Monday, February 20, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Eat Beautiful



Rowe has compiled information about the benefits from various foods, herbs, and spices for inner health and also clearer and healthier skin. She begins with a brief discussion of the connection between beauty and food, touching on topics like detoxification, digestion and stress. Then she goes through the year, season by season, and gives the rundown on foods that are fresh during that time and what nutrients or other healthy effects they have. At the end of each section, she shares some of her favorite seasonal recipes that feature those foods.

Whether you are looking for a beauty treatment from the inside out, or just looking for guidance on some healthy recipes that might feature foods you hadn't considered before, this is a helpful volume. The photos are beautiful (the foods and the models). The seasonal arrangement helps those who are trying to eat fresh as much as possible throughout the year. And there were even a couple of foods that I had not heard of before, which may not be the case for other readers, but they may learn some interesting facts about familiar foods.

Recommended for readers interested in eating in a more healthy way and for those who want to support their own health and healthy appearance. Check the publisher's website for more information about the book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Asp of Ascension (Nefertari Hughes Mystery, #1)

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If you enjoy present day mysteries that tangle with ancient artifacts, then you should the Nefertari Hughes books. "Terry" as she prefers to be called, is the daughter of archaeologists. When her mother dies in an accident on a dig and Terry is severely injured, her father decides to move somewhere safer to start over. That is how they end up in the cold of New England, with her father working at a museum that is run by an old school friend. Nothing feels right to Terry. She misses the warmth of Egypt, the food, her friend Awad, her mother... High school is a nightmare. The limp from her injury makes her feel awkward, she has managed to incur the wrath of the reigning cheer leading captain, and their history assignment on Cleopatra brings up too many painful memories. How will she navigate the world of ball games, dates, and school projects without her mother's guidance? And when it seems things can't get any worse, they do.

Join Terry and her friends (Maude, Fraser, and Zach), as they try to survive high school, solve a 50-year-old mystery, save Terry's dad from a deadly threat, and maybe even manage to complete their class project and find time for a date. Plenty of suspense, murky motives, personal and ancient history, drama, romantic tension, and bad guys/gals. Recommended for ages 12+ who enjoy mystery, a smidgen of romance, and stories where the protagonist rises above challenges.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Scooby Apocalypse, Volume 1

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This isn't the Scooby-Doo that you grew up with. This is the end of the world as we know it.

The characters have the same appearance, names, and similar personalities, but they are in a different setting. Daphne has a cable show investigating mysteries and Freddy is her cameraman. Shaggy is a dog trainer and works in a military "smart dog" experiment, and Scooby is one of the project's dogs. Velma is a PhD researcher with the project. And the Mystery Machine is a pet project of one of the researchers and is more like the APC from the movie "Aliens" than the groovy van from the Saturday morning cartoons. 

When all the characters come together, they discover that a plague of sorts has been released and is mutating people around the world. And the sad part is, the cause of the plague was supposed to "better" humanity (shades of "Serenity"), but instead folks have different reactions, becoming strange creatures. Between the mutants roaming around, the breakdown of civilization, and the pack of other "smart dogs" that escape from the military complex, the gang will have a hard time staying alive - much less finding a cause and a cure.

Revamped for a new generation of fans with a level of violence and gore best suited to ages 12+. Those readers will also be mature enough to understand the concepts of conspiracy, suspicion, pursuing ideals, and the sarcastic humor. A favorite example: Velma, "Please! This isn't a comic book!" Shaggy, "It's sure starting to feel like one."

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 DC Universe Rebirth Volume 1 Samplers

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This sampler gives readers a taste of the story-lines within the DC Universe Rebirth. Son of Superman shows the "Smith" family living quietly on their farm as young Jonathan tries to control his burgeoning powers. I Am Gotham has Batman flying into the air to rescue a passenger jet hit by a missile. As he works on guiding the plane toward a safer landing Alfred jokes with him, "Yes, sir. Awaiting your stability. As always." The Lies finds Wonder Woman searching for a way back to Themyscira, looking for answers in the Okarango Region of Bwunda. And, by amazing coincidence, Steve and his team happen to be in the same country on an op. Lightning Strikes Twice has Barry Allen as the Flash trying to be everywhere at once, which is impossible even with his speed. He is still working forensics for the police department and keeping his secret identity under wraps. The Extinction Machines finds the entire Justice League battling an ELE with major earthquakes and tsunamis striking simultaneously across the world. And each of them is confronted by people saying they are part of the Kindred and they want their stolen powers back. Better than Batman has Dick Grayson swinging back into action as Batwing, but having to work with a sinister organization who have gained his compliance by threatening the life of Damian, a.k.a. Robin. And, in The Death and Life of Oliver Queen, Oliver seems to be facing trouble on multiple fronts - his possible relationship with the Black Canary, his half-sister Emi wanting to leave school, and the discovery of corruption at Queen Enterprises. What's a poor little rich boy to do?

Each story is just a chapter, a quick taste to whet your appetite and let you see the artwork, the characterization, and the plot lines that are being developed. If you have any interest in the characters, you will want to read the entire story arc for each one after these appetizers.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Winter Reading 2017 Elementary, She Read (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery)

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Welcome to 222 Baker Street, West London, New England, home of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. Proprietor Gemma Doyle's uncle purchased the building, after failing to convince the owner of 221 Baker Street to sell. Then he began his bookshop, which Gemma now runs and co-owns, as well as Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room next door. Just that might be enough to lure into reading, but in case it isn't...  Gemma shares many characteristics with the Great Detective. She sees and observes. She notices patterns and occurrences that others overlook. She also has problems with personal relationships due to her hyper-attentiveness and a lack of some social skills. But when there is a mysterious murder in the quiet town of West London with Gemma and her bet friend Jayne finding the body, Gemma uses the skills she does have to assist in the investigation. Well, she tries to assist but the police rather firmly tell her to leave it to them. Typical.

Everything about this book will pull you in if you are the least bit interested in Sherlock, whatever the incarnation. The bookshop sells books and movies from all the various writers and actors that have added to his legend. There is the shop's cat, Moriarty. And the fact that the murder victim seems to have possessed a rare copy of the first ever appearance of Sherlock in print just adds to the  layers surrounding the motive and perpetrator of the crime. I haven't read any of the authors other mysteries, but I plan to grab Bookshop Mystery #2 as soon as I see it.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 One Week in the Library

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Imagine a man living in a library. He has always been there; there are various stories of his arrival there and he cannot leave. What would his days be like? He would be surrounded by books all day, every day. Would his relationship with the books be different than ours? 

The creators of One Week in the Library have made a graphic novel that also mixes in infographics, pages of text, poetry, lots of references to other works, and some metafictional scenes, too. Each day of the week shows a trip to a different section of the library and a different experience. For instance, on Friday he meets a wooden boy very much like Pinocchio and Saturday he eats porridge in the company of Ursas Major, Medium, and Minor. 

I liked the graphics of Sunday's that show that the "library is an indeterminate number of protean quadrate galleries." All sorts of mathematical terms are thrown around - things like contranimbuses and perpendiculums. And the explanation that the books are not written in ink, but in "the very blood of the living stories held within that makes the pages readable - we call this hemo-fictive illumination." 

My least favorite day was Monday, which shows a frightful variation on Charlotte's Web in which the spider writes the word "Terrible" and the farmer ends up eating bacon. That one gave me the heebie-jeebies.

The many references to stories are like an Easter egg hunt for avid readers. There are mentions of the wardrobe to Narnia, Alice and the Looking Glass, even Morpheus offering little red pills. There are clever allusions in the names of the characters. Larry is the one who becomes Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne), Hadder runs a board room that is reminiscent of the Mad Hatter's tea party, and Mr. Pilar smokes constantly like the caterpillar with the hookah in Wonderland. And the illustrations feed into this too. Even the Millenium Falcon and the Enterprise show up at some point.

Several statements in the book would make great quotes on bookmarks or posters. "There's always a better story. It takes just a tiny red pill...A stumble through the looking glass...A journey through the back of a wardrobe...The borders are porous, you see. Break on through to the other side."

Books like this help readers to break on through. Have fun on the trip!

I received an e-galley from the publisher for review purposes.

Winter Reading 2017 Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

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Mike Massimino, "Mass," has written a captivating memoir of his quest to become an astronaut and his life serving as an astronaut with NASA. He paints a clear picture for us of the 7-year-old boy in his homemade astronaut outfit clutching the Snoopy astronaut doll that his big brother gave him. Then he takes us through the events that encouraged him to pursue that dream and the obstacles he overcame in order to become a "spaceman." Everything from his fear of heights, passing the qualifying exam for his Ph.D. program, the freeze on flights after the Challenger was lost, and even the problem of correcting his eyesight are shown and put into the path of that small boy making his way to the shuttle. 

One of the things that really makes the book enjoyable is the "guy next door" personality of Mass. As he says, he was the most all-around in situations his whole life. He was the guy good enough at sports to talk to the jocks, the kid whose grades were good enough to hang with the smart students, etc. And that ability to fit in and be genuinely interested in other people is what we see as he tells his story. He pulls us in and makes us a part of his circle of friends.

Another fun thing is the references to pop culture. He talks about his reaction to watching the moon landing, "The Right Stuff," and other space related media up to the movie "Armageddon" and his own cameo appearances on "The Big Bang Theory." He mentions books he enjoyed as a child like the science fiction of Jules Verne, and the musical groups he loaded on his iPod to listen to during his shuttle missions. Mass even discusses what it was like to be the first astronaut to tweet from space. (Check out his Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astro_mike.)

But the thing that really comes through is his love for space and his feeling of belonging to the greatest team that you could possibly want to join. Anecdotes about the ways in which the space community - and the astronauts in particular - support each other, are crowded into the pages. Mass credits his father and watching him work with the New York Fire Department with building his belief that "whatever you do in life, it can't just be about making money. It's important that you work to make the world a better place, that you help improve the lives of the people around you." And he also helps us grasp the majesty of space, the image of the Earth as a spaceship carrying us all, and the drive to expand human knowledge.

I will warn you that many of the stories will make you teary-eyed, or downright make you cry. I went through lots of Kleenex reading about the loss of the Columbia, his father's fight with cancer, and the other sad events. But I also teared up over his triumphs like making the cut to become an astronaut in training or his first spacewalk. This is a story that you cannot read without responding to it.

You may check the publisher's website for more information about the book and an author biography.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.