Monday, December 30, 2013

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
While a family was being gruesomely murdered, the youngest child toddled off to a nearby graveyard, thus escaping death, or so it seemed. Raised by the dead, living in the graveyard, Nobody Owens, or Bod, as he was called, learned the ways of the dead. His friends were the dead and he learned how to Fade from sight and walk through walls, and open the ghoul gate and yet, he was lonely for the company of the living. As long as he is being hunted by the one who killed the rest of his family though, he can't really join the world of the living. This is a lovely and fascinating story of a child raised by and among the dead.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
"Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless like they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world."
A lyrical and magical journey through the fears and joys of childhood all wrapped into a short novel.
Just amazing.
Read it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull (Jim Morgan #2) by James Matlack Raney

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull by James Matlack Raney

Jim and his friends go with the pirates on quite an adventure in this second book in the series. A magic island, fairies, harpies, a sea serpent, merpeople, an evil storm, talking animals and more abound in this rousing sea tale. Lots of action, fighting, magic, luck and friendship make this a fun book for kids to read. I look forward to the next book! I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Eric Brown, Wendy Brown

Browsing Nature's Aisles by Eric Brown

Well-written, and interesting, this book tells about one family's quest to learn more about foraging and eating wild foods. After many years of research and growing their own foods at home, they spent one year incorporating foraged foods into at least one meal a week. The book is well-researched and explains that if one is going to eat foraged foods, you should check at least three sources to make sure that what you are eating is what you think it is and that it is not poisonous, that you should only take one third of what is edible from an area at any given time, and that it can be good to find a teacher or mentor to show you how to find edible plants in the wild. While the only "foraging" I have done is eating wild blackberries that we found growing when I was a child, I do appreciate the wisdom in this book. Compared to the concept of the doomsday preppers who stockpile massive amounts of canned goods, it seems more useful to know how to identify and eat foods that one can find commonly in the wild and in your suburban neighborhood. I don't think I will be going out foraging any time soon, considering the fact that last week I saw and smelled paint pouring out of a drain into the creek near our house, which would be the closest area for any wild foraging. I did call the city and they sent someone out and when I went back, there was no longer anything coming out of that drain. We are near the start of that creek, and it eventually dumps into a local lake where there is recreation and fishing. I am sure that the paint I saw being dumped from a construction site into the creek is not the only icky stuff that is in the creeks and in our local environment. I did learn that the weed that we cut down, but keeps coming back that we found covered with pretty black and yellow caterpillars one day is most likely milkweed and is edible and the caterpillars will be monarch butterflies, so we will stop chopping it down and leave it for the caterpillars. I think this is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out by Jon Robertson, Robin G. Robertson

Apocalypse Chow by Jon Robertson
What can a vegan eat during a power outage? Pretty much anything, as long as you have water and a cooking source. This book recommends using an indoor single burner butane stove and filling the bathtub in preparation for something like a hurricane. Since "nine times out of ten when the lights go out, it isn't the actual apocalypse", the authors explain, with a good touch of humor, how to prepare for a variety of disaster situations that could leave you home with no power for a while like hurricanes, ice storms, or terrorist attacks.
Whether you chose to make "Duck and Cover" Tortilla Bake, Tournedos of Tabbouleh Salad, or Red Rum Chili, you will be using lots of cans of beans. The recipes look pretty good and the book is very funny. I highly recommend it.

Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan

Apocalypse Cow by Michael   Logan
Never mind mad cow - these are zombie cows. When a virus being made by the government as a potential biological weapon is accidentally released in a slaughter house, the cows attack - everyone. The story follows Terry, the lone surviving slaughter house worker, Leslie, a journalist trying to land a good story and Geldof, a fifteen year old boy whose mother is a nudist vegetarian and father is a constantly stoned ex-military man. Leslie finds out too much and Brown, the mad scientist who runs the facility that created the virus wants to silence her forever. The story is rather slapstick, quite crude, and very funny.

Friday, December 20, 2013

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff
Laura tells her story of how she befriended Maurice, a poor, troubled boy, and how their friendship helped both of them to have better lives. The story is true and therefore, not perfect. It is well-written and interesting and inspiring. We all can make a difference in someone else's life if we just stop and let others into our life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Breed by Chase Novak, Scott Spencer

Disturbing and creepy, Alex and Leslie, desperate to have children, finally go to the expensive and secretive fertility Dr. Kis in Slovenia.
His treatment is very unorthodox, but it does allow them to have children - twins = Adam and Alice. However, it has rather gruesome side effects on their parents including abnormal hair growth, an appetite for fresh meat - like small animals and perhaps even larger ones, and a decrease in mental acuity. Some animals do eat their young. As Adam and Alice try to survive and escape their parents' abnormal appetites, they encounter other children whose parents also received services from Dr. Kis and all suffer similar problems.

Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children by Reid Wilson, Lynn Lyons

Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children
Well researched, with many anecdotal stories, this book helps to explain the family dynamics involved when a child is anxious and gives practial advice on how to overcome the cycle of anxiety. I think that parents of children who are suffering from anxiety will find this book to be quite informative and helpful. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The Maker's Diet Revolution: The 10 Day Diet to Lose Weight and Detoxify Your Body, Mind and Spirit by Jordan Rubin

The Maker's Diet Revolution by Jordan Rubin

Snake oil salesman alert! For those unfamiliar with the term, snakeoil sales refers to marketing a product using fraudulent claims - like this book does. I had read " The Maker's Diet" by the same author several years ago, but I had forgotten what it was about. This book claims that it has a 10 day diet to lose weight and detoxify your body, mind and spirit. 10 days sounds fairly simple and I thought it might be good. I was wrong. Jordan Rubin has several different companies selling supplements and health "foods" and his books serve to advertise for his products. This book focuses on his Live Beyond Organic company - a multi-level marketing company that sells "organic" processed food products.
At the beginning of the book, Jordan explains how he went on an evangelical trip to India even though he was afraid of the parasites in their food and water because his wife and son had visions that they should go. Then, God spoke to Jordan and told him that since he was so faithful to go and evangelize in India, He would honor Jordan "by giving him an innovative idea and strategy to transform the health of people." God then told Jordan to have his organic food company make and market a product that he could advertise by writing this book! God is such a businessman.
The book's concept begins with a 10 day "fast", which can be done in two ways. One way involves drinking water and eating primarily vegetables during certain hours of the day. The other option is to purchase the "Daniel Diet 10-Day Transformation Pack", which the author claims you can have shipped to your door for "about the same price the average American spends on food per day." The 10 day pack costs $300.
If you believe that God spoke to Jordan Rubin and told him to sell all this stuff, then feel free to spend your money on it. Considering that Jordan Rubin has been taken to court in the past for making fraudulent claims for his Garden of Life Products, I, for one, am not buying this stuff. I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I am glad that I did not pay for it.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Before (Betwixt .5) by Melissa Pearl

Before (Betwixt, #0.5)
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. It is a prequel to the book "Betwixt", which I have not read. "Before" tells the story of Dale, a rebellious preacher's kid who is running with the wrong crowd. When he overhears his parents talking about their own past, which was less than perfect, and more importantly to Dale, kept secret, Dale uses that as an excuse to continue with his partying ways. I found this book a bit too Christianly formulaic. Preacher's kid rebels, finds out his parents are not perfect, gets into drinking and sex, but neither really satisfies him, and the results are rather tragic. Still, it is a well written, well edited and interesting book.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Loved it! Alice awakens on the floor in a gym, from a strange dream that she does not understand. She has apparently fallen off of a bike in her spin class and hit her head. She has no idea why she is in a gym and has forgotten the last 10 years of her life. After her sister meets her at the hospital and she is released the next day, having lied and told the doctors that her memories are returning, Alice must try to figure out what has happened in her life for the past 10 years and why she is divorcing her husband. It really makes you think about what you might think about your life today from the point of view of your 10 years ago self. Would you like yourself today? Are you doing what you thought you would be doing now? The story is told rather realistically and I love seeing the younger Alice's perspective on her current life and how it changed her. Totally fantastic book!

Serafina and the Silent Vampire (Serafina's, #1) by Marie Treanor

Serafina and the Silent Vampire (Serafina's, #1)
Totally love the zombie banker vampires. Just do. This book has a new twist on the vampire plot and is funny, sexy and mysterious. Serafina, a psychic, has never believed in vampires - until she encountered some. Now, she and her friends who work for her psychic detective agency which combines her real psychic abilities along with con-artistism, are caught up in trying to stop a major vampire problem. With a Darth Vader moment, and an incredibly sexy vampire, Serafina may be in for more than she was expecting. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it. Warning - adult content.

Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children by Barbara Nicholson, Lysa Parker

Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children
This book is an excellent resource about attachment parenting. It is well-researched and I think that all parents to be and parents of babies and toddlers should read it. It is well written and easy to read and explains why attachment parenting is important and how to do in in a variety of steps. I wish that this book had been around before I had children. I would have found it quite helpful.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Trailersteading: Voluntary Simplicity in a Mobile Home by Anna Hess

Trailersteading by Anna Hess
I got this book free on Amazon - the last time I looked, it is no longer free - but honestly, it really is a good book! I have no plans to live in a trailer. Ever. But, the title of the book sounded interesting and it was free, so I got the book. I found it to be interesting, informative, well thought out, well edited and quite thought provoking. The author posits, based upon her own experience and that of others, that if you have land and can get a cheap or free used trailer or mobile home hauled there and set up, that trailers are easy to DIY and fix up and can be a very affordable and comfortable housing option. The book goes into great detail about how to find the land and trailer, how to get it moved, and many aspects of how to remodel a trailer and make it into a really nice home. With lots of examples, photos, diagrams and more, this book really is a great resource! I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Cruel Path by David J. Normoyle

The Cruel Path
In this prequel to The Narrowing Path Series, three brothers work together to survive the Green Path - a competition among the boys of the Ascor, the wealthy in the community to survive and guarantee a place for themselves to hide in the limited underground shelters from the scorching sun that makes the planet unlivable for a few weeks every six years. The boys must fight, bargain or help a fighter and be interesting and cunning to win a place for survival. Of the three brothers, only two will be chosen to live if any of them are at all. One brother will have to die. Eolnar tells the story of himself and his brothers and how they use their wits to survive and as he does, he sadly comes to terms with the death of one of his brothers. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won't Work

Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won't Work
This book is a really really inconvenient truth. Well researched and documented, the author explains why everyone in the entire world needs to eliminate all animal products (meat, dairy and fish) from production and consumption in order for the world to be able to feed everyone sustainably and avoid debilitating global warming. He explains how the land and oceans are being depleted and the adverse affects of eating animal products on our health. He does not think we can take "baby steps" and merely change our ways of food production and eating animal products, but that we need to cut out eating all animal products completely. He explains how the land that is currently used to grow grains to feed to animals that we eat could instead be used to grow healthier grains that would feed many more people and be healthier for the people and the environment. The book is in depth, scientific and presents a frightening picture of what will happen if we continue on producing and consuming animals the way we do now. Everyone should be made aware of this! However, awareness alone will not change us. I know. I understand this book and believe it. I have heart problems and am on two medications for that and I absolutely understand that I would be healthier if I ate no animal products. I have been reading various vegan and vegetarian cookbooks for the past year trying to find healthy real food recipes that don't include gross fake meat products and processed foods. And after reading this book, when I went to the grocery store - I bought a roasted chicken and some crumbled goat cheese along with the produce that I purchased. It was really good too. I imagine that if the animal products were even more expensive and good produce and grains were less expensive - and if I can find better recipes for vegan foods - including ones that my picky kids will eat, it might be easier to just up and quit consuming animal products. Our culture, beliefs and taste buds are hard to change though. If everyone were more aware of this, and we all work together on it, I think we can do it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding
Fantastic story for middle school girls! Gwendolyn has been going through a lot of changes lately with puberty - growing breasts, getting her period and now floating to the ceiling. As she learns to deal with the fact that she is a Night Flyer, she also learns more about her father, who disappeared years ago and how to deal with her emotions and her friends and family. This is a sweet and funny book and I think that middle school girls will really enjoy it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I slogged through a bit over 60% of it before I gave up and skimmed to the end. I had hoped that the plot would redeem itself and become interesting and worth the time I had taken on the first part of the book. Sadly, it did not. The book begins with the story of William Bellman, a nice enough man who is a hard worker and does well in business. When his wife and 3 of his children die from a fever, he seems to make a deal with the devil - Mr. Black, for the life of his only remaining child, Dora, who, although she survives, is an invalid for the rest of her life and once it is certain she will live, Bellman pretty much ignores her. Bellman then opens a funeral business and becomes a total workaholic working himself, literally, to death, occasionally wondering where the mysterious Mr. Black is, so that he can share his business with him as he thinks he promised. In the end, we learn that Mr. Black is, I think, Bellman's memories of his life and of his loved ones who have passed on and Bellman has ignored them and worked so hard that he has neither enjoyed nor remembered the good times he once had in his life. There were also a lot of references to rooks - black birds like crows, and I think that was supposed to be some sort of symbolism or something. I do not recommend this book.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rich Food Poor Food: Your Grocery Purchasing System by Jayson Calton, Mira Calton

Rich Food Poor Food: Your Grocery Purchasing System
This book is an excellent resource for everyone who wants to eat a more healthy diet and get unhealthy preservatives and other chemicals that are put in food our of their diets. The authors begin by explaining that just because a processed food may call itself healthy, that certainly does not mean that it is actually better than other processed foods. In a comparison of Classic Lays Potato Chips vs Baked Lays Potato Chips, the baked ones appear to be healthier based on the fact that they have lower calories and lower fat and sodium content. However, when you look at the ingredients - the Classic Lays contain just Potatoes, Vegetable oil and salt. The Baked Lays contain Dried Potatoes, Cornstarch, Sugar, Corn Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin and Corn Sugar - actually a less healthy option than the Classic chips. This book explains what many of the poor food ingredients are - since some of them are chemicals and most of us have no idea what they really are or where they come from or how they are created, and how and why they are bad to consume. The authors advocate a whole foods, non-gmo food, organic when possible diet free of as many processed foods as possible. They give recipes for making your own foods like almond milk, mayonnaise and ketchup and they rate and list a variety of foods by brand name as being rich or poor foods. I found the book well written, highly informative and easy to use. It is limited by the fact that it does not - and cannot rate all foods in any category and also by the fact that processed food companies change their products from year to year. However, it is an excellent and timely resource and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Oh my, what a sad book. An island with magical healing fish. A fish boy. Sick people who need to eat the magical healing fish to stay alive. A teenage boy who befriends the fish boy. Cruel fishermen who abuse the fish boy. Interesting concept. Very sad. Good book.

The Artemis Effect by Kasia James

The Artemis Effect by Kasia James
In this rather different apocalypse type story we follow 3 groups of people - one in Australia, one in the USA and one in England as communication crawls to a standstill, many people go insane, modern conveniences stop and people must fend for themselves. The cause of this catastrophe appears to be the changing shape of the moon. Prayed to as a goddess by some, its' changing shape affects more than just the tides.

Kimberly lives in the US and after things start falling apart, she goes to her mother's house in the country and befriends a pregnant and distressed woman named Alice. Together they traverse the post apocalyptic world with various groups of people trying to survive and evade the "ring gangs" - groups of insane men and helping the plethora of pregnant women.

Ray, Kimberly's husband is stranded in England, after having gone there on a work trip unable to return since planes are no longer flying and society has gone to hell in a hand basket. Hanes, a kind airport worker takes Ray home and they travel around England with a group of people for a while, trying to survive, Ray, all the while wanting to return home to his wife.

Scott and his friends - a group of people who are watching the skies for aliens in Australia are the third group of people who are followed in this tale as the strange behavior of the moon has caused similar problems in Australia as it has in the other parts of the world.
I found the story interesting, but it does have some editing errors and is not entirely well explained. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Originals by Cat Patrick

The Originals by Cat Patrick
I picked this book up at the library yesterday evening and finished reading it around midnight. Very interesting concept and good Young Adult novel. Sixteen year olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey look like triplets. But they are not. They are clones and they are in hiding. They take turns going out living their three lives as one person so no one will find them out. They make it work out well, with one girl taking morning classes, then going home and switching out at lunch for the next girl and the last one taking some night classes at a junior college. It works fine - until Lizzie meets Sean and Ella is pursued by David. And, a mysterious woman seems to be following Lizzie and she learns that her mother does not go to work where she has always said she did. As the boy troubles and mysteries pile up, the girls yearn to live their own lives in public rather than a three in one life in hiding. The book is intriguing with mystery and romance and teen angst.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
This book can change your life! Really. I read a lot of health and fitnees books - especially lately due to being older and having health problems of my own. This is totally the best book I have read on the topic. Ever. It is simple and comprehensive, well-researched and it makes sense, is doable and explains lifestyle changes that can help you to be more healthy. The back of the book inludes a 30 day challenge of lifestyle adjustments to do each day. In addition, there is a website on which you can answer questions and get daily reminders sent to you for 30 days. Most of what is in the book about eating, I already knew most of what the book tells about food, but don't always eat correctly anyway like most of us, but I found the reasons to eat right in this book encouraging and it has good tips like putting healthy snack foods at eye level. I learned a lot about movement that I was not aware of including the fact that we retain more that we learn if we move immediately afterwards - and I am totally moving a lot more now than I was before reading this including walking daily and incorporating more movement into my daily routines. Lastly, I learned a lot about sleep that I was not aware of including reducing light levels in the hour or so before bedtime and the importance of a good night's sleep on our overall health. Each chapter of the book ends with a list of three bullet points that sum up the main ideas about eating, moving and sleeping in that chapter. I signed up on the website for the daily reminder e-mails and am using this book as a reference book for lifestyle changes that I am sure will help me to be healthier. I recieved this book free to review from Netgalley and I am so glad that I did! It is a fantastic book and I highly recommed it!

Endless by Amanda Gray

A timeless romance. A romance out of time. This book is a lovely combination of reincarnation, time travel and romace. Seventeen year old Jenny has always been able to see the past. Now, the past is reaching out to her. It begins with a Ouija board, then continues with a mesmerizing music box that she finds with Ben, her new neighbor. A handsome man invades her dreams and shows up in her paintings. What is the truth about Jenny's mother? Can she save Nikolai? This book has action, adventure, and romance. It seems rather endless, with a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but is a lovely read. I received this book free to review from Netgalley

Monday, December 2, 2013

Broken Lightning: Legend of the Qi Symbol by Jonathan V. Cann

Broken Lightning: Legend of the Qi Symbol
Siddown and I'll tell yer how dreadful this book is. Yer not gonna believe how bad it is. I am just sayin' that because I am bein' honest. Ehh ehh ehh, this book made me wanna yell Herragh! I gotta tell yer that I got this book free to review from Netgalley. I hadda quit reading it because not only is it full of the words in the review above, but the wording is awkward and therearepartsofitthatareinitalicsthatareallruntogether. I am not sure if that was done on purpose or is a formatting error.
I canna recommend this book to anyone. Ever.