Mapping The Bones

Ah, back to 1942 and World War 2. It’s been three weeks since my last historical fiction novel set in this period. It’s with a heavy heart that I recommend this book. I don’t want these things to have happened and yet here we are. We see the true suffering of all the victims of the Nazi regime.

As the author points out in her endnotes this story has three parts, just like the story of Hansel and Gretel. Twins Chaim and Gittel’s story begins in the ghetto, moves to the forest, and ends in the camp. Chaim is a poet and speaks as little as possible even though it is through his eyes that this story is told. His poetry is one of the highlights of the book. Gittel’s story is told as well with her more analytical point of view and it is through her that we hear the conclusion of the story. 

 It is remarkable how much I felt like I was a fly on the wall while reading this. Both teens voices were authentic and all the characters behaved just as you would imagine that you would in a similar horrifying situation. I’d save this one for older teens not only because of the graphic content of the true horror of Nazi work camps and doctors like Mendel but because of the tremendous sadness. This is a very heavy book in every sense of the phrase. The stories must be told, and the readers have a duty to ensure that these horrors never take place again, but the reader needs a certain amount of readiness for the material. I know that my 12yo is nowhere near ready for this book. 

Verdict- Buy

Please note that I received a free advance E ARC of this book from Edelweiss and Penguin Random House without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

Deep Work

I’m giving this book all the stars for being what I needed to read now. Deep Work did two things for me. It helped me focus in on my goals by pointing out those nagging thoughts in the back of my mind and encouraging me to determine how much time I can devote to Deep Work. The second thing it did was to send me back to the library in search of all the other books mentioned within this one. I feel that a good sign for any self-improvement book is the author showing where he got his inspiration and not claiming all the credit as if he thought it all up on his own. 

There are four rules to Deep Work:

Rule 1 gives you a bunch of strategies and examples of how to integrate deep work into your schedule. He offers a different approach depending on what kind of work you do. The Grand Gestures part of this chapter is excellent, you learn about Bill Gates Think Week and same famous authors who go to secluded islands or build cabins to get a lot of deep work done when necessary. (I’d like a writers cabin building fairy- please) There is also a section here on execution using the 4 Disciplines from Clayton Christensen’s work.

Rule 2 covers the idea of embracing boredom. Newport gives some strategies for doing two essential things: improving your ability to focus and eliminating your desire for distraction. At first, these seem like the same thing, but Newport explains why they are two different skills. For example, someone who is continually switching between social media and infotainment sites can block off time for deep work, but they won’t be able to focus if they can’t control their desire always to have instant gratification and constant stimulus. The point about making deep work your default and scheduling shallow work in between is also a game changer. I can write a Kidlit book review at the table with all the chaos of everyday life around me. My other WIP (work in progress)- not so much. In my situation, my Deep Work has to happen late at night or early in the morning.

Rule 3 is about social media sites and infotainment sites. This practice isn’t as strategic as the other ones; it’s mostly about making a side argument that these networking sites aren’t as important is you think they are. He gives some useful strategies for measuring what sites and services you should include in your day to day life based on the total collection of all the positive and negative effects. This sort of critical thinking and measurement usually doesn’t get applied to these kinds of sites. As a writer, (like it or not) social media is part of the self-promotion package and I agree that scheduling a time to handle it will give me more time for Deep Work.

Rule 4 is about draining the shallows, meaning going through the process of eliminating as much as possible shallow work from your daily schedule. This chapter is more tactical, (This and Rule 1 are the most useful of the 4) you learn how to plan out your day, how to stop from bringing your work home with you with an end of day ritual. I was happy to see that he did include “The journalistic philosophy where journalists are trained to shift into writing mode at a moments notice.”  Apparently, my home office is much like a newsroom. I can schedule all the blocks of time I want, but it doesn’t mean I’ll get those times to use as I planned. I’ve become adept at slapping on my earbuds and getting fifteen minutes in here and there. Is it frustrating? Heck, yes. 

Verdict- Buy

Please note that I borrowed this book from my library without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World By Cal Newport

Greetings from Witness Protection!

Do you and your kids love spy movies? I was enthralled in this story from the first page. The US Marshalls need a girl that is willing to completely disappear and join a family that she has never met- forever. 

Nicki is in foster care and has had a few brushes with the law but she is smart, eager to learn and not too scared to take on this adventure ostensibly for the rest of her life. She joins this family after a period of training in security and being completely average including always maintaining a B- average in school, no higher or lower.

I planned on just starting this book and finishing it through the week and instead read it all in one sitting (requiring my kids to eat mac and cheese for dinner so that I could finish)

This story has it all, you’ll laugh, be annoyed at bullies, and be scared about the mafia. There is a happy ending and since it’s MG nothing really bad happens.

Verdict- Buy

Please note that I borrowed this book from my library without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

Greetings from Witness Protection! By Jake Burt