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Mama Reviews Samphire Song

January 11, 2013

Mama’s Note: My daughter and I are embarking upon a series of reviews together. This entry represents the first in the series: Samphire Song.

Title: Samphire Song
Author: Jill Hucklesby
Format(s): Hardcover and Kindle
Price: $16.99 and $6.99 respectively
Publishing date: Expected March 2013
Age: 9-13, Grades: 4-8
Pages: 304

Plot Summary: A young teen, Jodie, is dealing with major issues in life: the death of her father two years before, and the chronic illness of her beloved younger brother. In what amounts to equine therapy, Jodie is able to indulge in a long-held dream and purchase a horse. The two bond, until tragedy strikes, and Jodie is forced to sell Samphire.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so let me set up my reaction to the book by divulging a bit about myself. When I was a child, I was not allowed to watch the TV show Lassie. I couldn’t handle “mild animal peril” and would just freak out and cry thus Lassie was banned. At seven, I was dragged kicking and screaming out of the theater showing Disney’s Bambi during “The Scene With Bambi’s Mom.” As an adult, I lost it for a good 45 minutes over “Uncle Elizabeth” in the movie I Remember Mama (in all fairness, I was severely PMS-ing!).

So, I have to tell you, I started crying shortly after beginning Samphire Song. I cried, and cried, and cried so much it was embarrassing — and really never stopped crying until I was done with the book. My kids know about my waterworks, and it’s somewhat of a family joke (as it was with my mom growing up!). At one point my youngest came in, took one look at me, smiled and said, “Sad book, Mama?”

The Good: The book is wonderful. It hits so many themes: love (of family, of pet, of dreams realized), sacrifice, loss, need, crippling fears, single parenting, friendship and so much more! It is written in a warm style, with believable dialog and characters.

The Bad: It’s intense. My 11-year-old didn’t have the reaction I did, but some kids who are very sensitive will. The book discusses parental death, a child whose health is in jeopardy, and animal cruelty.

The Ugly: The book graphically depicts animal cruelty. It doesn’t last horribly long, but it is very graphic and very intense. It is not gratuitous, but it is hard to read through. The younger brother is a hoot, and the humorous banter helps break up the intensity.

Overall, I think it is a well-written book that tells a great story. I think it will engage those who love animals, particularly horse-lovers (my daughter is in the mini-horse project in 4-H). The female protagonist will appeal to girls, and the brother, Ed, may well draw in male readers, thus I wouldn’t say it’s “just” a “girl’s book.” Due to the mature themes, I might question the decision to let a 9-year-old (the minimum suggested age) read this, unless the child is exceptionally mature.

For my daughter’s take on the book, she has written a review on her own blog: Swim Girl Reviews Samphire Song





December 17, 2012

They say kids love getting mail addressed to them, but clearly, that joy never fades as you get older (except when said mail contains bills or junk mail!). Today, was a bonanza here at Casa Stro!

With three kids who eat a lot (and then eat some more!) . . . uh, growing kids, I should be more coupon-y and frugal like my friend Peggy, and lots of other crafty Mamas in my Mama Posse. But, when I like (or in the cases in this post . . . love!) a product, I often drop the company a line, or give them a shout-out via social media.

Thus, without further ado (and because you can’t hear the girl squeal emanating from me!), look what I got in today’s mail!

First up was swag from a Klout Perk via Tillamook! Now, when I first found out it was coming, I was really, really excited and tweeted all about it on Twitter . . . and got back several personalized responses from their social media team (including links to videos in their online kitchen!). Well, my perk arrived today and blew me away with the “girnormous-ness” of it all:

swag 005

Contents: three coupons for their yogurt (not “cents off” but for FREE), toppings (granola, trail mix with dried cherries, and chocolate, but, uh, somehow the chocolate, um, well…okay, I ate it already!!!), mason jar to shake it all up in, recipe cards, a (very soft!) t-shirt and tote! Yay, me & yay, Tillamook! #TillaYum

Next up, I got a couple of $1.00 off coupons from Genesis Juice! A couple of months ago, The Teen had an all day session for high schoolers at a nearby university. We stopped in at Whole Foods to get some lunches to go and I grabbed some Ginger Lemonade. I have to tell you: 1) I savored it. I did. I honestly was sad when I drank the last drop; and 2) because I loved it so much, I tried to find it at another store and couldn’t, so I bought another brand’s organic ginger lemonade . . . and my tastebuds still haven’t forgiven me (and I think the bottle may even still be languishing in the fridge because I couldn’t even pawn it off on my kids!).

So, while waiting for my son at the university session, I pulled up my trusty iPad, and signed up for coupons like I read about on the Genesis Juice label. Thus, I expected the coupons, but not the nice note 🙂

swag 004

Monday was mail-tastic for this Mama 😉

iVillage: Why Adopt When You Already Have Kids – Marie Stroughter

November 28, 2012

Here is the piece I contributed to for National Adoption Awareness Month:

Why do many families choose to adopt children even after they have biological kids? iVoices Sharon Rowley and Marie Stroughter take you on their adoption journeys and explain why they expanded their family through adoption.

Click here to go to the video on iVillage

My Take on the 3rd Presidential Debate

October 23, 2012

Here’s my latest: a write up of the last of the Presidential debates for the iVote section at iVillage.

Marie Stroughter Speaks at #StandUpRally on 10/20/12

October 22, 2012

My speech at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally in San Francisco on Saturday, October 20, 2012:

iVillage – Why I Vote

October 16, 2012

iVillage did a round-up, asking people to share why they vote. Yours truly is counted among the number profiled. Why do you vote?

Last Night’s Debate

October 12, 2012

My assessment of last night’s first and only Vice-Presidential debate, written for iVillage is now live! Chime in!

(NOTE: Though normally I don’t refer to people by last name only, the piece has been edited for length, thus no disrespect is intended –M.)