Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

When the airspace over the United States was closed following the terrorist attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001, several thousand passengers were diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland. Faced with the “plane people” staying amongst them for a few days, the people of Gander jumped into action. They organized clothes, towels, medication, food, entertainment, and places for the stranded passengers to stay. They made lifelong friends. They restored a belief in humanity that was lost when the terrorists turned planes into missiles. The Day the World Came to Town is a quick and easy read. It’ll make you smile and maybe cry, but it’ll definitely make you feel good. It closely follows the stories of a few days in the lives of several people, flipping between them in a more or less linear timeline. Even almost twenty years after 9/11, this story is a wonderful snapshot of a bunch of people making a horrible situation into something not nearly so bad. I recommend it to all adults.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 22
Pages Read in 2021: 5993

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Raising Multiracial Children by Farzana Nayani

Raising Multiracial Children by Farzana Nayani

Aside from being dreadfully dry and boring, Raising Multiracial Children didn’t seem to have a clear focus or purpose (definitely not what the title indicates). The author rambles on and on and is very disorganized. Sometimes she’s talking to parents, sometimes to teachers, switching sometimes in the middle of a single paragraph. There are some excellent statistics and a few gems for raising children from multiple races or ethnicities, but for the most part it’s just not a very well-written book. Everything useful in it could have been written in a handful of blog posts. This is a book to skip.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 21
Pages Read in 2021: 5733

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: Vine Review

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

There’s just so much to The Hate U Give. It confronts everything from police brutality to cultural differences between races to things Black people do to be fully accepted by predominantly white groups (code switching, etc.) to why people end up doing things to finding your voice and so much more. The writing is excellent and really sucks you in. It is frustrating and sad because it’s so realistic and predictable. Even with tackling all the tough issues and the rather depressing premise, there is a lot of love and even hope. There is quite a bit of language but it makes sense for the story. I highly recommend it to teens and adults.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 20
Pages Read in 2021: 5563

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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Potty Training for Busy Parents by Allison Jandu

Potty Training for Busy Parents by Allison Jandu

There’s nothing much new in Potty Training for Busy Parents. It’s the same old advice for how to potty train little ones with an extra emphasis on using little potties and pushing potty training younger than most people start trying. There’s a lot of repetition and it’s short and to the point. It really should be called Potty Training for Special Snowflakes, though. The repeated advice to basically demand that daycare follow how you want to potty train and to send in this weird form filled out so the daycare knows how best to train precious little junior (like they havn’t trained hundreds of kids already) is a bit over the top. I also would not say it’s for busy parents, just ones who work and have plenty of time when they aren’t at work to potty train. I suggest skipping this one if you are looking for potty training advice.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 19
Pages Read in 2021: 5116

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Filed under Reason: Vine Review, Self-Help/Motivation

The Connected Child by Karyn B. Purvis,Wendy Lyons Sunshine, and David R. Cross

The Connected Child by Karyn B. Purvis, Wendy Lyons Sunshine, and David R. Cross

Parenting kids from hard places can be challenging. The people who worked with Karyn Purvis found so many ideas to help (TBRI). The Connected Child is filled with examples and strategies. It’s a pretty quick read and is guaranteed to have something in it that will make your family’s life smoother and easier. I recommend it to foster and adoptive families as well as parents of biological children who are struggling.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 18
Pages Read in 2021: 5011

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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, Self-Help/Motivation

Discipline Your Kids With Positive Parenting by Nicole Libin, PhD

Discipline Your Kids with Positive Parenting by Nicole Libin, PhD

The author has one child, and that child doesn’t sound very old. The author does have a lot of experience with advising other people how to parent and extensive academic knowledge. However, academic knowledge doesn’t really give the real world experience needed for writing a parenting book.

I have always parented my kids very much like outlined in this book so she was mostly just preaching to the choir. I believe strongly that discipline should come from a place of teaching as the root indicates it should (discipulus is Latin for student or disciple). I have ten children ranging in age from 1 to 21, six of whom are adopted from foster care. Positive parenting has worked beautifully for us.

The thing is, I don’t think if I was just coming to positive parenting or was looking for help in how to parent differently that this book would be all that helpful. It was long on “just connect! it’s worked with my one single child!” and short of actual how to. I understood what she was trying to say to do simply because it’s what I do naturally.

More real world examples (it would have been okay if they came from situations where she was not the caregiver) would have been very useful. The few examples given were just her parenting her daughter. As anyone with more than one kid knows some kids are just naturally easier to parent than others so examples from one child don’t indicate at all that this way of parenting will work with all kids (I know it does, but it does take time and effort).

The constant focus on “self-care” was completely unnecessary and took away from the usefulness of the book. It repeatedly mentioned mindfulness (the author is a “mindfulness educator”) but didn’t really explain what she meant and just seemed like a bit of psychobabble and use of a buzzword.

I do not recommend this book to people who are interested in learning how to parent positively. There are many other better books on the subject out there.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 17
Pages Read in 2021: 4721

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Filed under Reason: Vine Review, Self-Help/Motivation

Finally Finished 2019 LitHub Bingo

Monday (March 15, 2021) I finally finished the 2019 LitHub Bingo. A little late, sure, but becoming a foster parent and adopting six kids 5 and under kind of put a damper on my reading and this giant bingo involves reading one-hundred books. So here’s what I picked for each category (including explanations of my thought process on why I picked some of them).

L1 A book from the Guardian 100 List – The Wind in the Willows
L2 Non-human Narrator – Good Night
L3 South of the Border – Esperanza Rising
L4 A book that takes place in a single day/24-hour period (or less) – Heroes of 9/11
L5 Grifters – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L6 A pun in the title or chapter headings – Four Ladies Only
L7 The Smithsonian or The Hermitage – General Houston’s Little Spy (Andrew Jackson mentored Sam Houston)
L8 Grumps, frumps, or curmudgeons – Where’s You Go, Bernadette?
L9 Banned – The Jungle
L10 K, Q, or J – Juniper

I1 Iris Murdoch or Naguib Mahfouz – Bruno’s Dream
I2 Saw the movie first – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
I3 Incan, Mayan, or Aztec – Aztec Curse
I4 An officer, a gentleman, or a dead guy – Black Potatoes (there are lots of dead guys since it’s about the Irish potato famine… probably at least one officer and one gentleman in there, too, honestly)
I5 Book with a map – Giggleswick: The Amadan Map
I6 Knitting, Quilting, or Weaving – Ahimsa (the narrator’s mother follows Gandhi and learns to weave)
I7 North of the Border – Journey (set in Alaska, but includes a man traveling to Alaska through Canada)
I8 Biracial Main Character – Born a Crime (Trevor Noah)
I9 Queen or Goddess – The Reflections of Queen Snow White
I10 Legumes or Skyscrapers – Texas (there are a lot of Skyscrapers in Texas)

T1 Music, Musician, or Composer – Good Man, Dalton
T2 Landlocked – Sacajawea
T3 Book that will make you angry – A Stone in My Hand (Palestine vs. Israel causes so much frustration and a lot depicted in this book is very unfair and anger-inducing)
T4 Featuring a Religion Other Than Your Own – David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer (I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and David Livingstone went to Africa as a Congregationalist missionary)
T5 Author with a cat – The Darkdeep (it’s harder than you might think to determine if an author has a cat)
T6 Non-fiction history book – Women Under the Knife
T7 Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, or mummies, or (sign) penguins – Trapped in Transylvania: Dracula
T8 Translated from Catalan or Portuguese – The Diary of “Helena Morley” (Helena was from Brazil)
T9 Noir Crime – Gangsterland
T10 Sub-Saharan Africa – King Leopold’s Ghost

H1 Fifteen or more different letters in the title – Auschwitz Belongs to Us All
H2 A graphic novel – Real Friends
H3 One-word title – Artemis
H4 No quotation marks allowed… or other punctuation anomalies – Drown (oh how I hate lack of quotation marks in books)
H5 Book you can read in a day – Mother Teresa
H6 Herta Miller or Roberto Bolano – The Appointment
H7 By an author who writes both children’s and adult books – Kind is the New Classy (Candace Cameron Bure)
H8 Exercise (not diet or health) – I Pledge Allegiance (war exercises; it’s about the Vietnam War)
H9 Pelagic – Refugee (two of the story lines follow children attempting to escape to new countries over the ocean)
H10 Angels or Aliens – Angel on the Square

U1 Southern Gothic – The Color Purple
U2 Involving an escape – A River in Darkness (the author escaped from North Korea)
U3 Collaboration of two or more female authors – Identical Strangers (Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, identical twins separated a birth and adopted by two different families)
U4 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni or Orhan Pamuk – The Forest of Enchantments
U5 Ballerinas or Cacti – No Ballet Shoes in Syria
U6 From NPRs 2014 list or 2015 list – The Witch of Lime Street
U7 A book club book (for your own or someone else’s…) – Educated (we had talked about reading that for our church book club but then ended up never having book club again; I decided that counts)
U8 Post-disaster recovery story – Tainted
U9 Travelogue – Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca
U10 Child Narrator – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

B1 Something fun – The Phantom Tollbooth
B2 Skis or Snowmobiles – Snow Treasure
B3 Book by an autistic author – Failure to Communicate
B4 A book listed on the “A Year of Reading the World” blog – A Modern Family
B5 Set in a city within 100 miles of your own – The Devil Went Down to Austin (it’s about 80 miles from the center of San Antonio to the center of Austin depending on which way you go)
B6 Fantasy – Dragon Slippers
B7 Morocco or Greece – The Lioness of Morocco
B8 Pulp Fiction – The Da Vinci Code
B9 Scream or Creepy Things – Some Gave it All (the author came home from Vietnam with PTSD and many years later ended up in a months long flashback; there is a lot of screaming)
B10 Broken or Lost – Kings of Broken Things

21 In the Earth of In the Atmosphere – The Boys of Earth-180
22 It Smells – Bread and Roses, Too (it was 1912 in the city, a time and place not known for smelling nice)
23 Southern Hemisphere – Pink Boots & a Machete
24 For the love of animals: James Herriot or Jean Craighead George – All Creatures Great and Small
25 A “Stacia” book – Waiting for Snow in Havana (Stacia is member of the Lithub and she mentioned this book to me as one she had enjoyed after I read another book involving a child who escaped from Castro’s Cuba)
26 Arctic or Antarctic – The North Pole Challenge
27 Post-Modern – Slaughterhouse-Five
28 Involves a holiday – Murder in Christmas River
29 A character in the novel is an author – Clouds Tumble Down (the book is being written by the main character)
210 Wreck! – Wrecked

01 Bordering the Arabian Sea – Gandhi: The Man
02 Wodehouse romp – My Man Jeeves
03 Recluse – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (the main character is a recluse until her therapist tells her she needs to meet her neighbors)
04 By or about a female Nobel prize winner – We Are Displaced (Malala Yousafzai)
05 Mythological – Odd and the Frost Giants
06 Illegitimate – Don Quixote
07 Photography – Kids at Work (some incredible pictures in that book)
08 Book that has been adapted into a “young reader” version (ex. The Martian or Three Cups of Tea) – Orphan Train
09 New book (less than three months old from your start date for the book) The Bullet Journal Method (released October 23, 2018; started reading it December 25, 2018; finished reading it January 29, 2019)
010 Manual labor or the Roaring 20s – Surviving Hitler

11 By the offspring of a famous author – Bone Music (Christopher Rice, Ann Rice’s son)
12 Epistolary novel – The Recipe Club
13 A “Kareni book” – The Goblin Emperor (Kareni is another member of the LitHub; she talks about how much she loves this book a lot)
14 Detroit, Liverpool, Beijing, or Lagos – China’s Son
15 A dusty from your stacks – The Heart of Memory (purchased April 24, 2011)
16 Dead narrator – All Quiet on the Western Front
17 A book you got from the library – Becoming
18 Word from a billboard: FREE – Breaking Free
19 A Polish or Kenyan author – Invisible Jews
110 Blimps, Balloons, or Birds – Culinary Reactions (balloons as in the way dough grows as it rises)

91 Translated from Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese – Go
92 In the Antilles – Tropical Secrets (Cuba)
93 Your mom or dad’s favorite – Scarlett
94 Main character has something in common with you – Remembrance (nursing education)
95 Written in the 1950s – Night
96 An alternate history book – Bring the Jubilee
97 A humor book – Only Dead on the Inside
98 A cozy mystery – Pasta, Pinot & Murder
99 A book of nonviolent true crime – The Shrigley Abduction
910 A self-published book – Demon of Darkness

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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

As a teen, Elie Wiesel survived several concentration camps. Night is a set of stories more or less in chronological order from the time he was sent to a ghetto until the final camp he was in was finally liberated at the end of the war. He is brutally honest about his thoughts and feelings throughout his whole ordeal. His memoir focuses much more on the emotional side of things than most others that tend to focus on physically what went on. I very highly recommend this book to anyone who likes reading memoirs of Holocaust survivors.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 16
Pages Read in 2021: 4567

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins can certainly craft an amazing story. Everything I have read by her has been excellent and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is no exception. It was strange occasionally actually feeling sorry for Coriolanus knowing exactly what he became over the next 64 years, but then he would think something or do something and suddenly I felt no sympathy for him anymore. I don’t know if Collins made the story fit things in The Hunger Games trilogy or if she always knew President Snow’s backstory. Either way it works seamlessly with the trilogy and adds so much to it. The subtle shift from always being called Coriolanus to being referred to as Snow in the epilogue was a fantastic touch. I read it to my 12, 14, and 21 year olds as a bedtime story (it was so hard to read just one chapter a night!). Only the 21yo and I have read The Hunger Games trilogy already, but we all enjoyed it immensely. I very strongly recommend this book to anyone who liked The Hunger Games.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 15
Pages Read in 2021: 4419

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Filed under Dystopian, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

How Not to Get Married by George Mahood

How Not to Get Married by George Mahood

George Mahood is funny. He’s got an excellent British sense of humor (humour). He also was a wedding photographer for several years. In How Not to Get Married he addresses several traditional bits of a wedding from picking your wedding colors (the most important decision you will ever make, obviously) to tossing the bouquet to the honeymoon to cutting the cake (he really hates the cutting of the cake). Interwoven with origins and theories are examples he’s seen in his career photographing weddings. Some are sweet, some are horrifying, and some are just silly. It’s a nice mind vacation and if you are getting married it may even help you chill out and enjoy the ride a little more.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 14
Pages Read in 2021: 3960

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo