Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

A few mini-reviews from last month

Last month while reading a book a day, I had very little time to review books on this blog, so I’m going to group these four with the reviews from my 30 day challenge.  The rest of the books I’d like to take some time with and will post about later.

We are working on yeast issues in the house so I’m trying to convert over to this diet, but it is a very difficult thing to force on a 6 year old.

Title: The Everything Candida Diet Book: Improve Your Immunity by Restoring Your Body's Natural Balance, Author: Jeffrey McCombsThe Everything Candida Diet Book. Finished 9-30-17, 4.5/5 stars, diet, 304 pages, pub. 2014

This book is an excellent resource and surprisingly progressive in it’s knowledge.  Highly recommended if you suspect you have a candida problem. You can treat at home without a doctor using diet and supplements.  It has lots of recipes.  The two I’ve tried so far have been big hits with all three of us.

Title: Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem?, Author: Leon ChaitowCandida Albicans. Finished 9-20-17, rating 3/5, health, 150 pages, pub. 1998

Candida Albicans is a parasitic yeast that is present in all of us, but in most people it does no noticeable harm. This book provides a comprehensive and non-drug programme for its control.   from Goodreads

This was a fine overview of the issue, but dated.  There are better, more current books out there.  I only read this one because a friend loaned it to me.

Title: Why I March: Images from The Women's March Around the World, Author: Abrams BooksTitle: Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope--Voices from the Women's March, Author: Artisan Finished 9-24-17, rating 4/5, current events, pub. 2017

Between the two, Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope by Artisan Press and Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World edited by Samantha Weiner and Emma Jacobs, I preferred the former (on the bottom in the picture).  It had quotes from the march in Washington DC that the other didn’t.  Both were great and took me back to one of the most inspiring days of my life.  This country needs a little more protesting and a little less sitting on our butts and complaining about people who don’t agree with us.  There were marches on every continent – even Antarctica – and no arrests. I will always support a peaceful protest. I was inspired all over again.  Here are a few of my favorite signs.

IMG_1665 IMG_1655  IMG_1656

 

October 6, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books, 4 Star Books, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sundays With Gage – A Mother – Son Reading Challenge

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Sundays with Gage.  I intend to, but always seem to be short on time.  First grade seems to be going well.  He’s at the same school he attended last year and, even though it’s private, the city school bus takes him and brings him back to the elementary school half a mile from our house.  This saves me two hours every day and it’s bliss 🙂

Gage is great with numbers, he plays chess, he can play Old MacDonald on the piano, he shows no fear when he should, he can tell you about all of the planets, space and black holes.  But until this summer reading wasn’t coming along and it caused him a lot of frustration.  In June, he started going to the local Kumon tutor center once a week for 30 minutes and did about 10 minutes of daily homework and slowly, but surely progress is being made.  It’s a relief to me, but we have a long way to go.  It’s hard for him when something is just too challenging because he really does want to do everything well, so I am trying very hard to go slow and just give him some confidence.

So, the day that I started my new 30 Day Challenge I asked him if he wanted to finally join me in his first 30 day challenge.  He was so happy that I asked and said yes right away.  So, he is reading a new book every day this month and so am I.  He gets to choose the easiest books because I just want him to stay excited and  I look forward to seeing him willing to read every day!

Please hop over to my 30 Day Challenges Blog to follow along.

So far, Gage has read 3 Bob Books.  Not very exciting, but it is really helping his reading aloud fluency.

I’ve read 3 fantastic books so far…

Love That Boy:What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier (4 stars)

“This book  came about when reporter, Fournier, and his wife learned that their 12 year-old son had Asperger’s (from watching the TV show Parenthood.  Go Bravermans!)  As his wife started to assemble a team to help their son, Fournier, took him on a series of road trips to visit Presidential libraries and museums, something Tyler was really interested in.  This was a journey about a father finding his son.”

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi  (4.25 stars)

“Paul was a neurosurgeon resident and found out he had stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 36.  Between his diagnosis and his death he wrote this book about living.  Paul was able to choose two paths in his shorten life, as a writer in his youth and at the end of his life and his calling as a neurosurgeon in the middle.  I loved his relationship with literature and science and how he strived to make meaning of them both.  The world lost a great doctor and human being when he passed and I can only hope his words will inspire other young people to follow in his path.  A beautiful book about life and death and what to do with the time we have.”

Rosemary:The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson  (4 stars)

“I loved the inside look at the day to day lives of the Joe and Rose and their nine children.  I’d heard more about the ambitious, controlling father than about the mother, so I was intrigued and put off by her at the same time.  The Kennedy children are beautiful and brilliant, but Rosemary stood apart because she was different.  When she was born, during the height of the Spanish influenza in Boston, a nurse physically held her head inside of her mother after she’d already crowned.  I’m still horrified by it.  Whether that is what cause her ‘retardation’ we can only assume.  I can’t believe that Rose went on to birth 6 more children and live to be 104 after that!”

I’ll keep you posted as much as time will allow, but I’m updating the challenge blog and Facebook page everyday 🙂

 

 

September 3, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Gage | 12 Comments

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Cold-Hearted Rake, Author: Lisa KleypasCold-Hearted Rake.  Finished 7-1-17, rating 4/5, historical romance, 402 pages, pub. 2015

The Ravenels #1

Charming rake Devon Ravenel inherits an earldom. But the decrepit estate is deep in debt, and the late earl’s widow and three sisters still occupy the house. His drunken brother West rides the land while Devon seeks financing in London. Kathleen, still Lady Trenear, knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But their fiery attraction is undeniable.

I’m always looking for a go-to historical romance writer and I thought I’d give Lisa Kleypas a try.  I’ve seen trusted bloggers love her and the covers of this series are hard to resist.  I was not disappointed.

Devon, like most alpha males, rubbed me the wrong way at first with his rakish past and disregard for anything resembling hard work.  Kathleen, the widow, was so responsible and loyal to her new sisters that she was bound to go toe-to-toe with the new lord of the manor.  The sparks didn’t disappoint.

This was a great start to a new series.  The three sisters plus Devon’s brother West were all fleshed out in this one.  And the cliffhanger?  Well, I finished the second book a week after this and I just picked up the third from the library today.

Perfect for lovers of 19th century English romance.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 7 Comments

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery

Title: Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, Author: Sy MontgomeryTemple Grandin. Finished 6-28-17, rating 4/5 stars, Kids Biography, 148 pages, pub. 2012

When Temple Grandin was born, her parents knew that she was different. Years later she was diagnosed with autism.
   While Temple’s doctor recommended a hospital, her mother believed in her. Temple went to school instead.
   Today, Dr. Temple Grandin is a scientist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Her world-changing career revolutionized the livestock industry. As an advocate for autism, Temple uses her experience as an example of the unique contributions that autistic people can make.
   This compelling biography complete with Temple’s personal photos takes us inside her extraordinary mind and opens the door to a broader understanding of autism.    (from Goodreads)

I love Temple.  I knew of her before my life in the autism world began, but now, she’s like a rock star.  The autism community is so lucky to have her be their spokesperson.  I’ve heard her speak in person twice, both different and inspirational.  I was looking for some books for Gage and saw this kids biography and picked it up for myself.  Over 100 pages with lots of pictures and Temple drawings and it captures her personality perfectly.

The book tells of her upbringing from the horror of her father’s distaste to the unwavering loved of her mother.  It shows the difficulty she had in school after elementary school, but also the friends she made and still has.  It showed that she was a workhorse, holding a number of jobs and never tiring, even now as she approaches 70.

This was a book that explained how she got to where she is today.  She is an autism champion now, but she started by designing cattle shoots.  And when she was rebuffed in the male dominated field of cattle she always found a back door and a way to succeed.  She is one tough cookie.

Temple does not represent everyone on the autism spectrum, obviously, but I would encourage those of you who don’t have a loved one on the spectrum to read this. Spend an hour and see what parents and grandparents see when they look at their kid.  All the possibilities are here and Temple embodies them.

 

July 7, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 5 Comments

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Title: Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Classics Series), Author: Mary ShelleyFrankenstein. Finished 4-29-17, rating 4/5 stars, classic, 206 pages, pub. 1818

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.    from Goodreads

I read most of this one first thing during the 24 hour readathon.  During the readathon you want short books so this classic fit the bill, but you also want books that read fast and this failed in that department for sure.  I had a hard time with the archaic language at first, but got into the rhythm after about 20 pages or so and really got into the story.  Yes, I knew some of the bigger plot points just from, you know, living life, but the majority of the story was completely new to me and quite compelling.

Victor Frankenstein became interested in the ancient alchemists when he was a teen in Geneva.  He heads off to university to study chemistry when he becomes obsessed with bring inanimate objects to life.  He succeeds and Frankenstein’s monster is born.  Horrified by the ugliness before him he retreats, sickened.  Henry, a childhood friend visits from home and nurses him back to health not really understanding that Victor’s nightmares are not make believe at all.  After Victor gets better and life seems normal again, the monster finds Victor and begins a quest to hound him until a mate is made so the monster can have the companionship he deserves.

This story is almost 200 years old and still resonates for good reason.  It has all the elements of a great story with something to say.  The monster, aptly nicknamed, does horrific things, and yet, his first speech to Victor really inspired sympathy. The monster wanted only friendship and instead received nothing but terrified people in his wake.  What happens if a person is shunned by everyone, even the one who made him?  Especially the one he made him.  Nothing good.

It’s a story still worth the time and effort. I’ve never seen any of the movies, so  I might have to give those a look this summer.

This was my 12th selection for the Classics Club and it also counts for my Reading Harder challenge.

May 9, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 10 Comments

H – Head Strong:The Bulletproff Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-In Just Two Weeks

Blogging From A-Z

Today I am part of a TLC Book Tour for Head Strong.  I agreed to today last month and am lucky it worked for my A-Z challenge too 🙂

Title: Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks, Author: Dave AspreyHead Strong by Dave Asprey

When I saw this on the book tour list I was really thinking of my husband.  It my mind I think I had some vague notion of reading it together or some such sweet thought, but, like most sweet intentions, it just never happened.  So I found myself starting a book that I wasn’t all that interested in, but was immediately surprised by just how much this book is in my wheelhouse, so to speak.  This successful man could have easily written this book with a biomed mom, the two are that similar.

Asprey was an overweight and overwhelmed 20 something who would often fall asleep in meetings.  To his credit, he was very successful, but he also knew something had to give.  One thing led to another and he ended up doing a brain scan and finding out his mitochondria were way out of whack.  I think it’s important to note here that Gage has mitochondrial disorder, so I know that his knowledge is solid.  He even taught me a few things I didn’t know already about the science.

You can fix your mitochondria.  The first and most important way is through diet.  Hm.  Those who know me and have followed some of the books I read on the blog know that I am no stranger to diets and this one is everything I’ve been trying to tell parents for years: no dairy and no gluten.  I learned about mold in food which I knew nothing about and I’m a little miffed that I know about now because he’s ruined coffee for me.

Okay, let me focus here.  What you eat is important but so is the elimination of toxins and junk light and adding in sunlight, exercise and meditation.  These may not sound new, but he does go into the science and reasoning behind it.  He also talks about some high tech resources that are out there now that I know Jason will interested to read about.

The reasoning behind his recommendations is detailed and the book is laid out in such a way that you can skip the more confusing parts and go right to the recommendations.  I think the two week plan needed more recipes, but that is my only suggestion.

I liked it and think Jason will too.  It’s full of great tips and explanations.  (Be warned that this is not the book for you if you are looking for a quick fix.  Yes, the title says two weeks, but these are not minor changes easy to accomplish.)

Thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | 4 Comments

E- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Blogging From A-Z

This month I’m focusing on movies, but I plan to compare the book to the movie in another post so I’ll tell you about the book since I just finished it.

Extremely loud and incredibly close large.JPEGFinished 4-6-17, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2005

Unabridged audio read by multiple authors. 11 hours.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is a precocious Francophile who idolizes Stephen Hawking and plays the tambourine extremely well. He’s also a boy struggling to come to terms with his father’s death in the World Trade Center attacks. As he searches New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he left behind, Oskar discovers much more than he could have imagined.             from Goodreads

This description is accurate but not complete.  There are really three storylines, with Oskar’s voice carrying most of the story.  His grandmother and grandfather are the other two narratives and to say that this family is a little different is an understatement.

Oskar is an old nine and very likely on the autism spectrum even though it’s never stated specifically.  After his father dies on 9/11 his emotions spiral, so some of the autistic like traits could stem from that, but I personally thinks he’s an asperger’s boy with many of the strengths.  I love that his dad really played up those strengths so when we saw Oskar hoofing it around New York on his own it didn’t seem completely out of the question.  I love Oskar.  I recognized my son in him and fell in love. He also made me laugh and broke my heart.  By being true to himself he brought happiness to people’s lives.

The dueling grandparent narratives were okay.  They were both broken people so their stories sometimes contradicted each other and always left me feeling sad.  For much of the book I had some sympathy for the mute grandfather and little to spare for the grandmother.  I guess that held true but I did at least understand the grandmother better by the end.

I think I would have really loved this one if I had read the actual book.  I understand that there were drawings and illustrations that really helped make this something special, but the library didn’t get the book to me in time 😦  When it comes in I will flip through a take a look.  For that reason I don’t recommend the audio.

Take a chance and fall in love with Oskar.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | 7 Comments

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Title: I Let You Go, Author: Clare MackintoshI Let You Go. Finished 3-25-17, rating 4.25/5, suspense, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Nicola Barber and Steven Crossley. 12 hours.

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.    from Goodreads

I remember all the hype for this book when it came out and when it showed up on a recent unputdownable list, I checked the audio out of the library.  For the first few cds I really couldn’t figure out why there were so many raves about it.  I actually stopped listening for a week and was questioning to bother with the rest since I definitely didn’t get the unputdownable label at all.  But, I decided to give it a bit longer when I was cleaning one day and it started to build some steam.

This was a good book that starts with the horrific death of a child.  There was more than one big twist and the less you know the better. I loved  the Wales seaside Jenna found comfort in.  I would love to visit someday, under happier circumstances.

So, I think the slow beginning could deter some people, but if you can make it past that it turns into something unexpected and I liked it.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 6 Comments

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Title: My Name Is Lucy Barton, Author: Elizabeth StroutMy name is Lucy Barton. Finished 2-25-17, rating 3.75/5, fiction, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Kimberly Farr

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lies the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters.  from Goodreads

I was going to wait to write about this one until after our book club meeting, but since it’s been postponed until June I think I’ll go ahead before I forget about it completely.  I listened to this short book and it was okay.  The writing was great and the mother-daughter relationship at the center was complex and interesting.  The mother was infuriating and I was hoping that Lucy would stand up to her, but as is the case in most parental relationships, they are fraught with landmines that one or both parties would just like to avoid.  This made Lucy a weaker character that she might have been if the story had been told just from the point of view of her escaping her poverty-stricken childhood.

It did feel disjointed, jumping from here to there, with nothing much going on, but then by the end all of the little paths merged into something quite complete.  I did like it, but I’m not sure I’ll be reading more from the author.

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 11 Comments

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Maybe in Another Life: A Novel, Author: Taylor Jenkins ReidMaybe in Another Life. Finished 3-16-17, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Julia Whelan. 9 hours 10 minutes.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?  from Goodereads

I’ve been listening to this book in the car for over a week and this morning I finally caved and bought a cinnamon roll and ate the whole glorious thing.  Hannah loves cinnamon rolls and cinnamon rolls were mentioned a lot by pretty much every character throughout the book even til the very last pages.  This is not a complaint but a warning.  If you listen to someone talk about cinnamon rolls enough you will find one to devour.  Just sayin’.

We meet Hannah at the beginning of the book as she moves back to Los Angeles.  She’s a bit of a mess, but through her best friend Gabby’s eyes we see Hannah for the loved and loving woman she is.  When she meets up with an old boyfriend on her first night back Hannah must choose to stay with him or leave with Gabby.  The stories then go from there.

In the next chapter she goes home with Gabby and disaster strikes. The chapter after that she goes home with Ethan and a love is rekindled.  The storylines alternate by chapter so that you are never too long in one that you’ve lost interest in the other. Knowing this is how it was set up I thought for sure I’d hate it.  I didn’t.

There were many ways this could have ended and Reid teased them all.  I probably would have preferred a different ending, BUT I liked it.  Are our lives decided by fate or do we make our own decisions?  If we make a choice will fate keep bringing us back to a preordained life?  This book was fun and though provoking.  I’m looking forward to going back and reading her earlier books.

This made lots of best of  lists when it came out a few years ago and I can see why.

 

March 17, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 6 Comments