Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon (A Falcon Guide) by Adam Sawyer

I've been using Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon (A Falcon Guide) by Adam Sawyer to find hiking trails leading to waterfalls for several years now. I really like this guide because it provides good directions to the trailheads as well good descriptions of the hikes and what to expect on the hikes. The maps of the trails are also quite nice providing a realistic idea of what the hike will entail. The photos are nicely done and add a bit of enticement for many of the hikes. The estimated time the hikes will take are fairly accurate though this does depend on one's fitness ability. I'm not sure how accurate the difficulty scale is because I think there's a large amount of subjectivity involved again. I found some of the easy hikes more difficult than I expected and some of the difficult hikes easier than I expected. Overall, though, this is my go-to guide when I'm searching for a hike, particularly because I love hikes that include waterfalls.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike

In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike explores ideology and the intense effects of releasing beliefs as well as clinging to them. Updike drops the reader into the life of the Wilmot family and follows the family through four generations of belief and life demonstrating the strong effects of society on belief and belief on society. In the Beauty of the Lilies pulled me into the middle of the Wilmot family making me feel invested in their decisions even when I didn't particularly like a character in a given moment. His characters are deeply flawed individuals who also exhibit admirable qualities. There's a sense of watching human strength and human frailty battle each other in the internal workings of the characters as well as in their interactions with one another. Updike writes in a prose that feels like it inhabits his characters and their lives with page after page that strike the moods and attitudes of the character whose point of view is front and center. In the Beauty of the Lilies demonstrates clearly the ripple effect of our actions not only through the present but also into the future as consequences pass from one generation to the next.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

I'd heard about The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg from several different sources, always as a recommended book. I finally broke down and bought a copy and then put it in my to-read pile to get to eventually. I wish now I'd put it on the top of my to-read pile. It was that interesting and informative.  As I read about cues and routines and rewards, I felt my usual resistance rise up. I suppose I'm a skeptic at heart because I often feel the need to be convinced. Duhigg breaks down the studies he references with an ease that makes them read as easy as reading a novel making The Power of Habit a very approachable read. As I read, I began to think about my own habits. I  examined which habits are productive for me and which ones aren't. I realized it really isn't always that easy to see one's own cues, routines, or even the rewards without some deep examination. The Power of Habit pushed me to think about the role of habit in everything around me and with everyone around me. 


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The How Not to Die Cookbook by Michael Greger, M. D. FACLM with Gene Stone

The How Not to Die Cookbook by Michael Greger with Gene Stone offers a plethora of plant-based recipes that are easy and interesting. Greger makes the recipes accessible even for those who aren't adventurous cooks. While he does include some ingredients that might be unfamiliar to some, they are relatively easy to find. In addition, The How Not to Die Cookbook includes a handy guide to tell you which items on Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen from How Not to Die, you can mark off after eating it. I've only made a few recipes from The How Not to Die Cookbook thus far, but all have been successful and delightful. I look forward to making many more of the recipes in this cookbook. For those who find cooking plant-based meals overwhelming, this cookbook simplifies it in a reassuring manner. I've shared some of these recipes with several people who don't eat a plant-based diet who were surprised at how tasty the dishes were. The How Not to Die Cookbook is a great addition to any cookbook collection regardless of how one chooses to eat

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Flavors from Home by Aimee Zaring

I won a copy of Flavors from Home by Aimee Zaring in a contest sponsored by the publisher, The University Press of Kentucky. I very much enjoyed reading the stories of the refugees in Flavors from Home. Zaring told their stories in an engaging, compassionate, and fair way. While at times, Zaring seems to lean a little heavily on how much the refugees appreciate their new lives in America, she also presents the refugees as productive members of society.  She tops each refugees story with a recipe from their homeland. As a vegan, I can't imagine eating, let alone fixing, most of the recipes in this book, but there are a few I will likely adapt to vegan recipes, or at least try to. The refugees' life stories and their relationship to the food of their homelands reminded me just how intricately food is woven into our identities. Flavors from Home demonstrates the power of food to bridge the divide between people turning strangers into friends and friends into family.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Courting Disaster: An Angie Amalfi Mystery by Joanne Pence

Courting Disaster: An Angie Amalfi Mystery by Joanne Pence stays true to the cozy mystery format giving Angie a mystery to solve while obsessing and stressing over the details of the engagement party her mother is planning without Angie's input. Her fear over the party not being perfect leads her to try to find out what's happening with the party creating as much a mystery for the reader as the connection between the murder that takes place, the mother and baby who find their way into her neighbor's, and therefore her, life, and the criminal behavior they uncover putting them all in danger. Courting Disaster mixes humor, food, mystery, and a set of unfortunate circumstances to keep the reader intrigued.

Red Cape Capers: Playful Backyard Meditations by Linda Varsell Smith

Red Cape Capers: Playful Backyard Meditations by Linda Varsell Smith is filled with thoughts on meditating and the struggle it can be to meditate. Varsell's poetry paints a picture of her backyard, her mother's red cape, and her attempts to meditate that draw the reader right into the experiences she shares as well as her ruminations on life and life events. Red Cape Capers is vivid and enchanting at times while thought-provoking and uncomfortable at others. 

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