Sunday, December 20, 2015

*Mail Call* December 14-18

Another week is over and because there are more packages coming overseas and actually being picked up in a timely fashion due to the holidays, it was a pretty good week for my book mail.

Untangled by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. 

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Lisa Damour, Ph.D., director of the internationally renowned Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, pulls back the curtain on the teenage years and shows why your daughter’s erratic and confusing behavior is actually healthy, necessary, and natural. Untangled explains what’s going on, prepares parents for what’s to come, and lets them know when it’s time to worry.

In this sane, highly engaging, and informed guide for parents of daughters, Dr. Damour draws on decades of experience and the latest research to reveal the seven distinct—and absolutely normal—developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups, including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. Providing realistic scenarios and welcome advice on how to engage daughters in smart, constructive ways, Untangled gives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions, including

• My thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes when I try to talk to her, and only does it more when I get angry with her about it. How should I respond?
• Do I tell my teen daughter that I’m checking her phone?
• My daughter suffers from test anxiety. What can I do to help her?
• Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?
• My teenage daughter wants to know why I’m against pot when it’s legal in some states. What should I say?
• My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know? 

Perhaps most important, Untangled helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters. When parents know what makes their daughter tick, they can embrace and enjoy the challenge of raising a healthy, happy young woman.

Greedy Bones by Carolyn Haines

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Sarah Booth Delaney, a Southern belle known for abiding by tradition only when it suits her, is no stranger to drama. A talented actress and a P.I., she’s chosen to pursue a career in Hollywood when she hears that her best friend’s husband is suddenly on his deathbed back home in Mississippi---and he's not the only one. The vicious illness begins with burning fevers and delirium, quickly plunging its victims into a coma. The Centers for Disease Control is on the scene, but they can’t find a cure for it or the boll weevils that are decimating Sunflower County’s cotton crop. With patients in quarantine and the whole town in crisis, Sarah drops everything to stop the outbreak and save the only place she’s ever been able to call home.

From feuding scientists to ailing locals, there is no shortage of bad blood coursing through the little town of Zinnia, Mississippi, as Carolyn Haines’s often steamy and always charming series turns equally intense in Greedy Bones.

Breaking In by Joan Biskupic

Photo Credit: Goodreads

"I knew she'd be trouble."

So quipped Antonin Scalia about Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court's annual end-of-term party in 2010. It's usually the sort of event one would expect from such a grand institution, with gentle parodies of the justices performed by their law clerks, but this year Sotomayor decided to shake it up—flooding the room with salsa music and coaxing her fellow justices to dance.

It was little surprise in 2009 that President Barack Obama nominated a Hispanic judge to replace the retiring justice David Souter. The fact that there had never been a nominee to the nation's highest court from the nation's fastest growing minority had long been apparent. So the time was ripe—but how did it come to be Sonia Sotomayor?

In Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice, the veteran journalist Joan Biskupic answers that question. This is the story of how two forces providentially merged—the large ambitions of a talented Puerto Rican girl raised in the projects in the Bronx and the increasing political presence of Hispanics, from California to Texas, from Florida to the Northeast—resulting in a historical appointment. And this is not just a tale about breaking barriers as a Puerto Rican. It's about breaking barriers as a justice.

Biskupic, the author of highly praised judicial biographies of Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, now pulls back the curtain on the Supreme Court nomination process, revealing the networks Sotomayor built and the skills she cultivated to go where no Hispanic has gone before. We see other potential candidates edged out along the way. And we see how, in challenging tradition and expanding our idea of a justice (as well as expanding her public persona), Sotomayor has created tension within and without the court's marble halls.

As a Supreme Court justice, Sotomayor has shared her personal story to an unprecedented degree. And that story—of a Latina who emerged from tough times in the projects not only to prevail but also to rise to the top—has even become fabric for some of her most passionate comments on matters before the Court. But there is yet more to know about the rise of Sonia Sotomayor. Breaking In offers the larger, untold story of the woman who has been called "the people's justice."

Jolt by Roberta M. Roy

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Roberta M Roy’s Jolt: a rural noir is the passionate and thrilling story of a town’s struggle for survival in the face of a mass emigration following a nuclear disaster. Fleeing dirty bombs and a meltdown,Newcomers overrun a small mountain village in an imaginary part of the northern USA. In need of decontamination, clothing, food, water, shelter, and medical care, they turn the lives of town residents and the estranged loversThaw and Natalie in new directions.

Fritz Fombie Have No Fear by T.E. Antonino

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Fannie’s a fourth grader with a problem. She’s afraid of so many things that she keeps a list of fears on her bedroom door. She’s scared of the dentist. She’s scared when her parents leave for the weekend and she has to deal with mean babysitter, Buz, and she’s terrified of telling cute Frank Oliver how she feels about him. But more than anything, she’s scared of Stink Warts the Horrible.

Stink Warts is the monster who might live under Fannie’s bed. She feeds him leftovers at night in case he exists.

One horrible week, Fannie learns the school is having a sock hop. If she doesn’t talk to Frank now, nasty Priscilla Nettles will. To make matters worse, Fannie’s parents are taking a trip, which means Buz will bully her all weekend.

Scared, Fannie accidently calls upon the great powers of the universe, which send Fritz Fombie. This young zombie helps Fannie confront her worst fears—starting with his pet, a monster named Stink Warts. 

A lighthearted tale of facing your fears, Fritz FomBie Have No Fear mixes suspense and humor to keep eight- to thirteen-year-olds laughing and on the edge of their seats.

The Parallel Place by Cheryl Skory Suma

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Melissa, Michael and Annabelle were each separated from their parents as infants. Our story begins where they now live, together in an orphanage in northern Canada in the 1600's. Discovering a strange kinship, they have become true friends, and support one another. But why do they feel they are meant to be somewhere else? Is this where they truly belong?

Then a mysterious event occurs, transporting them to another land called Habitan, a magical place where anything and everything is possible if you believe and strive hard enough. In Habitan, sorcery, magic, and powers 'of the mind' abound. Animals talk, and the spirit of the woods is alive. While in Habitan, the children join forces with three animal guides, encounter a wicked sorceress named 'Oskana', and embark on an adventure to discover their true heritage and destiny.

Can they develop their innate powers and magical gifts soon enough to protect themselves and to help the Good of Habitan? Will they be reunited with their parents again? Who can they really trust? How can they save Habitan from the tyranny of Oskana's rule? Finally, how do the events on Habitan affect the Parallel Place, the 'earth' they grew up on?

The children discover that they may be Habitan’s last hope for salvation from the evil sorceress Oskana. They face challenges and surprising twists along the way, all while also developing their own innate gifts and magic. As they begin the path to finding their own inner strength, they learn how to face unbearable odds with determination and courage, standing up for what is right despite the possible personal costs. 

Static Push by Richard Horsley

Photo Credit: Goodreads

When the team of scientists at Dennison Industries makes an unexpected discovery, they realise that their fledgling technology has far greater possibilities than they could have imagined.

The Push isn't just new, it changes everything. Expanding our horizons. Setting the human race free. Unshackling us from the confines of Earth.

But when probes start to go missing while exploring the far reaches of our solar system, the team begin to realise that something else is watching. Something ancient and patient. And as they race to come to terms with this revelation, they discover that freedom was never something we were meant to have.

We were shackled for a reason.

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

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Nearly seventy-five years ago, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi became the first child diagnosed with autism. Beginning with his family’s odyssey, In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism—by liberating children from dank institutions, campaigning for their right to go to school, challenging expert opinion on what it means to have autism, and persuading society to accept those who are different.

It is the story of women like Ruth Sullivan, who rebelled against a medical establishment that blamed cold and rejecting “refrigerator mothers” for causing autism; and of fathers who pushed scientists to dig harder for treatments. Many others played starring roles too: doctors like Leo Kanner, who pioneered our understanding of autism; lawyers like Tom Gilhool, who took the families’ battle for education to the courtroom; scientists who sparred over how to treat autism; and those with autism, like Temple Grandin, Alex Plank, and Ari Ne’eman, who explained their inner worlds and championed the philosophy of neurodiversity.

This is also a story of fierce controversies—from the question of whether there is truly an autism “epidemic,” and whether vaccines played a part in it; to scandals involving “facilitated communication,” one of many treatments that have proved to be blind alleys; to stark disagreements about whether scientists should pursue a cure for autism. There are dark turns too: we learn about experimenters feeding LSD to children with autism, or shocking them with electricity to change their behavior; and the authors reveal compelling evidence that Hans Asperger, discoverer of the syndrome named after him, participated in the Nazi program that consigned disabled children to death.

By turns intimate and panoramic, In a Different Key takes us on a journey from an era when families were shamed and children were condemned to institutions to one in which a cadre of people with autism push not simply for inclusion, but for a new understanding of autism: as difference rather than disability.

And that's all the books that I got in the mail this week. This weeks theme is a little harder to notice, but if anything, I think it's non-fiction including a book about autism, a book about Sonia Sotomayor, and a book about helping teenage girls transition into well adjusted women. I'm even incredibly excited to read all three of those books (even though my daughter is only four at the moment), and I don't usually get that excited about non-fiction books in general. Which of the books I got in the mail this week are you most interested in reading my review of? - Katie

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