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  • To Siri with love : a mother, her autistic son,… by Newman, Judith.
    ★★★★★

    This book seems to have accrued some criticism for Judith's 'baring of her soul and telling of her sons' most apauling secrets' on the interwebs; however, In her defense I must emphasize that only the truly necessary has been divulged. Additionally: please not 1) a very slight amount of actual dialogue between Gus and Henry is quoted verbatim, and considering her prowess as a journalist we must assume that "tweekage has occured", therefore in life, given the opportunity to discuss with Mrs. Newman her sons proclivity to discussing 'turtles' I must assume that 'turtles' is just an example category (which could really have been stegosaurus) and the point is that autistics like to discuss details of things and focus on particular subject areas extensively on occasion. If I do get to meet Mrs. Newman in person I will ask her if she has colored music. If I get to meet Gus I will ask him to sing something. What this book provides best is a melange of wit, at once a mothers' semi-autobiographical experience of raising autistics in New York (with help), and a sort of 'action catalogue' of possible behaviors that 'might' occur for someone within the spectrum or close to it. Therefore depending on whether or not you are a researcher, a parental unit, or a synesthete or autistic person what you will take home and identify with most will vary greatly for the reader. Another Journalist who has written auto-biographically about herself as well as her child and should be praised for it not condemned is Adair Lara. (Highly recommended for parents of difficult teens) Judith is that rare journalist who can provide movement, nonfiction factoids, as well as parental coping strategies all wrapped up in one neat package. Read it before you judge.

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Apr 18, 2018

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  • Zero : the biography of a dangerous idea by Seife, Charles.
    ★★★★★

    The idea of begining counting from ZERO not one might be un-intuitive for non-programmers or non-mathematically inclined types, however different cultures counted age in-utero, mayan's represented numbers using facial masks, and a wide variety of the history of pre-western calendrial systems are discussed and explained by Seife. Quite the possibly the first book of this genre in the history of publication Seife deserves much more lauding than he's getting so if you enjoy this book, please consider buying a copy. This book will not sit well with non-scientists (possibly Catholics or any religious extremists) who can't comprehend the historical inaccuracy of the non-lunar calender system, or who can't stretch their mind enough to realize B.C. and A.D. are just arbitrary labels.

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Apr 18, 2018

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  • Off the charts : the hidden lives and lessons… by Hulbert, Ann.
    ★★★★★

    Equal parts academic historian and psychological researcher, Ann Hulbert immerses us slowly but thouroughly into the waters of prodigy-ism as it has been documented. The biographical detail of the lives covered is fascinating, for myself I particularly enjoyed Nathalia Crane, poet and likely synesthete, and Bobby Fischer chess champion extrordinaires' early years and precious photos. The book begins with chapters covering 2 prodigies at a time allowing a certain comparison between the tangent lives then midway through the book Hulbert style changes by forcing an examination of programmers which then triggors a sort of pandoras' box question: "What is the difference between genius, autistic prowess, and Savant Syndrome?" When have these categories overlapped? Clearly there are many more cases to be examined. This book is well suited to a parents as the parental dynamic involved in the raising and shaping of each over-achiever is documented. Extensive Bibliography included; this book is everything we would have expected from a Harvard graduate, bravo and "Encore!"

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Apr 18, 2018

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  • A Secret History of Witches by Morgan, Louisa
    ★☆☆☆☆

    I had such high hopes for this book, but they were dashed again and again.  The story opens in Brittany and soon moves to Cornwall, settings that should have been a compelling part of the story.  

    A Secret History of Witches chronicles the story of a family, the Orchires, as they pass on knowledge of their religion from mother to daughter.  I had a difficult time finding a character I actually liked and I made it up until the last 100 or so pages.  When one character's mother is murdered due to her betrayal, instead of using this as a way to connect to the emotional life of the character, the story just skips a few decades and moves on.  There is a lot of antagonism between the mothers and daughters in this book.  Rarely is love expressed.  Cruelty seems to be the norm.  This could have been a rich and interesting story.  Instead it was boring and a waste of time.

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Apr 10, 2018

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  • The Winter People by McMahon, Jennifer
    ★★★☆☆

    The Winter People ties together a mysterious death in 1908 with the current disappearance of Alice Washburne.  Alice's teenage daughter, Ruthie, must try to unravel the mystery of what happened to her mother.  Ruthie's little sister, Fawn, discovers secret hiding spots in the house where she finds all manner of mysterious items.  Part mystery and part horror story, this book keeps the reader's interest until the end.  I was surprised not to like it more than I did, however.  

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Apr 10, 2018

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  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky, Stephen
    ★★★★★

    Told in a series of letters to an anonymous reader, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, chronicles Charlie's first year in high school.  Charlie is sensitive and analyzes everything, but he also sees things that other often miss.  I chose this book because it was listed in an introvert-INFJ forum and I can certainly see why.  Charlie is often overwhelmed by his emotions and what he sees going on around him.  He feels the pain of the world and can't let it go.  But along the way he does makes some really good friends and manages to come out on the other side of his troubles stronger and more confident.

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Apr 10, 2018

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