Category: BCPL Reading

French Twist: BCPL Challenge

When it came time to pick a non-fiction book for the Baltimore County Public Library Challenge I had quite a list to pick from. But since Mike has hit the ‘trying twos’ and he is in a French daycare, French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting by Catherine Crawford seemed like the logical choice. I was not disappointed!


Crawford is a Mom in Brooklyn with two kids who were about 4 and 6 when she took an interest in how the French parented. After seeing her French friend parent and observed how polite and well behaved her children were – it was time for Crawford to make some changes to her own family dynamics. She set out to raise her children ‘the French way’ and through the book she shared her observations, discussions with French parents and how her kids reacted to suddenly becoming French. Her writing style is so laid back and honest it was an easy read.

I knew the French, and every other culture, parented differently, so I was curious about what my daycare provider, R., might be practicing with her motley crew. Here are some of the highlights from French Twist:

When the French need a solution to a particular problem, they tend to consult one source, not fifteen different friends or chat-room chums. This has the effect of cutting down on anxiety—and does wonders for just about every aspect of parenting

Hello. You are reading my blog. How did you get here? Probably finding out what I did for infertility, sleep training or how to make homemade baby food. I am guessing I wasn’t your first OR last stop. We are all guilty of that – stop. I would tell you how, but I am still trying to figure out how to do that myself.

Oona and Daphne had to figure out a way to adapt to the adult world, and not the other way around. This is an integral concept in French parenting.

Ah – I loved this overarching idea. But again – so hard! Crawford’s kids were a little older than Mike when she made this lifestyle change. I wish she spoke more to how the transition was, how long it took before it ‘stuck’ and if there were any kid sized meltdowns. We are working on this concept.

In France, everyone in the family has a job. The parent’s role is to be the chief, and the children have the job of obeying their leader. French children are raised with this in mind, so there is much less debate and resistance.


“Don’t give everything to the baby. Especially remember that your breasts are for your husband.” I love this quote, a little bit of wisdom imparted to a French friend by her doctor after the birth of her first child. I love this quote for what it suggests—and for how hilarious it must seem to nearly every American mom.

One thing that really got me thinking was the topic of breastfeeding. In America, if you don’t breastfeed for as long as possible you are made to feel like a failure. In France, if you breastfeed past 3ish months, you get the same reaction from people. It seems the US is the only country that puts a large emphasis on breastfeeding. We all know how that went for me and I have always been okay with it.

If you are a soon to be parent, new parent or old parent – put down What to Expect and pick up this gem. You will learn A LOT and be entertained.






Someday, Someday Maybe: BCPL Challenge

Next up on the BCPL Challenge was to pick a book by a celebrity. A quick scan of my Amazon wishlist made my choice hard – I have lots of celebrity authors on there! I finally settled on Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday Maybe. I am  in a bit of a Gilmore Girls phase right now and so excited about the miniseries they are now filming. Graham seemed like the obvious choice.

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Or was it? I am starting to question how I pick my books. Graham wrote in the first person and I couldn’t help but picture Lorilei Gilmore. For some reason I couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t necessarily think it was that engaging.  A fast talking, sarcastic 20-something trying to be an actress in New York before her self imposed deadline.

We’re all working hard, but so far away from what we actually want to be doing. We’re all peering in at the window of a party we aren’t invited to yet, a party we wouldn’t know how to dress for, or what kind of conversation to make, even if we came as someone’s guest.

Franny lives with her two roommates, takes an acting class and works as a waitress. She takes the reader through her quest to actually ‘make it’. We see her ups like getting an agent, and her downs, a commercial for a discount clothing store in an ugly sweater. I give Graham credit, she really captured the feeling of being in a new environment and the feeling of being self conscious. Everyone can relate to that and I felt like Franny’s inner conversation really matched what mine would be in a similar situation.

Today is the day you have to start believing in yourself. No one can do it for you anymore.

I think this book would be a good choice for a young adult who wants some light reading. It was a quick and easy read. Oh! One thing I really liked was the fact it took place in 1995ish. So all the challenges were magnified by the fact there was no internet. Getting lost on the way to an audition, getting scripts by fax, missing a call because someone forgot to change the answering machine tape – all unique challenges for a younger generation to consider.

I wouldn’t suggest buying it this one – I think most readers would be a one and done.

The Dollhouse Murders: BCPL Challenge

Thanks to Snowzilla, I finished another book for the Baltimore County Library Challenge.

I wanted to pick The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright as my favorite book from childhood, but believe it or not, it was also published the year I was born. Since it harder to find interesting books by the year they are published, this one is going to count for that category. Stay tuned for my review on a favorite book from my childhood.

In the meantime, stop what you are doing and go read The Dollhouse Murders. I was a little worried it wouldn’t be as good now that 20 some years have passed, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This books has all the makings of the perfect YA thriller – a new girl in town, a temporary stay in a dusty old house, a family secret and dolls that move. Amy is a typical thirteen year old girl in a new town with a special needs sister. Her Aunt moves into Amy’s great-grandparent’s house to prepare it to sell and asks Amy to come keep her company. Amy discovers a dollhouse in the attic in the likeness of the house they are stay in. However, the dolls begin positioning themselves into the same places where Amy’s great-grandparents were murdered. A family secret she didn’t know about, but now the dolls are trying to tell her something – but what?

Dolls can’t move by themselves, she told herself, and felt goosebumps pop up on her arms.

I can see why my middle school self loved this book. It was creepy enough to keep me up for a few nights worrying about my Barbies coming alive, but not scary enough to make me sleep with the light on. Wright brings the characters to life and makes dolls sending messages completely plausible. My only regret is I didn’t get the original cover art work. Which was AWESOME.


Also, in my research for this book I just discovered there is a video. A VIDEO version of this book. Seems like a worthy investment to me.

Girls in White Dresses: BCPL Challenge

My goal for this year is to read 16 books so when someone shared the Baltimore County Public Library 2016 Reading Challenge I thought it would add a twist my reading goal and help me branch out a bit.  I tend to read what would be classified as ‘literary fiction’ and shy away from ‘science fiction’ or ‘fantasy’. And no. I have not read Harry Potter. I just can’t.

Here’s what the BCPL Challenge looks like:


I am a huge fan of BookBub so I have a lot of really random books in my Kindle collection. I decided to start there and tackle ‘a book with a color in the title’ which led me to Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close. I decided not to read the summary and had no idea what I was in store for. I finished it yesterday and if you ask me if I liked it, I would probably take a long pause and say ‘I’m not real sure’. Which seems to be pretty common based on the reviews.


Girls in White Dresses follows a group of girls navigate life post college. Each ‘chapter’ is its own little mini-story from a different girls point of view. They suffer through bridal showers, drunken nights, boyfriends who are weird, boyfriends who are not weird, job loss and the general post college ‘what the hell is going on with my life’ moments.

I felt like I was watching an episode of Girls (which I gave up on after the first season). The characters were so … dramatic and immature most the time. I didn’t find them relatable because once I graduated college, I met S. a few months later and didn’t have the ‘never find a husband’ thoughts. And I lived in the suburbs in a world before Tinder. I didn’t keep in touch with many people from college, so perhaps I was missing that ‘everyone is progressing and I am still figuring it out’ mentality.

And the boys! In this book they were all so different, and I hated all but one of them. It was almost like the girls were trying to live this Sex and the City lifestyle and it came across as desperate and high school-esque.  If the guy is strange (like eating a box of macaroni and cheese out of a pot strange), just break up with him. Everything didn’t have to be so damn dramatic and difficult.  Of course, my parents might say otherwise. 

“Breakups are tough,” Isabella said. “But you got through it!” “I’m glad you’re over him,” Shannon said. “Now you need to go find another asshole to fuck with your head.”

There were some funny stories about family dynamics – Moms that used funny expressions and sisters who meddled. And my favorite story was about a boyfriend who was obsessed with politics and left his job to go on the campaign trail with ‘The Candidate’ (who was obviously Obama).

So all in all, it wasn’t a horrible book – but it’s the kind of book I will see in a few months, buy it because it looks good and forget I already read it until chapter 3. Borrow it from the library friends. Don’t buy it.