Review: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


If you’re looking to become a “mommy martyr,” this book is for you! It’s got good tips, but only if you’re willing to wade through the thick molasses of judgeyness.

According to LLL, the only “good” birth is a completely unmedicated vaginal labor, if you are struggling with breastfeeding it is because you haven’t tried hard enough and aren’t going to LLL meetings, formula is literal poison that will cause unlimited unknown scary side effects, and women shouldn’t want to go back to work or think hanging out with an infant is boring.

It also is laced with a bunch of recommendations that other experts flatly disagree with. Points of disagreement include: claims that breastfeeding boosts baby’s IQ (not a measurable amount after other factors are controlled for); pacifiers are horrible (pacifier use boosts breastfeeding and lowers risk of SIDS); husbands have no role in bonding with a baby (it’s cool if he wants to help in feeding); mom’s sleep doesn’t matter (lack of sleep is tied to postpartum depression); bed-sharing is the only way to go (higher risk of SIDS); breastfeeding is really tough if you had an epidural or IV—and don’t even get them started on c-sections (it will be fine).

Too fear-mongering and overblown for me. If anything, it guarantees I won’t be attending an LLL meeting.



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Review: Artemis

Artemis by Andy Weir

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I’m 30% of the way through, and I just can’t bring myself to care enough about this book to finish it. I dislike the main character too much. I think the story probably would have benefitted from a stronger hand in editing; for some reason, the character breaks the fourth wall fairly often to address the reader. And not in a great way.

Plus I have real issues with the way the characters’ sexuality is handled; mostly, I don’t know why all the references to her sex life are present at all. They add nothing to the story and are frequent enough to be gross.

There are interesting facets to the story, like the multicultural aspects of the moon colony, the pen pal letters between Earth and the moon, the science parts. But it just wasn’t enough for me to keep going.



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Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A very unexpected book! I picked this one up because it was available at the library and I was generally aware it had gotten some attention. The beginning had me thinking it was good but pretty far outside my normal reads; not in a bad way, just a leisurely meander of a character study. But the second half pulled the rug right out from under me!

The first half is a great character study. Every perspective feels different, and allows us to see the character’s inner thoughts and motivations as they participate in the health resort. Teasing out their reasons for attending was interesting without being laborious, like a slow walk on a cool day. It was a nice change of pace.

Then things got crazy…

I’m glad I picked this one up. It’s good to get to know a perfect stranger, sometimes.



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Review: Turtles All The Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A magnificently well done look out of the eyes of someone with mental health concerns. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up this book—I grabbed it based on vaguely knowing John Green was a YA author and because there was an underlying murder mystery. But I’m so glad I did. The teen-girl parts and the mystery were both interesting, but this book shines in its treatment of mental health. Everyone should read it, to see how to empathize with others, to try to understand.



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Review: Happiest Baby on the Block

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was one of the few books my hospital recommended. I read it before the baby arrived (and I’m glad I did). It provides practical solutions to at least one early parenting trial: how to calm a crying baby when you have no idea what to do.

I’m not sure I love the tone of the book, which can be a smidge patronizing, but that is forgiveable for the incredible usefulness of the practical tips. I think there’s also some “noble savage” assumptions at the root of this concept, but the tips are based on real situations and examples.

In practice, I can say the “5 S’s” do really work! It’s great to have an approach to help soothe a very young baby who can’t express his needs. Plus it reduces my stress to have something to DO when baby is so very upset.



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Review: Princeps' Fury

Princeps’ Fury by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I thought I had read this book a long time ago; turns out I was definitely mistaken, or at least I’d forgotten how great it was! This book really deepened the Codex Alera lore and did a great job “zooming out” on the rest of the world outside of Alera. It’s got military tactics, sea voyages, and cleverness aplenty. I highly enjoyed it!



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Review: The Testaments

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I picked up my copy of the book at a Margaret Atwood live event, during which she talked euphemistically about the book and why she wrote it and about her opinions on the world as a whole today. That undoubtedly colored my perspective as I read this book: I had heard Atwood’s motives and insights from her own lips, how could I be a fresh reader now?!

Of course, I loved seeing Atwood speak. She is charming, and effortlessly brilliant, and cute as a button. Her talk also convinced me that she really had written The Testaments because she wanted to, not because some TV exec had twisted her arm as I had feared.

I was not the kind of fan who desperately wanted a sequel to Handmaid’s Tale; I think the story stands up exceedingly well on its own. But will I welcome more writings by Atwood, now that her work has captured public attention? Obviously!

The Testaments is a different story; start with that. It is set some years after Handmaid’s Tale, when Gilead is firmly established and hardening in its ways, showing cracks. Handmaids are barely in the story at all, kept to the fringes of polite society. We follow three characters, including former villain Aunt Lydia. The other two offer contrasting looks at youthful views on Gilead, from both within and outside, which is an interesting comparison.

Testaments fleshes our Gilead—perhaps too much. I’m disappointed in that I anticipated all the twists and big reveals. But the book is still captivating and gives me much to think about. Atwood’s writing is inherently poetic and enthralling. And you have to wonder: facing serious hardship, is there a chance YOU would be an Aunt Lydia? Or are you meek and accepting? Or just a loudmouth teenager who has never faced real adversity?



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