Tea, Rain, Book

Tea, Rain, Book

The BL branch of my Tea, Rain, Book blog: http://teareainbook.blogspot.co.uk/

 

You can also find me on the following sites:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/840708-melissa

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tea_rain_book

 

 

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Review: Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves
Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act - Rick Steves

A great book to travel through Europe, Central America, and the Middle East without leaving your couch. Steves takes you through some less than "safe" touristy places to reveal how travel can change a person's political and social beliefs - mainly by meeting people and talking about some perceptions one has about the place/people. Steves doesn't point fingers; he takes on the idea of travel as a political act by using himself as a guinea pig, in travels outside of those he does for his travel and tours business. Some of what is written here has shown up in two of Rick Steves' travel specials for PBS, but there is more behind the scenes of taping those shows in the book. The one thing about this book I didn't like was that he never wrote about East or South Asia or Latin America. He is an admitted Europhile, so a lot of time reading the book was set in Europe (I wonder what he thinks of the UK formally triggering Article 50 today).

 

All in all, I really loved his voice and his writing about the personal travel experience being a political act. I want to read more from him in the future.

URL
2017 RWA RITA and Golden Heart Awards Finalists

Here is a complete list of each category's nominations.

 

Also, Beverly Jenkins will be awarded the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony in July!

 

Finally, the Librarian of the Year Award will go to Danielle King, Alafaya Branch, Orange County Library System (Orlando, Florida).

Did Not Really Start
The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids - Tom Hodgkinson

There are many parenting styles and twice as many parenting books. I tend to be a semi idler/semi free range kind of parent. As my kids get older, I will do more free-range type of parenting (as I see most Europeans parent their kids). In my opinion, American style parenting is based on too much fear of the bogeyman.

 

With that said, just by reading the introduction, I found this father's parenting method not so much as idle as it was lazy and uninvolved; the writing was even lazier (think "won't someone think of the children" pearl clutching over scheduled activities). I was going to read this for a Pop Sugar Challenge prompt - Career Advice, because I have about another year and half of stay at home parenting ahead of me (Kindergarten for my daughter can not come soon enough!). However, this book started out as all parenting books do - shaming today's parenting and stressed out kids.

 

Just say no to parenting and diet books. They are all the same!

#trypod

Finally posted something new on my blog. I participated in the #trypod hashtag, so I listed some of my favorite podcasts.

Source: http://teareainbook.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/trypod.html
Friday Reads
Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act - Rick Steves The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids - Tom Hodgkinson Polio: An American Story - David Oshinsky He Who Fears the Wolf - Karin Fossum, Felicity David

This weekend is supposed to be in the upper 50s and sunny, so I'm thinking of taking the kids and hubby to a local castle for a day trip (because when you live in England, there are such things as local castles - either still standing or in ruins).

 

I also just want to lay around the house after big trips earlier in the month. I think I am coming down with a change of season cold/cough (a lovely gift from my kids). So I'm continuing Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves, moving on to The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson, and finishing with Polio: An American Story by David Oshinsky. I picked up a Scandinavian psychological thriller from the library today, He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum (translated by Felicity David) - way out of my comfort zone but it is research for the librarians to know about the series so they can put it into the hands of patrons who are looking for this type of book. This may end up being my first book of April though.

 

Have a good weekend everyone! If you are celebrating Mum's Day (with your kids or with your own mum), Happy Mum's Day as well!

 

 

DNF at 20%
Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio - Anne Finger

This is a rambling, incoherent mess. Finger's writing is also very annoying to read due to her constant condescending attitude toward the reader. She does not inform on the history of the disease or how it affected her personally. The final straw was when she wrote about how the oral polio vaccine may be the linchpin to the AIDS epidemic as proof that eradication of polio from the world may not be as awesome as we all want it to be.....wtf?

 

 

Reblogged
Why I Love Urban Fantasy

I’ve been a fantasy reader all of my life.  I started as a little kid with books like Waldo the Jumping Dragon.  I continued as a teenager with The Lord of the Rings.  And although I still have an enduring love of the regular fantasy genre as well as science fiction, I have found my true love in the Urban Fantasy subgenre.

 

Urban fantasy seemingly has it all: vampires, werewolves, fairies/the Fae, spies, time-traveling librarians, Medusas, talking mice, druids, magicians, goblins, intergalactic inns, magic swords, you name it!  It also has a propensity towards tough, ass-kicking main characters, be they male or female.

 

But no matter how impressive the main character, they suffer from the same problems as you and I do.  They sometimes doubt their abilities (Seanan McGuire’s October Daye).  They have difficulty with their families (Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels trying to cope with her god-like father).  They struggle with their finances (Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden).  They experience confusion in their love lives (Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse).  They worry about their careers (Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant).  They make bad decisions that have lasting effects on their lives (Kevin Hearne’s Atticus O’Sullivan).  They’ve lost people who are important to them (Ilona Andrews’ Dina Demille).  They’re having problems with their supervisor at work (Genevieve Cogman’s librarian, Irene).  They struggle to provide for their families (Ilona Andrews’ Nevada Baylor).

 

In short, these characters share the same problems that we have in the mundane world.  Just as the Harry Potter books speak to regular kids’ problems (sports, tests, bullies, misunderstandings between friends), Urban Fantasy represents a subset of somewhat more adult problems. 

 

Plus, Urban Fantasy is all about relationships and not just romantic relationships.  Building a supportive circle of friends and allies.  Making a good reputation for yourself.  Finding a good partner, both in work and in love.  Finding out what you stand for.  Basically, it is about building a well-rounded life for oneself.

 

When the main character is female, she is generally a take-charge woman.  She’s a mechanic like Mercy Thompson or a vampire-librarian like Jane Jameson or an Inn Keeper like Dina Demille.  She’s got a quick wit and quicker reflexes.  They are us the way we would like to be.  I don’t know about you, but I always think of the perfect rejoinder about two days later and I often feel like I’m in danger of tripping over my own feet.  This is the REAL fantasy of these novels—the fantasy that allows up to enjoy this feeling of competence that is occasionally missing from the daily grind.

 

I love the hopeful nature of Urban Fantasy—the belief embodied in it that we can all find our place, find our people, and find our way in the world.

Reblogged from Wanda's Book Reviews
Review
1 Stars
Review: Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly
Cat Trick - Sofie Kelly

This book had the most boring murder mystery I have ever read. So boring the recurring characters either didn't notice there was a murder in their town or just didn't care. This was more "day in the life of Midwestern librarian Kathleen" than mystery. I am giving it one star for the cats, Owen and Hercules, who were the only living beings who cared enough to solve the mystery. At least it fills in a reading challenge prompt.

Review
0 Stars
Review: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Sleigh Bells in the Snow - Sarah Morgan

I'm giving this book zero stars because I hated each character featured in the story and the writing was amateurish even though the author has an expansive backlist. It was all telling (the chemistry between hero and heroine was mentioned about a thousand times) and no showing with a cast of characters straight out of British chick lit audition room. Add in the never ending snow storms and picturesque scenes of Vermont at Christmas time so sweet it will give you a toothache, and it ends up being a boring book about horrible characters. The only reason I read the whole thing rather than DNF is because it can be used to fill in a challenge prompt. I am not going to read anything else by this author.

Review
3.5 Stars
Review: The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade - Ann Fessler

This was a fast read, but heartbreaking look at the America's "golden era" (post-WWII to 1973). The author is an artist and art professor who works mainly in video and photography; this book is more or less a literary version of her gallery work. It is also deeply personal, as the author was one of the babies surrendered and adopted during this era. The book opens and closes with the author's journey to finding her birth mother.

 

This book is HIGHLY repetitive, to the point that the repetition becomes almost satirical. Every woman profiled is/was white, middle class or upper middle class, Christian, from a two-parent heteronormative family, and never had sex education (either by parents or an organization). Their stories started to blend into one another. The author does broach the subjects of class, race, and religion in the last two chapters devoted to the women and explains why the women profiled were all from the same background. Those chapters were the most interesting from a intersectional feminist historian angle. There were inclusions of women who were date-raped, but at the time did not have the information (or even the words) to understand they had been raped until much later in life. For most of the women, they went in search of their children or made it possible to be found by their children; the author does go into the methods and organizations that are working with both groups to reunite families.

 

These are heartbreaking stories, even if they run together in the readers' heads. Families were particularly cruel to the pregnant teen, but the staff at hospitals and homes for unwed mothers were even more so. They sheer amount of lies, money, and judgment the adoption industry created in the post-WW II years was astounding. However, this book is not anti-adoption, a claim that is brought up in many reviews. They adoption process/legal rights is vastly different today than it was during this time period (much of that is credited to the work of the unwed mothers and surrendered children of this time, who banded together in the late 1970s and early 1980s).

 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in maternal issues or women's history.

Review
3 Stars
Review: Battlefield Angels by Scott McGaugh
Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh

Scott McGaugh wrote a decent book about the military medicine corps and how they changed the battlefield throughout America's history. McGaugh is not a historian, which is clear from his choices to profile and how he structured the book; he is a communications director for a museum and so his writing reflects a public relations-type of delivering information. 

 

The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War I each get one chapter that was very much an overview of the wars and where military medicine stood. Each of these chapters felt very similar, as the military was never really mindful of the medics, equipment, or processes that were advancing in the civilian world...until fighting broke out and men were dying. There was a lot of improvisation and development came from the Army branch. The highlight of this section was the mobile ambulance trains; I got to see and explore one on my trip to York's National Railway Museum.

 

This was followed by six chapters on World War II, five of which were devoted to the Marines fighting in the Pacific Ocean. And this is where the book fails a little for me - the one chapter on Europe dealt with the Army's advancement in medicine, but it was a total love fest between the author and the Marines. There was one chapter devoted to medical corpsmen who were POWs under the Japanese which was the most interesting chapter World War II section had.

 

And the Marine love-in continued in the one chapter on the Korean Conflict, even though the highlight of this era's medical advancement was the concept and execution of M.A.S.H. - Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (emphasis mine). Vietnam got two chapters, both dealing with Marines yet again. Ditto for the one chapter on Iraq (combination of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, which was another fail for me as each operation was very different other than location), although for the first time a female medic was profiled. The lone POC profiled came in the chapter on Afghanistan, but you also get another group of Marines as well.  

 

Did I mention that my branch of service, the USAF, received 0, nada, nothing, Not. One. Damn. Word. about our medical corps? Yeah, this still annoys me a week after reading the book.

 

At the end of each chapter, there was a paragraph or two that just spewed stats about the number of troops involved in that battle/war, the number dying, the number injured - but no real analysis. It was interesting to read, but really only recommend this to military history buffs or medical history readers.

Review
4 Stars
Review: Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis

This was a fun read for those baseball fans that are bewildered by how baseball teams build and manage said teams. My husband enjoys watching the Oakland A's, which is the subject of this book; but like other Lewis' works, this one is more about the culture and industry than just the this one team. I honestly wished other team managers/owners see the value in at least some of the ideas of Billy Beane and apply them to their own teams (*cough* NY Yankees *cough*  - yeah, maybe we could have avoided the problem that is A-Roid). I also like the fact that Lewis drags Bud Selig through the mud a little. Petty yes, but still fun reading. There was a lot of math involved and detailed descriptions of what stats actually mean, so I had a slower time reading this book than previous Lewis works.

Review
3 Stars
Review: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams

I talked with my husband and decided to spend an extra night in London so I could see the St Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday. So after saying goodbye to my friends on Saturday afternoon and finally finding a hotel room, I was ready to look at what the nightlife in London has to offer (besides clubs and bars, as I don't drink by myself). I stumbled upon a small (I mean small) theater (the Duke's Theater on St Martin's Place in the Trafalgar Square section) showing a limited run of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. Since the cost of a ticket was just about as much as I paid for a 3D screening of Beauty and the Beast the night before, I decided to take a chance on seeing the play.

 

Here is what I know about Tennessee Williams and his works: he is an American playwright. That's it. I didn't know what the play was about at all, other than there was four characters because the posters outside the theater had pictures of the actors. So I went in totally blind.

 

I am so glad I took the chance - there were moments of laugh out loud one-liners that lighten a rather desperate situation of a family living in St Louis in 1937. The stage was sparse, but functional to help me separate scenes being played out. The actors' performances elevated the material; to be quite honest, I would have DNF reading this play, as the characters would have gotten on my last nerve. This is a play that needs to be seen and heard (so possible audiobook choice) rather than read.

 

 Cherry Jones, playing the role of the mother, took an obnoxious twat of a character and made me care for and hope along with Amanda that her children have better futures than her. Tom was kinda of an asshole character, with a selfish streak a mile wide; however, in Michael Esper's hands, the audience also senses the guilt, the burden of responsibility place on his shoulders, and his frustrations for wanting to live his own life and explore the world. I thought the character of Laura as pretty much simpering wall paper until the James shows up and love brings her out into the world - Katie O'Flynn and Brian J. Smith had some real chemistry and I rooted for them to have a HEA. Alas, it was not meant to be (Betty can go get bent for all I care!).

 

This revival is up for 7 Oliver Awards (the UK version of the Tonys) and I really hope Jones wins in her category and the overall stage production takes home at least one prize. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours. But I am still not going to read this because without the actors', the hissy fits from the mother, Laura, and Tom would just anger me.

 

Friday Reads!
Sleigh Bells in the Snow - Sarah Morgan Cat Trick - Sofie Kelly Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act - Rick Steves The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids - Tom Hodgkinson

Happy St. Patrick's Day to the Irish and Irish diaspora around the world. I can claim Irish heritage via my great-grandmother and great-grandfather who came to the US from Cork.

 

My hubby came back from his TDY and surprised me with volumes 3 and 4 of Saga; he found them at the BX at the base he was TDY and remembered I had picked up one and two. He also bought a crap ton of Italian wine.

 

Tonight and tomorrow is my farewell trip to London with two friends, one of which is leaving to move back to the US. We are staying at a Harry Potter themed B+B, going to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie, do a Harry Potter themed walking tour on Saturday, followed by a little lunch and a little shopping.

 

Here is what I am reading this weekend and into next week:

1. Finish Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan (print copy from personal shelves)

    I am only continuing with this book because it fits a Pop Sugar prompt. I am definitely not feeling Morgan's writing or the category-length story stretched out to a full book length plot line.

 

2. Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly (Kindle book via OverDrive)

     Another Pop Sugar prompt filler. A quick cozy mystery from an author I read before (another book in the series for Halloween bingo last autumn).

 

3. Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves (Kindle book via OverDrive)

    Yet another Pop Sugar prompt filler, but I have had this one on my OverDrive wish list for a long time. I admit that if Steves or Samantha Brown had not written this book, I probably wouldn't have given it a second look; but because I like Steves' work on TV, I am looking forward to how he might incorporate politics (international and/or domestic) into the arena of travel.

 

4. The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson (Kindle book via OverDrive)

    One last Pop Sugar prompt filler. My Kindle is going to get quite the work out this week.

 

Also, I have at least three reviews to write, but just not feeling the writing vibes as much as the reading vibes.

 

Read 100%
Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh

Not one damn word about my branch of service. The USAF does so much for military medicine, and we did not get one word in this entire micro-history. I know the AF is the new kid in the DoD, but come on.

Friday Reads!
Sleigh Bells in the Snow - Sarah Morgan Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh In the Midst of Life - Jennifer Worth

I'm taking the kids on a day trip to a city we have never been to, so I will have six hours on a bus to read to my heart's content. I don't want to bring a library book (with the possibility of leaving or ruining library property on the trip), so I picked Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan off my physical TBR pile to read. The cover of my copy of the book is much different (less romance, more British chick-lit) than the one in the database. I will have In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth as a stand by if I finish the Morgan book before we get back to base (also from the physical TBR).

 

Currently reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis and it is great - a business book that is not about the financial world and is about one of my favorite sports. However, statistics play a MAJOR role in the storytelling, and it can be some dense reading (So. Much. Math.). So I am interspersing chapters from Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire from Valley Forge to Afghanistan by Scott McGaugh - a great military history read about medics, doctors, and nurses that went to war.