Monday, August 31, 2015

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #1)
This is an interesting and thoughtful-making dystopian YA novel.  Set sometime in the future after many people have died due to an untreatable outbreak because anti-biotics had become useless due to overuse, we meet seventeen year old Jenna Fox.  She has no memory at all - even of who she is, and her parents have told her she had been in an accident and was in a coma for the past 18 months.  They have given her video discs of her entire past life to watch and slowly, as they told her it would, her memory returns.  Something, however is off, and she realizes that they are not telling her the truth.  Mystery, intrigue and some romance abound in this well-written and gripping YA novel.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Center of Gravity

In this intense, fast paced psychological thriller told by three of the characters, we watch Eva's "perfect marriage" quickly degrade into a nightmare as her husband Mitchell totally loses it and tries to frame her as the insane one.  Their 8 year old son, Jack, also tells his side of the story.  Mitchell is overly controlling and manipulative and it is a bit surprising that Ava, who was a school counselor until her husband made her quit working, did not see how abusive he was any earlier.  The psychological and other abuse is realistic and chilling and I have known people who were in similar relationships and it rings quite true.  I found the book to be well-written and hard to put down.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

George by Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino
Ten year old George is in 4th grade and although everyone sees her as a boy, she feels like she is a girl.  The story is told by George and is well done in the voice of a fourth grader.  She really wants to be Charlotte in her school's Charlotte's Web play, but her teacher thinks it is a joke when she tries out for the role.  Her best friend Kelly, however, gets the role and helps George to express her true self so that her mom and teachers begin to see that she is really a girl.  The story is well written, easy to read and written on a 3rd or 4th grade reading level.  I think that children will be able to read and understand and enjoy the story.

Friday, August 28, 2015

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Compelling and well-written, this story tackles many disturbing issues including teen motherhood, child abuse, rape, illegal immigration, child neglect, bullying, alcohol abuse and more. It also includes young love and is the story of a single mother who is trying to make a better life for herself and her children. Letty has made many mistakes and she is not a likable main character. Her son Alex, is more likable and his romance is sweet. I love the author's writing and had a tough time putting this book down. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen by Gena Hamshaw

Food52 Vegan by Gena Hamshaw
This book has totally beautiful photos of the foods! I like that. I love that the recipes use whole foods with instructions for making your own oat and nut "milks" and how to make your own egg replacers from whole food products as well. It does not include using nasty processed soy fake meatlike crumbles and other highly processed replacement "foods". It is all real, delicious food! The recipes are well-written and easy to follow and the foods are delicious! I want someone to make all of them for me, but since that is not happening, I will have to make them myself. I really want to eat everything in this cookbook!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Well, this book kept me reading it, but did not live up to what it could have been.  I rated it three stars because it was compelling enough that I kept reading, but perhaps it should be 2 1/2 stars if I could do that because after all that reading, I did not like the message nor the way it turned out.  It is rather a mash up of The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter and it does have some fun and different magical elements.  But it is ugly.  Fillory, a total copy of Narnia, turns out to be much uglier and Quentin starts out unhappy and finds out that all the magic and even his favorite magical childhood story world can't make him happy and while it is well written and has some interesting elements, it is just so dreadfully depressing.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Witness Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations Eli Rubenstein with The March of the Living

Witness by Eli Rubenstein
This book is incredibly touching. Illustrated with photographs and quotes from Holocaust survivors, many of whom have participated in the March of The Living, this book is a factual and touching reminder of the Holocaust and the enormous suffering it caused. I received this book free to review from Netgalley for an honest opinion and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Isle of the Lost (Descendants #1) by Melissa De La Cruz

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la CruzOk, when I got this book, I had heard it was great from a woman whose daughter had read it. I had no idea that it is the prelude to a Disney Channel movie. I have, however, read and enjoyed other books by this author. The concept behind this book, and the movie is that all the Disney bad guys were banished to an island where they could not practice magic and they had kids and the book is about their kids. For some reason, probably because they are evil, the adults all seem to be single parents, who are trying to raise their kids to be as evil as they are, but the kids may or may not be as evil as their parents. Mal, is the daughter of Maleficent, Evie is the daughter of the evil queen in the Snow White story, Jay is the son of Jafar, and Carlos is the son of Cruella DeVil. The book is a fun story to read and now I want to watch the movie!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Eat Clean Live Well by Terry Walters

Eat Clean Live Well by Terry Walters

Totally excellent vegan cookbook featuring real foods rather than fake processed foodlike substances or products. The recipes are vegan and gluten free and delicious! I have been checking out all the vegan cookbooks I can from 3 different library systems in my area and this is the first one I have liked well enough to actually buy the book. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

All the Answers by Kate Messner

All the Answers by Kate Messner
Ava is a 7th grade girl who has a lot of anxiety. Luckily, she has a great best friend and a loving family. One day, when she uses a pencil that she grabbed out of the junk drawer at her house for a math test, she finds that the pencil can answer questions that she writes down. Together, she and her best friend have a bit of fun with the pencil, but Ava quickly begins to feel guilty about getting answers from a magic pencil, and she soon finds out that there are some things that it is better not to know. With the help of the pencil, she learns to have more confidence in herself in school, and to face her fears. The story is touching and sad in parts and funny in others. I think that kids in grades 4-8 will enjoy this book. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Totally captivating story. This book was as difficult to put down as the first one. Now captive in Venda, Lia captures the eye of the people, who love her and see her as a fulfillment to prophesy and of the Komizar, their ruthless leader. Kaden continues to be her ally, and Rafe waits for his friends to come and rescue them. Totally excellent book and I look forward to the next one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Never Forgotten (Collective #3) by Stacey Nash

Never Forgotten by Stacey Nash
This story is told alternately by Mae and Jax. The love triangle continues awkwardly, and Jax leaves for a while so Mae can make up her mind. The Collective are killing lots of people and Nikolai is quite evil. Anamae wants to rescue her mother and she attempts to do so without permission. Will is definitely an excellent character and Jax seems emotionally disturbed. The book seems to end with a cliffhanger so I am not sure if it is the last book in the series or if more are planned. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds

The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen  Reynolds
This book is a fascinating look at exercise and how it affects our bodies, moods, aging process and more. The author references a myriad of studies about topics from the type of shoes you should wear while running (or is barefoot better?), to the effect of drinking low fat chocolate milk after a workout. I think that one must have been done by the dairy industry. I learned a lot about exercise and also wondered who thought up some of the studies and who would volunteer to participate in some of them. I found the book to be interesting and insightful and I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Snap! by Hazel Hutchins, Dušan Petričić (Illustrator)

Snap! by Hazel Hutchins

As Evan's crayons break, he finds fun ways to color with the broken bits and pieces. This book has fun, bright, cute illustrations that encourage blending colors and using your imagination! I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Walk Your Butt Off!: Go from Sedentary to Slim in 12 Weeks with This Breakthrough Walking Plan by Sarah Lorge Butler, Michele Stanten, Leslie Bonci

Walk Your Butt Off!: Go from Sedentary to Slim in 12 Weeks with This Breakthrough Walking Plan
While I think this book is mostly common sense and overly simplistic, I think it could be good for someone who is currently not exercising or dieting at all. I personally like the little section of exercises because they are easy enough for me to do. Instead of push-ups, it has you start with a wall press – and while I cannot do a push-up, unless it is a push-up bra and even that is not for me, I can do wall presses – like a champ! You can then work your way down to push-ups. It also shows “door squats” which involves holding onto the handles of an open door to do squats, which takes care of the balance issue that I had in the past while trying to do squats the way I saw on an online video.The book includes a food log and a workout log and lots of encouraging tips and stories.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Penelope Perfect: A Tale of Perfectionism Gone Wild by Shannon Anderson

Penelope Perfect by Shannon Anderson
Penelope is an elementary school child perfectionist perhaps bordering on OCD. The illustrations are very cute. The rhyming story is fun to read. After a storm knocks out the electricity and her alarm clock fails to ring, Penelope oversleeps and has a very on-perfect day and learns how to lighten up and have fun. The book has activities and discussion questions at the end that parents and educators can use to discuss anxiety and perfectionism with children after reading the story. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The End of Diabetes by Joel Fuhrman

The End of Diabetes by Joel Fuhrman

This book has been quite eye-opening for me. Dr. Fuhrman explains how diabetes works and how insulin and other diabetes medications make it worse rather than better. The best solution to type two diabetes is to follow the nutritarian diet that he recommends. This diet is mainly vegan, but includes a healthy variety of foods so that you get the full amount of nutrition needed. It is not only about what you don't eat, but about what you do eat. I recommend that all people with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes read this book and follow it's advice!

Freya and The Dragon Egg by K.W. Penndorf

This is an intriguing fantasy for middle grade children.  Freya's father studies Norse Mythology and Vikings and catalogues Viking artifacts at a museum.  One day, when Freya goes to bring him his lunch, police are in the building and her father gives Freya a small object to hide.  Soon, she is thrust back in time and finds herself with actual Vikings, befriended by a Berserk named Erik, trying to take down a bad guy and save the world.  I think that children will enjoy this story. 

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

In this book, you have a 9/11 type situation with bizarrely behaving birds taking down multiple airplanes in rapid succession. Reese and David are at an airport along with their debate coach waiting to fly home and are stranded at the airport. In the panic that ensues, they flee, the coach is killed and they are in an horrific car wreck in the desert in Nevada. There are secrets and mysteries and Reese becomes involved with a hot chick named Amber. At the end of the book, which is a cliffhanger, Reese has feelings for both Amber and David and the supernatural aspect of the story is also at a turning point. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hunted (Spirit Animals, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater
I think that each book in this series is written by a different author. I totally love Maggie Stiefvater and was happy to read her book. It is the second book in the series and I have not read the first one. I think it is probably advisable to read the first book first in order to really understand what is going on. This book centers around 4 children who have special spirit animals who are great beasts which are legendary and better than your average spirit animals. They have become part of a political group called the Greencloaks who are trying to free the people from the tyranny of the current leadership. They and their spirit animals travel to various places fighting various bad guys. I think that children in grades 3 through 6 will enjoy this book and the others in the series.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston

Veganist by Kathy Freston
I listened to this book as an audio book. The author makes a really good case for a plant based diet from the health benefits to the deplorable way that the animals that we eat are treated. It makes being vegan sound like a good thing to do and makes me want to not eat meats or dairy any more. However, I was sad to hear her list vegan fake food sources at the end of the book like fake cheeses and meats. Over the years I have tried many of these and snuck them into my family’s diet as well. Most of them are expensive and many of them taste gross. I agree that the way animals are raised for human consumption is wasteful and horrible. I just have not yet found a vegan diet that is whole foods based and delicious. I also think that it does not need to be all or nothing, and that if we were to eat a small amount of responsibly raised animals and dairy, then it would be better than eating lots of factory farmed meats. I have, once again checked out several vegan cookbooks and have more on hold at the library. I will try again to find vegan meals to incorporate into my and my family’s diets. Today, I bought a bunch of vegan fake foods to try out for myself and my family since it has been a few years since we last tried them. Perhaps they got better.