Dragon Keeper

In Ancient China, a young slave girl suffers the abuse of her cruel master, making do with what she can scavange, her life looks rather bleak until the last remaining Imperial dragon makes an escape, taking her with him. Finding herself on a journey she never imagined and finally with a name to call her own, Ping agrees to help Danzi reach Ocean with his precious dragon stone. Faced with foes and falsely feared as a sorceress, Ping must use her creativity and cunningness to save them from enemies. Along the way, she not only learns from the ancient dragon, but finds herself and her own power as she learns that she is truly the last Dragon Keeper.

Carole Wilkinson’s Dragon Keeper is a hit with the young dragon loving audiences, but more importantly it showcases a strong female lead, something often not seen in popular children’s books and rarely in such a traditional male role, as the book discusses. I enjoyed reading the book with my children almost as much as they enjoyed listening. Many discussions ensued regarding Ancient China, Chinese culture, and the role of girls.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Pure

Julianna Baggott’s new young adult dystopian novel, Pure,promises to deliver. Touted as the new The Hunger Games Trilogy and with movie rights already sold for the first novel, the hype is indicative of a best selling book.

Baggot’s descriptive writing pulls the reader in, and the premise behind the book is horrifying. Atomic bombs, set by those wanting to purify the Earth, have drastically changed the world. Secret agendas abound and the main character, a strong female lead, starts out strong. However, after the initial chapters, the book seems to be carried by remaining momentum rather than driving to a capitulating climax.

My main complaint, and one that I can’t let go of, is that the science in the book moves is so far removed to make the book fantasy rather than science fiction. With all of its promises and good points, for me the book failed to deliver.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Catch and Release

Polly Furnas had a plan. Graduate highschool. Marry her sweetheart. Go to college, and have children. MSRA was not in the plan. Neither was spending weeks in the hospital and loosing her eye. Somehow, out of everyone in her hometown who survived the infection, she survived, along with a fellow highschooler, Odd. Now she has a choice. She can lie around wallowing in self-pity or take Odd’s offer for a fishing trip. She can choose to fight to live or slowly die inside her new body. Plans change.

Blythe Woolston’s Catch & Release is interesting, a bit disturbing, and just perfect for analyzing our views and anger. With writing and a story line that gets under your skin, Woolston wraps it up with Odd’s letters to his grandmother, effectively putting a balm on the infected story. A new book with merit for discussing what we make of life and those around us, Catch & Release is certain to find its own among teens looking for something out of the ordinary.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Beyond the Grave

It’s hard to have a normal life when your parents are paranormal investigators. Charlotte’s mother is in a coma after a previous encounter with The Watcher. Her father and sister are struggling to live, the business if falling apart, and Charlotte is left floundering, trying to hold it together and spend time with her boyfriend who is becoming more secretive each day.

Mara Purnhagen’s Beyond the Grave is the third and final book in her Past Midnight series. The book is strong enough to stand alone for those of us who haven’t read her earlier novels, but the characters seem a bit flat and the build up and discovery drags. Luckily, the action at the end mostly makes up for the slow clues.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

This was previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Tankborn

After fleeing a dying Earth, humans were divided into two classes: trueborns, who had money to buy passage on the ship to the new world, and lowborns, who had to work for their passage. In order to elevate the classes and create a working force, tankborns were created. Tankborns, genetically engineered non-humans (GENs), are created with specific skill sets (skets) to serve those who deem them inferior, virtual slaves with no rights. But what makes a human?

Karen Sandler’s Tankborn addresses topics of racism, classism, friendship, humanity, and more in this non-traditional dystopian novel for middle grade/young adults. Tankborn is science fiction for the next generation.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Double

He never claimed to be the missing Cassiel. He just neglected to deny it. Given the choice between being a nobody, nameless and homeless, or being a somebody, with everything you’ve never had,  who wouldn’t hesitate? However, pretending to be someone else isn’t easy, especially when no one is who they seem.

Jenny Valentine’s young adult novel, Double, begs the reader to ponder the essence of a person’s character – what defines a person and how that affects, or is affected by, an individual’s choices. Slow to build momentum, plot turns in the later portions of the book are certain to build suspense. Many of the characters seem lacking in dimension, but Chap’s struggles with ethical and moral decisions help readers identify with him. Despite annoying changes in tense during parts of the book, Double is an enjoyable book for teens and may lead to discussions.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher. 

This post was previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Scream Free Parenting

I read Hal Edward Runkel’s book, Scream Free Parenting, Sunday afternoon. I’ve heard the title bandied about on AP sites and wanted to check it out. I’m always on the look out for new consensual living books. I feel like I’m a better mother when I actively try to grow as a person and parent. My hold came in at the library last week, and so I picked it up on our weekly library run on Friday. Sunday afternoon was a lazy afternoon and a perfect time to catch up on some reading while watching the kids play.

I think the title could be a little off-putting, but I reserved any judgement on the book based on this. In all honestly, it’s a catchy title and therefore sets up a good marketing plan. I started off reading with high hopes, as I am getting ready to start our local NCP/CL book club back up after taking a break from it for a while. I was hoping that I could add this book into our discussions.

The book started out well. While there were a few references that had me stop in my tracks, I quickly realized they were there to appeal to a wider audience and that they weren’t actually part of the content of the book. Runkel makes a lot of good points. He mentions that the only person you can really control is yourself, and that by focusing on yourself and your words and actions, rather than on being reactive to situations, you can improve your communication and reltionship with your child.  He stresses that parenting itself is a way in which we can grow as people.  Runkel also discusses the difference between having a responsibility to our children rather than being responsible for our children. Children are people and need to be allowed to be their own persons. We have to remove ourselves from viewing them as an extension of ourselves. He has a lot of nice catch phrases in the book which are certain to appeal to many parents along with some genuinely good advice thrown in.

About 1/3 of the way through the book, as I was sending messages with a friend about restarting the book club, I mentioned that this might be a good book for us to discuss. At the end of each chapter, Runkel has even included reflection questions – perfect for a discussion group. And if I could package the first half of the book and market it by itself, I would recommend the book to every parent.

Unfortunately, half-way through the book Runkel changes course. He switches from the great advice and reminders he was giving parents to a much more authoritarian view of parenting, requiring that you set consequences and stick with them. It’s very punitive in nature and doesn’t allow for any discussion or cooperation between parent and child. In fact, I’m sure users of the infamous Love and Logic disciplinarian style would love the book.

So, for the book as a whole, I’d recommend you look around for another way to spend your afternoon. If you are willing to take what you want from the first half and discard the rest, it isn’t bad. Luckily, there are many really good books out there that are much better.

 

Previously published at Living Peacefully with Children.

The Five Love Languages of Children

The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, is not in and of itself a book about consensual living. It does skirt the issue of consensual living, though, and has merit for some parents. The book as a whole would be stronger if the authors had chosen to make the book either secular or religious, instead of their attempt at straddling both worlds. The outside of the book and publisher reviews make no reference to religious content. Single biblical references in each of the first two chapters lead to long Christian sections further in the book. Parents looking for a book without religious references will be sorely disappointed by the inclusion of religious references and opinion. Parents looking for a religious reference would be better served with a book that is straight forward regarding its references and position and which continues that theme throughout the entire book.

The book begins by addressing unconditional love, a term made more popular by Alfie Kohn. This is a concept often misunderstood by mainstream parents, and the authors clarify that while parents may always love their children, it’s the perception of the child that matters. This is an important distinction to make for parents. The concept of a love well, similar to Lawrence Cohen’s love cup, is also addressed at the beginning and utilized throughout the book. It is important that our children feel loved, and the book adequately addresses this fact. However, the beginning of the book, as well as various other parts, seem to meander around without clear focus, perhaps as a result of having two authors writing together; although other authors in a similar partnership, such as Faber and Mazlish, seem to do just fine with this approach.

The center portion of the book addresses what the authors refer to as the five love languages, defined by them as: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. The love languages seem to be loosely based on neuro-linguistic programming, with an emphasis on communication. I can’t argue with the concept of good communication and conveying to your children that you love them unconditionally. However, the overall concept is better explored with non-violent communication and other books on connection parenting. The authors begin addressing the concept of authority and the training of children towards the end of this section.

The last third of the book focuses greatly on training your children properly with love. The concept of training children stems from the belief held by many conservative religions that children are inherently bad and that without our help, they are incapable of making good decisions. This is not a concept held by families practicing consensual living nor by the world of psychology in general. The authors go on to end the book by addressing how their particular religious beliefs affect their parenting and how it should affect yours.

I would recommend this book to Christian parents who aren’t quite on board with consensual living or non-coercive parenting, but who are looking for more gentle ways to interact with and communicate with their children. Consensually living families will find the concepts of unconditional love and the expression of such more adequately addressed in other books.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

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