In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

30 June, 2007

Book Review: Joy Bauer's Food Cures

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

What defines good nutrition?

Nutritionist Joy Bauer is well known through her role as the nutrition expert for the Today Show. She has written a reference guide to how the food that you eat can and does affect your health.

The book is divided into six sections: First, is the introduction to the author and her health practice. Second, losing weight contains an introduction and break down of the process of losing weight. Third, looking great deals with eating to help keep your skin, hair and smile all looking brilliant. Fourth, living long and strong talks about ways one can change their eating habits to help with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and degeneration of bones, muscles and memory. Fifth, feeling good talks about what you can do to help problems with your mood, migraine headaches, PMS, insomnia and celiac disease. The sixth section smooth sailing breaks down how to correctly read nutrition labels, Joy talks about her good food picks, and you can find references on the subjects covered in the preceding chapters of the book here.

Each chapter is laid out in an easy to reference way. The author starts each by introducing the subject, using her knowledge as a nutritionist. She uses examples of stories of her patients and what they did to work through their health issues, and talks about food changes and supplements you can add to your diet. Next, she breaks the process of implementing the food program into your life in four steps. Step 1, start with the basics gives you a quick run down of things you will need to do to help along your health goals. Step 2, your ultimate grocery list gives you a comprehensive list of the foods you should be including in your new eating habits and is very helpful for stocking your kitchen and pantry. Step 3, going above and beyond gives added tips to things you can do to improve your health goal. Step 4, meal plans includes sample daily menus including the foods that will improve your health goal. Also included in this last section are recipes using these foods, each of which are calculated to provide a 1,200 to 1,500 calorie daily goal.

I was taken by surprise by this collection. I expected a book focusing more on weight loss. The sections dealing with common ailments such as skin, and digestion problems were a pleasant surprise. I also found that the inclusion of easy to prepare meal options and recipes balanced to help along those who were trying to loose weight a very helpful one. This is a book that I have found to be a great reference for health, and good food choices.

27 June, 2007

Summer Reading Program for Adults.

As a kid, one of my most favorite parts of the summer break was registering for the summer reading program at the local public library. It was a sweet treat to spend an afternoon picking out a pile of books for the two week lending period - usually read through in less than a week of getting them- and the next time we went back to the Library, getting to write down the titles and work my way towards a prize of a new book.

Every summer when the Evanston Public Library announces their summer reading program, and I see the kids scrambling to fill out their participation cards I get nostalgic, and wish that there was a summer reading program for adults...

Well, the Chicago Public Library system announced this year's summer reading program. The City of Big Readers. It has in addition to the kids program, an adult version as well. With the prize of a CPL travel mug for the first two books submitted. (definatly not as fun as the kids program - but a travel mug is way too useful a thing to not have)

But what got me was the amounts of tied in programs being offered as this is in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum - a great place to visit if you are from out of town.

Makes me wish I still had a CPL library card. But I'll just work on my reading list myself and wish the lucky Chicago participants a fun time reading this summer!

Plus maybe I'll check out some of the literature related city tours if the weather doesn't get horribly drainingly hot and muggy. Chicago is right next door to Evanston after all, and the Museum is just a train ride away. :)

26 June, 2007

Book Review: Love, Suburban Style by Wendy Markham

Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews.

The fatal day that everything fell apart, Meg Addams decided to leave Manhattan for the wholesome suburban life-style of Glenhaven Park. The small suburban town that she grew up in. She assumed that moving out of the big city wasn’t going to be a problem for either her or her fifteen year old daughter Cosette. Well, other that re-adjusting their lives from the rhythms of the city that never sleeps to those of small town living. However there were things Meg hadn’t expected that were making that transition a less than easy experience.

Glenhaven Park had, in Meg’s absence changed. Many of the inhabitants were more wealthy than the blue-collared inhabitants Meg grew up with, the main street has been invaded by upscale boutiques and posh eateries. On top of everything else, Meg had not expected her house to be truly haunted (although it had that reputation when she was a kid). She also did not expect her next door neighbor to her high school crush. Neither did she expect the fact that he was a hunk and that she found herself attracted to him still.

What follows is a wacky story of homecoming, romance and finding ones place in new but familiar surroundings. Meg and her daughter bump into each other (teen conflict combined with the added stresses of moving), their home’s un-earthly co-inhabitant, and their new neighbor Sam and his two children. While Meg and Sam try and figure out their attraction to each other, Cosette and Ben (Sam’s eldest), find themselves attracted to each other and in a fledgling relationship of their own. Wendy Markham has written a contemporary romance that will please the older chick lit fan with a quick paced and movingly funny plot. This book has a quirky and funny look at life as a single mom dealing with major life changes, a teen age daughter who is testing her limits, a ghostly inhabitant who may or may approve of sharing a house with Meg and Cosette, and a growing attraction to her neighbor Sam.

22 June, 2007

Book Review: Dumplings are Delicious by Deb Capone

Reviewed for Front Street Reviews

In Dumplings are Delicious, we meet up with Rain and her stuffed friend Bo, the Heirloom Hippopotamus. Rain is a girl from China, who has recently been adopted by an American couple. She and her mom have learned how to make jiặozi, a type of Chinese dumpling. One day at school during lunch time Rain and her friends start talking about the different types of dumplings that they and their families make and eat. This leads to her class having a day dedicated to trying new types of dumplings and learning about the countries that they come from.

Dumplings are Delicious is the third book by Deb Capone. We are reintroduced to the main character. The book is aimed to introduce young readers to the ideas of new foods and different cultures. The story focuses on one type of food, which has similar incarnations in many different cultures. I loved how the story shows Rain and her friends all enjoying the dumplings that they eat regularly. Older readers will learn how to pronounce the names of the different dumpling types, as well as where they come from around the world.

Stan Jaskiel’s illustrations make the story come alive. They make use of bright colors and shapes to illustrate Rain’s day at school. The images used are cartoon like but not un-lifelike. Younger readers will enjoy looking at the illustrations and trying to find Bo as he peeks into each picture.

As Simple as That books share the same similar ideal. They are all aimed at teaching children about different cultures and how to respect one another. Currently, all the books published by the author follow Rain and her life and discoveries in her new American family.

21 June, 2007

Book Give Away: Through the Eyes of a Survivor

So, as the publishers of Through the Eyes of a Survivor were so kind as to send me two copies of this book. I have an Advanced Reader's Copy of the book to pass on.

I will be closing this on 15 July 2007. If you are interested in trying to win, leave a comment, and I will add your name to the drawing.

Feel free to pass on the information about this book give away to anyone that you think will be interested.

I'm doing this drawing during the time frame that I am with the hope that this will lead up to some exitement about the Hidden Treasures reading contest. This book is one of the treasures that I have stumbled across during the past year.

Click the title link to see my review of the book.

26 June 2007 - Thanks to a generous offer, this copy will be signed by both the Author and Nina, the survivor whose story is told in the book
28 June 2007 - The book is on it's way to the author for signing! Travel quickly and safely little book!

Book Review: Through the Eyes of a Survivor by Colette Waddell

Reviewed for Frontstreet Reviews

Once in a while, a person with an amazing story is quite literally stumbled upon. This is what happened when author Colette Waddell heard Nina Grütz- Morecki speak about her experiences during World War II as it raged through Poland. It was because of Nina’s talk, that the author discovered an interest in helping Nina tell her story to a wider audience.

Nina Grütz was born during the winter of 1920. Her parents were a well to do Jewish couple who owned a soap factory in L’vow Poland. She grew up knowing prosperity, and led a life sheltered from the anti-Semitic outlook held by many of the Polish Catholics. All that changed the year Nina was getting ready to leave home to attend University. Nina’s family faced the Russian invasion of Poland, followed by the German invasion of Russian-occupied Poland. With the Russian occupation, the Grütz family faced socialism and being separated. With the German occupation, Nina watched her family members disappear, and finally faced internment in a work camp herself.

Expanding on the story that Nina tells to high school students as a guest speaker, Through the Eyes of a Stranger, follows Nina as she escapes death at the work camp. She was rescued from death of starvation in the forest by a kind Polish couple, and afterwards she joined the Polish resistance movement. As a member of the resistance Nina infiltrated a German occupied town, and worked in a position that allowed her to learn of the German’s plans and send the information and vital papers needed to move around Poland to her underground contacts. However when the Russians retook the area, Nina once again found her life in upheaval. It was during this time that Nina met Josef, her future husband. When the war finally ended, they joined up with a group of displaced Jews all trying to leave the country. Nina and her husband eventually made it to America, and the book follows their lives as they make a new home and family for themselves in a new country.

It took me a little while getting used to the writing style of the book. The alternating styles between an oral history and a study of the effects of the war seemed to be a little at odds to each other. This book is an attempt to educate the public on the effect of the war on Poland’s Jews. It is an extraordinary example of the resiliency of the human spirit, and our ability to live through unthinkable horrors and to emerge from them stronger, even though we will be changed forever.

20 June, 2007

Spring Reading Contest Recap

So it's almost the end of the Spring Reading Thing over at Callapidderdays and I have not quite finished my original list of books to try and read. My original goal was twenty books long. I zoomed through over half the list in the first month, then got hit with a bunch of review books to read and write about, so the reading challange list got set aside. Finally I hit a bit of a reading slump where everything that I picked up I put down very quickly.

But I did learn a few things from this challange:

The Kushiel Series is probably one of the best group of books I've read in a long time. Both Elengil and I devoured them quickly and have since recomended the series to many of our friends.

I created my list from books I had on my TBR pile that I had gotten through bookcrossing for the most part. Some of these came from yankee book swaps and were not what I would nornally pick out to read. I was pleasently surprised by more than a few of the titles that I ended up reading.

The one book that I didn't finish is Night of the wolf by Alice Bordchardt. I really want to give this book a good chance, as I love a good werewolf story. However, I find myself with little patience and haven't gotten past the first chapter all three times I've picked it up over the last three months. I'm not too sure if this is because of the afformentioned reading slump I hit, or if it is because of the book. I'll have to try again in a month or two to try again before passing the book on unread.

I found this a great exercise in reading what I have here in the house unread. So often I end up going to the library for new books, that I tend to forget the small pile I have here at home. I'm looking forward to taking part in the Fall Reading Challange to see what else I can get knocked out of my TBR pile. However, I don't expect it to be half as many books as my schedule is going to be much different in a few months from now.

Book Review: The Shakespeare Code By Virginia M. Fellows

Reviewed for Front Street Interviews

“Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much”. ~ Francis Bacon

The question of who wrote Shakespeare’s plays is one that has raised debates since shortly after the death of William Shakespeare himself. It is a heated topic that has in the past named Francis Bacon as the author a theory of authorship, which has never been definitely proven. The Shakespeare Code is a nonfiction work that looks into the life of Frances Bacon and the events of the time that shaped his life.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, a medical doctor by the name of Orville Owen made an astounding discovery. Throughout the passages of Shakespeare’s plays, there is a hidden story written in code. With the help of Elizabeth Wells Gallup, a school teacher who became his assistant, Dr. Owen created a massive cipher wheel by following Bacon’s writings on code systems and attempted to decode the hidden story. During their research, they discovered very different codes embedded in the same work of Shakespeare. The codes that they found were Francis Bacon’s word cipher code, and a bi-lateral cipher. This book is an attempt by author Virginia M. Fellows to bring public attention to the now-out-of-print writings and to help along the opinion of the Baconians as to who really authored Shakespeare’s writings.

The main portion of this book is a biography of Sir Francis Bacon, supplemented with the facts that were found with use of Dr Owen’s cipher wheel. The coded writings bring light to explosive ideas including the fact that Queen Elizabeth... was secretly married and mother to two boys, the eldest of whom is Francis Bacon. Like his brother, he was much loved by the queen but never acknowledged as her child to protect her title and reputation of being the “Virgin Queen”. The life story of Francis Bacon is one of much scandal, corruption, and lies. The man who, along with Newton changed Europe’s ideas of science and philosophy lived a life that ended tragically. The Shakespeare code attempts to shed light on secrets revealed by the codes that have lain hidden for hundreds of years, shaping new insights on one of the men responsible for the birth of the modern world.

Finally, included in the book, is an in-depth look at Dr. Owen’s research. A thorough look at the cipher codes found in the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays and also in many of Bacon’s own works sheds some light on these ciphers. Many of these codes were more advanced than those used in the Civil War, which is the first recorded time frame where cipher codes were used in the United States. I found this to be one of the more interesting parts of the book and thought it much too short.

I found this book to be an intriguing look at the life of an interesting historical figure. It gave me much to think about, though as I don’t know much about the time of the Tudors and Elizabeth I’s reign, I did read this with the idea that much of the information found in the book has not been proven factually true. The book does however, give a very in depth look into court life during Elizabeth the first’s rule up into the start of the Stuart family’s rise to rule with King James.

15 June, 2007

Summer Contest - Hidden Treasures of Fiction

It's time for the Hidden Treasures Summer Reading Contest!

Susan at West of Mars is having another contest and this time I'm giving all of you lots of notice. This summer's theme is Hidden Treasures of fiction; books or authors who have never gotten near the Best-seller list (any of them) but who you think deserve to be. So review your own books, your best friend, or that weird guy around the corner who happened to write a brilliant book (even if you cross the street when you see him coming) or that deserving author you've been keeping secret. Our hope is that this contest will help promote middle-list authors who are often overlooked in favour of the blockbuster novels and hopefully boost the authors' sales.

The rules are simple:
1. Find a book that's a Hidden Treasure. That means a book that hasn't made it to a best-seller list anywhere that you can find. A suggested reading list will be available at (at the time of posting the list hasn't been posted but I'll update the link to the site once it is). Feel free to find your own treasure, though.

2. The book MUST be from a royalty-paying publisher. If in doubt, ask Susan.

3. Read it.

4. Post a review somewhere on the Internet between July 15 and August 15 (some popular locations for the last contest were reviewers' websites or blogs,, and/or

5. Sign the Mr. Linky at West of Mars. Include the permalink for your review.

6. Yes, you can use a Hidden Treasure book that fulfills another contest or reading challenge.

7. Yes, you can review more than one book.

8. If, for some reason, you don't want to win a prize, let Susan know.

9. If you have suggestions for the Hidden Treasures Suggested Reading List, or a prize to offer the winners, drop Susan an e-mail at susan at westofmars dot com.

10. Prizes will be awarded August 20. Winners will be contacted and winning list will be posted no later than 22 August; be sure to have a way for us to contact you.

Pretty simple right? So spend the next month deciding on your book(s) and I look forward to reading your reviews.

These are the people who have helped in the background to get this contest off the ground and running: West of Mars, Breeni Books, Morsie Reads, Eclectic Closet, Confessions of a Literary Persuasion, Writing Aspirations and Front Street Reviews