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review 2017-08-17 03:18
Now Habit
The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play (Audio) - Gildan Author,Neil A. Fiore

 

If you have a choice between listening to the audio version of this or reading the text version?  Go for the text.  This is definitely an instance where the author should not have read his own work.  Think equal parts William Shatner, B-movie hypnotist, and narrator of a 1950s filmstrip designed to be watched by eighth graders when they have a substitute for science class.  I was tempted to quit this book as soon as it started because of the narration--but the topic inspired me to stick with it.  I did check my library's catalog for a text version.  No ebook, and the one print copy they have was due back in April.  So apparently, the patron who checked out this book on overcoming procrastination had been procrastinating on returning it for almost four months.

 

I think the techniques Fiore describes for transforming from a procrastinator to a "producer" are solid.  Since I've only just completed the book, I haven't been able to implement them extensively, but I've already begun to apply some approaches, such as doing 30-minute chunks of focused work.  I really wish I had this book before I undertook my doctoral dissertation.  I would have used his "unschedule" to build in recreational and restorative activities and realistic blocks of work time, instead of living under the thrall of "I should be working on my dissertation" at all times.

 

Although there are useful approaches to be gleaned from the book, at times I felt the author was being overly repetitious.  And as an example of the disadvantage of listening to this in audio format, there was a section where he went through a few different guided relaxations, one right after another.  They were all very similar (read REPETITION) to one another--and one feature a SOLID TWO MINUTES OF SILENCE.  I even checked my player to make sure the battery hadn't died.  At the conclusion of the two minutes, he came back with, "Did that feel like two minutes?"  Nope, it felt like an eternity.  I really think for the purposes of the audiobook, that part should have been moved to the end as an appendix.  

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-08-16 12:07
Books&Chai Series: 6 Reasons I Fell in Love with Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker
Raptor Red - Robert T. Bakker

 

Introduction to the Book

My friends already know how crazy I am when it comes to fiction based on dinosaurs. I have been known to wax poetic about such books.

In this book, however, Bakker takes facts about dinosaur life and weaves them into a story. So, it is like reading fictionalized non-fiction!

 

Introduction to the Chai

Now that you have had your book intro, let me proceed by introducing you to another series of blog posts: Books&Chai. Whenever I post with this tag, you will find a book from a genre that goes beautifully with the featured flavor of chai (tea).

Black tea, which is the flavor featured in this post, is known to improve concentration and focus. Since I was reading a book about a very intelligent species, the Utahraptor, I decided black tea would be a smart choice!

 

 

Reasons for all that Book-Luvin’

Now, we move on to the six reasons that made for an awesome read:

 

The Humor

If you have been following this blog, you must know now that for me, humor is an important part in a book. In any book! The more unlikely it seems that the author might be able to create humorous situations (say, like in a book from a bloodthirsty monster’s POV), the more I appreciate it!

 

I found the two examples from Raptor Red funny as heck!

 

 

 

The Sciency Bits

You can’t have a good fact-based book without some science in it. For me, catching glimpses of the science while being embroiled in Red’s latest adventure was a lot of fun!

This particular quote is from a scene when a male raptor comes face to face with a field of red flowers. What’s more, they smell like rotten meat, which the raptor considers food. This kinda blows up its sensory perception temporarily. Faced with such an evocative color, it doesn’t know whether it is supposed to court the blooms, fear them, or eat them!

 

 

This quote is from a scene where Red sees a turtle for the first time. The whole scene was written well enough to have me go Awww and Lol in turns.

 

 

The Dino-Facts

I am aware that I could have included these in the sciency bits mentioned above. But, no! These facts were juicy enough to merit their own category. Snippets of how life used to be for different kinds of dinos gave the book an authenticity.

 

This quote explains how after speciation (birth of a new species from an old one) Utahraptor society had adopted a matriarchal structure.

 

 

This one is about how two completely different species banded together for survival. One of them had longer necks that enabled them to check for predators over a wider area. The other one contributed by their sheer numbers.

 

 

The Poetic Language

I am a sucker for when a scientists takes a theory or fact and describes it with beautiful language.

 

 

The Squicky Bits

Another favorite. There was a bit about how dangerous assassin bugs could be to the raptors. I looked them up and science (and class Insecta) did not disappoint!

 

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Ferocious Bug That Sucks Prey Dry and Wears Their Corpses

 

 

…wears their corpses. I mean corpses! Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude!

 

A Mixture of it All

The example below is an unholy combo of all the reasons that I have mentioned above. Watch them in action:

 

 

Lastly,

 

 

What do you think about the book? Do you like the new tag that this review is sporting?

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text 2017-08-14 23:53
Martin Edwards Haul
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards
The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards
Silent Night: Christmas Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards
Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards,Various Authors
Capital Crimes: London Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards,Various Authors
Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards,Various Authors

I swear, I really only opened my wishlist to order
"The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books" ... (sigh).

 

 

Oh, wait, that would have been last year.  Now it's more like

 

Yey!!

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review 2017-08-11 20:29
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum
"Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity - Beverly Daniel Tatum

This is an informative book about the racial aspect of identity development. I am giving it a mild recommendation because I did not find it life-changing. But despite being a book about social issues published in 1997 (with an updated edition in 2003), it has maintained relevance. It is primarily geared toward parents and teachers, with a focus on child and adolescent identity development: how to raise non-white children in the U.S. with a healthy sense of themselves, and how to raise white children to speak out against racism. Because of the smattering of angry reviews, it’s also worth pointing out that the book is geared toward those who acknowledge that racism is an existing problem that affects people of color, and would like to improve their understanding or learn to do more about it.

Beverly Tatum is a college professor and administrator with a background in psychology and extensive experience teaching workshops about race, and also a black woman who’s put careful thought into teaching her sons about race. The book has a detached, somewhat scholarly tone, though it remains accessible and readable. The author compiles several theoretical models for racial identity development and illustrates them with examples from students, workshop participants, and her own life. In general I found the information she provides helpful, not earth-shattering for someone relatively familiar with social justice issues, but not too basic either.

The book does mostly focus on black and white, though the author makes an effort to expand from that. There are 10-page sections about Hispanic, Native American, and Asian-American identity, which are more substantial than I expected based on their brevity, but lack space to do more than summarize these groups’ experience with American government and society, and flag some key issues relevant to grade school teachers. Unsurprisingly, the portion of the book dealing with African-American identity is the richest. It’s useful – and probably necessary – for teachers and others to understand what kids are experiencing.

In writing about white people, the author is familiar with common racial attitudes, and explains them in terms of a growth model even though many people get stuck somewhere along the way (the same of course can be said for black people): from not having to think about race, to blaming minorities for their situation, to white guilt, to hopefully speaking out against racism in a productive way. Her analysis of the reasons white people are afraid to speak out seems dated to me (suggesting that fear of ostracism from other white people is a major factor, while de-emphasizing fear of putting one’s foot in one’s mouth because white people aren’t taught to talk about race). But otherwise the book’s analysis of race relations feels contemporary.

The author’s conception of a positive white racial identity is also incomplete, though as a black person, this isn’t really her job. She believes (and I have doubts about this) that positive change requires white people having a strong, positive racial identity of their own: including whiteness as a major part of their self-conception without being racist. But as far as she gets in envisioning what that looks like is suggesting that white people look to other white people who have fought racism, and build anti-racist identities. The problem is that opposing racism is a social position, not an identity, and most people are not activists who build their lives around their opinions. Ultimately it’s for white people to determine what white identity looks like, though, so I can’t fault the author for failing to do so.

At any rate, this book is informative and the actual text is only just over 200 pages, so it’s worth a read if you’re interested in the subject. It isn't a book that inspired any strong reaction in me, but I feel a bit more knowledgeable for having read it.

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review 2017-08-11 15:47
The man behind the spider and the mouse
Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White - Melissa Sweet

Up til this point, I could most likely count the number of biographies written for children that I've read. Actually I could probably count how many biographies in total I've ever read because I have to admit biographies in general not my favorite genre. However, there are always exceptions and every now and again there are people who I find intriguing enough to seek out more information about them. Last year I read My Ears Are Bent which included different excerpts from The New Yorker along with background on the magazine itself. I discovered from this book just how much of the writing was done by E.B. White. (You might recognize him from such things as Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.) This piqued my interest in White but I had so many other things on my TRL that I somewhat forgot about him until I saw Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet pop up as a recommended read. I think E.B. White would have heartily approved of this biography even though he was an intensely private, low-key individual. This book delivered not only on giving me the biography that I was looking for but also offering up beautiful mixed media layouts which make it more accessible to children.  His approach to writing and his proliferation of works is fascinating and astonishing. Sweet manages to educate the reader about his works but she also manages to paint a portrait of a writer that was passionate about his craft, his family, and his farm. She does this almost from the start. This book is great if you want to learn more about E.B. White yourself or if you want to introduce your kids to biographies. It's easily accessible and the layout is beautiful. Quick, fun read that I'd recommend for reluctant biography readers (like myself). 10/10

 

To give you a taste of what I mean about the mixed media approach:

 

Source: NPR

Source: NPR

 

What's Up Next: Brian Selznick Masterpost including The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Marvels, and Wonderstruck

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Alice by Christina Henry

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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