Uncategorized

Disability Awareness Book Recommendations

Yesterday marked the 30th Anniversary of the passage of the American’s with Disabilities Act. I always take time to think about how far we, as a country, have come since this Act mandated access and equality for People with Disabilities and I always think of how much further we need to go towards this goal.

Included are books that I have read and loved that feature or include people with disabilities. This list is heavier on middle grade books since I have been reading more of those recently. Sadly, my list doesn’t have a lot of own voices stories. This is something I plan to dive more into this year and I have found The National Leadership on Developmental Disabilities’ reading list a helpful place to start. I also found a list of 20 Must-Read YA books with Disabled Characters on Book Riot.

For this list I have used the legal / medical definition of “disability” for this list. That means I have included books with Deaf characters even though many of my Deaf friends do not consider Deafness to be a disability.

Finally, I want to address why I didn’t include Wonder in this list. Wonder may seek to encourage people to “be kind” but it is, in fact, the opposite to put people with disabilities on a pedestal as heroes simply because they are living. People with disabilities’ purpose in life is not to inspire others. Instead, I hope this list of books provides an opportunity to see individuals with disabilities as people first.


MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS

outofmymind
A blue cover with an orange goldfish leaping out of its bowl.

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom – the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it – somehow.

In this breakthrough story, reminiscent of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, from multiple Coretta Scott King Award-winner Sharon Draper, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability. from Goodreads.


pinned
A black girl in a purple lettermen jacket and denim skirt

Autumn and Adonis have nothing in common and everything in common. Autumn is outgoing and has lots of friends. Adonis is shy and not so eager to connect with people. But even with their differences, the two have one thing in common–they’re each dealing with a handicap. For Autumn, who has a learning disability, reading is a painful struggle that makes it hard to focus in class. But as her school’s most aggressive team wrestler, Autumn can take down any problem. Adonis is confined to a wheelchair. He has no legs. He can’t walk or dance. But he’s a strong reader who loves books. Even so, Adonis has a secret he knows someone like Autumn can heal.

In time, Autumn and Adonis are forced to see that our greatest weaknesses can turn into the assets that forever change us and those we love.

Told in alternating voices, Pinned explores issues of self-discovery, friendship, and what it means to be different. from Goodreads.


guts
A bright purple cover with a yellow nauseated emoji.

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears. from Goodreads. #OwnVoices


fishinatree
A blue-green cover with the title, “Fish In A Tree” written in colorful block letters

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike. from Goodreads.


thewarthatsaved
An illustrated cover with a girl looking out at a field with a horse and a military plane.

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? from Goodreads.


eldeafo
An illustrated bunny in a red cape is flying through a blue sky with white clouds.

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend? from Goodreads. OwnVoices


wonderstruck
The title Wonder Struck is boldly placed across the front with lightning

Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories – Ben’s told in words, Rose’s in pictures – weave back and forth in symmetry. from Goodreads.


alcapone
A iconic mobster hat and hands are shown behind bars on this red cover.

Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I’m not the only kid who lives here. There’s my sister, Natalie, except she doesn’t count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook’s or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don’t want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you’re me. I came here because my mother said I had to. from Goodreads.


Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents. . . .

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die. from Goodreads.


YOUNG ADULT

acurse
“A Curse so Dark and Lonely” Words are woven through with thorns on a blue background.

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. from Goodreads.


ADULT FICTION

curiouscase
A red cover with the title features the silhouette of an upside down dog.

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally. from Goodreads.

Note: I went back and forth on whether to include this book because it has some similarities with Wonder. Neither authors have experience with the community their characters are part of but one fact swayed me in the end. Unlike WonderThe Curious Incident.. does not encourage people to only pity people with disabilities or put them on pedestals.


NONFICTION

insicknessandinhealth
A woman sits on the lap of a man in a wheelchair. They are surrounded by flowers.

Ben Mattlin’s wife, ML, recalls falling in love with his confidence and sheer determination. On one of their earliest dates, he persuaded her to ride on his lap in his wheelchair on their way home from an Elvis Costello concert. Thirty years later, they still travel like this from time to time, undaunted by the curious stares following them down the street.

But In Sickness and in Health is more than an “inspiring” story of how a man born with spinal muscular atrophy–a congenital and incurable neuromuscular condition–survived childhood, graduated from Harvard, married an able-bodied woman, built a family with two daughters and a cat and a turtle, established a successful career in journalism, and lived happily ever after. As Mattlin considers the many times his relationship has been met with surprise or speculation by outsiders–those who consider his wife a “saint” or him just plain “lucky” for finding love–he issues a challenge to readers: why should the idea of an “interabled” couple be regarded as either tragic or noble?

Through conversations with more than a dozen other couples of varying abilities, ethnic backgrounds, and orientations, Mattlin sets out to understand whether these pairings are as unusual as onlookers seem to think. Reflecting on his own experience he wonders: How do people balance the stresses of personal-care help with the thrill of romance? Is it possible that the very things that appear to be insurmountable obstacles to a successful relationship–the financial burdens, the physical differences, the added element of an especially uncertain future–could be the building blocks of an enviable level of intimacy and communication that other couples could only dream of?

We meet Shane Burcaw, a twenty-three-year-old writer, who offers a glimpse of his first forays into dating with a disability. There’s Rachelle Friedman, the “paralyzed bride,” as the media refers to her, and her husband, discussing the joys and challenges of a new marriage and a growing family. And Christina Crosby and her partner, Janet Jakobsen, reflect on how Crosby’s disabling accident called for them to renegotiate their roles and expectations in their long-term relationship. What emerges is a candid glimpse into the challenges and joys of interabled love–from the first blush of sexual awakening to commitment and marriage and through to widowhood. from Goodreads. OwnVoice


ifatbirthyoudont
Cover of book shows a half cracked empty eggshell and the title.

Comedian Zach Anner opens his frank and devilishly funny book, If at Birth You Don’t Succeed, with an admission: he botched his own birth. Two months early, underweight and under-prepared for life, he entered the world with cerebral palsy and an uncertain future. So how did this hairless mole-rat of a boy blossom into a viral internet sensation who’s hosted two travel shows, impressed Oprah, driven the Mars Rover, and inspired a John Mayer song? (It wasn’t Your Body is a Wonderland.)

Zach lives by the mantra: when life gives you wheelchair, make lemonade. Whether recounting a valiant childhood attempt to woo Cindy Crawford, encounters with zealous faith healers, or the time he crapped his pants mere feet from Dr. Phil, Zach shares his fumbles with unflinching honesty and characteristic charm. By his thirtieth birthday, Zach had grown into an adult with a career in entertainment, millions of fans, a loving family, and friends who would literally carry him up mountains.

If at Birth You Don’t Succeed is a hilariously irreverent and heartfelt memoir about finding your passion and your path even when it’s paved with epic misadventure. This is the unlikely but not unlucky story of a man who couldn’t safely open a bag of Skittles, but still became a fitness guru with fans around the world. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with the Olive Garden all over again, and learn why cerebral palsy is, definitively, “the sexiest of the palsies.” from Goodreads. OwnVoices


Tell me, please!

Do you have any book recommendations featuring People With Disabilities?


 

 

 

Middle Grade · nonfiction · Uncategorized

NonFiction Friday: Undefeated

This middle grade story of the early days of football has all the elements of a Hollywood or Disney hit movie. An unparalleled talent, a football genius, and a team that refused to quit came together to give us the sport of football as we know it today.


SYNOPSIS

Jim Thorpe: super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American.

Pop Warner: indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad.

Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in the history of America’s favorite sport. Called “the team that invented football,” Carlisle’s innovative squad challenged the greatest, most elite teams—Harvard, Yale, Army—audaciously vowing to take their place among the nation’s football powers.

This is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. It’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat. from Goodreads.

undefeated
A drawing of a man who is Jim Thorpe looks out to the distance from the cover. He is wearing a red jersey with a large C on it and holding a football.

When I was in elementary school we got to go to the school library once a week. The most popular section was fiction. There you could find Babysitter’s ClubNancy Drew, and all the Beverly Cleary books. That section was also full of kids. I found more joy in exploring the rest of this one room library and, one day, stumbled across a free standing bookshelf full of old books – biographies. They were written specifically for children and were probably completely clean of anything upsetting or real but I was hooked on nonfiction from that moment onward. The first biography I selected featured Jim Thorpe.

I picked Jim Thorpe’s biography first because I would read anything that was about Native Americans. I didn’t realize he was an athlete until I was already deeply attached to the person.

In Undefeated I find myself, once again, picking up a book I believed was about Jim Thorpe and finding instead that the real story was about sports. I’m not sure where I got this idea. The man is holding a football on the front and the subtitle is “Jim Thorpe and the Carlise Indian School Football Team.” I’d like to chalk it up to not judging a book by its cover but I was probably just me becoming overly excited to find a new book about Jim Thorpe.

Undefeated is largely chronological but focuses on different major players in the development of both football and the Carlise Indian Team. The list of famous individuals involved in these early days of football include; Pop Warner, President Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley. The book also gives additional information regarding the lives of the major players on the team giving special attention to both Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner.

What I enjoyed the most was how this book dovetails the evolving tragedy of America’s treatment of Native Americans and the advent of modern football. Since I have been interested in Native American stories for years, I was not surprised by the establishment of a school specifically designed to take children from their families and separate them from their culture. I was less familiar with the development of football during this time. How the two come together is sure to interest anyone curious about football or Native Americans.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy history books?


 

fiction · Science Fiction · Uncategorized

The Last Best Hope (Star Trek: Picard #1) by Una McCormack

This book straddles the time between the end of The Next Generation and the new CBS Picard television show. The only problem with watching the show before reading this book is that I find myself wanting to re-experience the first season all over again!


SYNOPSIS

A thrilling novel leading into the new CBS series, Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope introduces you to brand new characters featured in the life of beloved Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard—widely considered to be one of the most popular and recognizable characters in all of science fiction.

picard
A dark cover features actor Patrick Stewart as Jean Luc Picard looking directly at the reader.

REVIEW

I can only assume that this book blurb is so short because anyone who would read a Star Trek book is already a big enough fan of the show, series, or character that no further enticement is needed. And, I’ll admit this directly up front: I love Jean-Luc Picard but I wouldn’t consider myself a Star Trek fan. Probably more specifically I am a Patrick Stewart fan. I will follow this actor and therefore this character anywhere through any universe and story. Still, I’ve never been moved enough by the idea of Star Trek to venture into other storylines. With that being said, I know my Jean-Luc and Una McCormack delivers him beautifully.

“The Romulan star is about to go supernova.”

With that statement, Jean-Luc’s career is thrown in chaos alongside the millions, if not billions, of Roman people that will have to be moved from worlds will which shortly cease to exist and settled on new planets. Throughout the story we see, as we always have, Jean-Luc struggle with the delicate balance of being a Star Fleet officer and his core desire to protect those he feels are the most vulnerable.

Una McCormack uses shifting narratives to tell the many different stories of this nightmare situation. Lieutenant Commander Raffi Musiker, Gordi La Forge, Bruce Maddox, and Nokim Vritet take up the bulk of the narrative with other characters adding what is needed for perspective. I adored the Qowat Milat, the female based kick-ass warrior nuns with their open hearts and absolute candor. And I grew to despise the Tal Shiar, the secret Romulan group that seemed to be everything outsiders distrusted in Romulans concentrated to an evil level.

There were times that the sheer number of narratives grew overwhelming (a theme for me this week with my review of Aurora Rising). But the inclusion of so many felt necessary. Watching their stories, struggles, and eventual successes and failures weave together towards the conclusion of the story only made me want to pick up all the people, all the pieces, and put them back together again. Happily, I can do so simply by watching the first season of Picard again.

This book also echoed sentiments that are all around us regarding immigration, the needs of some versus the desires of others, and the politics behind helping people. I couldn’t help but see the parallels between this story and the struggles of so many trying to come to America. Layer upon layer, it was time well spent with a favorite character, on an issue that transcended science fiction.


Tell me, please!

Who is your favorite Star Trek character?


 

5OnMyTBR · Uncategorized

5 On My TBR: June 15th’s Rainbow Books

In case you didn’t know, #5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook  and you can learn more about it here or see our host’s post for today here. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR that follow a different theme. Today’s prompt is rainbow covers! I actually keep my books in a rainbow formation on my bookshelf but, for some reason, I keep my physical TBR sorted by audience – middle grade, YA, adult, and non-fiction. Also, interestingly, the spines of many (MANY) of my books are different from the cover which made this an interesting little scavenger hunt this morning. I wanted to present myself a bit of a challenge so I selected all non-fiction books for my rainbow today.


Look at my lovely rainbow of books! I wanted to see them all together but here are the details.


sherlockholmesThe Sherlock Holmes Handbook has been on my physical TBR for years. I picked it up when I first read author Ransom Riggs’ Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Perculiar Children. And then I tucked it lovingly onto my shelf. Sigh.


thepencommandments

I participated in NaNoWriMo this year on a whim and I was a “winner.” I’m a big fan of measured goals and NaNoWriMo made writing the first draft a simple daily practice. But, my first draft is a big ol’ pile of poo and needs a lot of work. Hence the large number of writing books on my Goodreads and on my physical TBR shelf. This one feels like a good starting point – maybe I should actually read it?


thepoisonsquad

This is a recent addition to my shelf and I am a massive fan of Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook so I cannot wait to read this one. It probably won’t last long on my shelf. I just need to clear the deck of all the books I have promised to read for book clubs.


writing tools

Look! Another writing book (that I haven’t read yet).


thankyouforarguing

This book actually has a gorgeous yellow spine so I pulled it off for yellow only to see that it is boldly blue. Books (and people) are like that sometimes. I love to argue with a purpose but despise devil’s advocate style arguing. I will be interested to see how encouraging this book is towards arguing for the sake of arguing.


marvelencyclopedia

This book is so purple in person but the beauty of the cover just doesn’t transfer online well. I have had this book for a while and I am thinking that when I finally finish with The History of the World in 100 Objects I might start reading through this by tackling one superhero a day. It is too lovely a book to not read.


Tell me, please!

What is on your rainbow of TBR books?


 

5OnMyTBR · Uncategorized

5 On My TBR: 5 Books Hyped in the Past

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. Since my TBR can always use more focus, this meme is a great way to get organized. Each week has a theme and this week is: 5 Books Hyped in the Past. Thank goodness I remembered this meme because, holy moly, everyday here in quarantine looks like the one before it! Dear brain, today is Monday. MONDAY!!!

(The hyperlinks will take you to Goodreads!)


#1 Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

betweentheworldandme

I had a physical copy of this book and lent it to a friend who needed it for a required reading assignment. I have just realized that when I moved to Chicago this summer I didn’t remember to get it back. *Gasp*


#2 Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Couldthurst

offireandstars

This gorgeous cover was irresistible to me and so, of course, I own this book. Why haven’t I read it yet?? Who knows! I mean, the second book is already out and I should just crack into it already. I’m ridiculous.


#3 Less by Andrew Sean Greer

less

This book was massively hyped and I had numerous friends that picked up a copy and recommended it to me. I have, embarrassingly, borrowed it from the library at least twice and returned it unopened. That is a lot of effort to just not read this book. Maybe I should just admit that I don’t want to read it?


#4 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

gildedwolves

Yet another book I own that I haven’t read yet. This book was wildly hyped to me and I saw it everywhere so I picked it up and promptly shelved it. Seriously??


#5 Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

aurorarising

Do I own a copy? Yes! Alright! Perhaps this is why I haven’t really felt lonely during this quarantine…I have four bookshelves of unread gorgeous books to keep me company. I regret nothing!


Tell me, please!

Which of these hyped books should I read first?


 

Uncategorized

2020 Books in Two Sentences: March

At the very beginning of 2020 I saw The Knight is Dark and Full of Books do this with their 2019 books and I was in awe. I knew I wanted to do the same for my 2020 books but I also knew that if I didn’t make it a monthly habit it would be a hot mess at the end of the year. I did better than I thought I would considering the stress of COVID during March but I hope to get back into the reading groove come April.


Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living for Best Life by Ali Wong: Intimate is the word this books holds most dear as the author spends a tremendous amount of time talking about her body, body hair, body functions, and how many public incidents with those body parts she has had. The best parts are when she talks about her parents and her heritage with an extremely helpful chart on how to pick fantastic Asian restaurants.

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz: This middle grade fantasy features Clementine, the daughter of the Dark Lord, who is trying to hold their castle together when her father is cursed. A sweet adventure about self-discovery and finding your place in the world and in your home.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend: I thoroughly enjoyed the movie so when I discovered it was a book I picked up a copy right away. I regret reading this though because the movie did the story some huge favors – this one is not worth the read.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: The first in the Flavia de Luce mysteries introduces this 11-year-old chemistry wiz to the world. An adult book featuring a middle-grader is such a unique spin and a five star read.

Cary Grant: A Class Apart: Graham McCann’s autobiography of Cary Grant carries the reader through his life from birth to death with intimate looks at every stage. I have loved Cary Grant since the first time I laid eyes on him and this book did nothing to shake that love.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (Flavia de Luce #2): This second book had me just as riveted by Flavia’s sleuthing and adventuring. A bold, and slightly scarier, follow up has me even more infatuated with Flavia!

Midnight at Austenland: Hello gorgeous! This romance book set in the world of Austenland was a perfect mixture of romance and intrigue for me.

Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything: This brief history of the worst ways to cure everything is the ideal nonfiction primer on the many ways humans have attempted to extend and enhance their lives through the years. Written by a practicing medical doctor, Lydia Kang, and historian / librarian, Nate Pedersen, the book reads like a duo of friends explaining to you the  various ways science put the cart before the horse and why we should be grateful to have been born late enough to avoid so many of these treatments.

The Matchmaker’s List: I was so mad when I finished reading this book that I wrote a five paragraph hate review (and immediately threw it away). This book was not a romantic comedy, which could have been forgiven, by the character’s willingness to pretend to be gay to avoid matchmaking is not.

A Darker Shade of Magic: A slow burning magical book that features a layered London and the struggle between each iteration’s use, or lack, of magic. I have had this book on my shelf for far too long and I cannot wait to read the next in the series.

To Be Honest: After The Matchmaker’s List I was worried about being burned again but this was actually a romance book. Although, I was more moved by the main character’s self possession in the face of her own mother’s body shaming.

 

humor · nonfiction · Uncategorized

NonFiction Friday: Quackery by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen

This brief history of the worst ways to cure everything is the ideal nonfiction primer on the many ways humans have attempted to extend and enhance their lives through the years. Written by a practicing medical doctor, Lydia Kang, and historian / librarian, Nate Pedersen, the book reads like a duo of friends explaining to you the  various ways science put the cart before the horse and why we should be grateful to have been born late enough to avoid so many of these treatments.


SYNOPSIS

A tour of medicine’s most outlandish misfires, Quackery dives into 35 “treatments”, exploring their various uses and why they thankfully fell out of favour – some more recently than you might think. Looking back in horror and a dash of dark humour, the book provides readers with an illuminating lesson in how medicine is very much an evolving process of trial and error, and how the doctor doesn’t always know bests. from Book Depository.


quackery

Add to Goodreads


REVIEW

This book is divided into five different divisions. Elements, Plants and Soil, Tools, Animals, and Mysterious Powers. Each divisions covers both the history and the science behind a variety of techniques or thoughts about certain cures. Interspersed with sarcasm and dark humor, this book’s only downside is the inclination to read whole sections out to family and friends and become that person that just won’t shut up about they book they are reading.

Elements was, by far, my favorite section but that is because I am fascinated by poisons right now. In this section the authors comb through the various uses and reasoning behind using mercury, antimony, arsenic, gold, and radium. It turns out that in the past, being extremely pale but also plump was a difficult ideal to meet naturally. Apparently no one ever tried sitting inside during a pandemic and just eating through your food supply. Arsenic gave you all that and a painful death! I’ll take my lockdown and donuts please.

Plants and Soil were almost as fascinating because this section covers opiates, strychnine, tobacco, cocaine, alcohol, and earth. I knew that alcohol was used medicinally. But I had no idea that strychnine was considered an energy booster that was recommended to athletes. The 1904 winner of the Olympic marathon, Thomas Hicks, was given two strychnine doses and finished the race clearly in the throws of strychnine intoxication. Also of note, drinking water was considered unhealthy for athletes during this time.

This was also the section where I became completely annoying. After all, here is where I learned the origin of the term, “blow smoke up your arse.” Anyone over the age of 65 probably had someone blow tobacco smoke in their ear. It was a commonly recommended treatment for earaches. But, British physicians took it to the next level when they recommended a nice tobacco enema for any drowning victim. There was a whole organization dedicated to this cause! Just picture people walking up and down the banks of the Thames with their enema kits ready to pull someone out and save a life! There is no mention in this book on whether it worked (ever) but this is the fact that I just couldn’t stop taking about. Etymology, history, and science are rolled into renegade lifeguards? Yes, please!

After this section the book covers tools, animals, and mysterious powers. I enjoyed each of these sections in turn but the book had already won my heart. Although, the section on corpse medicine shouldn’t be read while eating…

It seems only fitting that, as I was finishing this book, President Trump was loudly touting the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a promising treatment for COVID. Meanwhile Dr. Fauci, a veteran of outbreaks dating back to the HIV crisis here in America, emphasized a need for methodical clinical testing prior to taking these medicines. I am generally not pleased with our President but I would be more than happy to celebrate his instincts being correct in this situation. However, after reading Quackery, taking a medicine on a hutch smacks of another “worst way” to cure our current crisis.

This book emphasized what I have long held dear – quality testing. I don’t want anecdotal evidence that the King’s touch cures boils. Prove it to me. One of my biggest take aways from the whole book is that it was probably a good thing that so many people couldn’t afford medical treatments for large parts of history. Because, certainly, the radium spa would set you back a pretty penny. And, in a time when blood soaked aprons were the mark of a good doctor and hand washing wasn’t a thing, I don’t know that turning to a professional did anyone much good.


Tell me, please!

If you had to pick, are you more interested in science or history?


 

Uncategorized

5 On My TBR: March 23, 2020

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. Since my TBR can always use more focus, this meme is a great way to get organized. Each week has a theme and this week is:

Romances / RomComs


Sadly I don’t have many RomComs on my physical TBR. Actually, I’m struggling to find a RomCom on any of my lists. So, instead, I give you a mix of romances and romcoms that had been buried by my massive TBR.

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Miller looks so cute. Here is the blurb from Amazon:

Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her big sister―and best friend―goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

To Be Honest is another sharp, witty novel from Maggie Ann Martin, about a spunky heroine who is dealing with very real issues―body image, parental pressure, loneliness, first love, and finding your way―with heart and humor. from Amazon


Likewise both The Switch and The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary have shown up time and time again on my friend’s TBRs.

The Switch is billed as:

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself. from Amazon

and Flatshare has this description:

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met. from Amazon


The Matchmaker’s List

Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams. from Amazon


The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. from Amazon


Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love. from Amazon


Tell me, please!

What are the 5 RomComs on your TBR?


 

Graphic Novels · Middle Grade · Sunday Comics · Uncategorized

Sunday Morning Comics: Guts by Raina Telgemeier

This middle grade graphic novels features the author’s own memories and experiences dealing with the physical manifestation of anxiety. The accessible message paired with the bravery and kindness of the characters makes this an ideal read for the stressors of today’s world.


SYNOPSIS

A true story from Raina Telgemeier, the #1 New York Times bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning author of Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts!

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears. from Amazon.


guts


REVIEW

I don’t know if I have anxiety or if I would have been diagnosed with anxiety as a child. But, I do know that I worry a lot. Growing up with a sister with disabilities and all of the complicated health problems that accompanied her day to day life made me acutely aware that the world was not a safe place. And, when I mentioned it to friends they acted like I was insane.

Today, so many children deal with school shootings, suicide, and now a pandemic. Guts is an easy way for children and caregivers to open up a conversation both about how stress and worry can get out of control and how to act with kindness to others dealing with unknown issues.

Raina has established herself as an author that speaks the truth to children. Through her previous books, Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghost, Raina has proven a reliable source for a variety of social issues that many children are confronted with on a daily basis. Obviously I’ve been a fan for a long time but Guts had me just sitting there, reading, and nodding my head.

Whether it is because of COVID19, the general state of the world, or because you feel like a child in your life is struggling with feelings they don’t understand, I highly recommend this book. Actually, you know what? I recommend this book to everyone because even if you aren’t worried, someone near you is and this book is a great insight into what that feels like.


Tell me, please!

Do you have any books on anxiety you would recommend?


 

Graphic Novels · Middle Grade · Sunday Morning Comics · Uncategorized

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

A middle grade graphic novel that speaks to the power of communication in families. I couldn’t love Moth Hush more if she used her magic to make a million copies of herself.


SYNOPSIS

A School Library Journal Best Graphic Novel of 2019!

Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl in this hilarious, one-of-a-kind graphic novel about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town and is doing her best to survive middle school now that she knows everything!

Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.

In this spellbinding graphic novel debut, Emma Steinkellner spins a story packed with humor and heart about the weird and wonderful adventures of a witch-in-progress. from Amazon.


theokaywitch
A young teenage girl with huge eyes and flowing hair is standing suspended on a flying broom with a black cat clinging to her leg.

REVIEW

Graphic Novels are powerful. This book will take approximately thirty minutes to read and two and a half hours to read again and again. The Okay Witch is quite simply a gorgeous story ripe for opening a conversation about family, fitting in, bigotry, and second chances and bravo to Emma Steinkellner for layering all of it so beautifully in such an accessible story.

Moth Hush is such a likable character. On Halloween she meets the new student, Charlie, who is just as easy to root for as Moth. Together, the two of them are navigating how to fit in with their peers and their families. But both kids’ parents have been keeping their histories from them and it is hard to move forward when you don’t understand the past.

Children and adults alike will find this book a delightful, but occasionally serious, read. Together this book has the power to do more than entertain. It has the ability to start a conversation about how each person’s history and choices affect our future. More importantly, it showcases the vital role communication has in families. And, it is just pure fun to read.


Tell me, please!

Have you read a graphic novel that you couldn’t stop talking about?