Newest Home and Family Reviews

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Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell

5star.jpg Reference

Naoki Higashida was only 13 years old when he wrote the international best-seller The Reason I Jump. The book was popular because it gave a rare glimpse into the workings of the autistic mind, as told from the unique perspective of a teenager with non-verbal autism. Naoki communicates by using an alphabet grid, or by tracing letters on the palm of a transcriber. Despite this slow and laborious method of writing, he has published several books in his native Japan, and manages to give public presentations to raise awareness of his condition. Fall Down 7 Times Get up 8 reintroduces us to Naoki as a young adult in his 20s and explains how his perspectives on life have changed since writing his first book. Full review...

Girling Up by Mayim Bialik

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Aimed at teenagers, this book focuses on growing up as a girl, or Girling up if you will, and what it means to transition from school girl to grown up, via that hideous detour of teenage years. Full review...

Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruit and Veg by Ben Raskin

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I worried when I looked at this book: Grow, it said, A family guide to growing fruit and veg. Why did it worry me? Well, it's a mere 48 pages and the cover says that it includes Games, stickers and MORE! I have weighty tomes which don't completely cover what I need to know about growing fruit and veg, so wasn't this going to fall a little short? Well, it doesn't - not at all. Full review...

Camping With Kids by Simon McGrath

4.5star.jpg Home and Family

When my daughter was young it used to be joked that if a child asked on his fifth birthday to go camping and you told him that he could in five years' time, he'd be there on his tenth birthday, all kitted up and ready to go. These days the discussions - and delaying tactics - are more likely to be about technology - and mobiles in particular. Whilst it's wonderful that children do embrace technology, it shouldn't be at the expense of getting out in the fresh air, being free of screens and having an adventure - preferably with all the family doing it together. Full review...

Choosing the Perfect Puppy by Pippa Mattinson

4.5star.jpg Pets

If you have ever, for even a fleeting moment, thought about getting a puppy, you really ought to read this book. Too many people are carried away in the heat of the moment and must have a particular breed and go ahead without any thought about the consequences. They then have to live with the problems which might have been avoided for a decade or more. The puppy and the adult dog also has to live with an owner who might not be able to accommodate his needs. Pippa Mattinson is my go-to author on matters dog related: she talks sense. She doesn't try to talk you out of getting a particular breed or any puppy: she simply presents the facts and allows you to make your own decisions. Full review...

My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya

4star.jpg Home and Family

Dr Patrick Mbaya was enjoying life as a consultant psychiatrist, husband and father. His career was going well and he enjoyed making ill people better. His marriage was solid and fulfilling and his two children were exploring their potential, often through the uplifting power of music. Life was good. But then... Full review...

My Son's Not Rainman: One Man, One Autistic Boy, A Million Adventures by John Williams

3.5star.jpg Autobiography

In 2012, stand-up comedian John Williams was encouraged by his work colleagues to write a show charting his experiences as the parent of an autistic boy. After registering the domain name: My Son's Not Rainman, he also decided to write a blog to share his funny anecdotes and experiences. After a shaky start (I had a handful of followers. Three of them were my brothers), the blog eventually went viral as it increased in popularity with parents who felt a connection with John and 'The Boy'. This book fills in some of the gaps in the story, starting with 'The Boy's' early childhood and ending, appropriately, on his thirteenth birthday, when he suddenly became 'The Teen'. Full review...

Beloved Old Age and What to Do About it: Margery Allingham's the Relay by Margery Allingham and Julia Jones

4.5star.jpg Home and Family

We remember Margery Allingham as a novelist from the golden age of crime, perhaps not as famous as Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers but certainly well regarded by those who appreciate good writing and excellent plotting. Her last completed book was not a novel but The Relay, a combined account of caring for three elderly relatives, (Em, Maud and Grace) between 1959 and 1961 and suggestions as to how other people might achieve a good old age for their relatives. Margery died in 1966 and The Relay was never published in the form in which it was written. Full review...

Peace of Mind: A Book of Calm for Busy Mums by Georgina Rodgers

3star.jpg Lifestyle

The promise of a book bringing me calm was too much to resist! There it is, in the title, my job description (busy mum...well, that's just one of my jobs!) and that elusive state that many mums seem to be trying to find, peace of mind. I have to say, I was looking forward to some insightful revelations into changing my life. I think the problem, however, was quickly apparent in that like a busy mum, who is trying to wear a hundred masks at the same time, and carry out a multitude of roles, this book isn't entirely sure what it's trying to be, with everything from poetry and colouring to mindfulness and recipes. Full review...

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

5star.jpg For Sharing

Roger the Rabbit wanted to fall asleep, but somehow he couldn't, no matter how hard he tried. It wasn't that he didn't do much during the day, because he did but sometimes he was so tired that he could fall asleep on the swings. One night Mummy Rabbit took Roger to see Uncle Yawn, who had a notice outside his house saying I can make anyone fall asleep and once Roger went home (it was actually quite difficult for him to get there as his eyes kept closing) he went straight to bed and fell asleep. Full review...

The Gift of Failure: How to step back and let your child succeed by Jessica Lahey

4star.jpg Home and Family

Lahey's introduction claims today's over-protective failure-avoidant parenting style is responsible for the caution and fear she witnesses in young people every day in her job as a secondary school teacher, causing them to dislike learning. She goes on to claim that, through this parenting style, we have inadvertently taught our kids to fear failure at all costs. Full review...

Caring for Shirley by John Kemp

4star.jpg Autobiography

John Kemp's wife, Shirley, suffered from dementia and loss of coordination and for eight years he was her full-time carer as she was unable to walk unaided (well, she could - but it was likely to result in a serious fall) and took care of all her most personal needs. Probably the most heart-breaking part of this is that Shirley didn't recognise John as her husband - apart from 'give us a kiss', the question 'where's John?' was usually the first which sprang to her lips in any situation. Although she could often have quite an affable disposition she was capable of kicking and biting when she was being 'encouraged' to do something which she didn't want to do. Full review...

Tips From Widows by Jan Robinson

4star.jpg Home and Family

I'm not a widow and I secretly hope that I never will be, but I picked up Tips From Widows when a close friend (who is supporting someone who knows that becoming a widow is frighteningly close) mentioned the need to plan what to do. The death of a husband must be devastating, even terrifying, but as next of kin you have certain responsibilities and there are some things which you must do. Who better to give advice than other women who have experienced what must be the worst thing that life can throw at them? Full review...

Dementia: The One-Stop Guide: Practical advice for families, professionals, and people living with dementia and Alzheimer's Disease by June Andrews

5star.jpg Reference

Worldwide there are probably as many as 44.4 million people who suffer from dementia and many times that number of family, friends, carers and relatives who are affected by what is happening to the sufferer. There's no cure, but it's not terminal and the symptoms (memory loss would seem to be the most common, but in some cases there are hallucinations, sexual or verbal disinhibition, not being able to work things out, difficulty in learning something new, finding your way about, or coping with the normal symptoms of aging) affect everyone involved. If you talk to people who are aging then it's not uncommon for them to say that they'd rather have cancer than dementia as you're unlikely to be an endless burden on other people. Full review...

The Art of Making Shadows by Sophie Collins

4.5star.jpg Entertainment

Winter is almost upon us and the evenings are getting darker. However, rather than bemoaning the lack of sunshine, how about putting a positive spin on the situation and viewing those long, dark evenings as the perfect opportunity to hone your shadow-casting skills? Shadow-play is an art form that has endured through the ages and yet still has the power to enchant and entertain. So grab a lamp, gather round and get ready to create barking dogs, flying birds and a whole menagerie of shadow characters... Full review...

Flowerpot Farm: A First Gardening Activity Book by Lorraine Harrison

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

With the demand for us to eat seemingly more fruit and vegetables every day, the world of grow-your-own is back. Why buy from the supermarket when you can release the kids into the garden to graze like cattle? However, before you do this, perhaps you should pick up a book like ‘Flowerpot Farm’ by Lorraine Harrison and Faye Bradley which will show them how to create their own fruit, veg and flower garden no matter how small a space they have to work with. Full review...

Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life by Eric Lindner

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

Hospice Voices tells the stories of the last days of some fascinating people while it follows author Eric Lindner through his journey as a hospice volunteer and a crisis in his own daughter's health. Full review...

The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M Twenge and W Keith Campbell

4.5star.jpg Politics and Society

Twenge and Campbell have been studying the rise in narcissism as a social trend. They are well-qualified to comment, having worked since 1998 with social psychologist Roy Baumeister, who pioneered research in this field. At more than three hundred pages it's rather weighty for the popular market at which it's aimed, but even if you only dip into this book, I think you'll take home their message. Full review...

Be a Happier Parent with NLP by Judy Bartkowiak

4star.jpg Home and Family

Babies, unlike new cars, don't come with a manual. There are always plenty of people, each with their own unique advice, happy to stick an oar in on whatever parenting issues you're facing, but I have often found as a mum that I'm left confused and floundering, wondering which piece of conflicting advice is least likely to permanently damage my little ones! I've watched Supernanny. I've read about how to have a contented baby. So seeing this book, with such a nice, positive title, I had to give it a go! Full review...

This is Not the End of the Book; by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carriere

4.5star.jpg Entertainment

In many ways, the cover of my edition of this book is perfectly appropriate. Huge, bold serif script, with nothing but the typeface; a declamatory instance of the art in the most common of fonts, and that perfect semi-colon at the end of the book's name - proving that that itself is not the be-all and end-all. Buy this book, as you can, in electronic form, and you might see this cover for ten seconds at most, but it is so much part and parcel of what's within. Full review...

How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes

4.5star.jpg Home and Family

Look out of the window.
See a bird
Enjoy it.
Congratulations. You are now a birdwatcher. Full review...

Stuff Every Dad Should Know by Brett Cohen

4star.jpg Home and Family

For an object lesson in how important the little things are, consider this book's title. This is not one of those collections of trivia or whimsies for fathers to appear cool to their children (ten great variations on tag; 6,000 good records with which to ween your daughter off Justin Bieber), it's not that kind of knowledge on offer. Here instead is practical information on rearing your own little thing, and in a quiet way this pocket diary-sized volume has the cojones to expect to stick around being useful for a generation, as it starts at budgeting for children in the first place, and goes from the actual birth to marrying them off. Full review...

The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide by Emma Smith

5star.jpg Home and Family

Does the world need another guide to Shakespeare's plays? There are plenty about and students these days have the added resource of the Internet to get the basics. However, if it does, then this is as good as any you will find. It's nicely written and beautifully clear and above all, succinct. In fact I'm doing a disservice to Emma Smith already by terming it a guide to his plays, because she also includes the poems and sonnets. Full review...

The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live by Roman Krznaric

5star.jpg History

'How should we live?' asks author Roman Krznaric. To answer this ancient question, he looks to history. 'I believe that the future of the art of living can be found by gazing into the past', he says. Creating a book which is as full of curiosities as a Renaissance 'Wunderkammer', he has a stab at the big questions: love, belief, money, family, death. The result is a pot-pourri of delights which left this particular reader stimulated and invigorated. Full review...

The Winter of Our Disconnect: How One Family Pulled the Plug and Lived to Tell/text/Tweet the Tale by Susan Maushart

4star.jpg Home and Family

Back in early 2009 Susan Maushart - a single mother of three teenagers - came to the conclusion that the family plugged into their workstations, TVs, DVD players, iPods and gaming consoles at the expense of normal relationships, or what we’ll come to call Real Life. She included herself in this - her relationship with her iPhone was about the strongest she had outside of her children - and she decided that something drastic had to be done. So began the winter of our disconnect - six months without screens of any description, mobile phones or listening devices in the home. You think that’s not enough of a shock to the system? Nor did Susan - she started off with two weeks without any power in the home. Full review...

The Question Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler

4.5star.jpg Lifestyle

Most of us have probably made at least one of those end-of-the-year lists of the best books, albums and parties we have been to in the previous twelve months. But can you, with some effort, locate the one you made in 1987? Have you ever constructed a graph of your ups and downs in a given period, and then decided to expand it by separating emotional, intellectual, sexual and financial aspects and colour coding them? Have you made a list of all your lovers, bosses or friends and then rated them from 1 to 10 on several dimensions each? Do you have one of the books that list 100 things to do before you die or 500 books to read in your life (and ticked off the ones you have done)? Did you ever spend a whole evening and half of a night filling in dubious 'personality' questionnaires on the Internet? Have you ever doodled something, decided that it beautifully expresses the deepest essence of your personality and then proceeded to draw such icons for all your friends? Full review...

Henry's Demons: Living with Schizophrenia. a Father and Son's Story by Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

In February 2002 Patrick Cockburn was in Kabul, reporting to The Independent on the fall of the Taliban. While he was there he called his wife Jan at home in England, and was shocked to learn that their 20-year-old elder son Henry had been rescued by fishermen after coming close to death while swimming, fully clothed, in the icy waters of the Newhaven estuary. The police had decided that he was a danger to himself, and he was now in a mental hospital. Full review...

Precious Babies: Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting after Infertility by Kate Brian

5star.jpg Home and Family

There are lots of avenues of support for those dealing with infertility, but what happens if you do finally get pregnant? You're still dealing with the scars, both emotional and physical that infertility can leave behind, but it might seem callous to ask for help from other friends from your support network who themselves aren't yet pregnant. This book aims to be a helpful guide that discusses everything from pregnancy to birth to parenting after birth in the light of your history with infertility. Full review...

The Lore of the Playground: The Children's World - Then and Now by Steve Roud

4.5star.jpg Home and Family

Like many reviewers of the hardback edition, I thoroughy enjoyed reading this book, a nostalgic excursion into my own childhood games and rhymes. It's quite fun to identify the regional context of childhood lore. It cleared up for me, as a South-East Londoner, the exact nature of a hitherto mysterious game called tag. If you have already delved into the classic The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren by Iona and Peter Opie (1959), you might find this book adds little for a general readership. For the specialist, I'm sure this book will take its rightful place in the scholarly literature on childhood culture. Full review...

So You've Passed Your Driving Test... What Now? Advanced Driving Skills For Young Drivers by Judy Bartkowiak

4star.jpg Home and Family

It's always struck me that the most difficult time for young drivers is that period just after they pass their driving test. Someone has told you that you're an OK driver, right? But you're out there, all on your own, without anyone to explain those odd things which you still haven't come across or to be the extra pair of eyes. You've got a sense of freedom, but somehow it's a little bit daunting. Judy Bartkowiak offers something a little bit different. It's not another book about road signs, driving etiquette and stopping distances – it's some ideas for getting into the right mindset to absorb the new experiences and learning some skills which might help you in other areas of your life too. Full review...

The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It by Anthony T DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen

4star.jpg Home and Family

Rather than running around outdoors, going for bike rides and building dens, lots of children nowadays end up spending hours watching TV or playing computer games. Play times in school are often very regimented and in some schools certain games like 'British Bulldog' and 'Leapfrog' and even 'Tag' have even been banned. Children are discouraged from physical play, for fear that they will hurt themselves and also through the fear that those responsible for them will find themselves facing a lawsuit if someone does get hurt. This book aims to support the thinking that very physical play is good for children; that unless they face risks in their lives and learn to assess those risks, or experience a few bumps and bruises and learn to get up and carry on, then they will lack vital life skills for their future adult lives. Full review...