Sunday, September 10, 2017

#RBRT Read and Review: How to Manage Techno Tantrums by David Boyle and Judith Hodge

·         Title: How to Manage Techno Tantrums: 10 Strategies for Coping with your Child's Time Online
·         Author: David Boyle and Judith Hodge
·         Published: 2017
How to Manage Techno Tantrums: 10 Strategies for Coping with your Child's Time Online is a parenting self-help book about how to manage your child’s screen time
Image via Goodreads.
The stated purpose of Techno Tantrums is “to set out the knowledge that is out there and list some of the strategies that other parents have used.”  The authors hope is for the book to be empowering to parents, and I believe it succeeds.  It is a quick read that’s organized into four sections and an introduction.  The introduction begins with a fascinating hook. As it turns out there are many high ranking tech and gadget professional who strictly regulate the use of screen time in their own homes.

Where I think the book could most improve is in the first two sections, especially the section “From Fasting to Chilling”. An overview is given of several common concerns about the impact of too much screen time. Techno Tantrums does a great job of citing specific studies and each study’s results.  I appreciated having some understanding about the scientific evidence for each concern raised, including cutting off social interaction, suppressing emotion, decreasing the ability to relax, etc. But overall I found the explanation for each of these issues too cursory to be worthwhile. A full page or two of discussion about each issue would allow the reader to feel more informed about the current social research and whether or not it is conclusive.

An entire section is dedicated to the experiences of other parents who try to promote restricted or healthy screen time for their children.  I found this section to be incredibly helpful, and I plan to revisit it repeatedly as my child continues to grow. The book ends with an outline of ten strategies parents can use to setup a home life where screen time is regulated. It is stressed that parents must follow these regulations as well.  For example, if phones should be off and charging for the night by 8pm, that means everyone’s phone in the family needs to be off and charging, including mom and dad.

I have not come across any other books on this topic before. How to Manage Techno Tantrums clarifies that it is not about online safety, but rather about how the manage the time in front of online games and screens. It is an excellent resource for parents looking for ideas about where to start.  
Star Rating: 4/5 Stars
Techno Tantrums: 10 Strategies for Coping with Your Child's Online Time is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon UK or Amazon.com.
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Thanks for reading! This is another #RBRT review organized by Rosie Amber who does phenomenal work on https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/ 
Thanks to Sue Fuest for sending me a free e-book copy to read. If you enjoyed this review, please share or follow for more book reviews.
-Brittany

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Nonfiction Books I Want to Read in August

Hi friends! 
Here's what I'm excited about reading in August this year! It's all nonfiction, and I've been in a bit of a reading slump and emotional slump, so I selected books to motivate me. Let me know if there are any books you're excited about, and let me know if you've read any of the books on my list! 

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by CS Lewis 

In this book Lewis tells of his search for joy, a spiritual journey that led him from the Christianity of his early youth into atheism and then back to Christianity. After the death of his mother in his youth, Lewis enters a long lasting period of atheism. Although he knew epistemologically that God didn't exist, he still felt that there was something else "out there." This is different from agnosticism though - he believed that the "something else" was not divine. Lewis is truly surprised by a God who cares, a "true mythology" (the Christian narrative), and the creator of joy.




Make Your Bed by William H McRaven

A brief motivational story based on a graduation speech given by Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin. Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage


The Book of Joy Archbishop Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Lama 

The Book of Joy is a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu about finding joy and happiness in the face of suffering and grief. The two old friends met in India for the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday, and they had long discussions over several days. Writer Douglas Abrams helped facilitate the dialogue, asking questions and taking detailed notes.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott 

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"
With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done"

The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom 
Corrie ten Boom is a 40 something spinster at peace with her quiet life. She is a watchmaker in her father’s shop and lives with her older sister and their kind father. She never expected to become embroiled in an underground revolution but when German soldiers invade her homeland and friends and neighbors start to disappear because they are Jewish or lending Jewish families safe harbor, she can’t stand by and do nothing. As conditions become increasingly worse for the unfortunate people in her beloved town, she decides to put her life in danger in order to save those of others. Her family has a hidden room built and they take in the desperate. Eventually she is imprisoned, along with most of her family. She recounts the long, grueling days of hellish conditions in prison and in concentration camps. The sickness, the starvation and the everyday cruelties inflicted. Their faith makes up a big part of who they were and how they managed to make it through the inhumane conditions. 



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise #RBRT

  • Author: OJ Modjeska
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • My rating: 5 stars out of 5
Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise by OJ Modjeska is the true story of the deadliest aviation accident in history. In 1977, the main airport in the Canary Islands was bombed by a separatist group seeking independence from Spain.  When the threat of another bombing occurred, the decision was made to divert all air traffic to Los Rodeos, a small regional airport on a different nearby island. Los Rodeos was understaffed and ill equipped to handle the influx of planes.  The events leading up to this catastrophe are explored and presented to the reader with an overwhelming sense of dread, like watching the chaotic elements of the universe come together to form a terrible evil. The result was the Tenerife Airport Disaster which killed 583 people, making it the deadliest accident in aviation history. 


Under 100 pages in length, Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise focuses on the topic of examining how events came together to result in the Tenerife Airport Disaster, and the author’s attention is not diverted. Modjeska provides a thorough and succinct examination. She has a methodical approach to her research and provides images and diagrams to support her writing.  Transcripts between pilots and air traffic control to support an examination of the key players in the disaster.  The writing goes beyond a straight narration of events and attempts to understand the perspectives of the pilots, crews and air traffic control.  Modjeska takes the reader from what appears to be a possible terror threat from the Canary Islands Independence Movement, to language barriers between pilots and airport staff, possibly worst-ever timed chance radio glitches, a lack of standardized aviation terms, and terrible weather conditions.  In this brief book, Modjeska particularly excels in creating a mounting sense of doom and dread.  I was on the edge of my seat despite obviously knowing how the story ended.   It was the same type of suspense that comes from reading a horror novel.  

Because the accident happen on a Spanish territory, Spain managed the accident investigation. 
The investigation concluded that the fundamental cause of the accident was that Dutch KLM Captain Veldhuyzen van Zanten took off without clearance. The Dutch authorities were reluctant to accept the Spanish report blaming the KLM captain for the accident, and Modjeska provides a balanced perspective of why blame deserves to be shared with chance and all those involved. 


I received this book through Rosie's Book Review Team.

2017 Booktube A Thon TBR!

Booktube-a-thon 2017 is upon us! This annual event goes from next Monday, July 24th through Sunday July 30th I'm probably going to make a vlog for it. Booktubeahton is  hosted by Ariel Bissett. Her announcement video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emuKvGJHNxU

The video version of this post is available here:
https://youtu.be/uVPQD4N9ZQk 


The 2017 Reading Challenges:
1. Read a book with a person on the cover.
The Collected Poems of James Joyce
James Joyce is an Irish author, he was a modernist, avante garde writer.  I really liked his story story collection, Dubliners.  His tone is usually heavy, and there's a sadness to it.  So expect his poems will follow that trend. Maybe I'll check the weather and read this on a rainy day :)


2. Read a hyped book


For this one, I'm reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  This is young adult fiction, and it's about a 16 year old girl named Starr who is in the car with her childhood friend, and they're kind of arguing about the fact that he's started selling drugs when he gets pulled over by the police, and he ends up getting shot. And Starr,  has to live with the legal aftermath of this, the media hype, the pain and anger it's brought to her community. This has gotten really excellent reviews, so I'm hyped.

3. Finish a book in one day.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry.  This is a famous childrens book that was translated from French. This is a re-re-re-re-re-read for me.  I adore this book, it's about a little prince who lives on a tiny planet where he tends to a flower and a tree, and he goes on a trip to other planets where he meets many fascinating characters, and he eventually winds up on earth where he learns an important lesson about friendship.

4. Read about a character that is very different from you.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. This is a piece of literary fiction.  It's about a large, blended family from 1960's America. The mom and the dad both have 3 or 4 kids each from previous marriages. The book skips around in time, to when the kids in this large family have grown up. I think the book spans five decades.  I picked this book, because my parents are still married and I don't have any siblings, so it's kind of the opposite of my life.

5. Finish a book completely outdoors

Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson. This is a children's fantasy book about a girl and a boy on a mission to find three magic stones so they can save the world  It sounds like this is an old fashioned children's fantasy, where the good guys a good, the bad guys are bad, and there are plenty of magical creatures to meet along the way. 

6. Read a book you bought because of the cover.

Dracula by Bram Stoker, the OG vampire.. Look how gorgeous and gothic this cover is. So Dracula is a gothic horror novel that takes place in the 1890's.   It's written as a series of letters, and it starts off with an English real estate lawyer who's gone to Transylvania to help with a sale for Count Dracula.  He ends up as a prisoner in Count Dracula's castle.

7.  Read seven books.

I have 6 book listed so far, so for the 7th, I'm going to do a re-read of Nimona, because I think it's hilarious. It's a graphic novel about a girl who has ambitions to become the sidekick to a supervillain.  and it's a graphic novel and I need to be realistic about the volume of books I can actually read in 7 days. 







Monday, June 19, 2017

Kids, Camels, & Cairo by Jill Dobbe

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Kids, Camels & Cairo by Jill Dobbe is a lighthearted memoir about an American family’s experience living and working in Cairo, Egypt for two years. A husband and a wife who were living comfortably in Wisconsin accepted teaching positions together in the same international school in Cairo.  It was their oldest child’s first year in college.  He remained in the State while his parents and younger sister moved to Cairo.

The memoir provides fascinating insights about Egyptian culture.  The memoir especially excels in provide the perspective of an American woman trying to adjust to social limitations a woman faces living in Egypt, and her experiences were often notably and interestingly different from her husband’s. Other insights include Egyptian attitudes on education, cuisine, immigration, and extreme poverty and extreme wealth living together in one country. I appreciate the author openly sharing her observations.

The writing style of the memoir is casual, and portions of the book read like an email from a friend.   It took a while for me to adjust to the casual style, I appreciated Dobbe's down-to-earth and straightforward writing.  For the most part the book is organization chronologically, though the writing is somewhat stream of consciousness, expounding on events out of order if they tie into something that reminded the author of it.  The memoir may have benefitted from being organized by different themes or types of insights.  For example, taking her daughter to Cairo, poverty in Egypt, learning to live in a Muslim county, adjusting as a woman in Cairo, etc.

The year the Dobbe’s moved to Cairo was their daughter’s last year of high school.  This was hard for me to read about, because it did not entirely seem in the daughter’s best interest to be uprooted from her educational and social support in Wisconsin. And it is unclear why the Dobbe’s could not simply wait one more year to work abroad after their daughter completed high school. It was mentioned that at times the daughter would cry in her room in Cairo and did not wish to attend her own graduation in Cairo because she never developed a fondness for the school or her classmates. I must admit this left a sourness for me that hung throughout the book.

The Dobbe’s had several opportunities to travel throughout the region, including the great pyramids and the Red Sea.  It is organization chronologically, though the writing is somewhat stream of consciousness, expounding on events out of order if they tie into something that reminded the author of it.  The memoir may have benefitted from being organized by different themes or types of insights.  For example, taking her daughter to Cairo, poverty in Egypt, learning to live in a Muslim county, adjusting as a woman in Cairo, etc.

The year the Dobbe’s moved to Cairo was their daughter’s last year of high school.  This was hard for me to read about, because it did not entirely seem in the daughter’s best interest to be uprooted from her educational and social support in Wisconsin. And it is unclear why the Dobbe’s could not simply wait one more year to work abroad after their daughter completed high school. It was mentioned that at times the daughter would cry in her room in Cairo and did not wish to attend her own graduation in Cairo because she never developed a fondness for the school or her classmates. I must admit this left a sourness for me that hung throughout the book.

The Dobbe’s had several opportunities to travel throughout the region, including the great pyramids and the Red Sea.  It was a delight to see some photography from their travels.  Kids, Camels and Cairo is recommended to anyone interested in traveling to Egypt and an absolute must read for anyone looking to travel to Egypt to teach.  


I reviewed this book as part of Rosie's Book Review Team.  You can find her book review website here https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/ber.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review of Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love Too by Emily Page

My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love Too by Emily Page is a profoundly raw account of one family’s experience of caring for a father with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).  The story is told from the perspective of an adult daughter (the author) who is caring for her father along with her husband and her mother. The book has three parts.  This first part of the book is much like a traditional memoir, with the author’s experience recounted in a narrative.  The second part of the book reads a bit like a series of journal entries, raw and largely unedited recounts of caring for her father.  The author is an artist, and the third part of the book is a series of paintings she created that out of her caregiving experience.
The author’s love for her father is the greatest testament of this book.  Yes, the author becomes angry, emotionally frayed and anxiety-ridden in the seven years she cared for her father, and sometimes those emotions are even directed at her father.  But she never walks from the situation. Underneath all the difficult emotion was an abundantly present love of a daughter. The first chapter recounts her father’s life before his diagnosis. It’s a beautiful celebration of his life before dementia, including his sense of humor, his extraordinary passion for trains and music, and his time as a First Lieutenant in the Vietnam War.

Frontotemporal dementia is described as disease of a thousand goodbyes, like slowly losing the person you love in stages.  The author writes: 

“When I got home, I, of course, got online and started researching the disease. What I saw was not good. Asshole internet, which so very often lies, refused to lie to me that night. The symptoms all matched: odd social behavior (disinhibition), inability to make changes or follow complicated instructions, heightened emotion, depression. Treatment was aimed at managing symptoms, not slowing or stopping the disease. There were no medications for that. Prognosis: death two to ten years after diagnosis, probably from pneumonia after aspirating food because of muscle failure. Two to ten years. Two to ten years. Two to ten years."
This book leveled me.  I openly wept several times while reading it, especially in the second part of the book that read like a series of mostly unedited journal entries. I learned a great deal about the impact dementia has on a family. I also learned a great deal about how to advocate for someone living with this terrible disease. 

The writing style is casual, and portions of the book read like an email from a friend.   It took a while for me to adjust to the casual style. I very much enoyed the artwork throughout the book.  The author uses images of elephants to portray herself, her father, and dementia itself because “an elephant never forgets” and “An elephant’s faithful 100 percent.”  The book ends with a list of songs, a playlist of the music that was mentioned throughout the book and has a special meaning or memory tied to the author and her father.  Fractures Memories is a must read for anyone who loves or cares for anyone living with dementia. 


I reviewed this book as part of Rosie's Book Review Team.  You can find her book review website here https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review of The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living

by Karl Beckstrand, illustrated by Yaniv Cahoua
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars
The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living is a children’s book for ages 5 and up written by Karl Beckstrand and illustrated by Yaniv Cahoua. Set in the Far East, the book is about a boy who chooses to help others and finds treasure as a result. It begins with “There once was a boy who loved to make things,” and the tone of an old parable is maintained throughout the story.
Beckstrand was inspired to write The Bridge of the Golden Wood after visiting several schools and realizing there was no curriculum provided to young people about ways to earn money. The message from The Bridge of the Golden Wood is a positive one: helping others for free gives you experience, a good reputation, and can lead to an idea for ways to make money. The events in the story are sweet and simple. However, the main character’s particular experience is not be something modern children could re-create for themselves. What pushes the book all the way up to five stars for me is the discussion guide at the end.  Children are guided through ways to look for opportunities in everyday problems and provided examples of ways to earn income by serving others and solving problems.
The Bridge of the Golden Wood is recommended for ages 5 and up.  I read this book with a three-year old and she loved the soft, cheerful illustrations. She was especially interested in the animals in the story.   I do think the money-making lesson largely went over her head, though we did talk about the importance of helping others.  She was also fascinated by some of the mysterious aspects of the parable. I read this book with her knowing the story is targeted towards older readers. Overall, The Bridge of the Golden Wood is a very welcome addition to children’s literature.

I received a copy of this book through Rosie's Book Review Team.