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A review of books and parenting

Okay, so I’m a week or two, or three, over deadline, but the last challenge in the 31 days to a Better Blog over at Yeah Write was to write a review. Even though I’ve never written a review, I’ve recently read some pretty good books, so I figured, why not? And because I’m quite the multi-tasker, I thought I’d try a double review, of both books and my parenting skills.

How do those things tie together you wonder? Let me introduce you to my rating system.

1 star – I’m making fresh dinners, playing ball with the kids on the lawn, going bike riding, etc… Book? What book? Oh, right… that thing in my bag getting covered in cookie crumbs and marks from loose crayons.

2 stars – Kids and I are running and playing. The book comes out randomly while waiting for kids to finish up whatever they are doing. Still rather watch Housewives.

3 stars – I’m reading while pretending to watch kids play on lawn. Here’s an iTouch, kid, now go away. We’re out for pizza dinner, where I read and ignore their antics, oblivious to any dirty looks.

4 stars – Hiding in bathroom to finish chapter. Will fix your boo boo after I finish my page. Here’s some scissors, go play outside. How annoying, you want to eat? Fine. Humph! Sure watch TV all night. Just don’t bother me, I’m reading.

Now that you know the system, here’s a review of the last four books I’ve read.

I just finished Plan B by Jonathan Tropper. Tropper wrote, This is where I leave you, one of my favorite reads, certainly of last year – or it may have been the year before that, who could tell with how fast these years fly. It may even make my all-time top 10, although I’d really have to give that some more thought. Anyway, total Tropper voice in a likable ensemble, only he’s 30 years-old and having an identity crisis… Who am i? What am I doing with my life? Whine, whine. Filled with fun, 80’s references and easy to read, but lacking the depth, heartbreak and hilarity of This is where I leave you. Plan B gets a B –  2 ½ stars.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I picked this book up because I read somewhere that Anne Lamott recommended it. And truly, since reading Bird By Bird decades back, I will read whatever Anne writes and I will read whatever Anne recommends. I still fondly recall being so inspired by that book, I’d run to my desk early to ignore my work and write. Ah, those were the days.

Me Before You is the story of a quadriplegic who wants to die and his caretaker who has no life. Sounds depressing, but it’s actually not heavy handed and I was completely sucked in. So sucked in that for the three nights it took me to finish, my kids had cereal and milk and apples for dinner. Which is way better than when I was reading the Hunger Games, because no one ate during the 18 hours it took me to finish that book. Me Before You – 3 1/2 stars.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight is about a mother trying to piece together the details surrounding her daughter’s unexpected death by retracing her last days on social media. Once I started, I was hooked. Reminiscent of Gone Girl in the suspenseful pacing, and changing perspectives, just not as psychotic or as good. A great summer read, even after summer. Solid 3 stars.

Starring Jules by Beth Ain. Yep, it’s a children’s book. This charming story about a feisty 2nd grader preparing for an audition for a mouthwash commercial completely captures youth in all its nervous hopefulness. From navigating friendship to conquering your fears, Jules voice is so truly, precociously eight, you can’t help but love her and root for her. What made this book even better was that I could enjoy it with my kids, so I couldn’t ignore them at all, thus placing its rating completely off the charts.

So what I’ve learned here is that unless you’re reading together, good books mean bad parenting. But that hasn’t deterred me. Hopefully, my kids will see how much I love books, then someday they will ignore their own children. A parent can only hope. books



About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

36 responses »

  1. Hi alisa
    Thanks for the book review
    Do you have any of these you can loan me?

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Love your rating system! This should be a regular feature for you! I love Jonathon Tropper and “This is where I leave you” is one of my favorites too! Am reading “The Interestings” right now – so far a 2.5 star according to you system – but has promise to turn into a 3 or 4 star. I hope so cause I need something to distract me from these kids. 😉

  3. This is totally my life I cannot put the iphone down sometimes

  4. It is a great idea but it’s lost on me as I’m not much of a book reader. Maybe you will change my attitude.

  5. Should I read some Jonathan Tropper? You know how I only read books with happy endings, so I mostly avoid new authors for fear that the ending will be overtaken by death and disease, forcing me to abandon the book (because once someone gets diagnosed with some terminal illness, I run 5 minute miles away from the hateful book). But I’m looking for something new for my beach weekend next week.

    • loved loved loved this is where i leave you. if you’re going to read one, that’s it. i did find it heart breaking but not in the way you’re thinking, more just because people grow up and became people with baggage and crap. but it was heart-breakingly hilarious, like life. i think you will finish it in a minute.

  6. Have you read Troppers ONe Last Thing Before I go? Just read it. Pretty well done and a little heavier but still all Tropper.

  7. As long as we’re reading we are showing a good example and that’s good parenting….right?

  8. Thanks so much for the reviews, I haven’t read any of these so now I will go to the library! I love your rating system!!

  9. “How annoying, you want eat? Fine.” That pretty much says it all. You know a book is good when it feels like a monumental chore to feed your kids. Although at the rate my kids ask for food, I’d be interrupted every fifteen minutes!

  10. love the rating system and the conclusion….solid 10/10…my rating scale…

  11. What a great rating system! It makes perfect sense to me. 😀

  12. Your rating system is hilarious. No one ate for 18 hours… totally know that feeling (except that I don’t really have to worry about feeding small humans)

  13. Great rating system, they should adapt it on Amazon!

    I haven’t heard of any of the books before, but now I’m intrigued…especially by the children’s one – I don’t have a long attention span!

  14. nataliedeyoung

    Hahaha, this is my favorite book review ever! Especially love the rating system, and the closing paragraph! Made me 🙂

  15. eleanorjanebirdy

    Hey, don’t forget that both parents showing kids that they read is vital to help kids building a habit of reading as they grow up. So a good book IS good parenting! (Ex-English teacher…)

  16. Excellent rating system!! And yeah. I didn’t shower for days with Hunger Games. Shhh.


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