Motherhood Comes Naturally

Motherhood Comes Naturally by Jill SmoklerTitle: Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies)

Author: Jill Smokler. She is the author of a previous book of parenting essays, Confessions of a Scary Mommy and blogs at ScaryMommy.com

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Readers: Mothers Sulyn, Megan V., Katie and Reinventing Mommy.

Summary: Newly pregnant and scared out of her mind, Jill Smokler lay on her gynecologist’s examination table and was told the biggest lie she’d ever heard in her life: “Motherhood is the most natural thing in the world.”

Instead of quelling her nerves like that well intentioned nurse hoped to, Jill was instead set up for future of questioning exactly what DNA strand she was missing that made the whole motherhood experience feel less than natural to her. Wonderful? Yes. Miraculous? Of course. Worthwhile? Without a doubt. But natural? Not so much.

Our Take: A funny and candid look at real parenthood that would make a great gift for new parents. Our readers enjoy Smokler’s frankness, but warn that she may offend more sensitive readers.

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Abandoned Ship

Title: Abandoned Ship: An Intimate Account of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck

Author: Benji Smith. This is his first book.

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Readers: Consultant Alila, prosecutor Rochelle, teacher Ninian and policy wonk BakingSuit

Summary: On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia — a thousand foot long luxury cruise ship, twice the size of the Titanic — ventured into shallow water and smashed into the rocks of a tiny island off the coast of Italy, throwing the four thousand passengers and crew members into a state of chaos. The captain and officers all abandoned ship, leaving the few remaining castaways to fend for themselves as the boat toppled onto its side and water flooded into the passenger decks.

In the wee hours of the night, newlyweds Benji Smith and Emily Lau feared for their lives, desparate and terrified after a malfunctioning lifeboat left them stranded on the sinking ship. By this point, the other lifeboats had all gone. They had been left behind.

This thoughtful memoir — hailed by The Daily Telegraph as “a compelling, minute-by-minute account of the chaotic evacuation” — tells the remarkable story of the couple’s harrowing escape, as they clung to a rope and rapelled down the hull of the doomed vessel.

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Once Upon a Flock

Title: Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens

Author: Lauren Scheuer. She has illustrated several childrens books. She is also the author of the popular blog, Scratch and Peck.

Genre: Memoir

Readers: Reading teacher Emry, event planner Kathy, accountant Gina aka Slappy, policy wonk BakingSuit and publishing professional Gigi.

Summary: When longtime illustrator and lover of power tools Lauren Scheuer was looking for a project, she got the idea to raise backyard chickens. Her husband and teenage daughter looked on incredulously as coop sketches and chicken-raising books filled their New England home. But when the chicks arrived, the whole family fell in love with the bundles of fluff and the wild adventures began. Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens stars Scheuer’s backyard chickens—with their big personalities, friendships, rivalries, and secrets—and the flock’s guardian, Marky the terrier. The flock includes Hatsy, the little dynamo; Lil’White, the deranged and twisted Buff Orpington; Pigeon, the fixer-upper chicken; and Lucy, the special-needs hen who bonds with Lauren and becomes a fast friend.

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The Anti-Romantic Child

Book: The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy

Author: Priscilla Gilman, her writing has been featured in The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times. This is her first book.

Genre: Memoir

Readers: University administrator Stacie, stay at home mom Colleen B., production coordinator Joanna and policy wonk  BakingSuit.

Summary:  Priscilla Gilman, a teacher of romantic poetry who embraced Wordsworth’s vision of childhood’s spontaneous wonder, eagerly anticipated the birth of her first child, certain that he would come “trailing clouds of glory.” But as Benjamin grew, his remarkable precocity was associated with a developmental disorder that would dramatically alter the course of Priscilla’s dreams.

In The Anti-Romantic Child, a memoir full of lyricism and light, Gilman explores our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves—and the ways in which experience may lead us to re-imagine them. Using literature as a touchstone, Gilman reveals her journey through crisis to joy, illuminating the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected.The Anti-Romantic Child is a profoundly moving and compellingly universal book about family, parenthood, and love.

Read It If You Love: Romantic Poetry, Parenting Nonfiction, Confessional Memoir

Skip It If You Hate: Romantic Poetry, The Ivy League, Upper-Class Parents

For Book Clubs That Are Interested In: Memoir, Parenting, Special Needs  (Check out the Reading Group Guide)

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Driving the Saudis

Book: Driving the Saudis

Author: Jayne Amelia Larson. This is her first book. She is an actress and film producer.

Genre: Memoir

Reviewers: Homemaker Suze, literature professor Amanda Patchin, project manager Andrea, reference librarian Erin and victim advocate MJ.

Publisher Summary: When she got hired to drive for the Saudi royal family vacationing in Beverly Hills, Larson thought she’d been handed the golden ticket. She’d heard stories of the Saudis giving $20,000 tips and Rolex watches to their drivers. But when the family arrived at LAX with millions of dollars in cash—money that they planned to spend over the next couple of weeks—Larson realized that she might be in for the ride of her life. With awestruck humor and deep compassion, she describes her eye-opening adventures as the only female in a detail of over forty assigned to drive a beautiful Saudi princess, her family, and their extensive entourage.

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