Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Navigating Life with Epilepsy - a review

Navigating Life with Epilepsy
By David C. Spencer
Oxford University Press, 2016

I recently found myself in need of information on epilepsy, and found this book in my college library's collection.While I sincerely hope that you do not find yourself in a similar situation, I can recommend this book if you do.

Navigating Life with Epilepsy is not too difficult for the average person to understand, yet offers very specific medical and practical information. It contains a brief history of epilepsy, first aid for seizures, types of epilepsy, diagnostic and testing methods, real life scenarios, discussion of surgical options, a basic explanation of brain functions, treatment options for epilepsy, and more. A glossary, index, and a description of the most commonly prescribed medications are also included. Many of the sections begin with a real-life scenario making it easy to skip over medical information that is not pertinent to your interest or specific type of seizure.

It's helpful to know as much as possible about a life-altering medical condition, however, it's often difficult to process everything a doctor says during an office visit. Navigating Life with Epilepsy can assist in understanding treatment options and in knowing what questions to ask of your medical professional.  My family has found it helpful.

This is part of the Neurology Now Books series that includes Navigating Life with Migraine and Other Headaches, Navigating Life with a Brain Tumor, and other titles.

You can read a sample of Navigating Life with Epilepsy here.

For a fictional look at epilepsy, try 100 Sideways Miles, a YA novel by Andrew Smith. I reviewed 100 Sideways Miles for AudioFile Magazine.

If you're seeking more information on epilepsy, start with the Epilepsy Foundation website.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sam Sorts - a review

Sam Sorts

by Marthe Jocelyn
Tundra Books, 2017

Sam Sorts is a delightful combination of a messy room, a happy boy, collage art, and the math concepts of sorting and counting.
"Sam's things are in a heap. Time to tidy up. First he finds Obo the robot, one of a kind. Then two snarling dinosaurs, three little boxes, and four fake foods. How many things is that?" 
 Even Venn diagramming makes an appearance with circles created from the red and white string that is synonymous with bakery boxes. But it's not all math—there's fun as well. When creatures meet people, there is visual pandemonium. Realia and cut paper combine to make a mashup gathering featuring a lucha libre wrestler, mermaid, caveman, snake, alien, robot, cowboy, pirate, tiger and more. Sam Sorts is a perfect book for sharing one-on-one or in very small groups. The opportunities for counting and sorting are endless and can inspire similar activity at home.

My copy of Sam Sorts was provided by LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A comparison of Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow

I recently read A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
(Penguin, 2016) which I consider the best, new adult novel I have read in years. I followed it up with his first book, Rules of Civility.

Here is my take on both.

First - the most basic differences:

Rules - spans one year
Gentleman - spans one adult lifetime
Rules - social climber
Gentleman - social outcast
Rules - Manhattan
Gentleman - Metropol Hotel, Moscow
Rules - female protagonist
Gentleman - male protagonist

My takeaway: Become the master of your circumstances or they will master you.

The protagonists in Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow manage their circumstances with aplomb, however, the characters could not be more different. One's fortunes are ascendant, the other's—quite the opposite. Both protagonists are smart, well-read, and appreciative of life's finer things.

Rules of Civility spans a single year—1938 in New York City. The young secretary, Katherine Kontent, can recognize a custom-made suit, an expensive lighter, or a fine glass of liquor because she aspires to have fine things. A Gentleman in Moscow spans a tumultuous period in Russian history—from the Bolshevik Revolution to the Cold War. It takes place within the confines of the fictionalized Metropol Hotel in Moscow, where Count Alexander Rostov has been sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest. He, too, can easily recognize a custom-made suit or a fine glass of liquor—not because he aspires to have them, but because he had always had them.

Katherine (Katey) is a woman who enjoy life's smaller pleasures. She enjoys people-watching, a well-written book, a well-timed phrase or gesture. But her enjoyment is fleeting—a moment marked in time, appreciated, and discarded without sentimentality.

The Count enjoys similar simple pleasures—but he savors them, appreciating that it is these small joys that make a life worth living. Although his fortunes literally and figuratively spiral downward, his spirit and joie de vivre are rarely diminished. At the worst of times, he finds pleasure in the most basic events.

 The Count has deep, genuine, and lasting connections with those people he counts among his friends—be they cook, revolutionary, poet or child. Katey, too, appreciates her friends, but in a more offhand manner—seeking or eschewing their company as it suits her mood or needs. Still, each has an ethic that suits his/her particular place and time.

Amor Towles' writing is replete with short literary passages that are worth reading on their own. That he has filled two historical fiction novels with thought-provoking commentary of literary quality is impressive. The words of a young girl in pre-WWII Manhattan and a disgraced aristocrat in post-revolutionary Russia jump off the page and insert themselves in the modern world in a way that is urgent and immediate, and not without surprises.

I know that I am late to the party and both books have garnered numerous awards, but I would like to add my hearty recommendation of Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow. I cannot wait to see what Amor Towles will offer next!

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...