Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review: This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?

This is What you Just Put in Your Mouth? by Patrick Di Justo
My Rating: 3.8 stars

I decided to try something different this time. I'm not generally a "food book" person, but I do like information, and this book seemed, well, informative. We do not have a gushy exposé here-- as the author himself states in the introduction, "If you're looking for shocking stories of the gigantic corporate conspiracy to poison America through its processed foods, you're reading the wrong book." This is simply a collection of information for the curious-- to help us understand why a company may choose to put a certain ingredient in their product-- how it reacts with other ingredients, it's chemical makeup, that sort of thing. The format is easy to read: each chapter focuses on one product-- like Southern Comfort Egg Nog-- breaks down some (but not all) of the ingredients in it and their intended or assumed purposes, as well as giving a little back story on how the author got his scoop. Sarcasm abounds throughout, which is sometimes amusing and sometimes annoying when you actually are interested in the facts, but, for the most part, I did appreciate the humor. Di Justo himself is not a chemist, but a reporter, and he's not shy about putting his opinions in at times, especially concerning politics. Call me old fashioned, but I believe a good reporter should be politically unbiased (of course, I doubt such a one actually exists). Just the same, it was a good read and I enjoyed sharing interesting tidbits from it with my husband (during which I referred to the book as "in your mouth", because the title gets really annoying after repeating it more than once). In the end the book is just what it claims to be-- nothing more, nothing less.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Three Rivers Press in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: A Certain Truth

My rating: 4/5 stars

Another triumph from Bell!

I've been plowing my way through reading material, and would up picking this book up again. I had left it half read when I fell into the black hole of not reading several months ago (don't fear, I'm on the mend). This is the third book in "The Trials of Kit Shannon" trilogy, and I don't believe I reviewed the first two after reading them a year or so ago, so this review will serve as a summary of all three books.

The series chronicles, as the title suggests, the trials of Kit Shannon, an early 20th century defense attorney in L.A., who is also one of just handful of female lawyers in America. Each book is full of intrigue and mystery, so they keep you interested, and it's always difficult to predict the guilty party. The trial scenes are especially entertaining, as Bell likes to save a few surprises for the courtroom. He also weaves history into his stories by bringing in actual historical figures, so you get a history lesson along with an entertaining fictional tale. 

Like I said, I did drop out of this book halfway through, so in that sense I think it was a little less interesting at points than the previous two, which held my interest solid til the end, but this did really gain momentum in the second half. Kit finds herself swept into a murder plot during her honeymoon cruise, and ends up defending a client who may not be entirely guiltless, all while navigated personal and spiritual challenges. I enjoyed the well rounded characters and the plot twists and turns. Bell has written a couple books on the art of suspense, and his credibility shines through in his fiction. 

An exciting read for sure!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review: I Like Giving

I like giving by Brad Formsma

My rating: 3.8 stars

I mostly read fiction but occassionaly enjoy a nice self help or inspiritional book. I've had this one sitting around for the past several months and finally decided to pick it up and read. At first I sort of thought the guy was just bragging, but as I continued the book it became apparent that he and others who shared their stories were simply trying to inspire others a lifestyle of giving. I enjoyed the stories of people who gave what they had-- sometimes it was as simple as a gesture, other times as extravagant as a new house. By the end I believe the book had accomplished its purpose-- I felt inspired to give more freely and even learned a little about myself and why I feel fulfilled when I give (there is even a chapter about the science behind giving!).

It was an enjoyable, easy read. I'm a little surprised by the cover price on this book at $14.99, as it is a book about giving, after all, but I can't complain since I received my copy free from the publisher in exchange for this review!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review: While We're Far Apart

While We're Far Apart, by Lynn Austin

My rating: 4.3 stars
Amazon rating: 4.7 stars

I blazed through several books so quickly that I forgot to review some of them! This book is set during WWII and partially divides perspective between thirteen-year-old Esther whose father is off fighting, and Penny, the woman who is watching Esther and her brother until their father returns. Penny has secretly been in love with the Eddie, the children's father, since childhood and hopes that caring for his children will win his love, but that won't be easy as Eddie still grieves the loss of his wife, and the children seem reluctant and too heartbroken to let someone else into their lives. 

We also have the perspective of Jacob, Eddie's Jewish landlord who works desperately to locate his son who is right in the middle of heavy persecution against the Jews. 

Is the story unravels these three characters, and several others, touch each other's lives and teach one another valuable lessons about forgiveness, moving on, and growing up. 

I loved this story. While it was sad in many parts, it had just enough to keep you hoping for the best, and I was not disappointed at the end.

Book Review: Wonderland Creek

Wonderland Creek, by Lynn Austin

My rating: 3.8 stars rating: 4.6 stars

I've completed yet another book by one of my favorite authors, and thought I'd throw up a quick review.

Alice lives more in the world of books than the real world... that's why her boyfriend decides it's time to end their relationship. In an effort to deal with the breakup, Allie decides to deliver some donated books she has been gathering for a small town library in the mountains of Kentucky. Alice quickly finds, in the backwoods of Kentucky, that real life is much more exciting than anything in a book, as she is swept, against her will, into a plot of deception, greed, and even murder.

While this isn't a new favorite for me, I did enjoy the story and it held my interest. There was a diversity of interesting characters, even if one wasn't sure halfway through the book who to like and who not to. My favorite thing about the story was the overall message-- not just of real life versus fiction, but of actually living a life of substance even if it's harder, versus an empty life of ease and comfort. In many ways the book itself reflects the journey of the heroine-- it starts out light and a bit shallow, and ends with depth and insight. I am yet to read anything by Lynn Austen that I do not like!