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Archive for the ‘Connie’s Picks’ Category

shortguideThis week’s reviews come to you from the library’s Outreach Services Division, starting with a recommendation from Connie:

If you are interested in trying to live a healthy life, but are confused about the abundance of medical information out there, this is the book for you!

Dr. David Agus, a cancer specialist, is often seen on TV commenting and interpreting medical studies for the masses. He is also the best selling author of The End of Illness.

Agus attempts to distill the medical research from that book down to a prescriptive list of his 65 health rules, hence the title – A Short Guide to a Long Life.

Some of the rules seemed obvious like #11 Practice Good Hygiene or #16 Get Off Your Butt More.  Some rules are not always practical like #7 Grow a Garden, #47 Have Children, or #49 Pick Up a Pooch. Some rules are expensive (#20 Consider DNA Testing).

The book is compact and concise. The author’s goal is to give the average person a set of health guidelines based on the science available today. He feels everyone should really think about their lifestyle and the choices we make every day. Each of us, according to the author, has the ability to take more control over the future of our health. Dr. Agus suggests examining his guidelines and implementing the choices that match our own individual values, ethics, and situations.

In addition to his “rules,” he offers a decade-by-decade list of preventative steps to consider and discuss with your doctor. The key to a healthy life is prevention. Of course, the younger you are, the more impact these guidelines will have. However, it’s never too late to take more control of your life.  I can’t think of a more useful general health book.

Check the WRL catalog for A Short Guide to a Long Life

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Amity

This week’s reviews come to you from the library’s Outreach Services Division, starting with a recommendation from Connie: 

Amity & Sorrow is a fictional story inspired by the events surrounding David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Yearning for Zion religious splinter sects. The novel begins with a mother and her two daughters, Amity and Sorrow, fleeing their home, until they crash their car and are stranded in rural Oklahoma. A farmer gives them aid, and the women stay because they have no way of getting anywhere else. The story of why they are fleeing unfolds in flashbacks, as the mother, Amaranth, fears her husband (who claims to be God) is pursuing them.

I found the story interesting and repelling at the same time. I thought the author did a good job of making me think about why people are drawn to this religious lifestyle, how it provides a missing sense of community while isolating them from the rest of society, and how hard their day-to-day lives are. I think this would be a good pick for book discussion groups because it makes readers examine our thoughts and feelings about a part of our society that is outside the mainstream.

Check the WRL catalog for Amity & Sorrow

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echoThis week’s posts are reviews from the library’s Outreach Services Division.

This debut novel by Andrea Thalasinos attracted me for two reasons; it was about dogs and another culture that I didn’t know anything about.  For me, An Echo Through the Snow was a win-win!

The story alternates between two settings and characters.

In present day Wisconsin, a struggling young woman named Rosalie, rescues a Siberian husky, which profoundly changes the course of her life.  As she becomes more involved with dogs and the world of dog sled racing, her future looks brighter despite the odds against her.

Alternately, in 1929, a Siberian Chukchi woman, Jeaantaa, tries to
save her people’s Siberian huskies as the Russians force the Chukchi to give up their traditional lifestyle.

The story lines converge at the end, and I found both to be compelling.  The book left me wanting to know more about some of the people in Rosalie’s world, as well as Jeaantaa’s people.

The author has rescued and raised Siberian huskies, and learned how to be a musher training dogs to run a dogsled team, so she knows her subject well.  Her research on the little known Chukchi people and the history of the dog breed added to my enjoyment of the story.

Check the WRL catalog for An Echo Through the Snow

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Today, Connie from Outreach Services reviews a timely book:

The title of this book sums up its contents nicely.  If, like me, you know little about the Mormon faith, this book answers the basic questions in a very concise way.

Given the current presidential race, I thought it was about time that I knew something about Mormonism, apart from what appears in sensational news stories and cable TV shows. The author, Professor Richard Bushman, has written other, more in-depth books about the Mormon religion, but this little 100+ page guide is perfect for summarizing the history of the Mormons in America and the beliefs of its founder, Joseph Smith.

The book briefly describes how Joseph Smith’s doctrines formed the church and ultimately its followers.  It discusses the most painful period of the Church’s history in the 19th century, as well as the subsequent independent factions that have splintered off during the years, from the more progressive Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) radical groups.  However, the author mainly concentrates on the largest group of Mormons who follow the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).  He explains how the church is organized and operates worldwide with 12 million members and growing.

I found this little book easy to read and very informative.  It is part of Oxford University Press’ s Very Short Introduction series of books on history, philosophy, science religion and the humanities.  I can’t wait to try another!

Check the WRL catalog for Mormonism

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Connie shares this review of a mystery by Lisa Gardner.

I hadn’t read anything by Lisa Gardner in a while, and after listening to the audio of
this book, I am ready to pick up all the ones I missed! Love You More is #5 in the
Detective D.D. Warren series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone mystery, as I did.

I have to say the story is a page turner and the audio version is outstanding. Read by two women, Kirsten Potter and Katie MacNichols, the story is told from alternating points of view.

The opening scene is of a murder, told from the alleged murderer’s point of view, followed by the detective’s hypothesis and investigation into what happened.  To add even more interest, the alleged murderer is a state trooper and her young daughter has gone missing.  Like a good mystery, information is slowly doled out, and the detective (along with the reader) continually revises what she thinks really happened.

The story is not only a mystery with plenty of suspense, twists and turns, but raises the question of who you love and just how far you are  willing to go to save or protect them.  Along with the murder investigation, we get glimpses into what is going on in D.D.’s personal life… but I don’t want to give anything away!

This book can be enjoyed as a quick beach read, but even book groups would find ethical and moral questions to discuss.

I recommend you check this book out, but don’t blame me if you get the audio version and are late to work because you just can’t stop listening to one more track…

Check the WRL catalog for Love You More

Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of Love You More

 

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Connie offers another great title for Thursday.

The author, Siobhan Fallon, started writing this interconnected group of eight short stories while living at Fort Hood, Texas, with her husband, who was between deployments to the Middle East. The characters and setting were so real and vivid that the book could have been nonfiction. If you haven’t had much exposure to military life, you will come away with a much better  understanding of the difficulties and peculiarities of this insular way of life.

I loved this book, but many of the stories were heartbreaking to read. Most of the stories take place in Texas, where the entrance sign to the 340 square mile military base says, “Welcome to the Great Place, Fort Hood”. The stories here deal with the stress on the relationships between the deployed soldiers and their loved ones, where separations can last up to a year at a time. All the stories were told from the point of view of a male soldier or their loved one. My favorite story was “Remission” about a woman and her family dealing with her breast cancer. It was such a slice of family life in all it’s messy glory, and I couldn’t help but cry just reading it. Some are told from the point of view of the soldier in Iraq or having just returned home. Many of the characters’ stories intersect or overlap at different points.

You come away from reading these stories feeling like you visited this place and some of the people you’ve met you liked and a few you didn’t. But you also feel as if you have a greater understanding of some of the situations and pressures each character faced.  You have a sense of empathy for how each person has learned to deal with the life they are living. This book reminded me that we often think we know what someone’s life is like, but there is always so much more going on under the surface. And, I was impressed with the way Fallon captured a realistic view of both the effects of deployments on military families and the soldier’s wartime experiences. O country will be dealing with both of these long after our troops return home. As the base exit sign stated, “You’ve Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming”.

Check the WRL catalog for You Know When the Men Are Gone

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This week’s posts are from our Outreach Services Division, and we start off with one from Connie.

Andy Andrews has written several best selling inspirational books such as The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer, but this book (a reissue of one of his earlier books originally published under the title, Island of Saints) will interest people who enjoy history as well as inspiration.

The author maintains the story is essentially true with some of the locations and most of the names changed to protect those involved. Mr. Andrews, who lives on the Gulf Coast in Alabama, found a can buried in his yard with some personal items that appeared to be connected to a WW II sailor. He becomes fascinated with what he found and does some research. Then he begins asking around in his hometown and talks to some older people who relay bits and pieces of their local history.Now I was hooked and had to find out what happened!

Without giving the whole story away, the author reveals just how close the Germans got to the Gulf coast during WW II and how a chance encounter changes all  the people involved. I was fascinated by a period of history I knew little about and it’s the kind of story that makes you think about what you would do if you were in a similar situation. I also wonder how people of different generations feel about this story. The author has an easy-reading style and there are many situations presented that make you examine your own beliefs and how  you might have reacted. The Heart Mender has elements of suspense, mystery and romance. The book also contains a discussion guide at the end to foster group discussions. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this story become a movie so you may want to read it first!

Check the WRL catalog for The Heart Mender

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