Twin sisters, Cath and Wren (their mother had prepared only one name for one child – Cather-Wren) had been really tight after their mother abandoned her daughters and bipolar husband years ago. Now that its time to head off to college, Wren the extrovert wants more space, wants her own roommate, and doesn’t want Cath around much. Cath the awkward introvert feels abandoned by Wren, especially when Wren reconnects with their mother. Cath has coped by writing fanfiction for a series called Simon Snow – a Harry-Potteresque fantasy series (Wren used to help her). Simon Snow books were what got the sisters through the rough times, through their abandonment, through their father’s hospitalization, etc. Cath continues to write Simon Snow stories – much to the annoyance of her tough-girl roommate Reagon. Then there’s Reagon’s boyfriend Levi who hangs around their room all the time. Rowell writes great love scenes – only light kissing is detailed, but she makes it seem so hot!
Not everything is explained, like the reason from Wren wanting distance, nor why their mother is so shallow. Nonetheless a fabulous read!
I am loving Rainbow Rowell’s books. Rainbow Rowell’s next book will be about Simon Snow – the story within the story – I can’t wait!
“Get Up” is a book that explores the detrimental health consequences of our chair-addicted society. Humans are not meant to sit all day, and doing so results in a wide array of issues from back pain to obesity. “Get Up” is a fascinating read, and it has inspired me to move more through my day and maybe even get a treadmill desk. The only problem with this book is that it didn’t give much practical day to day advice for people to be more active and less chair-addicted.
This book gives a good history of how children and teenagers were raised and trained with National Socialist propaganda. The author uses case histories of real people who had grown up during that era in that situation. The book also tells us how these children came to grips with what they had been through long after they had grown into adulthood.
This book is full of entertaining inventions that came from a need or was just dreamed of and followed through. Things like smittens, a toaster that will burn images in the side of your toast, or a baby cage that hangs out of your apartment window are just a few that are mentioned. This book will definitely make you smile.
Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?
Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based-life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.
Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, and make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!
Choosing Courage is a wonderful book filled with stories about Medal of Honor recipients. The book spans WWI through the present day. The story of how each recipient earned the Medal of Honor is told in detail. I was surprised at how many of the recipients received their Medal many years after the fact. Seems that even distinguished service and heroism could not overcome racism during our history. It was good to hear that Congress did extensive reviews and awarded the Medal of Honor to deserving minorities who were overlooked however. A common theme running through all the stories was the fact that the men and women believed they were just doing what they were supposed to do and what anyone else would have done. The fact that they were heroes and saved the lives of many of their comrades just made their selfless acts that much more heroic.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.
Sarah Rector was once famously hailed as “the richest black girl in America.” Set against the backdrop of American history, her tale encompasses the creation of Indian Territory, the making of Oklahoma, and the establishment of black towns and oil-rich boomtowns.
Rector acquired her fortune at the age of eleven. This is both her story and that of children just like her: one filled with ups and downs amid bizarre goings-on and crimes perpetrated by greedy and corrupt adults. From a trove of primary documents, including court and census records and interviews with family members, author Tonya Bolden painstakingly pieces together the events of Sarah’s life and the lives of those around her.
The book includes a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.
Description from Goodreads.com.
The history of sneakers is an interesting one. It is kind of hard to believe that they have only been around a bit over 100 years since they are a constant part of our lives now. Sneaker Century takes the reader through the history of sneakers from the very first ones in the 1800s to modern celebrity-designed ones today. I found the history fascinating. I know almost nothing about sneaker brands other than their names so this was definitely an education for me. I learned that two brothers started a shoe company in pre-WWII Germany and outfitted some of the Olympic runners. After WWII they fought and broke up the company into Adidas and Puma. I also learned that Keds are one of the oldest sneaker brands. The history of Nike and Reebok are also covered. The one thing I wish the book had more of is pictures. It mentions specific shoes or styles of shoes but doesn’t show what those shoes looks like. I think it would have been stronger with more pictures of actual sneakers.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Running Dry is a very interesting look at the water problems facing the world. The book details the importance of water to the human population, where it comes from and how it is used. Then it deals with the issues facing us in regards to water: pollution, over-use, increasing demand, and climate change. There is a lot of good information in this highly readable book. I found the parts about how much water farms and industry are using especially interesting and was shocked by the attitudes of bottled water companies who do not think clean water is a human right but a commodity with a price. I also thought it was interesting how different countries are dealing with the water shortages they are facing. This is an excellent resource for students and those interested in the issue.
I received this book from Netgalley.
John Brown is an interesting historical figure. Was he a terrorist, a patriot, a martyr? Albert Marrin explores these ideas in this book. He details the life of John Brown, how he came to feel so strongly against slavery and why he began his campaign to free the slaves and dissolve the union. Brown is a fascinating character who had very strong political and religious beliefs in regards to slavery. He had no qualms about committing violence in the name of what he felt was right and just and he also sacrificed the lives of some of his children in the process. Marrin does a great job on John Brown and his life. What he also does is pad this book with a lot of information that makes it less readable. There are several chapters on the history of slavery and several more chapters on the history of the Civil War. Neither are necessary in detailing Brown’s life. In fact, the chapters on Brown really only take up about half the book. I think this is going to turn kids off a bit. I know I skimmed/barely read a lot of the extra chapters because it was all stuff I knew or I didn’t think pertained to the story I was trying to read. I think this book would have been better if it had just focused on John Brown and left the rest to other books.
Skin Rules is a concise and practical instruction manual from a renowned Fifth Avenue dermatologist on how to attain beautiful skin, a taut and sculpted body, and a much younger appearance. Actors, models, and newscasters go to Dr. Jaliman for her cutting-edge technology and the latest in skin care, as well as for her reputation for being the “last stop” doctor, the one who fixes what others can’t.
Skin Rules has something for everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have to spend. This small, invaluable guide supplies the same advice Dr. Jaliman gives to her celebrity patients, from lasers to remove sun damage and turn back the clock to suggestions for simple products and habits anyone can adopt for a small outlay of time and money.
In Skin Rules readers will learn:
• about the one ingredient that should NEVER be in sunscreens, but often is
• how to use inexpensive Aquaphor to heal wounds and prevent scarring
• which drugstore products really work for acne and wrinkles
Description from Goodreads.com.
Patient Zero is a look at epidemics of the past and how doctors and scientists found what or who was causing them. The epidemics covered were the plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, Spanish flu, ebola and AIDS. Each chapter focused on the “patient zero” who was the first to get the disease and start spreading it. It is a pretty interesting read with lots of good historical information. However, it is not a book for research. The diseases are covered pretty thoroughly but in a more surface way than would be needed for reports or assignments. I think kids who are interested in this type of thing will really enjoy this more for pleasure reading.
My one gripe with the book is actually the illustrations. There are clip art type pictures throughout the book instead of actual photos or historical data. I thought the pictures didn’t fit with the text and actually distracted me from the seriousness of what I was reading.
I received this book from Netgalley.
Sam’s best friend, Hayden, commits suicide after a fight at a party. He leaves a playlist of music for Sam to listen to and a note that says the playlist will explain everything. Sam is hurt, confused, guilty, and wondering what he missed that night that could have changed the way things turned out. A friend of Hayden’s, who Sam doesn’t know anything about, shows up and starts to shed some light on that last night’s events.
This was a sad mystery of sorts as I tried to figure out who was behind the “paying back” of the bullies that let this escalate so drastically. It needed to come with a cd of the music referenced to help me understand it even better. I was tempted to go to i-tunes more than once! It was a good book.
My Planet is a collection of writings Mary Roach did for Reader’s Digest. They are short, humorous stories about her life and her experiences. While I found them funny and enjoyed listening to this book I don’t think it lives up to her other books. It is a worthwhile read (or listen) but if you are looking for the quality of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers or Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex you will be disappointed. The one thing I did enjoy was the husband Ed. He and Mary must be absolutely perfect for each other.
In an attempt to de-clutter my home for the new year, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Though there were some tips that I found unnecessary (fold you socks like a sushi roll!), I did take to heart a handful of Marie Kondo’s tricks. She advises that people clean by category (first clothes, then paperwork, then miscellaneous, etc) which is actually easier than room by room. She also advises to only keeping items that spark joy in you. Her process has led to me getting rid of about 1/3 of my possessions, and my house feels much more peaceful. It’s definitely worth a read if you wish to organize your closets and your life in general.
Haunted Air is a book that displays a wide array of old Halloween photos from the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s. These photos are both creepy and entertaining! It’s fascinating to see how children (and impoverished adults) dressed up for Halloween all those years ago.
Written by Ted Spiker, author of several health books, Down Size is a book about the “twelve truths about successful weight loss.” I did find some of these truths to be useful, but Ted’s constant self deprecating humor left me feeling uncomfortable. Down Size seemed geared more toward overweight men with a competitive streak. Since I am not a man and I’m not into competitive physical activities, I didn’t glean as much valuable information from this book as I had hoped.
The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII seems like one of those issues that was swept under the carpet and little known until recently. It isn’t something you learn about during your history class on WWII or if it is it is barely mentioned. It is a tragic and disturbing part of our history and is a story that should be told. It seems especially important in the wake of the September 11 events and the treatment of Muslim Americans. Sandler does a great job of showing that the Japanese discrimination did not begin with Pearl Harbor. The Japanese were discriminated against from the moment they arrived in the U.S. They looked different, their language was incomprehensible, they had strange customs and they made people afraid. After Pearl Harbor it wasn’t long before that fear led to the imprisonment of all the Japanese living on the west coast. Executive Order 9066 called for the relocation of Japanese to camps throughout the United States. The Japanese were not given very long to get their affairs in order, sell their homes and business, leave their crops and belonging and move in to what was basically a concentration camp. Most of them were robbed of the value of their possessions as people took advantage of their need to get rid of stuff. Even though the order came about because of fear of sabotage and espionage, no such acts were ever committed or suspected. The Japanese took everything in stride with dignity and pride even though that was being taken away from them. They made the camps into homes and continued to educate their children and teach them to be proud Americans. They also distinguished themselves as heroes during the war with their actions in both Europe and the Pacific. It wasn’t until many years later that calls for restitution were finally answered and the United States apologized for their actions.
I am a big fan of history books like this. I love learning about things that I might not have known a lot about. This book is definitely readable and understandable for the middle grade audience. However, I did think the sidebar stories could have been better placed. Every chapter contains a secondary story that was just stuck in the middle of everything. It often broke up a sentence or paragraph and was very frustrating for the reader. I found that I just skipped the sidebar and finished the chapter then returned to the sidebar. My other issue with the book was actually the writing itself. While I personally agree with pretty much everything Sandler wrote about the horrific things done to the Japanese I found the writing to be very biased. For the most part, nonfiction is written from a neutral point of view even when the events being discussed are anything but neutral. Sandler’s language clearly shows that he is against what the U.S. did and firmly on the side of the Japanese. I agree but wish the language would have been more neutral. I sometimes felt like Sandler was pushing an agenda at times when it was not necessary. The events speak for themselves.
Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust’s Hidden Child Survivors by R.D. Rosen is a good read for those of us interested in this aspect of history. The author features three women who survived the holocaust by being taken in by Christians, their journey through those dark years and after when they were faced with the fact that they were Jewish and not Christian and how they dealt with it and the psychological and emotional impact it had on them. They faced a lot of anger issues as well as issues with the biological mother who gave them up to save them. As children, this was hard for them to understand, as adults they learned of the strength their mothers had in doing what they did to save their lives. Not many of the mothers survived to be reunited with their daughters. A very moving and emotional book.