Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home Another Way by Christa Parrish

Home Another Way

I thought this was just another Christian Romance novel.  It seems to follow that genre.  The main character, Sarah, was raised by a grandmother who did not love her while father had been in jail for killing her mother.  Sarah blames her father for her loveless life and after a failed marriage and miscarriage, she goes to the mountains to get her father's inheritance after his death.  Her father has stated in his will that she must live in his house there for 6 months in order to inherit his money so she lives in the small mountain town where she finds that other people's troubles are worse than hers - exageratedly so if you ask me. 
Typical of the genre, her hard outer shell is cracked and she learns to love others and herself. 
This book does not, however quite fit the typical Christian Romance genre, which is a bit refreshing.
I enjoyed the book very much and recommend it and plan to read Ms. Parish's other novel as well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Monsters of Morley Manor by Bruce Coville

The Monsters of Morley Manor: A Madcap Adventure
I loved this book!  (insert happy jumping smiley faces here)
It is a fun, fast paced adventure in which Anthony and his sister Sarah, after animating some monster figurines that they bought at a garage sale, who are really humans who had changed their bodies on another planet and were then changed into tiny figurines 50 years ago, visit other planets and the realm of the dead and save the earth from aliens who want to take it over.  What more could you ask for?  It is totally fun and a great read. 
I have enjoyed other books by Bruce Coville that I have read and I think this one is my favorite so far!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bossypants by Tina Fey

This is a cute, funny, quick read.  Tina tells about her career and her life and how she laughs at it all.
She does not go into any detail at all about her marriage - good for her, but focuses mostly on her career and how her life lead her to become a comedian and writer.  It tells about her days doing Second City improv and writing for and then acting on Saturday Night Live, which lead to her current position creator and producer of the show 30 Rock.  I personally have never seen 30 Rock and I admit I skipped the dialogues from that show that are included in the book.  I know who Tina Fey is mainly because she did Sarah Palin on SNL.  She discusses that in the book also.  She discusses the difficulty of being a woman in what were formerly "man's" jobs - thus, I suppose, the man arms in the cover photo. 
 Even though I have never seen her show 30 Rock, I still found her book enjoyable and funny.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beautiful Yetta The Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater

Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken

Such a cute book! 
When Mr. Flegleman, the organic chicken rancher takes a load of chickens to market, the brave and beautiful Yetta escapes into the unknown world of Brooklyn.  Yetta speaks in Yiddish, written in Hebrew and translated into English and  transliterated.  She finds Brooklyn to be strange and frightening until she bravely saves Eduardo the parrot, who speaks Spanish, from a cat.  She settles in and begins to enjoy life in Brooklyn with her new parrot friends. 
I think the book is very cute and funny and I enjoyed it very much! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thinking In Pictures: My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin

Thinking in Pictures (Expanded, Tie-in Edition): My Life with Autism (Vintage)
Temple Grandin, the author of this book, has the asperger's form of autism.  She has a Ph.D. in animal science and compares the thinking process of autistic people to that of animals.  She explains how it feels to her to be autistic, and she has learned from other people with autism, what it feels like to them as well.
She explains how she does not think in words, but rather visualizes everything in images.  She believes that Einstein, Bill Gates and many other highly intelligent people have or had autistic traits and that autism is not necessarily a bad thing, just different. 

She works designing livestock handling facilities used to dip the animals and to lead them to slaughter.  The book talks a lot about animals.  She has designed facilities that make slaughtering animals more humane.  I wondered about that, but this quote helped it make sense to me: "Most people don't realize that the slaughter plant is much gentler than nature.  Animals in the wild die from starvation, predators, or exposure.  If I had a choice, I would rather go through a slaughter system than have my guts ripped out by coyotes or lions while I was still conscious.  Unfortunately, most people never observe the natural cycle of birth and death.  They do not realize that for one living thing to survive, another living thing must die." 

I think this is a very interesting, well written book and that Ms. Grandin explains how her mind works and helps us to see into the minds of other people with autism. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic Is Destroying Our Children by Dr. Michael J. Goldberg

The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic Is Destroying Our Children
Ok, this book has a really bad title and it apparantly offends a lot of people because it sounds like - if you don't read the second part of the title, that the author considers autism not to be a real condition or something.
What the author means by calling autism a myth is that the huge group of symptoms that is now called the autism spectrum does not fit the original definition of autism as defined by Kanner. Kanner's autism is a developmental disorder that is present from birth. Today's autism spectrum includes children that start out "normal" and then lose the language that they had learned and stop interacting with other people.

This author's theory is that Autism, ADHD, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are all caused by a herpes virus in the brain.  He calls them all "NIDS - Neuro imune dysfunction syndromes, a set of related disorders characterized by complex interactions between the nervous system and the immune system." 
He proposes that what is diagnosed as autism today does not fit the original definition of autism. 
He also claims that autism and ADHD have increased at a rate in the past few years that is only seen in a viral outbreak. He uses a new diagnostic tool to look at the brain called NeuroSpect and treats autism with a combination of an elimination diet, antiviral medications, antifungal medications when needed, and SSRI medication - serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft or Celexa.  He claims that many of the "treatments" that have been used on autistic children including chelation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually damage a child's brain. (I can believe that.)  His book ends with many wonderful testimonials, but all "snake oil" type treatments and herbal supplements etc... are sold with sparkling testimonials so I just don't trust that.

I am not a doctor.  I kept thinking that as I read this book and realized that I do not have the medical background to really know if what this author is proposing is medically plausible or just a bunch of medical sounding mumbo jumbo.  It sounds very logical and promising, but over and over throughout my reading of this book, I found myself realizing that I don't have the medical knowledge to judge if what the author is saying is really correct and I worry that parents of autistic children may read it and think it is correct and start demanding the medications recommended in the book for their children, when in reality, it may not be correct.

I found his dietary elimination ideas to be different than others that I have heard about. He claims that cow's milk and whole wheat and other whole grains are big allergens and that if cows only grazed on grass rather than eating grain, perhaps the dairy allergies and sensitivities might not be so bad, which kind of makes sense.  He then claims, however, that whole wheat and other whole grains are allergens and that processed wheat - like white bread, causes less allergies - the more processed the better. That is just counter intuitive to healthy eating. I wonder if soaking and sprouting whole grains would also lessen the allergic effects?

His theory and treatment sounds promising and I would like to see it examined further by the medical community.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Book of a Thousand Days
This is the 6th book I have read by Shannon Hale.  I read it last night.  I stayed up too late reading it. 
I enjoyed it very much.  I like the way Shannon is able to create complete characters in believable settings.  The main character in this book is Dashti, who is a mucker girl from the Asian steppes who sings healing songs.She is locked into a tower for a sentence of 7 years with her mistress the 16 year old Saren
who has been locked up because she refused her father's order to marry Khasar, who is cruel and evil. 
Dashti manages to keep herself and Saren, who is suffering mentally, alive in the tower.  Both Khasar, the evil suitor and Kahn Tegus, the kind suitor whom Saren wants to marry, visit the tower and speak to Dashti.  Dashti proves to be strong and resourceful as she keeps herself and her mistress alive.  This lovely story has mystery, adventure, fantasy and romance.  I enjoyed it as much as I did Shannon's other books.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stop Throwing Money Away by Jamie Novak

Stop Throwing Money Away: Turn Clutter to Cash, Trash to Treasure--And Save the Planet While You're at It
Stop Throwing Money Away: turn clutter to cash, trash to treasure - and save the planet while you're at it! by Jamie Novak.
I like this book!  I have read quite a few organizing books, and just reading them does not make one organized.  If just reading the books produced the desired effect, I would be slim and fit based on the number of diet and exercise books that I have read. 
Jamie gives good, concrete, budget friendly tips on how to organize and get rid of your clutter.
Some of her ideas I don't think I would do - like using egg cartons to organize stuff in drawers, but other things she suggests, I have already done or am now doing! 
She gives great ideas on how to overcome Organizing Distraction Syndrome - which I definitely suffer from.  I may create a desktop file system like she suggests, and I already set up a little box to hold my monthly receipts.  I like the idea of reusing what we have around the house.
I have been inspired by her book and am clearing out stuff to give away and sell.
Jamie also has a blog - http://bitesizeliving.com/blog-2/
and a website http://bitesizeliving.com/
I am glad that I read her book and I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving

A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern Library)

Ok, first of all - is that John Irving's photo on that book cover? 
Because doesn't it look a lot like George Clooney? 
That is all I will say on that topic.

There is a good story in there, but it is often hidden among all of the rambling and griping about politics by John Wheelwright, the main character, who tells the story.
The story begins when John is 11 and his best friend, the diminuative Owen Meany, who believes he is an instrument to be used by God, accidentally kills John's mother. 
The book then goes back and forth from John and Owen's younger life - spanning from ages 11 to their early 20s to John's "present" life as a self imposed eunich school teacher in Canada in 1987.  He alternately gripes about the Vietnam war and the Regan era politics.
I liked parts of the story, BUT IT ANNOYED ME THAT OWEN'S SPEAKING WAS ALWAYS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.  I FOUND IT DISTRACTING AND IT MADE THOSE PARTS OF THE BOOK MORE DIFFICULT FOR ME TO READ ESPECALLY WHEN THERE WERE WHOLE PAGES OF IT.  Owen has an odd high voice and he decided as a high school journalist to type his newspaper column in ALL CAPS and in all places in the book, if Owen is speaking , IT IS IN ALL CAPS.  I GOT TIRED OF ALL THE POLITICAL RAMBLING SO I STARTED SKIMMING OVER THAT PART ABOUT 3/4 OF THE WAY THROUGH JUST SO I COULD FINISH THE BOOK.  YOU HAVE TO READ THE WHOLE THING TO THE VERY END TO GET TO THE POINT OF THE STORY.  Maybe if you like people griping about political history you will like this book.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rashi: A Portrait by Elie Wiesel

Rashi (Jewish Encounters)

In this book, Elie Wiesel tells the story of Rashi, the most renowned Jewish commentator of the Jewish scriptures, and Talmud.  Rashi, Shlomo Yitzhaki,  lived in France in the 11th century and to this day, his commentary is used and respected.  Wiesel tells a bit about France in the 11th century and how Jewish people were treated then and about the Crusades and their devastation on the Jewish people.  Mostly, he speaks about Rashi being a genius, and he tells what is known about Rashi's life, however, in many respects, not a lot is known about his life so there is not a whole lot to tell. Wiesel shares some of Rashi's commentary on the Torah and gives his own view of Rashi's statements.

I am reading The Stone Edition Chumash, which includes Rashi's commentary so I have already read much of the commentary that Wiesel included in this book. 
It is an interesting little book, but I think I was expecting a bit more from it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Toys by James Patterson

Hays Baker is an Elite, one of the genetically and technically altered beings of the future ruling class, who, while still 99% human, consider themselves far superior to the humans who they consider to be barbaric skunks.  Hays has lightening speed and strength and quick healing, superior hearing and vision and many other alterations and he and his similarly superior wife Lizbeth operate as James Bond type investigators and heros - until he learns that everything he had known in his life was a lie.
This fast-paced novel is an intriguing mystery and a fun and intersting read.