Book Reviews

UPDATED!! Life after iPod

My son is grounded…  That’s right, he’s lost his iPod and he’s grounded. Grounding in this house is pretty lenient though so I don’t know how much he’s learning from this grounding, but at least I can say he’s GROUNDED. (Yay, Mom!)

My point here is not that he’s grounded, it’s what he’s doing WHILE he’s grounded.  Grounding (in this instance at least) means no video games.  The first day it was no TV, no video games, and look for that goddamn iPod.  The next day when we realized the iPod was truly lost and there was nothing we could do, I lightened his grounding to no video games. Indefinitely. (gasp!)

So, in between movies and TV shows and TV shows on demand, my son is forming a new “game” of sorts.  A few months back he began playing with a group of kids and they called themselves “The Group”.  They would do things like make “parts” where they learn skills and earn experience points (kind of like Dungeons and Dragons). They create avatars that have special powers and weapons.  So I guess this is just like a real-life video game.

Since the grounding, my son has been focusing more and more on “The Group”. (I know, it’s so original RIGHT??)  He’s created a journal of sorts, where he stores his ideas and rules about “The Group”.  As of late, he’s been making up spells using real (made-up) words and pretending he’s actually playing as his avatar in my living room, testing out his “spells” on his sister, the dog, the clouds, the shed. As I type this, he’s practicing his Martial Arts moves (he hasn’t taken Martial Arts since he was four).

I should point out that over the last few weeks we’ve been reading together Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Photo courtesy

It’s a story set in the future when the earth is going to shit waste and the only way to escape the pressures of reality is to spend your time in the OASIS, a virtual reality universe where you can do everything from going on adventures and falling in love to opening a business and making your millions.  Most everyone is on the OASIS, only logging off to do the mundane things like go to work, shower and use the bathroom.  Wade Watts is the main character in this space opera.  Wade is just your average everyday teenager who lives his life in the OASIS almost 24/7.  When James Haliday, the creator of the OASIS, dies, he leaves his fortune to the one who can crack his puzzle. Wade learns all he can of the eccentric Haliday and his obsession with the 80’s, the decade in which he was a teenager.  Haliday’s “easter egg hunt” is filled with references to 80’s  movies, music, and video games.  The book, in a word is AWESOME, and my son is loving it too.

I’ve noticed since we’ve been reading it that he’s picking up things and using them in his “group work”. His journal can be compared to Wade’s “Grail Diary” (The Last Crusade was my FAVORITE Indiana Jones movie, in case you were wondering).  And his avatar is similar to Wade’s as well. (ok, maybe not…)

I love that he’s using his imagination instead of relying on something electronic to entertain him. I love that his sister is joining him on his “quests” (most recently to Connecticut by ferry) and they’re not beating the crap out of each other like they normally do. I love that he talks endlessly about his group work and about his body armor and weapons and the quests he’s been on and the things he’s built, all using his imagination, albeit they are based on that stupid Minecraft game that he’s ridiculously addicted to, but all his stories over the last week are from his OWN BRAIN and not computer generated.

I think his grounding might just last a little longer than expected…

***Ok kids…  this is the part where we talk about how you can win your very own copy of Ready Player One.***

This book is BRIMMING with references to the 1980’s, a decade which I, myself am quite fond of.  Do you love the 80’s?  Tell me your favorite movie, song, or video game for a chance to win!!  “Like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter for more entries!  Be sure to leave a comment when you “like” or follow so you get your entries!  Drawing will take place on Monday June 11th so be sure to get your entries in!

This is an original ROSCMM post and was written for the From Left to Write Book Club and was insipired by Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  As a participant in this From Left to Write book blog tour, I received a copy of the book for review. Check out the other stops on the blog tour for a chance to win a copy of Ready Player One, and no, you can not steal my content unless you specifically ask me for it first. It’s called copyright, yo.

Copyright 2012 Mastermind Mommy

Oh, and if anyone finds my son’s iPod, would you please let me know so I can put it away and not worry anymore… It’s GOT to be here somewhere…

**UPDATE!!  I have just learned that Ernest Cline is running a contest similar to Haliday’s Easter Egg Hunt in which he his giving away a 1981 DELORIAN!!  Now you MUST enter my giveways and get your own copy so you can participate in the hunt too!!  Details about the hunt here:



SECOND UPDATE!! After 24 days of torture…  24 days of trying to find something else to do with himself… THE IPOD HAS BEEN FOUND!! Little Miss found it in his room.  Apparently he’d put it in his slipper so that she wouldn’t find it and forgot all about it.  Sigh…

Categories: Book Reviews, Contests/Giveaways, From Left to Write Book Club, Reviews | 4 Comments

This is what I get for not paying attention…

This month the From Left to Write Book Club is reading and writing about The Stuff  That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson.  I eagerly awaited the arrival of the book because the story sounded so JUICY!  Then I realized I had to write a post inspired by this very juicy story…  I decided that I wasn’t going to write a post about some long lost love that I think about on a daily basis.  I decided that I didn’t need the embarrassment, for me, my husband or that guy (and you’ll never know if there really is one or not…  wink wink…)  In some ways, Ms. Dawson’s story reminds me of another relationship that I wonder about, so here goes…

Have you ever wondered if you could go back in time and change one little thing if it would make any difference in the life you live today?  I have.  Over the course of the last few years, I’ve come to realize that in high school I was so wrapped up in the things going on in my life that I failed to notice or participate the things going on in my friends’ lives.  In other words, I was self-centered, very self-centered.  If it didn’t involve me and a boy, I wasn’t paying attention.  It was my self-centeredness that I believe led me to lose what I once thought was a pretty important friendship in my life.

I can’t remember if it was the fourth grade or the sixth grade that she moved here, but towards the end of my grammar school years, a new girl came to my school.  We’ll call her Ramesh.  She was shy, tall and skinny with glasses and braces and long glossy jet black hair that was almost ALWAYS pulled back in a braid down her back.  We became fast friends and she was quickly incorporated into our little group of friends.

By junior high we were the best of friends.  She was so cool.  She had the greatest taste in music, and was an outstanding artist and writer.  We spent almost every day together during the summers, when she wasn’t off visiting family in London or India.  We joined clubs after school together, we’d go to each others houses and just hang out and listen to music and talk about boys, school and well…  that was really it. One of my fondest memories was of the time her family took me and two other friends to a special Indian dance where we got to wear saris and learn traditional Indian dances.  I still have the pictures, but I won’t embarrass anyone by posting them here.

Suddenly I found myself old enough to date.  In came the boyfriends, out went the real friends.  Ramesh was so pissed with me because whenever there was a man in my life, she took a back seat.  And when those relationships were over, I’d come back and try to pick up where I left off.

High school was a blur…  Boys, music, writing, more boys, plays, dance…  it all blended together and somewhere in there,  Ramesh made new friends.  Friends that had more in common with her than I did.  Friends that wouldn’t drop her like a hot potato the minute a boy showed them some attention.  Friends that wore black clothes and black eyeliner and I don’t know whatever she liked better about them than me.  We did the plays together, she worked behind the scenes while I was on the stage.  (Sound familiar?)  We drove to school together every morning, carpooling when I refused to take the bus junior and senior year.

She was with me during a most horrific fight with an abusive ex.  Where this jerk and I screamed at each other on the street and she just kept walking, not wanting to get involved.

I met my husband when I was in high school.  He was my senior year man.  Ramesh and I had dreams of college and careers.  She got into her first choice, Fordham.  I didn’t.  I got into my second choice, Emerson in Boston, and my third choice Hofstra.  I decided upon Hofstra where I could commute to and from school and I didn’t have to live on campus.  I wasn’t ready to leave home yet or my boyfriend.

We communicated mostly through that new fangled thing called email during our college years.  Her parents moved to a different town.  She found herself in college.  I lost her.

It wasn’t all bad.  I lost quite a few people during my college years.  I found some new ones, and some old ones made their way back.  My very best friend being one of those that I lost and found again, we’re still friends to this day.

So, to make a long story even longer, I found Ramesh on Facebook about a year ago.  We reconnected.  I was so happy!  I found out she was married to the guy she brought to my wedding. (She was supposed to be IN my wedding party, but I asked her to step down because we had drifted so far apart.)  I found out she was a graphic artist with Lehman Brothers (she later got laid off during THAT whole fiasco).  I found out her dad passed away, though I didn’t hear it from her.  And I felt old looking at pictures of her little brother who wasn’t so little anymore.

Then, one day, I notice that the number of friends we had in common was dwindling.  Finally, a few weeks later, she’s not on my friend list anymore.

I was devastated.

Angry, hurt and upset.

My Facebook status said something about removing the “un-necessaries” and if you can still read this you’re lucky.

I went through my friend list and removed people I barely knew, people I friend-ed just to up my numbers in Mafia Wars or Vampire Wars or something.

I cried to Eileen and my mom about it.  (She did the same thing to Eileen too and quite a few other friends.) I was genuinely hurt and dismayed.  Why would she just drop me like that??

Then I realized…  it was because I had done it to her all those years ago, over and over again.  I wasn’t a part of her life anymore and she didn’t want me around, not even on Facebook.

So here I find myself, wondering What if?  What if I had paid more attention in high school to my friends?  Would I have noticed that Ramesh and another friend had a huge fight over a particular very artistic boy?  Would I have known that she was in NYC on September 11th and had run for her life?  Would I have been able to attend whatever funeral services her religion allotted for her father?  Would she have met my kids?  Would I meet hers someday?

I think about her often.  I wonder how she is and what she’s doing.  I sometimes search for her on Facebook although I think she’s either blocked me or changed something that I can’t find her.  Last time I thought I saw a sonogram as her profile pic.  But who knows cause I don’t pay very much attention.

I think I’ve decided that maybe she wasn’t meant to be in life anymore.  I’ve read all the self help books, I know that things happen for a reason, and people come into and out of your life for a reason.  Maybe all my What If’s are unnecessary.  Maybe I should be thankful for the lesson she’s taught me.  I need to slow down and pay attention to the things going on around me.  I need to appreciate my friends and family more.  And I need to be thankful for those in my life, past, present and future.

So what do I get for not paying attention??  A happy marriage, two beautiful kids, and meaningful friendships with people who really matter.  How does that poem go?  “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.”

This is an original ROSCMM post and was written for the From Left to Write Book Club. This post was inspired by The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson, a copy of which I received free from the publisher for the purposes of this book club, and no, you can not steal my content unless you specifically ask me for it first. It’s called copyright, yo.

Copyright 2010 MastermindMommy

Categories: Book Reviews, FAIL, From Left to Write Book Club | 15 Comments

Melvin the Magnificent Molar (a book review)

Meet Melvin.  Melvin the Magnificent Molar.  I was recently approached by the authors of this delightful children’s book, Julia Cook and Dr. Laura Jana, and asked if I would introduce Melvin to my children and give them some feedback.  I did and I have to tell you, it is well worth it.  Melvin is absolutely adorable!!  This book is certainly my daughter’s favorite potty time read.  (hey, she’s sitting on the pot, the least I can do is give her something educational to read!) It is an educational and fun book that teaches children the importance of taking proper care of their teeth and seeing the dentist on a regular basis.  My favorite are the sleeping scummies and the x-ray machine in the beginning.

Although a little long for my two year old to handle in one sitting, she just loves looking through all the pictures and asking “What’s that Mommy?”  She loves the idea of the Tooth Fairy (well, any kind of fairy) and is eager to brush her teeth now at all times of the day or night, not just when someone else is doing it.

I like that it helps to ease the fears that some children have about going to the dentist.  Often times, adults avoid seeing the dentist and do not make it a priority for their children.  This book makes it fun, and just about the entire visit is described and illustrated in vivid detail. (save for the wait in the waiting room, which can be the most nerve-wracking)

The book is available through the author’s website or through I highly suggest it for any parent whose got a little one reluctant to brush their teeth.  Go!  Go get it or I will start singing the “Happy Tooth Song”!

This is an original ROSCMM post.  All opinions in this post come from Jennifer herself unless otherwise noted. This post has a compensation level of 1,(visit my Full Disclosure page for more details) and no, you can not steal my content unless you specifically ask me for it first.  It’s called copyright, yo.

Copyright 2010 by MastermindMommy

Categories: Book Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment

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