Archive for March, 2012

The Book of New Family Traditions

March 31, 2012

Cox, Meg. The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday. Running Pr. May 2003. c.128p. ISBN 0-7624-1442-1. pap. $12.95. SELF-HELP

Cox (The Heart of a Family: Searching America for New Traditions That Fulfill Us) packs her book with simple, encouraging ideas for getting back to the basics of family life. Establishing rituals is not always quick and easy; some of these ideas are time-consuming, but they are uniformly peppy and easy for committed readers to absorb. Though free rein is afforded creative readers, basic recipes for creating rituals abound. The first of four topical sections, “Holidays,” is arranged by date and suggests ideas for adding zing to the holidays (like celebrating Big Bird’s birthday on the first day of spring). Sections then focus on “Family Festivities and Ceremonies” (e.g., birthdays or special school days, travel, and vacation), “Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Rituals” (e.g., mealtime grace, full-moon walks, and kids cook night), and “Rites of Passage” (like graduations). Like Julie Tallard Johnson’s The Thundering Years: Rituals and Sacred Wisdom for the Journey into Adulthood, this is a great choice for public libraries. Highly recommended.

This book was reviewed in Library Journal. 128.9 (May 15, 2003): p107; the galley was shredded on March 30, 2012.


Cell 8

March 29, 2012

Roslund, Anders & Börge Helström. Cell 8. Silver Oak. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781402787157. $24.95. F
This confusing, murky, and totally compelling stunner from the authors of 3 Seconds centers on a hopelessly romantic Swedish cop with a catastrophically disabled wife. No wait, it chronicles an American murderer on death row in Ohio. Hang on—it’s about a reanimated corpse that rises to kill again! Actually, it’s all this and more. While most thrillers are constructed so that two disparate stories collide, here the multiple threads are so distinct that for the first 90 pages they can only be considered parallel stories. By page 91, however, they are inextricably bound. The authors keep readers wondering who the protagonist actually is, or if perhaps the villain is the same guy. Is it the vigilante lounge singer who goes batshit within 48 hours of his arrest? The hippopotamus rider from 1971? Or a cop, for instance Swedish Detective Superintendant Ewert Grens, the unlikeliest singing detective since Cop Rock? The continual roll and thrum of the plot teases readers onward; before you know it, five minutes of bedtime reading have turned into an insomniac episode straight out of The Twilight Zone. Well written, even strangely believable, the experience is slightly disorienting, akin to watching your favorite TV show but with different actors portraying the usual characters.
So…why should dudes read it? It’s like a torte; the layers are all good but so different. Great ride.


This review appeared in Books for Dudes at Library Journal on February 21, 2012. The galley was shredded on March 29, 2012.

Dating the Greek Gods: Empowering Spiritual Messages on Sex and Love, Creativity and Wisdom

March 28, 2012

As in his previous Finding the Boyfriend Within, Gooch aims this guide at gay men interested in self-discovery. Readers explore characteristics within themselves that are associated with particular Greek gods (e.g., the wisdom of Apollo, the romance of Eros). “All these Greek gods are really different role models,” writes Gooch, each with qualities worth considering. Chapters deal with individual gods (e.g., Hermes, the communicator) and identify how readers can develop traits similar to that god’s with a little practice. Aside from an aimless chapter on Dionysus, this thematic approach works well. Some advice is unremarkable, feeling rehashed in light of whatever deity is under consideration (“Changing spending patterns based on balance is an Apollonian version of balancing your checkbook”), and Gooch assumes a good deal of willful intent on the part of readers who must do the work. For spiritual self-help that fosters partnering with the Judeo-Christian God, readers might consider Mary Manin Morrissey’s No Less Than Greatness: The Seven Spiritual Principles That Make Real Life Possible. Of obvious interest to gay collections, this is an optional purchase for medium and large public libraries.


This review appeared in Library Journal, 128.12 (July 2003): p109. The galley was recycled on March 28, 2012.

Toward Commitment: A Diologue About Marriage

March 27, 2012

John B. Rehm is a retired attorney, while radio personality Diane Rehm authored Finding My Voice. Together they have been working at their marriage long enough (43 years!) to make it look easy. Like everyone, they started out “with gross ignorance” of themselves and each other. Through devoted, sometimes dogged commitment to each other, they found that “marriage-or any long-term relationship-is a never-ending process of exploration and growth.” The reader becomes a fly on the wall during the couple’s discussions of some 25 topics (e.g., food, sex, commitment) in individual and then mutual conversation. These transcriptions tastefully make public the very private and often profound musings, reflections, and wisdom of two intelligent people who have been through life and now know something about it. Readers should listen up-they just might learn something. This book presents the very personal side of the individual/couple dynamic as examined in self-help books like Martha Baldwin Beveridge’s Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self. Of course, marriage doesn’t universally equate to happiness and success, as Xavier F. Amador reminds us in Being Single in a Couple’s World. Also consider Laura Davis’s I Thought We’d Never Speak Again for a concerned, optimistic take on reconciliation. Recommended.

This review appeared in Library Journal, September 15, 2002; the galley was shredded on March 27, 2012.

Toward Commitment: A Diologue About Marriage
Rehm, Diane, Rehm, John. Toward Commitment: A Diologue About Marriage. New York : Knopf, 2002.. ISBN 9780375414305.





Helping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers

March 26, 2012

Strip, Carol A. with Gretchen Hirsch. Helping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers. Gifted Psychology. Dec. 2000. c.270p. index. LC 00-034756. ISBN 0-910707-41-3. pap. $18. CHILD REARING

“Giftedness isn’t always pretty,” write Strip, a gifted-education specialist, and Hirsch, president of an Ohio-based business communications company. “Sometimes it’s confusing and downright messy.” In clear, enthusiastic writing, the authors describe different manifestations of giftedness as well as options for curricular and educational advancement. They explain that while gifted youth have added brainpower, they are particularly susceptible to perfectionism, depression, and low self-esteem. “Asynchronous development,” in which the intellect matures in advance of emotional, physical, and social skills, often wreaks havoc on these children. To counter these problems,, the authors encourage clear and open partnering among students, parents, and teachers on educational issues. When these groups act as “teammates in dealing with children’s academic, emotional and social needs” it is easier for gifted children to operate at their highest capacity. This solid, practical book includes a strong reference section. A scholarly and comprehensive examination of giftedness can be found in Ellen Winner’s Gifted Children: Myths and Realities (LJ 5/15/96). Recommended for large public libraries and also academic libraries with teaching programs.–Douglas C. Lord, Hartford P.L., CT

This book was reviewed in Library Journal 125.20 (Dec. 2000): p174; the galley was shredded on March 26, 2012.