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Penny Thoughtful (Oklahoma)

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The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children
The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children
by Robert Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.16

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The sky is falling! The sky is falling!, Jan. 31 2004
I'll begin with what I like about this book: The chapter called "The Truth and Consequences of Child Care" is a well done illustration of the rock and the hard place parents are driven to today in order to provide for their children while they are very young.
The rest of the book is a suave combination of good advice, observations that should be obvious to anyone, and Chicken Little. Shaw is right that parents who buy their children everything instead of spending time with them are probably going to raise jerks. My guess, though, is that any parent who cares enough to pick up a book about parenting is probably smart enough to figure this out already. Shaw is not right that we are all going to hell in a handbasket. Just look at the title of this book: Epidemic, rot, permissive, plague, joyless, selfish. He's just trying to make money from making people think the world is worse than it actually is.
The biggest problem I have with this book is that Shaw seems to think there is only one acceptable parenting style. No baby should be fed at night beyond six months of age? All two-and-a-half-year-olds should be completely potty trained? Forcing your baby to sleep in a crib when both you and the baby would rather sleep together is necessary? I've got news for Shaw: There's more than one way to raise a kid, and implying that a child is going to be a sociopath just because he's still nursing all night at 18 months (or isn't potty trained at 3, or has a parent who adds "okay?" to the end of sentences, or...) is ridiculous.
There is more than one way to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved child. I'm sure the methods Shaw suggests work for some folks, but all children are different and all parents are different and all families are different.
Take the good stuff away from this book, and take the rest of it with a can of salt. The sky is not falling.

Clean House Clean Planet
Clean House Clean Planet
by Karen Logan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
27 used & new from CDN$ 7.04

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, but redundant, Sept. 29 2003
While I recommend buying this book and trying out all the recipes, I don't recommend going wild all at once like I did.
The basic message of the book is this: Clean your windows and mirrors with plain club soda. Clean everything else with one or more of the following: baking soda, vinegar, Dr. Bronner's soap, or distilled water. The trick is to scent your baking soda or vinegar with a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
The cool thing about the book is that it gives detailed recipes for exactly what proportions of these main ingredients (plus a few others) work best to clean each different thing in your house, and it goes into some detail about what spray and squirt bottles work best, too. It's very practical and useful and I learned some new things from reading it (did you know that in the United States, you can't legally say that tea tree oil is a disinfectant?).
Unfortunately, she does repeat herself a lot, and she encourages you to buy more than you really need. WAY more. You won't save any money at all if you buy all the things she suggests you buy! I would say start out with one gallon of vinegar, one or two boxes of baking soda, one or two essential oils, some distilled water if you don't already have it, and maybe some Dr. Bronner's if you can afford it (you can use regular hand dishwashing liquid for most of these recipes). Spray bottles are nice, too, but I had a hard time finding the right size.
Back to the merits and un-merits of the book: The Table of Contents and the Index are well organized, but the book itself isn't quite so much. It would help so much if the topic headings on each page pointed to what was actually on that page instead of giving a general chapter name. If you're trying to look up a particular recipe, it can take a long time to find.
In conclusion, this is a good book that I definitely recommend buying. I love being able to clean nontoxically and this book is a huge help. I just wish I had bought a lot less stuff at the outset.

Troubling a Star
Troubling a Star
by Madeleine L'Engle
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, April 28 2003
I wanted very much to like this book, especially after having loved A Ring of Endless Light. But Troubling a Star threw me again and again.
First of all, there are way too many characters. Isn't there some sort of rule in writing where you're not supposed to create more characters than your readers can follow? There were dozens and dozens of them, way more than I could keep track of.
Secondly, while the "mystery" in the plot was clever in places and quite good at drawing suspense, it fell all over itself at the end. The "bad guys" turned out to be the Hispanic man and the man with the Texas drawl. Hmm, we're not being stereotypical or anything, are we? The kinks in the story were unnecessarily complicated, and jumped from one point to the next with no apparent connections.
Third, none of the characters are remotely three-dimensional. It's painfully easy to tell which are "good" and which are "bad." If Vicky says, "I instantly knew I could trust him," well, then forget anything bad ever coming from him. L'Engle tries to make a few of the characters, such as Esteban, a little more round, but that effort fails. Okay, so he felt bad about choosing evil over good. Oooooh, characterization! Or not. Vicky herself may be the flattest character of all. What's a high school girl doing in Antarctica anyway? Plus, she is an ordinary-looking, introverted girl who doesn't come on to boys, yet every male under the age of 20 who catches a glimpse of her falls for her madly. Why? How? It's just another example of how unrealistic this story is.
Fourth, the story drags on, and on, and on, with the occasional significant detail buried in a pile of totally insignificant ones. It's annoying to have to go back and read this babble again and again to figure out what's going on.
Finally, there is absolutely no continuity between this story and the previous one! Yes, we all knew she liked Adam best, but what happened to Leo? What about Zachary? Since when does Adam have a rich, amazing great-aunt who happens to live near Vicky? How did we suddenly leap into the post-Soviet world? I think L'Engle would have been better off writing this story as a standalone book rather than as part of the Austin series, because none of it fits with anything that's come before.
I did enjoy reading this book in parts; it was occasionally interesting, touching, and funny. But the bad writing and the insanely frustrating ending ruined it for me. What a disappointing, pointless novel!

Meet the Austins
Meet the Austins
by Madeleine L'Engle
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not THAT good, April 11 2003
I liked this story very much. It is about a quirky, nice, good family and is well worth rereading.
I have only three big complaints about it. Two of them are completely subjective opinions about the Austin family. The other is a complaint about the narrator's writing style. These complaints follow:
1. I think the parents in this family are too strict with their children. To me, there's always a creepy feeling of "do what we say or else we'll hurt you."
2. They are too religious to be held up as a perfect example family for my own personal tastes.
3. The narrator overuses the word AND. It's cute at first, but by the end of the story, my head was throbbing. I wished I could dismiss the word "and" forever, as wonderful a conjunction as it inarguably is. And, and, and, and, and, and, and, and. Shudder.
Overall, though, this is a great book, and I recommend it.

Cosmos
Cosmos
by Carl Sagan
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 29.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, Feb. 8 2003
This review is from: Cosmos (Hardcover)
Carl Sagan was, if this book is any example, an extremely intelligent and caring man. His voice intertwines the stories of history, philosophy, and science, and every sentence is both brilliant and fascinating. But the best thing about Cosmos is that it makes ME feel really smart. I can follow everything Sagan says, even though it's some pretty deep stuff, because he's so good at telling it on the level of the intelligent, interested layman. The last few chapters of the book may seem dated, but they really aren't; the "enemy" has changed but the issues are still the same. I heartily recommend this book for anyone who is the least bit interested in science. It is wonderful!

The Third Life of Grange Copeland
The Third Life of Grange Copeland
by Alice Walker
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a happy book, Feb. 8 2003
This is a beautifully written, eye-opening tale of life for poor blacks in the mid-twentieth-century South. I highly recommend it for lending perspective to the lives of oppressed people. However, it is an EXTREMELY DEPRESSING book, particularly for a white person who wishes her own race to be less horrible to others.

Emily of New Moon
Emily of New Moon
by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Edition: School & Library Binding

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading, Feb. 8 2003
Although Emily has a lot of things in common with Anne--both eleven-year-old orphans who live on Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century--she is a different kind of girl, and hers is a different kind of story. It's great from beginning to end, and the mystery of Ilse's mother had me on the edge of my seat--great suspense. The only thing I didn't like about the story was that it said mean, untrue things about atheists. But I suppose it was a product of its time.

Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays
Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays
by David Sedaris
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
130 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars good, but not that good, Nov. 25 2002
This book would probably receive 5 stars if I were a gay man, but I'm not. Some of it is just a little too harsh for my liking. But it's still very funny and worth the read if you're a Sedaris fan.

Me Talk Pretty One Day
Me Talk Pretty One Day
by David Sedaris
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
144 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars the funniest book EVER, Nov. 25 2002
This review is from: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Paperback)
Don't read this book in public or people will think you're crazy. I laughed so hard when I read "Jesus Shaves" (the story of Easter told by beginning French students) that I almost went into spasms. The entire book is ragingly funny, but the best parts are about how to get along in France when you don't speak French. Read Naked first, then this book.

Naked
Naked
by David Sedaris
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
194 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars so funny it hurts, Nov. 25 2002
This review is from: Naked (Paperback)
This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. David Sedaris has an eye for the absurd details of real life. He's not afraid to make fun of himself or other people, turning sad situations into intensely comic ones. Some of the stories in here are better than others and some of them should have been edited better, but overall, this is book is fantastic. My favorite part is where he's picking apples and his boss, in an attempt to show off his Spanish, yells at one of the workers, "Buenos Dios, Miguel!" The worker jumps and the boss says, "They spook easy, you know." Yes well, that's what happens when you go up behind someone and shout "Good God!"

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