Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: Milk

Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas

Mark Kurlansky

If there is anything, you want to know about milk the answer is most likely in this book. If like me you haven't given much thought to milk other than pouring it in your coffee or over you breakfast cereal you might be surprised to find that Kurlansky has looked into the history of milk from antiquity until today and the role it plays in our modern lives. Whether he is examining old recipes in which milk was first used, exploring accounts of making milk safe for the masses, discussing the process of pasteurization and the spread of milk or just thinking about the welfare of milk herds in the industrialized world there is a wealth of information contained within this book. Not surprisingly, I learned a lot from Kurlansky's thoughtful approach, and I can honestly say that this cultural history of milk is unlike anything else I've read lately.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review: Lands of Lost Borders

Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road
Lands of Lost Borders
Kate Harris

Kate and friend Mel set out on an epic journey which takes them across the famous silk road. Traveling from Turkey to Tibet with on a bicycle with a tent for shelter and a lot of courage and determination, Kate guides the reader along the journey with tales of previous explorers and interesting facts about some of the places along the trip.

The opening of Lands of Lost Borders focuses on the author and her journey through life up to the point where she drops out of MIT and decides to hit the open road in search of adventure. It was interesting getting to know the author and finding out more about what compelled her to embark on an exploration of her own. While I liked the book, I did feel that it dealt a lot with the past and perhaps the author's need to convey what she learned in her Master's degree of the History of Science, instead of focusing more on her current travels through some fascinating countries. I would have liked to know more about the local people and their cultures. Sometimes while reading this book, I had the feeling that I, along with the author was a million miles away from the silk road. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I think I was waiting for more of a connection to the present. The book is, however, well written and it is clear the author put a lot of time and effort into this work.

Thanks to Goodreads and William Morrow for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review: Out of Season

Out of Season

Out of Season
Antonio Manzini

After reading Adam's Rib by Antonio Manzini last year, I was thrilled to get an ARC of Out of Season. Deputy Chief of Police Rocco Schiavone is still working in the small town of Aosta in northern Italy after being sent there as punishment by higher-ups in the police administration. Schiavone doesn't like the city any more than the last time we saw him. He still misses his friends in Rome, and he still hates the wet and often snowy weather in Aosta. When it starts to become too much, he has to dip into the desk drawer in his office for a secret puff or two of marijuana.

Out of Season, he and his colleagues have been called in to investigate a crash involving a cargo van with stolen number plates. While trying to find out more about the two victims of the accident he learns that a local teenage girl, Chiara Berguet has gone missing. Chiara is the daughter of a local construction company owner, and while her parents try to keep the police out of the loop, Schiavone has every intention of investigating her disappearance. Hopefully, he will be able to find her alive.

Rocco Schiavone has is own definition of justice, which doesn't always win him friends in high places but, he tries to do what he thinks is right. And when he isn't out fighting crime, he has a mess of a personal life to contend with. Manzini has created a character who is sometimes bad-tempered, dealing with ghosts of the past and complicated relationships, but likable all the same.

Thanks to LibraryThing and Harper Collins for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Review: Skin

Skin: Delicious Recipes & the Ultimate Wellbeing Plan for Radiant Skin in 6 Weeks

Liz Earle

Skin is part skin care guide and part cookbook. It aims to help you get glowing, radiant skin in six weeks. The best thing about this book, expect the fact that it is written by one of Britain's best-known skin care specialists, is that you don't need to invest in a lot of expensive skin care products. Nor is Liz Earle promoting her brand or others in this book, instead she focuses on things you can do at home with more natural products. Except for some aromatherapy oils, you may find that you already have a lot of the items used in this book in your pantry, for example, oatmeal, honey, and salt, used for creating face masks or a relaxing bath.

The book is full of tips for pampering and caring for skin. My favorite has been the encouragement of dry brushing everyday before showering, which helps counteract cellulite and improving the smoothness of your skin. This is a tip I wish I'd had years ago. The recipes in the book focus on providing the body and skin with nutrients it needs to glow from the inside out. It recommends eating lots of healthy vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The recipes are beautifully photographed and easy to follow. So if you want to improve the condition of your skin, this is an excellent place to start.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: Love & Luck

Love & Luck

Love & Luck
Jenna Evans Welch

The cover on this book was so cute and, although I don't often read teen fiction I couldn't resist this one. In the story, seventeen-year-old Addie and her family have traveled to Ireland for the wedding of her aunt, Mel. Instead of enjoying the occasion, Addie is dealing with the fallout from the break up with her boyfriend Cubby. Her brother Ian insists that she tell her mom all about the breakup but Addie is resisting, and as a result, brother and sister have been involved in a fist-fight at the wedding venue.

She and Ian have plans to travel on to Italy after the wedding to visit Addie's friend Lina but, when Ian decides to change plans and meet up with his internet friend Rowan to attend a summer music festival showcasing his favorite band, Addie misses her flight. She tags along on the road trip through Ireland with the two, accompanied by her trusted guidebook for the heartbroken in Ireland, which comes complete with tips for getting over a broken heart. By the end of her journey, she might have the courage she needs to face the trip home.

Fun and full of action this is a great summer read for the teenage reader, or according to back cover anyone over twelve. I wish Jenna Evans Welch had been writing when I was a teenager because I would have loved this one.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: The Lion's Binding Oath

The Lion's Binding Oath

The Lion's Binding Oath
Ahmed Ismail Yusuf

As soon as I started the first story in this book I was hooked. I couldn't help but feel for the young nomad who gets caught outside at night away from his flock and family. The same was true for The Mayxaano Chronicles. I enjoyed getting to the know the characters, and I loved the fact that the stories moved through the significant events in their lives showing the changes that were occurring in Somali culture, society, and politics. While war and conflict loom in some of these stories I like the fact that war and strife did not dominate the book. The fact that it focused instead on individuals and how they coped with everyday occurrences made it hard for me to put the book down.

To anyone who has read or intends to read this book, it will come as no surprise that my favorite story was The Lion's Binding Oath. In this tale, Hassan gets separated from his family on a trek to find a refugee camp, and he is forced to rely on an oath with a lion he names Kamal, to find a path to his future. It was touching and moving, and I found the author had a way of making me feel included in his enchanting stories. I hope Mr. Yusuf is hard at work on more tales from Somali because I know I want to read more.

Thanks to Catalyst Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: The Summer List

The Summer List

The Summer List
Amy Mason Doan

Laura hasn't been back to her lakeside hometown of Coeur-de-Lune, California in years. Many years later as an adult, she receives an invitation to return for a reunion with her once best friend, Casey. When she arrives, both she and Casey reluctantly take on a scavenger hunt designed by Casey's mother, Alexandra. These hunts were famous during the summers they spent on the lake as teenagers. But this treasure hunt, which requires them to find ten things that relate to their past will lead to long-held secrets that may change their relationship. The past may not have been the way they had assumed.

The Summer List is an enjoyable and entertaining novel. I think what makes it so is the structure that alternates between past and present. This submerges the reader into Laura and Casey's childhood friendship and gives glimpses into Alexandra's years as a child. This provides the story with an element of suspense as the details of the circumstances of their lives slowly emerge. The tension that exists upon Laura's return is keenly felt. The prize at the end of the hunt may not be what they had imagined, but it just might bring Laura back to Coeur-de-Lune.

Thanks to Graydon House Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: Lagos Noir

Lagos Noir

Lagos Noir
Edited by Chris Abani

I've been a fan of the Noir Series by Akashic Books for a while, so I was thrilled to see an new set of stories focusing on one of Africa's largest cities. Frankly, when I think of Lagos, Nigeria I think of teeming chaos, a city full of life, bustling commerce and more recently email scams. This book incorporates all that and so much more. The stories in this volume were so enjoyable it made me wish there had been more.

I particularly liked Showlogo, which had a terrific ending which just lingered in my mind for days. The Swimming Pool was also a story that somehow stuck with me, likely because it had such a visual feel about it. While all of these stories made one realize that Lagos is full of life and constant movement, they were all able to zero in on individual experiences. Making each character and his or her actions memorable. I hope we will be fortunate enough to read some more interesting stories by all of these talented writers in the not too distant future. I for one would love to read a volume two of Lagos Noir!

Thanks to Akashic Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.