Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

This book is about a family whose child suffers from the illness osteogenesis imperfecta, which means her bones break easily. The whole family has been changed by caring for young Willow, and when an opportunity arises to set up a fund for her future---via a controversial 'wrongful birth' lawsuit against the doctor-slash-best-friend of the main character---the family sells their souls to do it. There are consequences, or course, and the typical alternating chapters and courtroom dramas that typify Picoult's work.

It's all fine. I was reasonably entertained and got caught up in the story. But there is little respite from the bleakness here. It's grim, grim stuff. And the ending was a real disappointment. Picoult seems to be splitting her oeuvre among the 'sick child courtroom drama' and 'chicklit with issues' genres, and I must admit, I do prefer the books in that category.

Were it not on sale, this would definitely be a library read for me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: And Then the Town Took Off by Richard Wilson

And Then the Town Took Off is an e-book reprint of on out of print pulp novel from the 1960s. The small town of Superior just 'takes off' one day, and nobody is sure if it's aliens, a conspiracy by a local crackpot faux-scientist, or something to do with the bubblegum factory. Among those stranded on the flying city are a Pentagon employee, the secretary to a cartoonish senator, and the daughter of the crackpot scientist. There are some truly funny moments here (the brief reign of a local monarch being one of the highlights) and some dated 'product of its time' bits too (silly females, Russian submarines, cold war shenanigans etc.) But on the whole, it's an entertaining read. I wouldn't say it's a 'must-buy rush otu and do it now' story, but it's definitely worth adding to your wish list for the next time it goes on sale. I picked up up for 30% off during a sci-fi promo and at that price, did not regret my purchase.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Review: Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels (Scoop!!!!)

I managed to get my hands on the new Jillian Michaels book two days early thanks to a hole-in-the-wall store who does not always pay attention to release dates, and I am just too excited. I adore Jillian Michaels, respect her work and methods, see her as a role model and just in general think she is kick-ass fabulous, so being the first out there in book-blogger land to get this book, I had to write about it.

This is an interesting 'diet' book with a fresh approach and a lot of good information. Jillian's pet topic in this volume is hormones, and her food plan is all about re-balancing yours to boost your metabolism and boost your health. Due to my food allergies, I am already avoiding some of the 'toxic' foods Jillian rails against in this book, so if you are a HFCS addict (or someone who never paid much attention to it before) the program in this book may be a harder adjustment for you than it will be for me. And if you are vegetarian, or reluctant to spend the money on organic foods, you won't find much sympathy (I have heard that Jillian has recently become pescatarian, so I am surprised there was nothing in this book about vegetarianism).

The crux of the book is a three-stage plan where you 1) reduce or eliminate the the bad things 2) add in some good things and 3) tweak, assess, and adjust your environment. While the 'menu' portion of the book offers nothing different from other 'diet' books out there, the sections leading up to it are packed with great information about hormones in the body and which foods enhance/support them, how to reduce toxins/pesticides/chemicals in both your food and your home, special suggestions for people with PCOS, thyroid issues and other hormone imbalances, and suggestions for ways to boost vitamins in your diet using power foods.

I appreciated that Jillian at every point offered *food* suggestions---no hormone therapy, no vitamin pills, just plain old food. And I thought it was really unique (and useful) to see suggestions on how to improve your non-food environment (go green! wahoo!) I guess my one disappointment---and I have had this same disappointment with every 'diet' book I have ever read---was that Jillian did not address at all the topic of food allergies. Nobody does, so Jillian is certainly not unique in dietbookland for failing to. But this is a growing problem, and as someone who has several medically verified sensitivities, it is an issue that has affected my diet. I find healthy fats an especially difficult problem because I can't have tree nuts, flax or raw seeds related to the birch family (e.g. pumpkin seed). I would have liked to see some suggestions for snacks beyond the 'string cheese and fruit' or 'almonds and an apple' that fill every diet book out there.

Overall---an impressive 'first diet book' from Jillian, with an entertaining, conversational tone and solid info, with page upon page of references to back it up, and sensible info on a myriad of ways to rebalance your body and eat sensibly, healthfully, and in ways that support weight loss and optimize fitness. Here's hoping for an equally well-done sequel addressing the needs of vegetarians and perhaps including more menu ideas and suggestions for substitutions for people with food allergies or other sensitivities.