“You turned your house over to what is essentially a mentally ill dwarf with destructively nihilistic tendencies and no artistic merit.” Your Children Are Boring: or How Modern Parents Ruin Everything is filled with meme-able gems such as this quote. This humorous book is filled with incisive and funny observations on parents, children and humanity in general. Tom James provides an unabashed view of parenting in contemporary society. The tone and humor is reminiscent of the late great author Douglas Adams with his witty views of humanity or the comedian George Carlin, which is funny because I had this thought before seeing a quote from George Carlin in the book.
Each chapter begins with a quote about parenting or children from famous or revered people. This sets the tone for the short chapters and prepares readers for what they are about to dive into. There were many lines that made me literally laugh out loud. A good majority of the book felt perceptive and jocular, while a few times the text felt didactic, but all together felt fun. I’m a parent and can relate to a lot of the observations made and agree with the overall point of the book. Author Tom James makes this point in several clever and well researched ways. One of my favorites was the list of people with parents, at the top of the list was Saddam Hussein, contrasted with the list of people without parents, topping the list with Jane Austen and Francis Bacon.
If you have a good sense of humor, or at least you are not offended by the idea that your child may not be special, then you will certainly enjoy the humor found throughout this sharp examination of kids and parenting. Your Children Are Boring is a short and amusing book that challenges society’s modern view of parenting.
Pages: 98 | ASIN: B084KQXP53
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Unbecoming follows a woman who goes on a spiritual walk through the Australian bush to come to terms with her age and where she’s at in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The midlife turning point in my own life as well as the empty nest has come at a time when the future of the planet is under threat because of climate change. The world we birthed our children into 20 years ago is not the world they have inherited. So I sent my main character out of her comfort zone and into the wild to reconnect with the elements and with other women, whose stories and truths are a balm against the uncertainties of tomorrow.
Jo’s character was relatable and felt authentic. Did you pull anything from real life to inform her character?
Yes – Jo is based on me, as Frank is based on my husband, and the kids are loosely based on my kids. Unbecoming can be read as the third in a trilogy of books on motherhood (Secret Mothers’ Business and The Reunion precede it) and all three books have been based on real evenings, weekends and experiences I have had with groups of women.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Climate change, elderhood, menopause, letting go of our adult children, the wisdom of nature, ordinary women as heroes, and mortality.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just completed working on a comic novel called Gagman with my 81 year old father, Dov Fedler (a political cartoonist) about an inmate in the concentration camps who survives by telling jokes to the commandant. It is currently with my literary agent and publishers www.gagmanmedia.com.
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Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck provides practical advice for parents who feel overwhelmed by misbehaving kids. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I was a reluctant parent and reformed yeller. I felt my journey toward discovering how to become a better parent, break traditional parenting patterns we’ve used for generations and let go of worry and control that doesn’t serve you or your child would be immensely helpful for other parents to know. My methods are counterintuitive, even unorthodox, but they work and I wanted to share them with as many parents as I could to ease their stress and free up children to become who the individuals they are meant to be.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you before having kids?
That parenting is layered and nuanced when you are doing it right. Parenting is about us as the parent, not fixing our child’s behavior. We’re taught that we’re bad parents if we can’t change the child. The truth is, and no one tells us this, that to save the child we have to change us, not control the child. Changing us requires specific awareness that leads us to the parenting mindset that creates harmony in the home.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about parenting?
That punishment and restriction corrects behavior. Restriction creates rebellion. Parents feel they are doing the right thing when they punish or restrict, but the opposite is true.
What is the single biggest challenge you’ve personally faced as a parent and how did you overcome it?
How to let go of control and see my children as ‘adults in training’. With that perspective, I was able to create partnership parenting techniques that formed a foundation of true respect and built relationships of lifelong trust with my kids. This mindset led to developing children who are independent-minded, self-directed and happy!
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Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love–I stand by those words. It is rewarding beyond measure. But it is terribly and undeniably difficult on the best of days. Not one of us is born knowing how to properly raise another human being to become a productive and happy member of society, and it takes a new level of concentration and determination to get our children to that point. Every decision we make is tempered and, if you are like me–second and even third-guessed. Sue Donnellan has gifted parents everywhere with the most common-sense guide on parenting to date.
Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck: The Non-Conformist Playbook to Raising Happy Kids Without Public Meltdowns, Power Struggles, & Punishments, by Sue Donnellan, is the parenting guide we all never knew we needed but cannot live without. After reading Donnellan’s book cover to cover, I understand myself and my parenting choice much more clearly. Unfortunately, I see myself in the author’s examples of struggling parents and not in her advice. I truly wish I had had this guidebook when my 18 and 19 year olds were in middle school–so many sanity-saving tips offered up by Donnellan.
Donnellan is not only brutally honest, but she is consistent with her advice. So many parenting tips feel iffy; they waver between doing what works and doing what’s comfortable. I have always hated taking the time to read a parenting book or blog only to find the author essentially wants you to become your child’s equal and talk incessantly about feelings in the midst of a full-blown terrible-twos tantrum. Donnellan knows what’s real–she knows how to get to the heart of the matter without giving in and giving up one’s role as the parent.
I love that the author focuses most on changing ourselves and allowing the ensuing changes in our children to happen naturally. This is common sense–why have I not seen it in my 19 years of parenting?
From handling our own feelings of guilt to allowing our children an occasional curse word but not allowing them to call anyone stupid, Donnellan covers all of parenting’s most pressing questions. Speaking of guilt, I am guilty of wanting to become too involved in solving my children’s problems. Donnellan has set me straight–on this and many other issues I have been battling with my young adults.
I am giving Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck: The Non-Conformist Playbook to Raising Happy Kids Without Public Meltdowns, Power Struggles, & Punishments, by Sue Donnellan, a powerful shout-it-from-the-rooftops 5 out of 5 stars! Every parent needs to be introduced to Donnellan and her common sense approach to parenting. Best friends, mothers, co-workers, and neighbors, add Donnellan’s book to your baby shower to-do list–you will make a difference in their lives for which your loved ones will always be grateful.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B08VDZD9SM
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Golden Throat: My Journey with Faith in Family by Paul Francis Bickert is a heartwarming memoir full of valuable life lessons. Golden Throat is the life story of Canadian news broadcaster Paul Francis Bickert. He walks us through his family tree and faith by sharing stories of their lives from the time they are born and into adulthood. Bickert demonstrates through his stories the importance of faith and how it can help bring us together and thrive no matter your sector of Christianity. If you’re looking for a book to lift your spirits, Golden Throat is a must-read!
Bickert is a genius when it comes to tantalizing descriptions! He takes small but crucial details and crafts them into beautiful descriptive sentences. Information that would otherwise seem mundane takes on a certain romanticism that I adored! His descriptions of the Candian Prairie were some of my favorites. Even if his story does not interest you, his writing style will keep you engaged throughout this emotionally-charged memoir.
I also want to touch on the uniqueness of the narrative flow of this memoir. Unlike many memoirs, Golden Throat does not solely focus on the author’s life experiences and story, but it also delves into his family’s. At the beginning of the book, we mainly focus on the upbringing of his parents and gain some insight into his grandparents. It was almost like the real-life version of a fictional family saga series. This unique approach is one of the main draws of this book for me.
And last but certainly not least, I want to touch on one of the most important lessons this book conveys. Bickert’s take on acceptance and unity despite diversity is a message that is much needed in today’s time. His thoughtful and experienced approach to the subject was sincere, genuine, and thought-provoking. Even if you are not a believer, this powerful message still stands.
Golden Throat: My Journey with Faith in Family by Paul Francis Bickert is an impassioned story of an intriguing family, and life, told in the most riveting way. Paul Francis Bickert has created a fantastic non-fiction book much deserving of its Plume Award for Literary Excellence. It’s a book that will soothe your soul.
Pages: 368 | ASIN: B08TTT2341
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A remarkable love story that pulls on your heartstrings and leaves you inspired. A page turner that gives a first hand look into the lives of a young couple madly in love and eager to start their lives together, only to have it all halted by a cancer diagnosis. With no clear road map on how to navigate their new normal, James and Anabel proceed into uncharted territory, hand-in-hand, with the love of their families and their faith in God to guide them.
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Rabbit in the Moon, by Heather Diamond, is a gripping account of her life, a forty something woman and her husband Fred, who is from right outside of metropolitan Hong Kong. The memoir tracks her life starting from Texas, to Hawaii, to Hong Kong and then to the Continental US. Starting with how she meets her future husband at a conference in Hawaii, it explores the ups and downs of her relationship and her own life.
The writing style is engaging. Even though it’s an account of a real life, with no plot twists or cliff-hangers, yet the book manages to keep you gripped and is hard to put down. The language is simple and easy to understand yet descriptive enough to take you to the place the author talks about.
The emphasis on underlying themes is brought out beautifully without letting it hijack the entire narration. This is an engaging and impassioned memoir that touches on intercultural marriage but is about so much more. Other themes explored are the importance of family, contrasting the culture of America and Hong Kong, most importantly living life and bearing its ups and downs with bravery and courage. It is a thought-provoking book about new beginnings, and finding a path in life no matter the age. The fascinating mid-life reinventions of this forty something year old woman is what kept me back to this book again and again.
The overall tone of the book is humble. There is no room for harshness, being self-critical or setting unrealistic expectations. It presents the bare thought and emotions without trying to cross over any moral bar. Memoirs can often get preachy, but I really enjoyed how Heather Diamond’s story simply conveys her life journey, as it happened, as unbiased as possible. There is a certain softness yet courage to the overall tone that makes you connect to Heather, which is the best part about the book.
Rabbit in the Moon is a compelling memoir that will appeal to anyone looking for a heartwarming true story of a cross-cultural relationship and the candid reactions of a woman who takes it all on with vigor.
Pages: 203 | ASIN: B08VNSB71D
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Seeds in the Desert Wind is the final book in the trilogy of The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz. Did Jamie’s story end the way you had imagined when you first started writing the trilogy or did it change while writing?
As I wrote chapter one of “Tumbleweed and Dreams” (book one), I knew that Jaime would by logical extension of the region have interactions with the ranching community. I had no notion that he would be taken in by the ranching family that “adopts” him. In fact, I recall early in the book after the Cardona’s explain who the rancher is that Jaime sees in the grocery store, Jaime writes that little did he know how intertwined their lives would become. When I wrote those words, the author also had no idea how the lives would be intertwined. Somehow, I just knew they would.
It wasn’t until near the end of book one that I knew I wanted to keep the story going—that there was much more to tell.
What were some things you learned as a writer after completing this trilogy?
I learned just how hard it is to work with a dialogue heavy story and keep it from being tedious as you work to keep track of who is speaking to whom. While I could have let Jaime tell more of the story, I felt to do so only robbed the characters of what made them endearing to me (and I hope my readers).
If you had to cast characters for a movie version of your novel, who would play the leads?
None come to mind though I can see Jane Lynch (coach on Glee) making a pretty convincing Sallie. I would hope for a very strong casting director who really “got” the book to find relative unknowns well-suited to the peculiarities of each character. Particularly, in the case of Sallie, Billy and Ernesto, the match of physique and personality is integral to defining their character as well as the musical talents needed for Jaime, Billy and Ernesto.
Do you have plans to continue this story in a different book or will you start a new book?
If I write more based on these characters, I’d like to do so from the perspective of Sallie’s memoirs where she takes us back to the early days of the ranch and how her parents shaped her life as well as bring the readers along up to the present.
If I live long enough, I’d love pick up the story with Noah as the narrator and lead us through his grandparents and great aunt’s death as well as putting up with the two old men, Billy and Jaime, that share the ranch life with him.
Regarding possible other works in other locales, I shall have to wait and see if inspiration comes.
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