Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: The Commoner

The Commoner The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An extraordinary tale - I was hypnotized by Haruko and her daughter-in-law, each who chose a certain kind of captivity. Chose it! Oh, and fame and fortune, too. But, that bondage.

Superbly written. I have only just discovered John Burnham Schwartz and, boy, I feel lucky.

The attention to authentic details of royal rituals and post WWII realities truly transport the reader to a strange land at a strange time; this is captivating.

Chapter by chapter, the reader experiences life through a royal family lens and watches the souls of these women being put through a blender, albeit a royal one. Combined with an awareness of the year (on the calendar) it boggles the modern mind. Their pain speaks to all that they have lost, but it also speaks to all that any woman loses as her life and her sacrifices march through the decades, indifferent to the dreams she held high in younger years. Finally, it holds a message of hope. Things can and things do change.

This book is a true gem.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: Elementary, She Read

Elementary, She Read Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A scandalously smooth read ~ the only thing missing was the beach and ocean in front of me and the unplanned sunny nap at chapter six. This was a fun break from my reading routine. Plenty of authentic tributes to Sherlock were sprinkled throughout. The culprit was well-concealed until the end. There were enough layers of drama to keep the reader committed, too. I grew very fond of Gemma - the central character.

It is precisely what it promises to be - a diverting and charming mystery!

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: No One Is Coming to Save Us

No One Is Coming to Save Us No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The books starts out very strong. Page after page the sentences clutch at your heart; they are so soulful and pithy and truthful. This author has a gift with casual dialogue.

It is described by many as The Great Gatsby cast in the American South and without any white people. That works for me, as does the central message, which was (for me) surviving the bad things which will happen to you in this life.

There is something in this story for every man, for every woman.
It will touch you, although I don't think it will leave you feeling a 'lightness of spirit'.

The storyline itself needed more. With all of the characters seeming to have had their very souls on a hard diet for decades, I found myself seeking events and happenings for relief.

A very well-written book, though.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Boost Brainpower, Increase Focus, and Maximize Performance-in Just Two Weeks

Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Boost Brainpower, Increase Focus, and Maximize Performance-in Just Two Weeks Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Boost Brainpower, Increase Focus, and Maximize Performance-in Just Two Weeks by Dave Asprey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I read this book, I kept asking myself how I could have missed the work being done by Dave Asprey these past seven years. Because it is my hobby, over the past two decades I have read the books of every nutrition-focused, human optimization guru out there. Or so I thought. It was my 20-something kids, who, knowing what I like most, kept asking – “Have you read Dave Asprey, mom? You know about Dave Asprey, right? What about Bulletproof, have you read up on that, mom?”

So, last week, I picked up Head Strong. I’m so glad I did. While Asprey covers many different realms of optimizing one’s existence on this blue planet, his message is organized, and it helped me synthesize much of what I’ve learned over the years. Sure, he wants to sell his coffee and his products but this does not detract one iota from the genuinely fresh and forward-thinking approach he uses to self-regeneration. Chapter by chapter, you get the distinct feeling that your entire life is a tablua rasa; a clean slate that YOU get to populate with decisions to improve your being. All of the industries that want to keep us sick, or tired, or fat, or that just cannot retreat from their harmful message (think fast food, big pharma, medical care providers, and many other garden variety pushers of poison) – he not only leaves them in the dust, he makes the reader feel that these flawed authorities are truly secondary to this important search for the things that will make you stronger, clearer and more effective. Somehow, via facts and the personal stories he shares throughout the book, he gives the reader permission to take (back) ownership of his own mind, body and spirit.

Asprey's enthusiasm is authentic and that matters. The candid reports on his self-experimentation were a big plus for me because each one served to confirm for me the very best way to decide how to make changes in your life – you have to try things. Then, stop and think. How does it make you feel?

You are the best judge of this. Just you.

Great book.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know where to begin. I was completely transported into a world of which I knew so little, until now - the American heroin epidemic. It was shocking. Disturbing. I could not put it down. Quinones details all of the elements which created a perfect storm of overwhelming, widespread addiction.

The author pulls no punches. He exposes the pharmaceutical industry in its aggressive (often illegal) marketing of opiates and its sinister exploitation of human frailty in the face of pain. He exposes the pill mills, the pain clinics and the greedy, low-life doctor's who enabled an entire culture by whipping out the prescription pad hundreds of times a day. (Opioid prescriptions are just heroin produced in a lab.) He exposes the insurance companies and the regulatory organizations for their roles in creating the monsters who created the addicts. Finally, he exposes the illegal Mexican immigrants, all hailing from the small Mexican state of Nyarit. These were young men who looked for middle class and upper class young white kids (who were using Oxycontin) and then specifically targeted them by giving them black-tar heroin.....a stronger, cheaper, even more addictive substance. The cold-blooded calculation it took to deliberately create addicts who would fuel their business, enabling them to take massive amounts of $$ earned back to Mexico, along with Levis 501 jeans and Tommy Hilfiger -- chapter by chapter, I read, and I was sickened.

So many deaths. So many lives gutted. So many families destroyed. So many hearts broken.
I did not know. I almost wish I could go back to not knowing.

There are so many ways that this country has gotten medicine and treatments wrong. Both the pharmaceutical industry and the illegal immigrants from Mexico come out reeking of malevolence and diabolism.

You may not be directly affected by heroin addiction - today. But, know that it is rampant and it continues to stretch its villainous fingers - reaching, reaching, reaching for our children - with a ghastly bloodlust.

Read this book. It will open your eyes and that could save a life.

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