Selected book reviews

I’ve lost track of the various books I’ve been reading over the past few months, but here are some that I can recall…

Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold – This book continues The Sharing Knife series (coming after Beguilement and Legacy), where Dag and Fawn set out on a belated honeymoon journey to the sea. Along the way, they pick up lots of companions, begin trying to educate farmers about Lakewalkers, and meet several challenges. I love Bujold’s books, and this one is no exception.

The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert – The newest offering in the Beatrix Potter mystery series. Beatrix finds a baby on her doorstep, left by a mysterious woman who can jump tall fences and disappear. As the mystery of whose baby this is gets resolved, some interesting new relationships between different characters are forged. Fun, fast read, and it’s not necessary to have read the previous books in the series.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me? by Melanie Bowden – A collection of stories about women and their post-birth experiences, this book shows the variety of challenges that new mothers face, from postpartum depression to non-stop-crying babies to breastfeeding problems. In each chapter, the mothers are refreshingly honest about the struggles they faced and also share things they learned or things they would have done differently. The author wraps up each chapter with a summary (more of an analysis) and some “take home advice.” I read this book a few weeks before giving birth, and I’m thinking of reading it again now that the reality of having a baby has sunk in!

The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins – Plenty of illustrations and practical information about breastfeeding, although I didn’t read the chapters about nursing an adopted baby or multiple children!

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International – This book was about three times as thick as The Nursing Mother’s Companion, because it includes chapters about general parenting issues in addition to breastfeeding. I found that the photos and illustrations were not as helpful as The Nursing Mother’s Companion. I’m doing this from memory, but I think this book came down pretty hard on the idea of “scheduling” a baby. (I’ve noticed that most breastfeeding books I read discourage having a schedule for your baby.)

Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter – If Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is the end-all resource on sleep from infancy to adolescence, Child of Mine is the go-to book for feeding your child from infancy and up. I only read the first few chapters, ending with the chapter about starting solid foods. Ellyn’s main point is that eating is a partnership between the parent and child; the parent cannot force the child to eat. The parent should offer good, nutritious food and a structure for the child to be able to eat; however, it’s then up to the child to actually eat. Ellyn believes that most eating and weight issues with children are a result of an imbalance somewhere in that equation; for example, the parent believes that the child is under- or overweight and thus is trying to force-feed them or stave them. The book offers advice, and plenty of stories, for how to develop a healthy relationship between you, your child, and food.

The Best of Ogden Nash edited by Linell Nash Smith – I’ve always enjoyed the few Ogden Nash poems that I’ve read, so I snatched this up when I saw it in the new books section of the library (and eventually bought it because Steve really liked it, too). I haven’t read this cover-to-cover but have definitely browsed through the majority of the poems. Here are some of our favorite short poems — but don’t worry, there are plenty of longer poems in the collection!

Biological Reflection
A girl whose cheeks are covered with paint
Has an advantage with me over one whose ain’t.

The Cow
The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.

The Duck
Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

Green Babies, Sage Moms by Lynda Fassa – An accessible primer on how to be organic and environmentally-friendly from pregnancy and onward. The end of each chapter has suggestions for implementation at three different levels of commitment. Food, makeup, toys, environment/decor, and every other aspect of raising a child “green” are discussed.

Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin books by M.C. Beaton – I’ve been continuing to work through both series. Agatha Raisin, while rather irritating in the first few books, is slowly growing on me; she’s losing her crusty shell bit by bit as the series develops.

Parking Lot Rules by Tom Sturges – Each short chapter in this book for “raising amazing children” has a parenting tip, or a “rule” — from the Parking Lot Rule, which is to teach your children to pay attention and stay right next to you in the parking lot, to the First Bite, Last Bite rule, which is to teach your child to eat the first bite of whatever new food you offer so that they can get the last bite of every other dish that they want (such as your yummy dessert), to The Truth Reduces the Punishment by 90% Rule (which is pretty self-explanatory). Tom stresses respect throughout the book, and these rules both help you to treat your child with respect as well as to teach your children to respect you and others. I liked many of the ideas in this book and will probably be checking it out from the library again in the future to review his tips.

SPQR X: A Point of Law by John Maddox Roberts – Our library doesn’t have many of Roberts’ Roman mystery books, which makes me sad, because I enjoyed reading this one (#10 in the series, and it’s not necessary to have read previous books). I picked this up after reading a good review on Orson Scott Card’s blog and have requested all other books available in my library system.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale – Another enjoyable book from Shannon Hale. Dashti is a maid to Lady Saren, who has been condemned to live bricked up in a tower for seven years for refusing to marry the man her father has picked out for her. Great storytelling; I wasn’t familiar with the fairy tale that this was based on, so I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story.

The Lull-a-Baby Sleep Plan by Cathrin Tobin – This book’s premise is that there is a “window of opportunity” when a baby is 2-4 months old for them to learn to sleep through the night. The book discusses the physiological signs that indicate your baby is ready and presents some specific suggestions for how to lull your baby to sleep.

Runemarks by Joanne Harris – Maddy Smith was born with a strange birthmark — a runemark — in a world where the old Norse Gods are dead. Or are they? This fantasy novel, written for children, was wonderfully hefty (but not too hefty) for this adult, but the ending left me a bit unsatisfied (perhaps because it’s set up for a sequel).

With a bookmark: (Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • Eating in the Dark by Kathleen Hart
  • Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample
  • Sacred Attitudes by Erica Ross-Krieger
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

In the library book box:

  • Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells
  • Herbs by Patricia S. Michalak
  • Garden Watering Systems by Sunset Books
  • A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology by Jim Endersby
  • The Strayed Sheep of Charun by John Maddox Roberts
  • The River God’s Vengeance by John Maddox Roberts
  • Conan the Valorous by John Maddox Roberts
  • Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden by M.C. Beaton
  • Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryham by M.C. Beaton
  • Agatha Raisin and the Love From Hell by M.C. Beaton
  • Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came by M.C. Beaton
  • An Ocean of Air by Gabrielle Walker
  • Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
  • Courage for the Earth by various authors

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