A parenting memoir and travel guide that will inspire families to have new experiences.



Entertaining vignettes and useful advice by a mother of four who’s been traveling with her children since they were infants.

Jain shares amusing anecdotes and things she’s learned during her journeys with her kids in the United States and abroad in a blend of engaging remembrance and practical travel manual. She advocates traveling with kids as a means to instill in them a sense of compassion and a love of new experiences, but the key goal is to have fun together as a family. The story loosely follows the Jain family’s trips (which sometimes included the children’s grandparents) to destinations in New England, California, and Canada as well as in Costa Rica, the Bahamas, the Azores, Italy, and Scandinavia, with flashbacks to some of the author’s own travel adventures before she had kids. The transitions between the various accounts are sometimes abrupt, making the narrative feel disjointed. The adventures include well-known tourist attractions, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Disneyland, in addition to wildlife observation, hikes, and ferry rides. Most chapters feature one or two “Lesson Learned” sidebars that offer practical advice on such topics as choosing accommodations, deciding what to pack, applying for passports, and finding ways to afford it all. She effectively stresses that both children and travel can be unpredictable, so resourcefulness and flexibility are essential. The author has a flair for apt descriptions: She compares a crowd in the Sistine Chapel to “four-year-olds clustered around a soccer ball” and bikes in Copenhagen at rush hour to “the mosquitos of Belize,” and she muses about mountains “capping the earth like meringue on a pie.” Her voice is down-to-earth and her sense of humor and commitment to environmental sustainability are evident throughout.

A parenting memoir and travel guide that will inspire families to have new experiences.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73596-000-5

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Boston Bels Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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