Saturday, February 29, 2020

Tackling the TBR Week 8: Feb 22 - Feb 29, 2020

My TBR has been out of control for YEARS. Then in January of 2019 I started tracking weekly my true reading/acquiring habits, and voila! I have been able to keep on top of things a little bit better. I may never get below 1,000 books, but at least I won't be topping out over 5,000! When a book cover is linked, it goes to the review here on my blog.

I will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month. Feel free to join in if you'd like!

If you read these posts often, you will recall that it's usually just a boring list of numbers. I am trying to make it more interactive and show off what I am reading and potential treasures I am finding.


Previous Week's TBR Total: 3,119

Currently Reading: 13
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Books Added to TBR: 1
Books Removed from TBR: 2

Books Read: 5
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Books DNF-ed: 0

Duplicates Removed: 0

New TBR Total: 3,115

Any of these catch your eye? Have you already read any? Let me know!

Happy Reading!

State of the ARC #21

State of the ARC is a monthly feature hosted by Avalinah's Books.
All the rules can be found at the link provided. I am temporarily hosting for Evelina until she is able to get back into it. So, until then, thanks for joining me here!

I am still trying to figure out the fancy-schmancy graphs that Evelina does and she has been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction. Until then, I apologize for the boring data display.

Links go to Goodreads, unless I have finished the review. The majority of the ARCs I receive are through NetGalley. Some have also come from publicists, or were offered to me from a publisher who specifically approved me for it on NetGalley; I will always note in the review how I acquired the ARC.

Awaiting My Attention: 0

Reading Now
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Finished, Review to Come
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Review or Feedback Sent
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When I first started blogging my monthly State of the ARC I felt like I was drowning in ARCs. My main goal was to get my NetGalley feedback ratio above 80% and thanks to this meme, I slowly but surely clawed my way up. At my highest I was at 97%. I am currently at 93% even with two NetGalley ARCs due (Tombstone and Race Against Time), and The Girls Are Gone waaaaaaaay overdue. Now that I am back in the swing of things, getting those reviews done will be priorities.

How have you done with your ARCs in the last couple months without State of the ARC around? Did you keep posting your own, or are you just starting back now?

I am so excited to be helping out, let's talk ARCs!

Happy Reading
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Stacking the Shelves #84

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Library Treasures
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What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

First Line Friday #96

First Line Friday is brought to you by Hoarding Books. Playing along is easy: open the book nearest you and share the first line. Then check out the link to see the other first lines offered up this week.


Evanston, Illinois, in the New world.


CHORUS                When audiences 'round the globe appear,
                           Desiring stories of a woman's fate,
                           Our playwright answereth the calling clear,
                           Preparing ample banquet for your plate.
                           This tale of lasses takes us unto school,
                           With many shrewish girls and boyish asses,
                           Wherein they make mistakes and play the fool,
                           And learn hard lessons far beyond their classes.
                           To this fey story make I introduction - 
                           Which shows us Cady Heron's youthful age -
                           Her narrative unfolds in our production
                           In these few hours upon our simple stage.
                           I, prologue-like, your humble patience pray,
                           Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.


Mean Girls is one of my most favorite movies ever; it is endlessly quotable and quite simply, perfect. I am nearly done with this read already and am absolutely loving it. Such a unique idea.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading,

(If the format looks off, please let me know. Everything looks lined up on my screen but I am sure it is bound to look messed-up on someone else's.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Books From The Backlog #35

Books from the Backlog, hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books, is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your shelf unread.

I am featuring books in the order that they were added to my Goodreads To-Read shelf, so sometimes there will be a couple weeks in a row of books on the same topic.

Neglected Book of the Week

Why did I add The History of the Medieval World to my TBR?

This is exactly my most favorite time period. (Though I do also love the UK before Roman Britain was a thing.) It is actually kind of a shock that I have not read this one yet. I'll get to it, eventually.

Have you read this book, or is it somewhere on your TBR? If you've read it, would you recommend it to others?

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday | Characters I’d Follow On Social Media

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

My list will be a small mix of characters and historical figures because let's face it, I do not read enough fiction to be able to come up with ten characters I would be interested in enough to harass follow on social media.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
1124 - 1204
Queen of France and England
Obviously. I mean, I named my daughter after her. I would not be naming my only child after just anyone, and this bad-ass queen is special. Calling her the 'Grandmother of Europe' is not wrong. She was an intelligent, capable ruler, and had no qualms about getting shit done.

Bronwyn Rojas, Nate Macauley
One of Us is Lying, One of Us is Next
These two. Like, I feel like I am a young adult again when I read these books because I LOVE NATE AND BRONWYN SO MUCH AND THEY ARE THE BEST COUPLE EVER. I am not a young adult however, I am a late 30s adult. Even so, I love all these characters so much, but Nate and Bronwyn together, and Nate in particular because, of course. Although, let's be honest, Nate does not give a shit and would not even use social media.

William Shakespeare
Do I really need to list his works?
Oh, the puns! Oh, the innuendos! He would easily be my fave Twitter-follow ever. And he would have a field day with the political climate today.

Jo March
Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys
From a young age, when I first read Little Women (around ten maybe?) I wanted to BE Jo March. I wanted to go off to a big city and write for a newspaper and write my books and live in a little apartment and it all sounded so wonderful. She also would have much to say about the current state of the US, I think.

Leave a comment and a link to your TTT, and I will be sure to check it out.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Book Review | Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era

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Rating: ⭐

So here's the thing: I know this show inside and out. I probably know Friends even better than I know Buffy, which is saying A LOT. My mom got me the boxed set of all ten seasons way back when it came out and I was still in college; I fell asleep to Friends every night for the next eight years, right up until Eleanor was born. I still fall asleep to it now on the nights she has to be at her dad's. So, I know the show well. I finish lines when I am half-asleep, chuckling as I drift off into dream land.

Need proof? Some of my friends and I go to pretty much anything Friends-related that we can find - which is surprisingly quite a bit for a show that went off the air fifteen years ago. A few months back we had t-shirts made for a Friends trivia night contest. Then a couple of us from that group when to a Friends painting/trivia night back in January. To say we like the show is an understatement.


This means that if you are going to write a book about one of the greatest shows of all time, get your fucking facts right. And not only had you better know the show inside and out, but anyone who claims to be an editor had better know also, in the off chance that you might make a mistake.

One mistake is one too many. You have an entire rabid fandom who will point out every single error you make in regards to the show. Unfortunately, there was definitely more than one and ain't nobody got time for that.


1. "Chandler has erectile dysfunction." (page 230)

Because of the engagement episode? And the "I knew it!" that he shouted after Rachel informed Ross, "And just so you know, it's not that common, it doesn't happen to every guy, and IT IS A BIG DEAL!"? Because I am pretty sure that all the other times he and Monica had sex when they were trying to get pregnant, and in general throughout their relationship, shows that he didn't.

2. "Chandler must explain why he has suddenly been seized with the urge to take a bath - and in Monica and Rachel's apartment, no less." (page 217)

Except they were in Joey and Chandler's bathroom. It would also make no sense for Joey to have randomly knocked on the bathroom door in the girls' apartment to ask Chandler if he wanted some chicken.

3. "He was regularly shown violating the masculine code via wearing a towel on his head after a bath or blotting his Chapstick with a tissue." (page 214)

Except no, not regularly. Those two very specific things happened when Chandler was listening to the hypnosis self-help tapes in his sleep to try to quit smoking. The female speaker on the tape also made statements about being a 'strong, confident woman'. Chandler did not do those things at any other time in the entire series.

4. "Writer Andrew Reich thought that Michael Rappaport's exit from the show, at the end of an arc as Phoebe's police-officer boyfriend, was particularly undignified; after shooting a bird from bed, he disappeared, never to be seen again." (page 198)

Except he did not just 'disappear'. Seeing as how Phoebe loves animals, is a vegetarian, won't even wear a fur coat given to her by her mom, it makes sense that she would break up with him. She even SAID SO at the end of the episode, that it was over because he shot a bird.

5. "He once had a threesome with Carol and Susan in which he was mostly left holding the women's coats." (page 182)

FALSE. So, so false. The scenario took place in "The One that Could Have Been" which was the two-part what-if episode. Ross's what-if was 'What if Carol had not realized she was a lesbian?' It didn't actually happen.

6. "His father regularly cheated on his mother - with her blessing, as it turned out." (page 182)

This is a pretty solid misrepresentation of the situation. That's not exactly right. By saying Joey's dad regularly cheated, the author makes it sound like he was out cheating with different women all the time. It doesn't make his cheating any less terrible, with him actually having one mistress, and his father even says he is in love with two women, but it is still different from what the author seems to be implying.

7. The author states that Ross's mantra is "eat fast or don't eat." (page 181)

No. Ross explained that, "Hey! I grew up with Monica! If you didn't eat fast, you didn't eat!" This is not his 'mantra' but was a way of explaining why he always ate fast, when Rachel talked about how he would be done and she had not even finished her soup.

8. The author says of Monica that she weighed 200 pounds by age 11, but in her "earlier, lighter years, enjoyed riding the family dog, ChiChi." (page 181)

Wrong again. ChiChi needed knee replacements because Monica rode him when she was heavier. She could not get braces because ChiChi needed the knee replacement.

9. "Rachel developed a crush on Joey the first time they met." (page 181)

Nope. That was Monica. This is mentioned or shown on the show more than once.

10. "Phoebe had already discovered a thumb in her can of soda, demonstrated her skepticism about the theory of evolution to Ross, and once whistled at a man and accidentally sent him into a coma." (page 127).

Nope. That was Monica. AGAIN. Phoebe and Monica were at the newsstand and saw a cute guy. He smiled and walked by and Phoebe nudged Monica to whistle at him. Monica made the 'woo-woo' noise and when he turned around, she pointed to Phoebe to try and say that Phoebe had woo-wooed. The guy had also made the mistake of stopping in the middle of the street and was hit by an ambulance.

11. The author says that Rachel borrowed her date's cell phone to leave a message on Ross's answering machine that she is over him. (page 118)

Um, except no. She borrowed the phone from a stranger at the table behind her.

So, in summary, this book is garbage and you should not bother reading it. The author also made some really weird connections and assumptions, but I chose not to include those because I guess everyone is entitled to see things how they want to see them, even if what they are claiming/assuming/suggesting is COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY WRONG. That is why I stuck to only the facts, pointing out the errors that are 100% provable to be errors. Not only that, but there is not really anything new here, no new insights, stories, or analysis. The author rehashes multiple times the lack of diversity, something the show has always been rightly criticized for. The author brings nothing new to the table except an alarming disregard for the show itself, evident in his lack of knowledge and also the lack of knowledge of whoever edited this thing.

Friends deserves way better than this dumpster fire.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Stacking the Shelves #83

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Library Treasures
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18659623 45865916

Publisher (via NetGalley)

Valentine Gift From Momma (via Amazon)
One of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying, #2)

What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Tackling the TBR Week 7: Feb 15 - Feb 21, 2020

My TBR has been out of control for YEARS. Then in January of 2019 I started tracking weekly my true reading/acquiring habits, and voila! I have been able to keep on top of things a little bit better. I may never get below 1,000 books, but at least I won't be topping out over 5,000!

I will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month. Feel free to join in if you'd like!

If you read these posts often, you will recall that it's usually just a boring list of numbers. I am trying to make it more interactive and show off what I am reading and potential treasures I am finding.


Previous Week's TBR Total: 3,128

Currently Reading: 12

Books Added to TBR: 4
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Books Removed from TBR: 6

Books Read: 3

Books DNF-ed: 2

Duplicates Removed: 0

New TBR Total: 3,119

Any of these catch your eye? Or have you already read any?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

First Line Friday #95

First Line Friday is brought to you by Hoarding Books. Playing along is easy: open the book nearest you and share the first line. Then check out the link to see the other first lines offered up this week.


"Before its notoriety, the house presented an impeccable and genteel face to the city."

There is something endearing about those wacky Victorians and their love of lurid tales involving immorality and murder.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Books From The Backlog #34

Books from the Backlog, hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books, is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your shelf unread.

I am featuring books in the order that they were added to my Goodreads To-Read shelf, so sometimes there will be a couple weeks in a row of books on the same topic.

Neglected Book of the Week


Are there too many other ancient stories more fascinating than this one, an entire civilization all but obliterated from the face of the earth? I think not.

Have you read this book, or is it somewhere on your TBR? If you've read it, would you recommend it to others?

Happy Reading!

Book Review | Thornhill

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One of the best things about teaching sixth graders is seeing what kinds of books they're reading. I found this at a student's table one day and got a copy for myself that night at the library. The stories are tragic, the illustrations haunting, and words practically scream for justice when there is none. Over and over, there is none.

Thornhill is a book with parallel plots careening alongside one another with only one obvious conclusion. We are told the story of Mary in her own words, from diary entries she wrote in 1982. She was an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children, which is being closed down. This appears to be a good thing, seeing as how the other children are horrible to her and the adults who pretend to care don't do well enough in their pretending, and by the end have given up on the charade altogether in those final days. Mary is completely and utterly alone, with only her puppets as friends, dolls that she lovingly and painstakingly creates for herself to fill her lonely world.

Ella lives in the present. She and her father have recently moved to a property adjacent to the abandoned Thornhill, and he is gone all the time at work. Ella's story is told entirely through detailed illustrations that need no words at all. Ella explores the abandoned property next door and eventually discovers the final secret the old orphanage holds.

I will be the first to admit that the story is not all that original, nor is the ending. But also keep in mind, I am not the target audience. A 6th grader reading this will look at it much differently, and likely be genuinely surprised by the story as it unfolds. Even so, again for me, the way in which the story was told makes the difference and I could not put the book down.

Both children are let down by the very adults in their lives who are supposed to care for them. I assume that Ella's mother has died and that is the reason for the relocating. She goes days at a time without seeing her father, who is always at work. Mary has created beautiful puppets and is quite talented at it, but has isolated herself and is mute due to the bullies who go after her relentlessly. There is one girl in particular who is the ringleader and she derives such pleasure for making Mary's life a living hell, it is no wonder the child does not want to leave her room. The adults at the orphanage do nothing to protect Mary, enabling the bully by not doing anything to stop the behaviors. All it would have taken was for the adults to give a fuck, even as the home was in its final days and closing down, and Mary's story might have gone so differently. In turn then, so would have Ella's.

I an not overstate how critical the illustrations are to Ella's half of the story. They provide such a chilling atmosphere, that coincides well with Thornhill being shut down back in Mary's time there. The illustrations are in black and white - and oh, the grays! - but are thick with emotion, grief and sadness and despair. Ella and Mary experience the same range of emotions for very different reasons, and it is easy to see why they are drawn to one another. Their stories compliment one another beautifully in terms of the text and illustrations. So many times I was so upset for both of them, nothing in their lives was fair to either girl.

Tragic and beautiful. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Book Review | The Family Next Door: The Heartbreaking Imprisonment of the Thirteen Turpin Siblings and Their Extraordinary Rescue


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This story is horrific. I remember being in such shock when the story broke. I don't know why I am still surprised at the level of torture one human can visit on another, but a set of parents abusing their thirteen children in such awful ways?

A little over two years ago one of those thirteen children, a seventeen year old who had never been out of the house in her entire life (except for when the family was relocating from one place to another) call 911 and reported that she and her siblings were being abused, had been chained to their beds, only allowed to shower once a year, were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom without permission, and so on and so on. Only the two-year-old was spared any kind of abuse or punishment. When the police arrived on the scene, what they found was so horrific, so disgusting, it was difficult to even breathe. Literally. Because the smell alone was so overpowering. The children, ranging in ages from 29 on down to two, were rescued and their parents have since been sentences to 25 years-to-life after both pleaded guilty to the charges. I hope these scumbags are never free again.

The book itself was a very quick read, and that's not really a good thing in this case. There is no new information about the case itself, though we are given a lot of information about prior generations of the family on each side, and there is a lot of abuse there as well. I already knew pretty much everything that was in this book, because there did not seem to be any actual 'investigating' of the story. You can piecemeal together articles online and find all the same stuff. Capitalizing off a hot story is not going to get one very far if the information contained in the book is available elsewhere for free. Which it all is.

I followed some of the case during the sentencing phase and two of the Turpin children spoke at the hearing. I feel like there is hope for all of them, but it will be a tough road. And this book honestly could have waited, so it could fully include that aspect of the story. We don't need to know their names, where they live now, where they go to school, or anything of that nature, but there is so much more to this story. These siblings should not be defined by what their parents did to them, but by who they become due to their own effort. It would be interesting to know if they're all together, or how the younger ones are doing if they are split up or not. All of the Turpin children will be traumatized for the rest of their lives to one degree or another, and the older siblings will probably be worse off than the younger ones. Physically they will heal (the oldest child, at age 29, weighed 82 pounds when she was rescued) but emotionally and mentally, there would have to be years and years and years of intensive therapy to not only heal but to break the cycle of abuse. There's no real knowledge of the aftermath and part of the reason for that and this being a quick read is because the aftermath is still happening, and will be happening for quite some time. This book could have been written a few years from now and better represent the story as a whole, because the story didn't end with their escape - that is their new beginning.

A crime of this magnitude needs so much more than what is offered here. It needs depth and insight. You can not get those things without interviews of those involved. That may take years before any of the siblings are ready to open up about what they lived through - if they ever are able to talk about it at all. I want to know why. I want to know what drove these parents to abuse their children so horribly that the adults were completely unrecognizable as such when they were first rescued. I want to know how these sorry excuses for parents could chain their children to their beds, beat them for whatever made-up infraction they thought of in the moment, deny medical care, deny dental care, deny a fucking bath or shower to their children. And on top of that, I want to know how and why those same fucked up parents can turn around, completely clean their children up, throw them in matching outfits, and take them to Disney, or to Vegas for vow renewals, or whatever other crazy shit they did to keep up the appearances of a normal, loving family. I would also like to know why no teacher reported anything suspicious when the oldest child was showing up to school obviously not clean, clothes that were dirty/didn't fit, etc. This poor sweet girl coming to school every day obviously needing help, and no one did anything? I have called child protective services for these exact reasons, when students have come to school consistently in dirty clothes, clearly not having had a bath in a while. I can't imagine failing a child by not doing so. And what about those in charge of overseeing families that home-school their children? It would appear as though California basically says, "Good luck, do what you want!" when a parent registers their "school". The dude literally listed himself as the principal of their "school" for years, and it appears no one ever checked up on him. Ever. This is not just a matter of these kids one time 'slipping through the cracks'. They were failed by every adult in their lives - including other family members - over and over again. The parents did a pretty great job for the most part in keeping other family members away, but shouldn't that have been a red-flag in and of itself? Or in those brief times when they did get to see the kids, was no one alarmed by the fact that they were no where near normal height/weight? Seriously. I get why the neighbors might not have realized anything was wrong, they talked of only seeing a couple kids at a time, never more than two it seems. The Turpins made the kids sleep during the day, though neighbors spoke of thinking they saw or heard kids out at night. Was that not another clue that something was not right? How difficult is it to make an anonymous tip to CPS?


I watched some videos from the trial and read articles as well, and I don't think we will ever get an answer to those 'why' questions, not from anyone but definitely not from David and Louise Turpin. Over and over all I read was how they loved their children, they hoped they had not hurt them, they were sorry if they did, and they hoped to see their children again some day. That is some grade-A detachment from reality, especially for two people who pleaded guilty to the charges to begin with. As I mentioned above, we did get background information on both sides of each family, and there was sexual abuse that occurred on the Louise's side. I still do not understand for the life of me though how that translates into what it became for her children. One of the daughter's also stated during sentencing that she saw how her father changed her mother and I have to wonder, how? The abuse began so early on, was it all only made worse because of their father? What does she mean by this?

Overall, I can't say that I recommend this book unless you are completely unfamiliar with the case and want all the information in one place instead of searching online for the myriad of articles, transcripts, videos, etc. In that case, check it out from the library. The Turpin children deserve better than this, because it does not do their story justice. And in time, if they choose to share that story, it should be their own decisions entirely.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Prime First Reads | The Silence

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Rating: ⭐⭐

I chose this book as my Amazon Prime First Reads for Feb.

Usually I love an unreliable narrator, but this one was not done very well. It was really hard to get into the story - Stella is a former child star who has grown up, is out of the spotlight, and life is truthfully just kind of shitty. Her parents are dead, and her one-night-stand-turned-boyfriend is slowly but surely isolating Stella from her friends while simultaneously gas-lighting the shit out of her.

There were tons of clues about who Marco was and it was pretty clear he was the bad guy. The first sign was the insane amount of pills he was giving Stella, so she could 'sleep'. I skimmed a lot in the beginning because none of the characters were particularly interesting or likable and I wanted to get to the meat of the story and see how it would play out. Once Stella is isolated, alone in the cottage with no friends, little contact with the family she has left, and basically only Marco to talk to when he visits from London, things get interesting. Even so, I kept thinking there was going to be some plot twist, something I did not see, because otherwise everything was so painfully obvious there was almost no point. Sadly, there was no twist and everything went down generally how I imagined it would - I really liked the paranormal element and it was greatly appreciated, but like every other aspect of the novel, nothing quite gelled together in the end.

This book had so much potential and the plot was certainly intriguing, but the execution did not cut it. Stella was such an idiot sometimes, always believing everything Marco was telling her and ignoring what her friends were saying. She was so miserable before she met him, and even though he was acting like her 'savior', she was still super miserable anyway. That's a pretty good indicator that the relationship is not a healthy one, and yet...

If you still feel the need to read this one, I recommend checking it out from the library or snagging it as a First Reads.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

NetGalley ARC | Something Bad Happened

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I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

From Goodreads:
When we learn about something bad - even when we hear only bits and pieces of it - our brains get busy trying to make sense of what we've heard. Seeing distressing events on the news, or hearing about them later, can feel scary and overwhelming. Talking about what happened, and how we feel about it, is hugely important.

Something Bad Happened guides children ages 6-12 and the adults who care about them through tough conversations about news of large-scale events, addressing questions such as: "Where did it happen?" "Why did it happen?" and "Will it happen again?" Feelings like sadness, fear and confusion are  normalized, and coping tools provided.

For children and parents to read together, or by a child with a parent nearby, this helpful resource by a child psychologist best-selling author provides comfort, support and action plans for children learning about the big bad things that happen in our world.


Easily one of the best books I have found so far to help young children understand the sometimes-scary world we live in. It does a phenomenal job showing that, even though these events are frightening, there are always people to help you figure out what is going on, and to process it. The book is a fantastic guide for parents on how to protect and inform their children, at the same time. It is also purposely general in order to encompass pretty much any 'bad thing' that you can imagine having to try to explain to your child.

This book would be useful for so many - parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, pediatricians, pastors/youth/children's ministers, basically anyone who cares for children in any capacity. To be clear, it is NOT for children/families who have been directly involved in a traumatic event. The author makes a point to directly state this. It is for those trying to process events that did not impact them directly, but have impacted their world in general, if only by the way adults are acting/behaving/speaking/not speaking, etc. We need to be able to guide our children through what seems to be increasingly turbulent times and this guide is a great starting point to do just that.

I thought specifically of Sept 11 when I first saw this book on NetGalley - not only for my students, but first for Eleanor. She is six and a half, and loves the Who Is/Who Was/What Is/etc series - you know, the books where the subject on the cover has a GIANT head and itty bitty body. The book about the Twin Towers is one that we own and we did start it months ago, but at one point Eleanor said she wanted to take a break from it because it made her sad. We will revisit it sometime in the future whenever she is ready, and with this book I will be even better prepared to help her understand the life-changing/world-changing event that occurred long before she was born, whose impact is still seen and felt today.

Additionally, every year on Sept 11, I teach my students about it. I have taught 3rd-6th grade and I appreciate the author's push for discussion and dialogue. I use material from kid-friendly, age-appropriate websites (such as and BrainPop) to present the material to them, and give them the opportunity to ask as many questions as they need or want in order to make sense. It truly is so hard even for 6th graders to understand that day, the destruction on such a massive scale. After reading this, I have ideas on how to incorporate its suggestions into the lesson for my future students.

The introduction really helps adults understand how to use the book, and the author gives seven tips to help guide the conversations. The following chapters then focus on various points in the process - from finding out the bad thing that happened, calming oneself, learning information, identifying those who can help, dealing with a variety of emotions, caring for oneself, and finally - perhaps one of the most important - healing the world. Most of the chapters are 6-7 pages. The longest chapter is also one that it critically important - that of explaining the likelihood of a bad thing happening to someone. This is so crucial because it can help calm a child's worst fears, help them to understand that even though this bad thing happened, it does not mean it will happen to them. I like the examples that the author used, along with the illustrations, of using marbles in a jar to demonstrate possible vs likely.

It is sometimes so hard to know what or how much to say to younger children when something bad does happen. They will likely hear about it at some point, maybe from kids at school with older siblings, or overhearing a conversation between parents, etc. We have only so much ability to control what our children hear and when they hear it, and this book goes a long way in helping guide that process of understanding when a tragic event has entered their radar.

Personally, I do not ever share the "something bad" events with Eleanor. She is six. There is no reason to bring trauma and despair into her world, when there will be enough for her to see for herself when she is much older. I hate that books like this even need to exist, but there will come a day when she will see a news report, or hear a conversation, and I want her to come to me, to ask me questions. This book will be just the tool needed to start the healing process and show her that bad things happen, but we can understand the complex issues, work through them, and help try to make our world a better place.

Highly recommended.

Book Review | My Daddy is a Hero: How Chris Watts Went From Family Man to Family Killer

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Rating: ⭐⭐

I struggled with this one a lot, and not only because of the horrific content.

For those who don't know the story or live outside the US, in 2018 Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife Shanann and two young daughters Bella (4) and CeCe (3). He buried his wife in a shallow grave at one of his work sites, and dumped the bodies of his daughters into separate oil tanks also on the property. Even more horrifyingly, the girls were alive when he buried their mom. They rode in the truck with him as he drove to the site. Watts has given conflicting accounts, but stated that he then killed Cece, with Bella watching, and she begged him to stop when he went after her next. He also stated initially that he killed Shanann in a fit of rage after discovering she had smothered the girls in their sleep. Instead, it was he who had attempted to do so - he and Shanann were arguing, he left their room and smothered the girls with a pillow, then returned and killed Shanann. Watts stated the girls woke up and had only been unconscious, that both came into their parents' room with bruising, traumatized. He has also stated that he put them in the oil tanks so they wouldn't wake up again.

I don't understand it. I never will. This man is a monster. He wanted to be with his mistress, he even tried to somehow end Shanann's pregnancy (a boy, already named Nico) because he thought he could not divorce her if she was still pregnant. When that didn't work he resorted to murdering his whole family, just for a new piece of ass. This whole situation is disturbing and disgusting and I wish crimes involving the murder of children were automatic death sentences. (Actually, any crime involving children, especially rape and sexual abuse. There is no rehabilitating that.) I can't even look at pictures or videos of those sweet little girls, girls who loved their daddy so much, their bright happy faces, and knowing what he did to them. It is too much, too awful, too heartbreaking.

Aside from the content regarding the murders and everything leading up to that, the part that always makes me uncomfortable with books like this is when an attempt is made to diagnose a mental illness of some kind. Now, in this case the author would be qualified to do so, as she is a licensed psychotherapist. Her specialty practice is in relationships and is certified in Imago Relationship Therapy. I had no idea what that was and had to Google it. And even though she is certified and is a therapist, I do take issue with diagnosing those who are not one's patients. The author even stated she is not diagnosing, though that is in fact how it comes across.

Far less important, but something I will mention nonetheless, is that it bothers me when authors misuse literary references. At 85% the author writes: "For the entire eight years she had spent with Chris, he had acted one way with her and only up until six weeks before he killed her, did he turn from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll. Shanann stated that she didn't know who he was anymore." So, either Chris was a murdering psychopath for eight years up until the six weeks before he murdered his family and he suddenly could control his impulses in those last six weeks, or the author mixed up who was who. Or I am misunderstanding her intent with that suggestion/quote? Either way, he obviously was NOT a raging psychopath for the first eight years, because literally everyone who ever knew him said they just could not believe he had done this, he was helpful and quiet and kind. Definitely NOT a Hyde.

I found the account of the crime itself to be decently-written and accurate based on what I had read elsewhere of the case, though obviously there was more here than what you would find in newspaper/online articles. For that portion of the book I would give it 3 or 4 stars. But I simply can not get behind diagnosing someone who is not your patient, that you have never had a conversation with. It is negligent at best, and flat out dangerous at worst. It is 100% true that anyone who reads Watts' own statements about feeling nothing for his family as he killed them can come to the conclusion that he is probably a psychopath/sociopath, but even so, doctors know better than to do so. Especially when it involves them making money from a book where such statements are written, no matter if they say they are not diagnosing.

Book Review | The Little Book of Feminist Saints


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I got this book from a good friend for Christmas and had every intention first of reading it to myself daily, a brief snippet about a strong, courageous, bad-ass woman who rightly deserves to have her story told. Instead, I read it in a couple hours. Oops.

I love the feel of the book, instead of a 'little book of saints' one might be given for First Communion or Confirmation, the book is an entirely secular look at women who have broken barriers, faced obstacles, and still succeeded - and should be rightly praised for such endeavors. To be clear, that is where the difference lies, as we are obviously not worshiping them or praying to them. Or, I guess some might, if feminism is their sole religion.

Much like a little book of saints book, there is a beautiful illustration of the woman discussed, and on the opposite page her name, what she is the 'matron saint' of, year/where she was born, and her feast day (birthday). There is also a quote by or about the saint, and a short paragraph or two. This summary is by no means meant to serve as even as the briefest of biographies, which the author states at the beginning of the book. Instead, we get bold anecdotes, brief but brilliant stories of what makes that particular woman so powerful, mighty, strong.

I feel like this was a really great mix of women from all walks of life. The women range from Italian artists and Japanese rebels, to Russian pilots and English geniuses. There are many women from the United States, but there are also women from a variety of countries. I assume the American influence is because the author is from the United States, which some reviewers found worthy of criticism. However, one also has to keep in mind the ease of access to certain information from countries that may not be all that anxious to share the successes and triumphs of women - especially women who work hard to smash the patriarchy. There are quite a few women here I had never heard of before, as well as the ones you would expect - Oprah, Steinem, Venus and Serena.

One of my favorite aspects of the book were the titles given to the women, the thing or idea they were the matron saint of. Here are a few that I especially loved:

Michelle Obama - Matron Saint of Ladies
Kanno Sugako - Matron Saint of Radicals
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon - Matron Saints of Marriage
Barbara Jordan - Matron Saint of the Constitution
Hypatia - Matron Saint of Scholars
Nelly Bly - Matron Saint of Journalists
Phillis Wheatley - Matron Saint of Readers
The Williams Sisters - Matron Saints of Athletes
Anne Frank - Matron Saint of Diarists
The Mirabel Sisters - Matron Saint of Rebels
Banazir Bhutto - Matron Saint of Democracy
Malala Yousafzai - Matron Saint of Students
Kasha Nabagesera - Matron Saint of Coming Out
Marsha P. Johnson - Matron Saint of Protest
Ruby Bridges - Matron Saint of First Steps
Junko Tabei - Matron Saint of Summits
Anna Politkovskaya - Matron Saint of the Brave
The Night Witches - Matron Saints of the Sky
Lise Meitner - Patron Saint of Discovery
Pussy Riot - Matron Saints of Punk
Juana Inés De La Cruz - Matron Saint of Intellectuals
Kara Walker - Matron Saint of Confronting History
Louisa May Alcott - Matron Saint of Scribblers
Shirley Chisolm - Matron Saint of Firsts
Grace Hopper - Matron Saint of Programmers
Faith Spotted Eagle - Matron Saint of Activists

Okay, I know I said a few but as I was going through the book I could not stop and well, here we are.

Eleanor and I have read both volumes of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which is along the same lines, and loved them even if I find the title problematic (we shouldn't refer to the women in those books as rebels, because we need to normalize successful women, not make them exceptions to the rule). I plan to read this to her as well and give her the tools she needs to continue the work of smashing away at that glass ceiling and fucking up the patriarchy.