Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #33: Fabookulous September 19, 2010

Natural to Super Natural Health by David Herzog

Book description: Natural to Super Natural Health releases the secrets to dropping the unwanted fat and keeping it off; reversing your body’s age and making you look many years younger; super-energizing your body; discovering the raw power of miracle superfoods; supercharging your immune system; naturally healing your teeth and even re-growing enamel; rebalancing your hormones and bringing your mind, body, spirit, and emotions into alignment; reprogramming your mind for total success, unleashing and achieving your destiny; unlocking spiritual realms; reducing stress; knowing the latest scientific discoveries; and tapping into the highest power source that exists today as you go from natural to super natural health!

Does this sound like a infomercial yet?? This book almost annoys with all of the claims it makes. Yet, I’m drawn to learning WHY foods are good for you. We all know what healthy foods are, but I like to know the fun stuff like what vitamins you get and benefits you’ll reap from what you eat. (For example, did you know-and this was not in this book- that two kiwi have the same blood thinning affects as aspirin?)

Anyway, I entered a giveaway for a galley copy of this book long ago. Having forgotten about that, last week I came home to find it came in the mail. The publisher included a note saying this was the finished copy as they ran out of galleys and the author wanted everyone who requested a copy to receive one. Well, they should have slowed down before going to print because there are several obvious mistakes and typos in this book (for example, you do not loose weight, you lose weight), but I have flagged these pages and will let the publisher know what to correct before printing again.

Poorly written, not well researched at all (7 resources to back up all of those claims??), and spoken with a “know it all” attitude, I didn’t like it from page one. But I put myself through it anyway. The introduction tells you how this book will change your life and it was then that I immediately knew it was bologna. It’s also an organic promoting, vegetarian prompting book in disguise. I hate being misled but understand marketing is part of selling your books. David Herzog uses this book more as a journal of what HE does on a daily basis (and to tell you why you should be just like him) rather than as a training tool to educate others on the benefits of “superfoods.”

Thanks, but no thanks. This was not a good book and I don’t recommend it. If you ARE looking for a great book that explains the nutritional value of different fruits/vegetables/meats/liquids, etc, then I’d recommend The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden. Colorful pictures, well researched facts, and clear categories and rankings, you’ll feel healthier just picking up Bowden’s book. The only pictures in Natural to Super Natural Health are of decayed teeth. Ick!

Do NOT waste your time with this.

0/5 stars.

Fabookulous

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Book #40: LibraryLove September 18, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Book description~ When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny. All children mythologize their birth… So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist. The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune, but kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

This modern-day ‘chunkster’ and piece of literary fiction is written beautifully with a Gothic-style undertone sure to transform you right along with the story AND make your heart pound! Remember how magically transformative movies like The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story were when we first watched them as kids? Remember how halfway through the movie, we’d forget the main character was reading a story? Or as adults, watching The Sixth Sense, when nothing was as it seemed?? This is exactly how I felt while reading The Thirteenth Tale (TTT). The beginning was a bit rocky; I wasn’t sure where the author was going with things. But quickly, after Margaret Lea makes a bone-chilling discovery about her past, she decides to take an offer she can’t refuse.

As the reader, I was transported right along with Margaret to the remote English countryside after accepting the offer to write the sought-after biography of notorious and dying author, Vida Winter. Less than 50 pages in, I was sending fevered texts to some of my book club babes who had already read TTT so I could share in the ride with them. I think if you’re interested in starting your own book club, or just for fun reading a book along with a friend, TTT is a great one to start with; it’s a definite conversation piece, will certainly keep your interest, and spark much conversation.

Biographer Lea couldn’t have predicted the parallels between her life and Miss Winter’s but it is quickly made clear that the adventure she embarked upon will change her on every level. And Miss Winter, although known for her ability to create vivid mockeries when asked to share about her personal life, opens up in such unlikely ways; you have to read to believe it…

“I shall start at the beginning. Though of course the beginning is never where you think it is. Our lives are so important to use that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born…yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole.” – Vida Winter

Although I never would have picked up TTT on my own, I’m so glad it was chosen by one of the book club babes as the October selection.

As usual, I don’t like to reveal too much plot information in my reviews. For a synopsis, you can always read the book description up top. But I want to share some of my reactions while whetting your appetite and hopefully intrigue you enough to want to read this book. I don’t want you going into this novel with too many preconceived notions; just know you will not be disappointed!

“As I started to sleepwrite my questions, the margin seemed to expand. The paper throbbed with light. Swelling, it engulfed me, until realized with a mixture of trepidation and wonderment that I was enclosed in the grain of the paper, embedded in the white interior of the story itself. Weightless, I wandered all night long in Miss Winter’s story, plotting its landscape, measuring its contours, and on tiptoe at its borders, peering at the mysteries beyond its bounds.” – Margaret

One criticism- I wish Margaret’s character was as dimensional as Miss Winter’s character. I’m sure Setterfield did this on purpose, to draw the reader closer to Miss Winter, but I still would have liked Margaret’s character developed a bit more.

TTT was such a fantastic palette cleanser of a book. If you’re looking for a quirky, mysterious, dark and enthralling departure from the norm, I highly recommend TTT as a great way to dive into your fall reading. Special thanks to Tiffany for picking this for October.  I look forward to hearing about everyone’s thoughts.

4.5/5 stars

40 down, 12 to go!

In progress- Stash (Advanced Review Copy)

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- sidenote….after our bookclub discussion and two of the book club babes couldn’t stop raving about how well done the audiobook was, I simply HAD to get it from the library. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I now look forward to sitting in traffic getting to re-read this amazing book again knowing what I now know! 🙂


 

Book #32: Fabookulous September 17, 2010

Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

Book description:

A spiteful boss, a defiant employee, a manipulative mother, a desperate housewife, an envious sister…honey we know these women. We’ve lived with them, worked with them or caught a glimpse of them in our mirrors. Now let’s take a look at their ancient counterparts in Scripture: Sarah mistreated her maidservant, Hagar despised her mistress. Rebekah manipulated her son, Leah claimed her sister’s husband, and Rachel envied her fertile sister. They were far from evil, but hardly perfect. Mostly good, yet slightly bad. In other words, these matriarchal mamas look a lot like us.

If you follow this blog, you’ve seen the recent reviews of Bad Girls of the Bible and Really Bad Girls of the Bible. I enjoyed them so much I wanted to read the final book in the series before moving on to something else. Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible covers fewer women, but a more detailed study of them. Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah get two chapters each while Hagar and Rachel get one chapter. Because Sarah and Hagar’s stories are intertwined (as are Hagar and Rachel’s) it’s a nice twist on how the stories are told. I love getting stories from both sides, rather than just one person.

Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible felt more like a bible study and in depth than the others and I suppose that’s because you’re spending longer with the characters. Either way it’s another fascinating book that will make you think. Liz Curtis Higgs used so many resources in compiling her facts and insights, just looking at the Notes section in the back of the book is overwhelming!

Regardless of a characters motives, thoughts, actions, and what we think may have happened “behind the scenes”, what’s obvious is how God continues to work His Will out regardless of how we may muck it up. I once heard God’s got a mind to do what He wants whether you are on board or not. And that’s true of anything. We’re all bad at some point; nobody is perfect, this we know. But the grace of God is humbling and awe-inspiring.

Personally, I love spending so much time in the Old Testament, studying the culture, the people, the lands. So this was a fascinating study and series to embark upon. Higgs remains one of the most humble authors I’ve read, as she is very candid about her own sordid past (her own words). Her honesty is striking. And she’ll make you laugh out loud with every woman’s story.

4/5 stars

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous


 

Book #31: Fabookulous September 9, 2010

Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

Book description:
“If you’ve already read
Bad Girls of the Bible, welcome back. If this is our first chance to sit across the page from one another, welcome home. Trust me, it’s a safe place to be- a place of grace, not judgment. A place where God is in charge and we’re not. (Whew!)

“You’ll meet eight women here whose names you may not recognize, but whose sordid stories felt uncomfortably familiar to this Former Bad Girl. Athaliah’s ruthless climb up the corporate ladder cut close to the bone. Ditto for the tawdry tale of David and Bathsheba- my, didn’t her Good Girl status go down the drain in a hurry? Ah, but it didn’t stay there. That’s the good news, sisters. Really good, in fact.

“Whether they were Bad and Proud of It, Bad for a Good Reason, Bad but Not Condemned, or found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time under a Bad Moon Rising, the lives of these Really Bad Girls of the Bible all demonstrate one thing: God’s sovereignty. Honey, we’re talking ‘Thy will be done.’ Period. The unstoppable power of God to press forth with his mighty plan for mankind, not working around our sinful choices but through them. Imagine that.

“Although we’re all less than perfect, the girls and I are more than ready when you are!”

~Liz Curtis Higgs

The sequel to Bad Girls of the Bible, Really Bad Girls of the Bible, delves even deeper into the lives of less than perfect women of the Bible and lessons we can learn from them. I found this one to be more interesting in the sense that the women found in this edition are lesser known. Though Bathsheba and Tamar are more familiar stories, it was nice to study other women with small roles (the medium at Endor, Athaliah, Jael, Herodias, and the Bleeding Woman and the Adulteress.)

After reading the accounts of these women, the reader will (and should) walk away with a deeper sense of God’s grace! In our human nature we compare sins and weigh which seem better or worse. In fact it is all equal. Which is even more shocking to see that a woman who bled for 12 years (though not actually BAD but seen that way by her society as such), a woman who requested the head of John the Baptist as reward per her mothers’ suggestion (Herodias), a woman who committed adultery with the king while her husband was fighting in the war (Bathsheba), a woman caught in adultery and brought before the massive crowds and shamed publicly, a woman who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her so she would conceive (Tamar), a woman who ordered the murder of her family members in her shameful, power seeking attempts (Athaliah), and a woman who committed murder in her tent (Jael) are all on the same playing field. Not one is worse than the other. The point of these women’s mistakes is not to be like or unlike them, rather to see how powerful God is and how willing He is to use us all for His greater good, rather than our own. I liked this sequel better than the first one and I feel Liz Curtis Higgs’ observations and insights were more profound and thought-provoking this time around.

Higgs is not shy about her own past mistakes and sins and it’s surprising to read a Christian themed book in which the author is so candid about her own regrets. I appreciate the honesty and feel that makes the author more relatable and allows the reader to open up more. Nobody is perfect (and we should never think otherwise) but it’s unusual to not feel preached to with Christian themed books. That’s probably the beauty of studying Bad Girls rather than Good Girls. We all know what we SHOULD do and SHOULDN’T do. But do we know we are still of value and use to God even after we’ve messed up, whether it be intentionally or not?

This series has been eye opening and intriguing. It’s no surprise to me that I’m going to read Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible next. If you’re looking for a humbling, encouraging, and insightful book (or series of books), I recommend the Bad Girls of the Bible series to you! Higgs will not disappoint you!

5/5 stars

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous

 

Book #30: Fabookulous September 4, 2010

The Intellectual Devotional: American History by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim

Book description: Modeled after those bedside books of prayer and contemplation that millions turn to for daily spiritual guidance and growth, the national bestseller, The Intellectual Devotional-offering secular wisdom and cerebral nourishment- drew a year’s worth of readings from seven different fields of knowledge. In this follow-up volume, authors David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim have turned to the rich legacy of American history for their selections. From Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King Jr., from the Federalist Papers to Watergate, the giant figures, cultural touchstones, and pivotal events in our national heritage provide a bountiful source of reflection and education that will refresh knowledge, revitalize the mind, and open new horizons of intellectual discovery.

A fun (and random) selection for me, I checked this book out at the library to learn some trivia about American history. Many of the topics were familiar to me, but there were fun facts and interesting tidbits compiled in this book. This is designed like a daily devotional, with 365 entries so you have one to read every day of the year. The book even comes with that glossy ribbon place holder (a.k.a. bookmark) that you’ll also find in Bibles.

The Intellectual Devotionals are available in different topics to (as the cover says), “Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Converse Confidently…” Entries from seven fields of knowledge are available on: Health, Modern Culture, Biographies, and the original Intellectual Devotional. On the New York Times Bestseller list, these books are informative, interesting, educational, and well-written.

Here, a few nuggets of information you may (or may not) already have known:

  • Thomas Jefferson grew 31 kinds of fruit in his orchards at Monticello, including figs, peaches, cherries, and grapes.
  • More than 40 universities operate in the greater Boston area, making it the center of American higher education.
  • Benjamin Franklin is the only American who signed all three of the key founding documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolution, and the Constitution.
  • When he agreed to lead the Continental army in 1775, George Washington declined a salary, asking only that Congress reimburse his expenses.
  • Although Central Park is probably the most famous park in the United States, it was not the first; that distinction belongs to Boston Common, which opened in roughly 1634.
  • A 700-pound monument to barbed wire in McLean, Texas, is composed of two balls of barbed wire.
  • During wartime, men who could prove a religious or moral objection to all war, not just the war being fought, could avoid military service by earning classification as a “conscientious objector.”
  • When Cornelius Vanderbilt died, his estate, worth more than $100 million, exceeded the holdings of the United States Treasury.

If you are an American history buff, if you need to brush up on your American history, if you enjoy learning facts and trivia, then I’d recommend this book for you. Read one, read them all, the Intellectual Devotional books are valuable resources!

4/5 stars

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous


 

Book #39: LibraryLove September 2, 2010

Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace – Publication date October 19th, 2010

Book description~

Eighteen Acres, a description used by political insiders when referring to the White House complex, follows the first female President of the United States, Charlotte Kramer, and her staff as they take on dangerous threats from abroad and within her very own cabinet.

Charlotte Kramer, the 45th US President, Melanie Kingston, the White House chief of staff, and Dale Smith, a White House correspondent for one of the networks are all working tirelessly on Charlotte’s campaign for re-election. At the very moment when they should have been securing success, though, Kramer’s White House implodes under rumors of her husband’s infidelity and grave errors of judgment on the part of her closest national security advisor. In an upheaval that threatens not only the presidency, but the safety of the American people, Charlotte must fight to regain her footing and protect the country she has given her life to serving.

Eighteen Acres combines political and family drama into one un-put-downable novel. It is a smart, juicy and fast-paced read that we’re sure fans of commercial women’s fiction will fall in total love with.

Special thanks to Judith Curr over at Atria Books/Washington Square Press for sending me this advanced review copy (ARC) to read. As you probably noticed, I’ve not been able to read much at all lately. The only book I read in the month of August was for book club!  I’ve not had time to sleep much either. Working 15 hour days for weeks now, albeit from home, has definitely put a crimp in my reading progress AND my sleep. It’s been an insane month with no end in sight until at least June 2011 when a huge project I’m spearheading comes to completion. Thankfully I’m still on track with this challenge…challenge, indeed!

Like many if not all little girls around the country, I too at one young point in my life aspired to be the first female president. As the facts of life set in and the naiveté wore off, I realized that would be the last thing I’d ever want for me or my family. Being under the microscope as a public figure is something I never want for myself. However, my curiosity never waned. Who wouldn’t want to know what it’d be like to be the first female president?

Author and political commentator, Nicolle Wallace, uses her experiences as political analyst for CBS evening news and campaign advisor for many big name politicos, to explore every girl’s childhood curiosities. Nicole takes us to the epicenter of the Lion’s Den and into the world of Charlotte Kramer, the first female president of the United States and the two ladies closest to her. Nicolle creates a well-rounded story using third-person narrative of three characters that rotate throughout the novel. Eighteen Acres is narrated by Melanie (White House Chief of Staff), Dale (White House Correspondent), and Charlotte, the 45th President of the United States. President Kramer is trying to get re-elected but her world is about to crumble as the plot of this novel unravels. The most interesting parts of this novel, for me, were seeing just how difficult it is to be the ‘first spouse’, husband OR wife. President Kramer’s husband Peter is navigating new waters and trying to figure out his place. Peter has his own career, interests and spends the majority of his time away from his wife, even with separate sleeping quarters. Kramer’s picture-perfect image starts to fray as she tries to juggle the public, her husband, her children, her team and everyone in her world. Kramer’s public approval ratings start to decline. Kramer starts to question her husbands’ ‘extra-curricular’ activities and things take a turn from a picture-perfect presidency when crisis hits the White House.

This book is conversational, fun, dynamic and suspenseful. Dale’s spunky edge and sinister ways throw a fun monkey wrench into the buttoned-up starched-shirt politico crowd.

I hope you will add Eighteen Acres to your TBR list and read this novel when it comes out in October!

3/5 stars

39 down, 13 to go!

In progress- The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


 

Book #29: Fabookulous September 1, 2010

Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

Book description: Ten of the Bible’s best-known femmes fatales parade across the pages of Bad Girls of the Bible with situations that sound oh-so-familiar. Eve had food issues. Potiphar’s Wife and Delilah had man trouble. Lot’s Wife and Michal couldn’t let go of the past. Sapphira couldn’t let go of her money, and Jezebel couldn’t let go of anything. Yet the Woman at the Well quenched her thirst for the truth, while Rahab and the Sinful Woman left their sordid histories behind, proving Bad Girls can have a gloriously good future.

Talk about an entertaining read! Liz Curtis Higgs is a laugh out loud author. She will keep your interest on every single page of this book while you learn from other Bad Girls’ mistakes. Written without a “holier than thou” attitude, Higgs will be the first one to admit she is a former Bad Girl herself. But God’s grace is enough for anybody!

At the beginning of each chapter, Higgs writes a fictional story similar to the biblical one. I thought this was a very creative way to get the reader into the story and imagine the characters, the settings, and the plot in more depth. However, I also believe that is a slippery slope and readers can potentially remember the fictional story more than what the Bible says. Despite the latter, I thought it was an entertaining stretch of the imagination for each woman featured.

After the fictional piece, Higgs shares the Biblical account of featured Bad Girl, and then shares “What We Can Learn” portions as well as “Good Girl Thoughts to Consider.” Though Higgs is not a theologian, I think she shares valuable insight and interesting points to consider with each Bad Girl. For example, she shares ten possibilities of why Lot’s wife may have looked back when her family was fleeing their hometown. Higgs studied several different commentaries to create this book and I think her efforts more than paid off. There are definitely some thought provoking ideas in Bad Girls of the Bible.

I have both Really Bad Girls of the Bible and Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, both of which I still plan to read soon. I think it’s interesting to look at the Bad Girls for once, as it seems the Good Girls are usually the examples set before us. But what about those that have messed up royally, continue to do so, and then find themselves seeking forgiveness and redemption? Higgs is hysterical, creative, and reassuring in Bad Girls of the Bible and I look forward to reading more of her books!

4/5 stars

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous