Book Review: The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce

Finally, a book for all the teens of a specific size out there. Big ones. An anthology, but more importantly a primer of sorts of how to navigate this fat-phobic world. For too long life as an overweight teen was very don’t ask, don’t tell:

  • Don’t talk about finding stylish clothes, because it’s your fault you aren’t thinner.
  • Don’t eat sweets in front of anyone, because that’s how you gain weight.
  • Don’t accept the body you have. Being thin is the only good size.

Fat or thin, everyone deserves to feel comfortable in the body they own. These essays go a long way towards normalizing what actually already is normal. We have a weird twisted society sometimes. Can you imagine if suddenly it was shameful to have blonde hair? You’d be at the Doctor for a sore throat, and they’d wonder aloud, What are you doing to prevent your hair from getting lighter? When really you just want some antibiotics. This anthology is essential reading for fat teens and the people who love them just the way they are.

My favorite essays included are:

“For the Love of Ursula’s Revenge Body” by Julie Murphy

“Chubby City Indian” by Jana Schmeiding

“How To Be the Star of Your Own Fat Rom-Com” by Lily Anderson

“Elephant, Hippo, and Other Nicknames I Love” by Jes Baker

“Losing My Religion” by Jess Walton

All that said, I’m not sure if I’d hand this book to the lower end of the YA crowd. In many ways, it seems more like Adult non-fiction, although even young teens already know all of what is included with being fat. Maybe I’m just being a protective helicopter Mom, but with my own 14-year-old, I’m marking only specific essays for him to read. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

I have one copy to give away!
Find my review on Twitter and re-tweet it.
I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, September 29, 2019.

Book Review: Dutch Girl

Loved this historical nonfiction book up to the top. The author clearly liked Audrey, and after reading this, I did too. It’s hard not to. I mean just about everyone likes the Audrey of film fame, but after I read more about her life during World War 2, I liked her more like a real person. I could see how it affected her life going forward.

When Audrey was 11 years old, the Germans began their occupation of the Netherlands. At first, life didn’t change much for her, but as time went on, her life began to change, and she had to give up her much-loved ballet lessons.

In 1944, the Allies started bombing the town that she lived in. She and her family spent much of their time in the cellar of their home hoping to survive while bombs exploded all around them.

Following that came the ‘hunger winter’. There wasn’t enough food, and many people starved to death. Audrey commented that this was the first time she had ever seen starvation. I can understand how she ended up being a UNICEF ambassador when she got older.

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War 2 by Robert Matzen

Book Review: Year of Yes

Shonda Rhimes is the creator and writer of the TV I watch. I spend a reasonable amount of time reading, and when I’m ready to turn my brain off her shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder are my go-to viewing. That’s why I haven’t read a lot of women’s fiction or romance. I watch Shonda’s shows instead. So, I’m a fan, and until I read this, I hadn’t even realized that she’s from suburban Illinois. What I do know is that her storytelling inspires my own. Shonda’s characters don’t all get happy endings, they aren’t all good people, but they are real, and that’s what keeps me coming back for more. I don’t even like medical shows- I spend the entire time with my hand over my eyes, but I watch it anyway.

I grabbed this on Audible months ago (maybe on sale?) just on the strength of her name. I started listening to it with a slip of my finger while I took one of my new fast walks that are not quite running yet. I meant to turn on the lecture I started in the car and instead downloaded and began this book- and then didn’t stop until the end.

I read some reviews that said it’s just her bragging, that nothing profound happened, that this book is more of an autobiography- huh. I didn’t see it that way.

I found her to be delightfully honest and at about the one hour mark I started taking notes. My takeaways:

I don’t have the same problems that a mega show runner has, yet as women, mothers, trying to balance work and home we did have much in common.

Know your healthy boundaries. They won’t be the same as mine or Shonda’s. Saying yes doesn’t mean saying yes to everyone. It means saying yes to you and your personal self.

In the past when I’ve said yes (outside my comfort zone) it hasn’t worked out. I made some poor choices that cost time, money, too much emotional work, or all of the above to both my family and me. Hearing about Shonda’s year of yes made me realize what areas saying yes it would work for me.

When I can I try to listen to autobiographies if the author reads them as I feel it adds so much to hear the tone of their voice. This one is no different. I hear more than a bit of Olivia Pope in Shonda’s voice, and that was what I wanted to hear. She is confident,, and sassy. All the things I value in my friends. Listening to this was like sitting down with a friend and discussing life over the beverage of your choice.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Book Review- Three Stones Make A Wall: The Story of Archaeology

I grabbed this book on Audible as teacher prep for myself before I get into teaching the Ancients for the umpteenth time. Because I combined the kids in history I have an almost 14 yo who has studied the Ancients three times already. We’re starting his 8th grade year in June and because he wants to dual enroll in a couple years this may be his last time through this time period with me.

So, this is in prep for a light rhetoric stage jaunt through time as we amp up to high school work. He may have time in his senior year to revisit these topics if he doesn’t dual enroll, but since we don’t know, I’m planning it like it is his last time passing through.

This is the kind of book I choose for myself anyway as I am a huge nonfiction book fan. I love hearing about the “how’s and why’s” of things. Eric starts you off with a brief history of archaeology and then begins telling stories of different discoveries through time. You’ll learn how the science has changed along with some modern missteps that occur now with modern tech that couldn’t have happened in the past.

If you like to indulge your inner geek you’ll probably like this book. I especially liked the chapters that were technical in nature. What tools do you use to dig in Europe vs. the Americas? Do you ever get to keep things you find? How do you even decide where to look and then who pays you?

You could use this as an elective for high school as the text for a survey of Archaeology class if you wanted to. I’m not sure if we’ll fit the whole book into our history study but I did bookmark sections that he’ll be reading for sure.

Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H Cline

Book Review-Celestial Geometry:Understanding the Astronomical Meanings of Ancient Sites

From the publisher:

“Celestial Geometry explores the remarkable achievements of ancient astronomers at over 60 archaeological sites, from European stone circles like Stonehenge to the pyramids of Egypt and Central America, the medicine wheels of North America, the carved monoliths of Easter Island, and lesser-known structures like the sun clock of Goseck. Combining myths and legends with modern science, this beautifully illustrated book is a profoundly illuminating celebration of human curiosity, creativity, and astounding achievements.”

From me:
Wow! This is a very cool book. I read it on my Kindle Oasis which wasn’t the most fabulous experience as this is a book with plenty of pictures and sidebars which tend to get messed up a bit in that format.

It could easily be used as a spine in upper middle school or high school for a study of either astronomy or the history of science course. This is the first book I’ve ever read about
archaeoastronomy, and it was eye-opening. I learned so much new information that was framed with gorgeous photos (once I switched to my Kindle Fire) that I’m going to work it into our school year somewhere. For instance, did you know that the
the Castillo, (Kukulkan Pyramid), at Chichen Itza has a stairway that twice a year is shadowed by the sun to create the impression of a monstrous black serpent running down the stairs? There is a photo of the stairway showing precisely that effect. I think kids will kind of love that. Talk about bringing the Ancients to life.

Celestial Geometry: Understanding the Astronomical Meanings of Ancient Sites by Ken Taylor

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative In Good Times and Bad

The book everyone needs to read. Austin Kleon seems to know just what creatives want and need to hear at any given time. Mostly because he is in the trenches with us trying to figure it all out too. Reading his books is like bouncing ideas around with a good friend. It is rather one sided though. 🙂

I requested this book from my library and it was in my inbox this morning much earlier than when Amazon will deliver my print copy this afternoon. I don’t feel like waiting to review/post after my quick five a.m. read, so please excuse the screen shot images. These are my stand out very first impressions:

  • Permission to not be connected at all times. You may not realize how much you need to hear that. Those notifications are the enemy of your creative time.
  • Bliss Station? I’ve read The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and a lot of of what David Thoreau has to say and missed this concept in all the places it is mentioned. You’ll need to pick up Keep Going to get Austin’s entire take on the concept but I’ve created a spot like that in my home without realizing that’s what I was doing. I call it my writing nest, but it is a bliss station and my alone time in it is the best time of my day.
  • Point 7: You are allowed to Change Your Mind. Even if you don’t have an artist page social media expects you to be on brand. It’s okay to change your mind about things, have different interests, be off-brand, off line.

This book earns a complete and total thumbs up from me. I may edit and add more thoughts later, but I wanted to get my initial thoughts posted first thing this morning. So many great ideas for what to do when you get stuck, and how to go on creating while your life unfolds around you.

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

My Disney Tell-All Binge Review

I had some surgery at the end of January, and since I couldn’t do much other than reading in tiny doses, I started perusing all the Kindle Unlimited titles. I don’t even remember how my searching led to the Earns Her Ears Series.
They were free and although they ranged in writing quality I couldn’t seem to stop. I blame the pain killers. At least one my click scenario didn’t play out. (I had been pretty nervous I’d be one-clicking all the things while not in my right mind. Rush has excellent WIFI, so it was a possibility.)

I proceeded to read all of them. I remember very little of each girl’s details; however, I’ll share what I do know as a public service and because these are my actual kindle notes and I crack myself up.

Admittedly as a giant Disney fangirl, I was aware that they had an internship program, but it wasn’t something that I thought about much. That all changed as I read how Samantha, Ema, Sara, Brittany, Devin, Katie and finally Amber all Earned Their Ears as Disney College Interns.
That adds up to a lot of complaining and drama. It also sounded like a blast to me. If Disney has any sense, they would have another program for Moms who want to work at Disney for like two weeks, soak up the magic and then go home again.
I don’t watch The Bachelor or Survivor, or The Kardashians (they have a show- right?)
This is my version of a reality show.

  1. It’s set in my Happy Place, I’m almost as familiar with the geography as I am with Chicago.
  2. You get the inside scoop of the day to day details like uniforms and lunch breaks. ( I would be eating mini corn dogs every day if I worked there. And a churro.)
  3. Reading about the housing situation made my own 20 something-year-old kids look like better tenants than they are.
  4. Disney! Loosely quoting one book- You don’t have to love Florida to love Disney. #truth

After that, I branched out into independent reads like:

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale: Sisters attend the DCP together and were alternately happy/not happy about it. Honestly, that’s all I wrote. I’m pretty sure this one had lots of roommates drama too.

Of Mouse and Men: Confessions of a Disney Character: A super funny memoir of a straight guy working in the not so straight world of Disney shows and character performances. That wasn’t the actual focus of the book but it is featured in the many anecdotes that left me laughing out loud into my apple sauce. Also, I said this was my favorite.

My notes-

1. Most of these characters are short girls- they have to be to fit in the suits. Except for Woody and Buzz and the big guy (Elastagirl’s husband??) edited to add- Mr. Incredible, not sure how I blanked on his name.

2. OMG- those suits probably smell soooo bad inside. Yep, they for sure get sick inside them. EEEW.

3. Character meal characters must be the happiest- cause air conditioning.

4. You have to dance and wear a super heavy head on top of yours- how did I never think about this before?

5. I wish we could tip the characters.

Better than the cover art would seem to predict.

The Ride Delegate: Memoir of a Walt Disney World VIP Tour Guide.

Actually, (I Disney-splain you) my other fave. People who hire private guides to jump the line are disappointed to find you can’t, a few groups are super, and the rest are the jerks you would think would have $3000 for such an expenditure. I liked that the author started out assuming she would have a long term career at Disney before the almost inevitable Disney burnout that after a handful of books I can spot at least a chapter ahead of our main character.