Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

I have to confess Crank by Ellen Hopkins sat in my to-be-read pile for quite a long time, several years, in fact. I'm not sure why. There was something about the book that intimidated me before I ever opened it. Maybe I resisted the idea of a book about drug addiction written in a series of poems. Once I started it though, I was drawn in, seduced, addicted... I wanted more. I read more than I intended at each sitting. I wanted to know more. I felt a connection to the characters in the story. I felt the allure and the self-disgust. I cried at the consequences the addiction brought to those involved. I cheered in the hopeful moments and bemoaned the lost moments. Hopkins pushes buttons with effective character building and story telling that feels at once voyeuristic, enlightening, poetic, real, and addictive

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family by Diana Abu-Jaber

Diana Abu-Jaber tosses in a bit of this, a pinch of that, and a smidgen of the other to create a thoroughly engaging meal in Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family. Abu-Jaber pulls together American life and the influence of her father's Jordanian roots in a book that spoke to me in unexpected ways. Her descriptions of being in the kitchen with her grandmother made me long to be in the kitchen with mine just one more time. Fond memories from my own life stirred as she described her experience with her grandmother and then with her father sprinkled with her journey toward and into motherhood. When she describes obstacles encountered as she ventured out from her family's belief systems, I nodded and smiled. Abu-Jaber tapped the moment we all share when our opinions, experiences, and choices veer away from the recipe we've been assigned to create a life much more delicious. She explores love and loss and desire and need along side insecurity and confidence and self-discovery and growth. Abu-Jaber demonstrates the connection we all share with a life recipe that is sometimes overcooked, sometimes undercooked, sometimes too salty, sometimes too sweet as we search for the perfect ingredient to balance all the flavors to find the most delicious result. Life Without a Recipe is the story of a woman who knows her recipe is still being written...

This review is written based on a free advance reading copy provided by the publisher.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell

The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell offers insight into the effect the food we eat has on our health. I first learned about this book while watching the documentary, Forks Over Knives. I decided I needed to read it even though I started eating a whole-food plant based diet several years ago. Campbell and Campbell explore Dr. T. Colin Campbell's research through the years with a clarity that offers little room for argument. The China Study explains, true to its name, a long term study done on a group of healthy people living in China who eat a mostly plant-based diet where certain diseases are extremely rare. The Campbells demonstrate through an examination of eating habits and health tests how people from Asian countries develop the same health problems as Americans when they adopt a typical American diet. They also discuss the process with which our dietary guidelines are written and how they are influenced by industry including both the food and the pharmaceutical industries. Even though The China Study was published in 2006, the Campbells set an important foundation for understanding the discussion of nutrition and health through studies that have been done over several decades. The China Study provides important information regarding the policy issues as well as the misconceptions often touted with  authority regarding the food we eat and its relationship to our health.