Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair

Synopsis: Raheiran Special Forces captain Gillaine Davré has just woken up in some unknown space way station, wondering where the last three hundred years have gone. The last thing she remembers is her ship being attacked. Now it seems that while she was time-traveling, she was ordained a goddess…. Gillaine’s only hope of survival rests with dangerously seductive Admiral Mack Makarian, who suspects her of being a smuggler—or worse. But he can’t begin to imagine the full extent of it. For Gillaine is now Lady Kiasidira, holy icon to countless believers, including Mack—a man who inspires feelings in her that are far from saintly…feelings she knows are mutual. But when their flirtation is interrupted by a treacherous enemy from the past, Gillaine’s secret—and secret desires—could destroy them both….(back of the book)

Review: Once again, Sinclair has proven why she is one of my favorite author. With marvelous characters, exciting plots, mysteries, fabulous world-building - how could I not adore her work? This book is a stand-alone, meaning it takes place in it's own universe - similar to Games of Command. The two main characters are likeable, funny, romantic, strong and worth rooting for! I enjoyed the way the Hero and Heroine's relationship grew, the obstacles in their way and how things were resolved. I highly recommnend to anyone who enjoys sci-fi/fantasy mash-ups with a heavy streak of romance. 

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-553-58799-4
Date Finished: 5-24-2014
Pages: 434

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review: The Rocket's Shadow by John Blaine (Rick Brant Electronic Adventure, Book 1)

Synopsis: Rick Brant's father is the leader of a team of brilliant scientist. Together, they are working to send a rocket to the moon. At stake? A two million dollar prize for the first person to do so. If they lose, not only to they lose the funding for science, but the Brant family will lose the island that has become their home. Triumph is on the horizon, but someone is out to stop them! But who? Who would do such a dastardly thing? It's up to Rick and his new friend Scotty stop the fiends before it's too late!

Review: This is a such a kitchy, cheesy, wonderful book. The science, while dated, is sound, but it's the "swell" Rick Brant and his "best family a boy could have" that really make it. Getting to take a peak at what was considered "ideal" in the years following the war is both amusing and interesting. In particular, I like the addition of Scotty - an ex-marine who fought in the Pacific Theatre. The mystery is straight-forward and the plot moves along briskly. There is action, adventure, science and romance! I highly recommend for anyone who just wants a "blast from the past" or just an easy enjoyable read where the Americans save the day, science prevails and evil is punished!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Published: 1947
Date Finished: 5-23-2014
Pages: 209

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Synopsis: One thousand years after the Jupiter mission to explore the mysterious Monolith had been destroyed, after Dave Bowman was transformed into the Star Child, Frank Poole drifted in space, frozen and forgotten, leaving the supercomputer HAL inoperable. But now Poole has returned to life, awakening in a world far different from the one he left behind--and just as the Monolith may be stirring once again. . . . (from the online description)

Review: As the ending to the series, this was okay. It was a bit slow. Lots of leading up to the climax, and then all the action took place in about 2 pages, and then, it was just a clean-up effort for the characters. I felt there could have been more action and less scientific explanation of things with no bearing on the plot. And yet, for all this, it is a strangely satisfying last chapter to the entire series. I can't explain it. But, I would recommend reading this one, and the three before it.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-345-42349-6
Date Finished: 5-17-2014
Pages: 246

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Great Speeches ed. by Stanley Appelbaum (Dover Thrift Edition)

Synopsis: A collection of the great speeches by Abraham Lincoln, including both his inaugural addresses and his most famous Gettysburg Speech

Review: This is a fine collection of Lincoln's speeches, spanning his time in Illinois politics and in Washington. Appelbaum did a good drop arranging and collecting these words. As for the speeches, they are illuminating. Lincoln, sometimes portrayed as a passive President, was fervent and hard-hitting when it came to his words. I recommend this small collection as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this President's politics.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-486-26872-1
Date Finished: 5-17-2014
Pages: 113

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: The Zen of Eating: Ancient Ansers to Modern Weight Problems by Ronna Kabatznick

Synopsis: More than 2,5000 years ago, the Buddha defined suffering as a ravenous appetite - not just for food, but for peace and security. We all know the power of a ravenous appetite. It has pushed us to extremes of both overeating and dieting many times. But how can principles established more than two millennia ago have meaning for us today? From a Buddhist perspective, overeating is a disorder of desire. Our emotional appetites will never be satisfied until we learn how to manage the desires that keep us looking for peace where it can't be found. Now a psychologist and meditator applies the Buddha's formula to help us find freedom from eating problems and the tyranny of desire that creates them. By learning to let go of your cravings and recognizing the desires that trigger overeating, you'll discover the Middle Way - a balanced state of mind that will help you navigate through the extreme indulgence and self-denial, and finally understand your struggle with food. (from the back of the book)

Review: First, the good things about this book. I enjoyed the stories and how the author included prayers and practices from several religions. I like how she linked overeating and/or dieting to emotions. I even thought one or two of her ideas had merit. But honestly - most it seemed a lot of hooey. She never actually talked about why we desire - not just food, but anything. Where does it come from? Why is it a struggle? If food isn't the answer to our desire, what is?
As a Christian, I believe all our desires can only be filled by God - anything else will never satisfy. But as this author is Buddhist, she, obviously, did not offer that answer. She didn't offer any answers, because in the Buddhist faith, there is none. If you are a Buddhist, this is an excellent book for you to read. If you are Christian, there is a truth or two to glean, but it is overshadowed by questions with no answers. And honestly, it's simple a Buddhist version of those Christian weight-loss books - and no matter what you believe, if you are focused on Food, instead of God, you will fail.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-399-52382-0
Date Finished: 5-17-2014
Pages: 191

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: Three Cheers for Tacky by Helen Lester

Synopsis: Tacky the Penguin is back, this time trying to compete with Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect in the iceberg-wide Penguin Cheering Contest. But will Tacky ever be able to learn the synchronized moves and win the contest? (from the online description)

Review: Once again, Tacky the Penguin shows being tacky is not such a bad way to live. His crazy antics and wild personality save the day in this lovely story. I enjoy the pictures and the prose, and of course - the characters! I highly recommend this book for young readers and any adult who enjoys a good chuckle. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-395-82740-X
Date Finished: 5-17-2014
Pages: 32

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove: A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hickensmith

Synopsis: Bright siblings—and amateur inventors—Nick and Tesla Holt are back in this fourth installment of their whiz-bang middle-grade series. This time, the twins are out to save science itself, as they race against the clock to figure out why a robotic assortment of history’s greatest scientists and inventors keeps going haywire. Is this sabotage, robo-geddon…or something more sinister? To unravel the mystery, they’ll have to keep adding all-new gadgets to their cyborg glove as they stay one step ahead of a hidden adversary. Together with zany scientist Uncle Newt and their friends Silas and DeMarco, Nick and Tesla won’t give up until an answer is found…but can they do it before time runs out? In this book, readers will learn how to construct a super-cyborg gadget glove that has four incredible functions: LED signal light, ultra-loud emergency alarm, handy sound recorder, and UV secret message revealer. Science and electronics have never been so much fun! (From the online description)

Review: I love this series! Once again, we join our intrepid sleuthing duo, twins Nick and Tesla, as they solve the mystery and catch the bad guys using science! Pflugfelder and Hockesmith fill these pages with humor, memorable characters, crazy plot twists and of course - Science! Not only do you get to learn about pioneers in science, space travel, new energy sources, but you get to build a Cyborg Glove! SO COOL! I can't wait to dig around in our garage and see if I can make one for me - and yes, I'm a grown adult. I HIGHLY recommend this book - for adults, for geeks and nerds, for scientists and teachers and of course, ANYONE with kids, boys or girls. This is one of the few series out there where the girl and boy are both accomplished scientists - with a healthy dose of curiously! A fun, humorous, scienti-er-rific read! Start with book one and get them all!

Bookmarks: 9 of 10

Awards: None (Yet)

ISBN: 978-1-59474-729-8
Date Finished: 5-16-2014
Pages: 270

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance by Jack Challem, Burton Berkson, M.D. and Melissa Diane Smith

Synopsis:  What is Syndrome X? It's a resistance to insulin-the hormone needed to burn food for energy-combined with high cholesterol or triglycerides, high blood pressure, or too much body fat. Syndrome X ages you prematurely and significantly increases your risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, eye disease, nervous system disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer, and other age-related diseases. Syndrome X is the first book to tell you how to fight the epidemic disorder that is derailing the health of nearly a third of North Americans. It outlines a complete three-step program-including easy-to-follow diets, light physical activity, and readily available vitamins and nutritional supplements-that will safeguard you against developing Syndrome X or reverse it if you already have it.

Review: As someone with Insulin Resistance, I had high hopes for this book. Sadly, it wasn't all that. The diet they perscribe is almost the same at the South Beach Diet, or any other low-fat, low-carb diet. There is suffice science and explanation given as to why they perscribe the diet they do, and it makes sense (and seems accurate according to the other things I've read). However, it wasn't anything new or different from all the other low-carb / low-glycemic indec advice. I thought the supplament section had promise, but would most certainly do additional research before gobbling down handfuls of supplements. Over all, I would recommend this book, but only in conjunction with other works and a doctor's advice. 

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-471-39858-6
Date Finished: 5-14-2014
Pages: 272

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other FairlyStupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Synopsis: A postmodern children's book by  Jon Scieszka. Published in 1992 by Viking, it is a collection of twisted, humorous parodies of famous children's stories and fairy tales, such as "Little Red Riding Hood", "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Gingerbread Man". The book has proved to be popular with children and adults, as its lighthearted approach creates interest while educating young readers about some of the features of books (such as title and contents) by poking fun at those conventions. (from the wikipedia page about this book)

Review: As a fairy tale enthusiast, there was no way I could resist picking up this book once I heard about it. It's a quirky montage of words and pictures, often breaking the fourth wall, each story a jumble of humorous realism, ridiculous characters and odd prose. I enjoyed it. I even laughed out loud at one point. The art is not for everyone, being a bit abstract for some tastes. But it fits the overall feel of the book. I would recommend to fairy tale enthusiast and those looking for an odd little read. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Caldecott Honor, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-84487-x
Date Finished: 5-11-2014
Pages: About 50

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Pilates (Second Edition) by Rael Isacowitz

Synopsis: The most acclaimed, comprehensive guide on Pilates is now updated, expanded, and better than ever! In this second edition, world-renowned Pilates expert Rael Isacowitz shows you the same repertoire that he has used to train multiple Olympians as well as an elite group of professional instructors who work with celebrities and athletes around the world. Starting with the foundation for all the exercises, Pilates presents an in-depth treatment of mat work, including photos, imagery cues, and detailed instruction on breathing to help you perform the movements correctly. The mat work in this edition is organized according to a mat-specific version of the comprehensive BASI Block System used for the apparatus work. This arrangement enhances understanding of the expansive repertoire and provides the tools for creating personalized mat routines. A unique set of challenging exercise sequences is offered to facilitate performing the movements in one continuous, flowing motion. After the mat work, where most books stop entirely, Pilates goes on to apply the same depth of instruction and photos to the full range of Pilates apparatus:

• Reformer
• Cadillac
• Wunda chair
• Step and ladder barrels
• Ped-a-pul
• Arm chair
• Magic circle

The complete repertoire includes a purposeful grouping of exercises into blocks that work all regions of the body and progress from the fundamental level through the intermediate and advanced levels to challenge you at all stages of Pilates development. With more than 200 exercises and more than 50 variations, Pilates is the most comprehensive guide available on the method. As a contemporary approach to the work of Joseph Pilates, this is the one book you need in order to improve your balance, concentration, coordination, posture, muscle tone, core strength, and flexibility—in short, your well-being. (from the online description)

Review: This book is FULL of useful information about Pilates. From the history to carefully described work-outs, to helpful overall hints to detailed analysis of issues, this book has EVERYTHING! Other than one or two Pilates classes, I've never done much. But this book gave me the confidence to start at home routines with the mats - and even look at getting a reformer or a cadillac. The book includes a marvelous index, easy-to-follow pictures and guides and lots of information to help the novice or veteran. I highly recommend this book for the Pilates instructor or someone looking for a comprehensive guide to this marvelous exercise form. 

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4504-3416-4
Date Finished: 5-11-2014
Pages: 371

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: 2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke

Synopsis: Arthur C. Clark, creator of one of the world's best-loved science fiction tales, revisits the most famous future ever imagined in this NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, as two expeditions into space become inextricably tangled. Heywood Floyd, survivor of two previous encounters with the mysterious monloiths, must again confront Dave Bowman, HAL, and an alien race that has decided that Mankind is to play a part in the evolution of the galaxy whether it wishes to or not. (from the online description)

Review: Between 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey Two and this one, this one is my favorite. I enjoyed seeing the character Heywood Floyd again, I enjoyed the new technology, the adventure, the description of Europa and the other settled planets and moons. There was more action, more dialogue and less verb age about philosophy and the nature of humans. My only complaint it the ending. It sort of just - ended. There was almost no explanation as to how things happened or what the hell David Bowman or HAL had to do with anything. I would have liked more. I suppose that means I will need to read 3001, although, from the description of that book, it doesn't seem like any of my questions will be answered. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-345-35879-1
Date Finished: 5-10-2014
Pages: 271

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ramble: Evolution and Books

As I grew up in a conservative Christian home, I was never taught much about Evolution, other than the few most basic facts. 1) Darwin invented it. 2) It says Man descended from Monkeys and 3) It's wrong.

Recently, I took a Biology class that covered Evolution more in depth. It was intriguing, to say the least. I felt like I couldn't learn enough about it. 

I asked my Professor (a marvelous woman, by the way, whom I eagerly anticipate taking more classes from), and she graciously gave me a list of book to read. She called them First Level, meaning these are basic. Once I am finished with those, she will give me Second Level to read as well. 

Here are the book she suggested: 

Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins

River Out of Eden by Richard Dawkins

Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

The Diversity of Life by O.E. Wilson

The only one I've heard of is Beak of the Finch (which, I owed a copy, decided I wasn't going to read it and sold it to a bookshop. Sigh). 

I'm excited to hunt up these works and delve into them. 

I still believe God created the World and everything it. But there is evidence that I am curious about, that I wish to reconcile with what I know. Perhaps that is why I find evolution so intriguing. Not because I think it's true and Creationism is false - but because I think Creationism IS true but I see evidence for Evolution. I want to know how the puzzle pieces fit. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (I CAN READ Book)

Synopsis: Biscuit is a little yellow puppy. And like most puppies, he would rather play than go to bed. Will Biscuit ever go to sleep? (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a cute, sweet, little story with a bit of humor. Kids will appreciate Biscuits antics and Parents will appreciate how much it mimics trying to get a young child to go to bed. With bright pictures and simply prose, this is an excellent first book for new readers - in particular, those who have or love dogs. I highly recommend these as a good starter set.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-06-444212-8
Date Finished: 5-3-2014
Pages: 26

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Acquisitions: Blue Crab Books

A friend and I made another trip to Blue Crab Books. Oh, that place is quickly becoming a favorite haunt. I can't seem to walk out without an armful of delightful booky goodness! The proprietor is marvelous and the prices are so cheap - I'm still vexed because it took me this long to discover it!

I anticipate many a fine Saturday spent digging through those shelves, uncovering wonders galore.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: Abel's Island by William Steig

Synopsis: Abel’s place in his familiar, mouse world has always been secure; he had an allowance from his mother, a comfortable home, and a lovely wife, Amanda. But one stormy August day, furious flood water carry him off and dump him on an uninhabited island. Despite his determination and stubborn resourcefulness—he tried crossing the river with boats and ropes and even on stepping-stones—Abel can’t find a way to get back home. Days, then weeks and months, pass. Slowly, his soft habits disappear as he forages for food, fashions a warm nest in a hollow log, models clay statues of his family for company, and continues to brood on the problem of how to get across the river—and home. Abel’s time on the island brings him a new understanding of the world he’s separated from. Faced with the daily adventure of survival in his solitary, somewhat hostile domain, he is moved to reexamine the easy way of life he had always accepted and discovers skills and talents in himself that hold promise of a more meaningful life, if and when he should finally return to Mossville and his dear Amanda again. (from the online description)

Review: This is a pleasant read with more depth than I expected. The character of Abel is well-written - he has flaws, but isn't reprehensible, he is spoiled, but teachable and he learns reacts to his predicament with courage, perseverance and intelligence. I recommend this book to young kids, in particular boys. It would make an excellent conversation starter about survival, tenacity, and what really matters. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year (1976), Newbery Honor Book (1977)

ISBN: None
Date Published: 1976
Date Finished: 5-1-2014
Pages: 119

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review: Jem's Island by Kathryn Lasky

Synopsis: Camping out, lying in a sleeping bag under the stars, in Maine, on an island you choose yourself....Jem has been anticipating this trip all through the winter and spring, and now the time has come. He and his dad study the navigation charts, choose their provisions, pack the kayak, and paddle off to find their island, cook supper over a campfire, and feel the magic of adventure. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was a sweet, pleasant book about a young boy's first kayak trip with his father. The lyrical, yet simply prose drew me in and I felt as if I was there, anticipating the trip, gliding on the water, breathing in the salt and pine and night air. Worth reading, in particular for young boys.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-590-46422-1
Date Finished: 5-1-2014
Pages: 56

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke

Synopsis2001: A Space Odyssey shocked, amazed, and delighted millions in the late 1960s. An instant book and movie classic, its fame has grown over the years. Yet along with the almost universal acclaim, a host of questions has grown more insistent through the years, for example: who or what transformed Dave Bowman into the Star-Child? What alien purpose lay behind the monoliths on the Moon and out in space? What could drive HAL to kill the crew? Now all those questions and many more have been answered, in this stunning sequel to the international bestseller. Cosmic in sweep, eloquent in its depiction of Man's place in the Universe, and filled with the romance of space, this novel is a monumental achievement and a must-read for Arthur C. Clarke fans old and new.(from the online description)

Review: I enjoyed this more than the first. I felt it had more action and more diaglgue. I liked how the action was the tension amoung the crew, the danger of space and not the alien-explosion-OMG-WE-GONNA-DIE type that so often gets dumped into books. Clarke's work is a subtle, slower varity. He explores human interactions with each other and the enviroment, the heart and mind and universe. All in all, it's a story that sticks with you. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None 

ISBN:  978-0345413970

Date Finished: 4-28-2014
Pages: 320 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review: The World's 1000 Best Poems ed. by Berton Braley (10 Volumes)

Synopsis: A collection of poems, dating from Ancient Samaria up to the early 1920s. As it was published in 1929, it contains no poetry or poets past that point.

Review: I picked up 9 of the 10 volumes for a total of $3 at a church rummage sale. I bought the last volume for $5 online. I read the entire set in April because April is National Poetry Month.
I was pleasantly surprised by this collection. Braley did a fine job of choosing poets - famous and not-so-famous, everyone from Shakespeare and Milton to the anonymous writers of drinking songs. Not only did he include high poetry, but he included favorite common jingles and negro spirituals. He included a few female poets, but most of the authors were male. He organized them by poet's last name and included an informative index in Volume X, making the entire set easy to search.
In the end, I found this an excellent collection, well-chosen and well-organized, and well worth reading. I highly recommend:

Note: My favorite poem of all 1000:

Song of the Greek Amazon by William Cullen Bryant

I buckle to my slender side
The pistol and the scimitar,
And in my maiden flower and pride
Am come to share the task of war.
And yonder stands the fiery steed,
That paws the ground and neighs to go,
My charger of the Arab breed
I took him from the routed foe.

My mirror is the mountain-spring,
At which I dress my ruffled hair;
My dimmed and dusty arms I bring,
And wash away the blood-stain there.
Why should I guard from wind and sun
This cheek, whose virgin rose is fled?
It was for one- oh, only one
I kept its bloom, and he is dead.

But they who slew him- unaware
Of coward murderers lurking nigh
And left him to the fowls of air,
Are yet alive- and they must die!
They slew him- and my virgin years
Are vowed to Greece and vengeance now,
And many an Othman dame, in tears,
Shall rue the Grecian maiden’s vow.

I touched the lute in better days,
I led in dance the joyous band;
Ah! they may move to mirthful lays
Whose hands can touch a lover’s hand.
The march of hosts that haste to meet
Seems gayer than the dance to me;
The lute’s sweet tones are not so sweet
As the fierce shout of victory.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: None
Date Published: 1929
Date Finished: 4-26-2014
Pages: 2500 (250 per volume, 10 volumes)