and loved everything in the store – I have followed her blog (Melissa Averinos – a talented fabric designer and author) and finally (!) you can order things from her sweet shop on-line. Seriously, I was ready to drive the hour plus to get a yummy goods fix. She has a small thing for unicorns – check it out  and she even has a book that makes me think I can sew. Ahem.

all goodsCategory: Storeall goods
yummy goods capability mom

Melissa Averino's Book

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2010 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Winner & Finalists Announced

In my recent travels I found this website Get ‘Em Reading about how to get kids to connect to literature by Daria Plumb, a teacher with a  Master’s in Children’s Literature – she says it is never too late to turn a non-reader into a reader that it just takes the right book.  

I not so secretly planned on my children being big readers (couldn’t help it) so I did all the things you are supposed to do, had cozy reading nooks, books (on a rotating schedule) in the bathroom, read to them, in front of them and with them and I got lucky. Daria Plumb’s site is a great resource for parents of reluctant readers and she chaired the ALAN committee  – Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) – that chose the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalists and winner.



The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents celebrates Young Adult Literature through a number of awards and recognitions every year.  ALAN’s newest award, The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award, is presented  annually to the author of a title selected by the AEWA Committee comprised of ALAN members.


Amelia Elizabeth Walden was born in New York City on January 15, 1909. She graduated from Columbia University in 1934 and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. From 1935 to 1945, she taught English and Dramatics at Norwalk High School in Connecticut. She married John William Harmon in 1946. Her first novel, Gateway, was published in 1946. Walden told her editor that she intended the novel for young people who lived at the gateway, on that middle ground between adolescence and adulthood. Walden claimed, “I respond to young people because I remember my own adolescence so vividly – and fondly. It was a period of total involvement, of enjoying life to the hilt.”  Walden wrote over 40 young adult novels.

Here is the winner: and the finalists include:

I am putting these books on my reading list and in my Amazon store.

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More on NPR's Wonderful Summer Reading List

It is true, I am still writing.Will she not sleep? you ask. She will but only after telling you to go to NPR’s site and get great recommendations for summer reading. I take summer reading very seriously and (thank you, Family, for the books and book gift certificates).  The NPR site is unreal…here is a peek …You should really start reading, you are a bit behind if you haven’t started yet…no pressure, though. The excerpts and critics’ comments are terrific.  

Summer Books 2010: The Complete List

June 4, 2010

Use the list below to browse NPR’s Summer Books 2010 recommendations. Each critic’s list is presented separately. Click on a book title to read an excerpt. Click on the article names (in parentheses) to read our critics’ comments about the books.

Recommended by Glen Weldon
(“Zombies And Giant Squid: Summer’s Monster Hits!”)


Kraken, by China Mieville, Hardcover, 528 pages, Del Rey, list price: $26

Go, Mutants!, by Larry Doyle, Hardcover, 368 pages, Ecco, list price: $23.99

Paul Is Undead, by Alan Goldsher, Paperback, 320 pages, Gallery Books, list price: $15

Johannes Cabal The Detective, by Jonathan L. Howard, Hardcover, 304 pages, Doubleday, list price: $25.95

Stories: All-New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, Hardcover, 448 pages, William Morrow, list price: $27.99

Recommended by Jane Ciabattari
(Best Of The Bestsellers: Wisdom Of The Crowds)


Island Beneath the Sea by Isabelle Allende (translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden), Hardcover, 464 pages, Harper, list price: $26.99

The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller, Hardcover, 298 pages, Knopf, list price: $25.95

House Rules by Jodi Picoult, Hardcover, 532 pages, Atria, list price: $28

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, Hardcover, 288 pages, The Dial Press, list price: $25

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Hardcover, 384 pages, Crown, list price: $26

Recommended by Critics John Freeman, Laura Miller and Troy Patterson
(Lynn Neary’s Critics Picks)


Recommended by Laura Miller

Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay, Hardcover, 592 pages, Roc Hardcover, list price: $26.95

The Good Son: A Novel, by Michael Gruber, Hardcover, 400 pages, Henry Holt and Co., list price: $26

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman, Paperback, 304 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $15

Recommended by John Freeman

Parrot and Olivier In America, by Petery Carey, Hardcover, 400 pages, Knopf, list price: $26.95

The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, by Kay Ryan, Hardcover, 288 pages, Grover Press, list price: $24

Role Models, by John Waters, Hardcover, 320 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $25

Recommended by Troy Patterson

Hitch-22: A Memoir, by Christopher Hitchens, Hardcover, 448 pages, Twelve Books, list price: $26.99

The Pregnant Widow, by Martin Amis, Hardcover, 384 pages, Knopf, list price: $26.95

Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney, by Marion Meade, Hardcover, 416 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, list price: $28

Recommended by Maureen Corrigan
(Top Reads: Summer Heat Sparks Rise In Crime Novels)


The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Green, Paperback, 352 pages, Penguin Classics, list price: $16

Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein, Hardcover, 400 pages, Dutton, list price: $26.95

Misadventure by Millard Kaufman, Hardcover, 288 pages, McSweeney’s, list price: $22

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst, Hardcover, 320 pages, Doubleday, list price: $25.95

The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell, translated by Laurie Thompson, Hardcover, 384 pages, Knopf, list price: $25.95

Recommended by Alan Cheuse
(“Fiction, Long And Short, For Summertime Escapes”)


Fun With Problems, by Robert Stone, Hardcover, 208 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, list price: $24

Walks With Men, by Ann Beattie, Paperback, 112 pages, Scribner, list price: $10

The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan, Hardcover, 374 pages, Scholastic Press, list price: $17.99

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, Hardcover, 288 pages, Knopf, list price: $24.95

Lucy, by Laurence Gonzales, hardcover, 320 pages, Knopf, list price: $24.95

Recommended by Michael Schaub
(“Historical Fiction: The Ultimate Summer Getaway”)


The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bengtsson (translated from the Swedish by Michael Meyer), Paperback, 520 pages, New York Review Books Classics, list price: $17.95

Parrot and Olivier in America, by Peter Carey, Hardcover, 400 pages, Knopf, list price: $26.95

The Last Rendezvous, by Anne Plantagenet (translated from the French by Willard Wood), Paperback, 288 pages, Other Press, list price: $14.95

Stettin Station, by David Downing, Hardcover, 320 pages, Soho Press, list price: $25

I Hotel, by Karen Tei Yamashita, Paperback, 640 pages, Coffee House Press, list price: $19.95

Recommended by Maureen Corrigan
(“Summer Titles That Will Take You Back In Time”)


Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry’s Greatest Generation, by Daisy Hay, Hardcover, 384 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $27.50

The Great Lover: A Novel (P.S.), by Jill Dawson, Paperback, 336 pages, Harper Perennial, list price: $13.99

Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, by James Mauro, Hardcover, 432 pages, Ballantine Books, list price: $28

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, by Jane Ziegelman, Hardcover, 272 pages, Smithsonian, list price: $25.99

Recommended by T. Susan Chang
(“To Market, To Market: 10 Top Summer Cookbooks”)


Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce: A Guide to Easy-to-Make Dishes with Fresh Organic Fruits & Vegetables, by Cathy Thomas, Hardcover, 336 pages, Wiley, list price: $29.95

Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers, by Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher, Hardcover, 320 pages, Andrews McMeel Universal, list price: $35

Fast, Fresh and Green: More than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers, by Susie Middleton,Paperback, 224 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $24.95

Farmer’s Market Desserts, by Jennie Schacht, Paperback, 208 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $24.95

Porch Parties: Cocktail Recipes and Easy Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining, by Denise Gee, Hardcover, 144 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $16.95

Planet Barbecue!: 309 Recipes, 60 Countries, by Steven Raichlen, Paperback, 656 pages, Workman Publishing Co., list price: $22.95

BBQ 25, by Adam Perry Lang, Hardcover, 68 pages, Harper Studio, list price: $19.99

Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking, by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner, Hardcover, 272 pages, Ecco, list price: $29.99

The Big Summer Cookbook: 300 fresh, flavorful recipes for those lazy, hazy days, by Jeff Cox, Paperback, 352 pages, Wiley, list price: $24.95

The Vegetarian Option, by Simon Hopkinson, Hardcover, 224 pages, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, list price: $24.95

Recommended by Booksellers Lucia Silva, Rona Brinlee and Daniel Goldin
(“15 Soaring Summer Reads”)


Recommended by Lucia Silva

Big Machine: A Novel, by Victor LaValle, Paperback, 384 pages, Spiegel & Grau, list price: $15

Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel, by Hilary Thayer Hamann, Hardcover, 624 pages, Spiegel & Grau, list price: $26

Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir, by Ander Monson, Paperback, 208 pages, Graywolf Press, list price: $16

Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town, by Karen Valby, Hardcover, 256 pages, Spiegel & Grau, list price: $25

One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir, by Paul Guest, Hardcover, 208 pages, Ecco, list price: $21.99

My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, by Paul Guest, Paperback, 96 pages, Ecco, list price: $13.99

Recommended by Rona Brinlee

52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust, by William Alexander, Hardcover, 352 pages, Algonquin Books, list price: $23.95

Alice I Have Been: A Novel, by Melanie Benjamin, Hardcover, 368 pages, Delacorte Press, list price: $25

The Kingdom of Ohio, by Matthew Flaming, Hardcover, 336 pages, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, list price: $24.95

The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel, by Brady Udall, Hardcover, 602 pages, W.W. Norton & Co., list price: $26.95

The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake, Hardcover, 336 pages, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, list price: $25.95

The Prince of Mist, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Hardcover, 224 pages, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, list price: $17.99

Recommended by Daniel Goldin

Day for Night: A Novel, by Frederick Reiken, Hardcover, 336 pages, Reagan Arthur Books, list price: $24.99

The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel, by Brady Udall, Hardcover, 602 pages, W.W. Norton & Co., list price: $26.95

The Tortoise and the Hare, by Elizabeth Jenkins, Paperback, 288 pages, Virago UK, list price: $15.95

Yarn: Remembering the Way Home, by Kyoko Mori, Paperback, 240 pages, GemmaMedia, list price: $15.95

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, by Sam Wasson, Hardcover, 256 pages, HarperStudio, list price: $19.99


Filed under books, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, mom blogs