Category: Non-Fiction

MOTHERHOOD SMOTHERHOOD by JJ Keith

Fighting Back Against the Lactivists, Mompetitions, Germophobes, and So-Called Experts Who Are Driving Us Crazy Available now from Audible. com  From the Publisher: “What’s the first thing a woman does when she thinks she might be pregnant? She Googles. And it goes downhill from there. While the internet is full of calming and cheerily supportive articles, it’s also littered with hyper-judgmental message boards and heaps of contradictory and scolding information.Motherhood Smotherhood takes parents through the trenches of new parenting, warning listeners of the pleasures and perils of mommy blogs, new parent groups, self-described “lactivists”, sleep fascists, incessant trend pieces on working versus non-working mothers, and the place where free time and self-esteem goes to die: Pinterest (back away from the hand-made flower headbands for baby!). JJ Keith interweaves discussions of what “it takes a village” really means (hint: a lot of unwanted advice from elderly strangers who may have grown up in actual villages) and a take-down of the rising “make your own baby food” movement (just mush a banana with a fork!) with laugh-out-loud observations about the many mistakes she made as a frantic new mother with too much access to high speed internet and a lot of questions. Keith cuts to the truth – whether it’s about “perfect” births, parenting gurus, the growing tide of vaccine rejecters, the joy of blanketing Facebook with baby pics, or germophobia – to move conversations about parenting away from experts espousing blanket truths to amateurs relishing in what a big, messy pile of delight and trauma having a baby is.” My recording experience: Oh, this book made me laugh.  And wish that it had been around when I was pregnant/parenting babies and toddlers.  And think of a list of people that I wanted to give it to.  Granted, Keith’s sense of humor is on the irreverent side, and she’s not shy with her use of, shall we say, colorful language.  So it’s not for every brand of new mom.  But if you’re like me, and your parenting experience was full of both anxiety and hilarity, then you’d be on board.  The following quote describing one such moment kind of summed up Keith’s writing style to me: “That right there is a vomit sundae.”  Enjoy. Listen to a sample here:

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THE KILLING OF KAREN SILKWOOD by Richard Rashke

Available now from Audible.com From the Publisher: “Karen Silkwood, an employee of the Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant, was killed in a car crash on her way to deliver important documents to a newspaper reporter in 1974. Silkwood was a union activist concerned about health and safety issues at the plant, and her death at age 28 was considered by many to be highly suspicious. Was it Kerr-McGee’s revenge on a troublesome whistle-blower? Or was it part of a much larger conspiracy reaching from the Atomic Energy Commission to the FBI and the CIA? Richard Rashke leads us through the myriad of charges and countercharges, theories and facts, and reaches conclusions based solely on the evidence in hand. Originally published in 1981, his audiobook offers a vivid, edgy picture of the tensions that racked this country in the 1970s. However, the volume is not only an important historical document. Complex, fascinating characters populate this compelling insider’s view of the nuclear industry. The issues it explores – whistle-blowers, worker safety, the environment, and nuclear vulnerability – have not lost relevance today, 26 years after Silkwood’s white Honda Civic was found trapped in a concrete culvert near Oklahoma City. For this second edition, Rashke has added a preface and three short chapters that explore what has been learned about Silkwood since the book’s original publication, explain what happened to the various actors in the drama, and discuss the long-term effects of the events around Silkwood’s death.” My recording experience: Although I remember vaguely hearing about Karen Silkwood, and I think I saw the movie, I didn’t know 90% of the history of both Silkwood’s life (and death) and the nuclear power industry in general that are covered in this book.  It was frightening to learn how much the industry got away with in terms of pollution and worker exposure to radiation.  Not to mention the CIA and FBI’s involvement.  The passion from those who defended Silkwood after her death, lawyers and activists who never knew her personally, was inspiring. Listen to a sample here:

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LIAR, TEMPTRESS, SOLDIER, SPY by Karen Abbott

Available now from Harper Audio. From the Publisher: “In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, bestselling author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything—their homes, their families, and their very lives—during the Civil War. Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, an avowed rebel with a dangerous temper, shot a Union soldier in her home and became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her considerable charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to enlist as a Union private named Frank Thompson, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the war and infiltrating enemy lines, all the while fearing that her past would catch up with her. The beautiful widow Rose O’Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians, used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals, and sailed abroad to lobby for the Confederacy, a journey that cost her more than she ever imagined. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring—even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House—right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives. Abbott’s pulse-quickening narrative weaves the adventures of these four forgotten daredevils into the tumultuous landscape of a broken America, evoking a secret world that will surprise even the most avid enthusiasts of Civil War–era history. With a cast of real-life characters, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, Detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoléon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy shines a dramatic new light on these daring—and, until now, unsung—heroines.” From the review at Literate Housewife: “I’ve read many books, mainly novels, set during this time period. This book was altogether something new, showing the impact women had on the outcome of battles and the future of what is again our nation. I’m thankful for the fact that I’m partial to certain narrators. Without that, I might still be missing out on this book. I wanted some Karen White, and I got Karen White at her very best. She did a masterful job bringing these bold, patriotic women to life. This was my first experience with her narrating non-fiction and I found her technique equally engaging. The spark in her reading let me know that she found this book just as intriguing as I did. Fiction is my passion, but listening to Karen makes me realize just how perfect the audiobook medium is for me to enjoy non-fiction as well.” From the review at Chronicles: “I highly recommend the audiobook version of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. I traveled back in time with Karen White, who inflects great feeling into her charming accents. There is . . .

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THE PRICE OF SILENCE by Liza Long plus GIVEAWAY

Available now from Blackstone Audio at Downpour.com From the Publisher: “Liza Long is the mother of a child with an undiagnosed mental disorder. When she heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, her first thought was, “What if my son does that someday?” She wrote an emotional response to the tragedy, which the Boise State University online journal posted as “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” The post went viral, receiving 1.2 million Facebook likes, nearly 17,000 tweets, and 30,000 emails. Now, in The Price of Silence she takes a devastating look at how we address mental illness, especially in children, who are funneled through a system of education, mental health care, and juvenile detention that leads far too often to prison. In the end she asks one central question: If there’s a poster child for cancer, why can’t there be one for mental illness? The answer: the stigma. Liza Long is speaking in a way that we cannot help but hear, and she won’t stop until something changes.” My recording experience: This is a powerful book and a must read for all parents, really for all of us, whether or not we have someone in our lives who suffers from mental illness or a developmental disability.  Though from Long‘s research, it seems as though it’d be unlikely that any of us live lives untouched by either.  I hope that this is the beginning of a conversation in this country that leads to positive change.  As with many of our current social ills, leaving things as they are is likely to spell disaster. Listen to a sample here: THE GIVEAWAY: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Miss Susie is the randomly selected winner and the CDs will be mailed out to her as soon as I get her address.  Thanks to all for entering! I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.  

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MAKE ME A MOTHER by Susanne Antonetta (with author interview!)

Available now from Audible.com. From the Publisher: “A woman unexpectedly finds her best self through a sleepy bundle handed over at the airport in this heartfelt and surprising memoir. In Make Me a Mother, acclaimed memoirist Susanne Antonetta adopts an infant from Seoul, South Korea. After meeting their six-month-old son, Jin, at the airport – an incident made memorable when Susanne, so eager to meet her son, is chased down by security – Susanne and her husband learn lessons common to all parents, such as the lack of sleep and the worry and joy of loving a child. They also learn lessons particular to their own family: not just how another being can take over your life but how to let an entire culture in, how to discuss birth parents who gave up a child, and the tricky steps required to navigate race in America. In the end, her relationship with her son teaches Susanne to understand her own troubled childhood and to forgive and care for her own aging parents. Susanne comes to realize how, time and time again, all families have to learn to adopt one another.” My recording experience: I love narrating memoir.  Oftentimes, publishers choose to have the author narrate their own work, somewhat naturally I guess, as one gets the story from the horse’s mouth, as it were.  But the other side of the coin is that my training as an actor allows me to express an author’s words and thought/feelings more fully and engage the listener, taking them on a well-crafted journey.  Luckily, author Susanne Antonetta had the same idea, so I got to read her story for her.  We had a great conversation and it turned into the following interview. The interview: KW: So, I have to ask first: Suzanne Paola/ Susanne Antonetta – why the alter ego? SA: You know, when I lived in Atlanta and worked as a freelance writer, I had something like five pseudonyms! I get asked this question a lot and I’m not sure I can fully explain it. Maybe it works for me as a person who is bipolar, who is aware of what you could call almost the edges of my different selves. Antonetta is a family name, the name of a kind of a “lost” woman in my father’s family. I tell her story in Body Toxic. And my legal name was shortened by my father—it was originally Pietropaolo—so somehow it has never felt quite as mine as other people seem to feel their family names to be. All I know is that each of my identities has her own way of approaching writing—sometimes I call Susanne Antonetta my “evil twin.” She’s the honest one! KW: . . .

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THE NEW RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE by Martha C. Nussbaum

Available now from Audible.com  From the Publisher: “Drawing inspiration from philosophy, history, and literature, Martha C. Nussbaum takes us to task for our religious intolerance, identifies the fear behind it, and offers a way past fear toward a more equitable, imaginative, and free society, through the consistent application of universal principles of respect for conscience.”   Listen to a sample here:

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HEALTHY AT HOME by Tieraona Low Dog (plus giveaway!)

Get Well and Stay Well without Prescriptions. Available now from Blackstone Audio. From the Publisher: “At a time when taking charge of your own health care is all the more essential, respected doctor and Andrew Weil protegée Tieraona Low Dog advises on the art and science of healing at home. In this follow-up to Life Is Your Best Medicine, get the how, when, and why of getting better and staying well with homemade remedies that the doctor orders. With the help of an expert in natural healing, herbal medicine, and home remedies, you can take charge of health care. Never have we needed this sort of advice more than now, as worries about hospital-borne infections, antibiotic resistance, and pandemic threats make us yearn for the days of doctor home visits and mother’s chicken soup. We need to rediscover the special care and comfort that comes from caring for health at home. In this book she guides us in identifying, responding to, and caring for all the most common ailment…” My recording experience: I love how practical this book is!  I think no matter how deeply you decide to get into Dr. Low Dog’s natural remedies, there’s something for everybody here.  At least for everyone that is worried about things like antibiotic resistance and the overuse of prescription medications.  I’ve been applying knowledge gained to good effect and I haven’t even grown any herbs yet!  Simply taking magnesium every night before bed has not only made my leg cramps go away, it’s given me a much better night’s sleep (and I know, because I can tell the difference when I forget to take it.) Listen to a sample here:   THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Denice is the randomly selected winner and the CDs will be mailed out to her as soon as I get her address.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.

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Audiobook Giveaway: DECODING YOUR DOG

DECODING YOUR DOG The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Vic is the randomly selected winner and the CDs will be mailed out to her as soon as I get her address.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.

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DECODING YOUR DOG by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Available now from Tantor Audio. From the Publisher: More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups. The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why our dogs do what they do. And no one can address this more authoritatively than the diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, whose work, the culmination of years of rigorous training, takes them deep into the minds of dogs in an effort to decode how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn. In Decoding Your Dog, these experts analyze problem behaviors, decipher the latest studies, and correct common misconceptions and outmoded theories. The book includes: Effective, veterinary-approved positive training methods Expert advice on socialization, house-training, diet, and exercise Remedies for behavior problems such as OCD and aggression With Decoding Your Dog, the experts’ experts deliver a must-have dog behavior guide that ultimately challenges the way we think about our dogs. My recording experience: Well, let me sum up my experience with these before and after photos.  Here is my lovable, but fiercely protective 75 lb. mutt Elsa attacking the front door when she hears someone approaching: In the past, I’d followed older conventional wisdom and kept Elsa away from visitors by spraying her in the face with water.  After reading this book, I decided to try the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists more positive approach and train her to sit “in her spot” when we answered the door.   At first, I gave her favored treats every time, but here you see her “gambling” that she’ll get a treat and offering the preferred behavior. (Listen to the sample below to get what I am talking about.)

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EXPECTING BETTER by Emily Oster

Available now at Blackstone Audio. From the Publisher: An award-winning social scientist uses the tools of economics to debunk myths about pregnancy and to empower women to make better decisions while they’re expecting. Pregnancy is full of rules. Pregnant women are often treated as if they were children, given long lists of items to avoid—alcohol, caffeine, sushi—without any real explanation from their doctors about why. They hear frightening and contradictory myths from friends and pregnancy books about everything from weight gain to sleeping on your back to bed rest. Economist Emily Oster believes there is a better way. In Expecting Better, she shows that the information given to pregnant women is sometimes wrong and almost always oversimplified, and she debunks a host of standard recommendations on everything from drinking to fetal testing. …Expecting Better overturns standard recommendations for alcohol, caffeine, sushi, bed rest, and induction while putting in context the blanket guidelines for fetal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, nausea, and more. Oster offers the real-world advice one would never get at the doctor’s office. The health of your baby is paramount, and with this practical guide readers can know more and worry less. Having the numbers is a tremendous relief—and so is the occasional glass of wine. My recording experience: As I read and re-read this book, I couldn’t help but think over and over again, “Dang! I wish this book were around when I was pregnant!”  I understand that Oster’s book has been somewhat controversial, as she challenges a great deal of conventional wisdom about pregnancy and, shudder to think, encourages women to think for themselves.  But having been one of those women whose husband’s literally threw away the ubiquitous What to Expect When You’re Expecting because it was freaking me out so much, the balance of Oster’s commonsense and logical approach would have been welcome in my household.  While I patted myself on the back for many of the decisions I made during my pregnancy, reading the book made me feel sad for my friend who may have endured seemingly endless bedrest for no good reason.  And I found that had I known that flying cross country in the 8th month of pregnancy was not as dangerous as I thought it was , I may have been able to attend my brother’s wedding, which I’ve often regretted missing. Listen to a sample here:  

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