Monday, September 22, 2014

Cemetery John


I caught part of a PBS documentary about new theories on the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's son a year ago or so. The documentary featured Robert Zorn prominently because of his recently publication of his book Cemetery John. I picked up this book because I wanted more information and background on his new theory about the case.

Robert Zorn's theory is based on a chance encounter his father experienced with an unusual man when he was a teenager. After the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder, Zorn's father connected this man to the Lindbergh case through deductive reasoning. He spent a lifetime collecting information about the case and was convinced that this unusual man was the mastermind behind it all.

Robert Zorn picks up where his father left off by consulting experts and expanding his research. The presentation of the material is fascinating. We get the background of the Lindbergh's with their rise to fame and fortune. We also learn about Cemetery John, the person who arranges and picks up the ransom money and who Robert Zorn thinks that is. We also see the mishandling of the case by the police and FBI. The media attention the case garnered played a major influence on how the case was handled and eventually settled.

Zorn's theory is very convincing though some people cast doubts on it. How could a chance encounter by Zorn's father really provide a basis for a credible theory? Even so Zorn does a good job. The book is a great true-crime reading of the story. I liked that Zorn included information about what happened to the Lindbergh's long after the case had been closed. Charles Lindbergh is a fascinating and surprising person.

Book Rating: 5 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grain Brain


There are few books that I read cover-to-cover in a short period of time. This was one of them. As far as self-help diet books go, I found this one a page turner. Dr. David Perlmutter is a neurologist with training in nutrition. He presents the case that grains can be damaging to our brains. These grains include gluten but he casts the net further by including all grains like corn, quinoa, millet, etc. These grains possibly cause brain damage, dementia, and other serious health problems. He supports his argument by reviewing medical studies and presenting patient testimonials. His chapter on alzheimer's was particularly interesting to me and matches up with some of the research done by Dr. William Davis.

The book is a really great read. The author successfully convinced of the danger of grains and low fat diets. The weakest part of the book were the recipes, as usual. Like all diet books of this type, the recipe section is always the weakest. I never even look or try them. I'm not sure, but publishers must insist on including them. Seriously, if the recipes are that important, sell a companion recipe book along the same concept.

Critics claim that Dr. Perlmutter manipulated data from medical studies to support his claim. Statistics and test data are so easy to manipulate one way or another. The critics are right that it is important to understand how a study was set-up and executed before using the data to support a claim. Dr. Perlmutter may or may not have done this and since I didn't look up each reference (which there is an extensive list) I can't say one way or the other. I think the testimonials  of positive changes after eliminating/reducing grains are enough to warrant more evidence based trials. There is no money for such a thing because these kinds of studies do not involve pharmaceuticals. At the end of the day, it is any easy thing to try. If a patient feels better, then perhaps there was a problem there. A consultation with a nutritionist is always warranted after a radical diet change. And of course one always needs to avoid processed convenience foods and eat healthy, whole foods.

Book Rating: 4 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The future of us


It's 1996 and you install AOL on your computer, dial up the internet and find yourself looking at Facebook. Facebook, of course, has not been invented yet. This is what happens when Emma logs onto the internet through AOL for the first time. What she finds is her future self on Facebook and she is not entirely happy with what she finds there. She pulls in Josh, her next door neighbour and potential boyfriend and they both stare at themselves in the future.

Of course, the present Emma and Josh have crushes on each other, but the future selves make choices that take them far apart. What should Emma and Josh do with the knowledge of their future selves? Can they change the future? Emma and Josh begin to make life altering decisions and they watch their futures change. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes not.

The story starts with a lot of promise for a fun and interesting story. But as it is a young adult novel, you can expect the usual young adult teen soap. It was fun to look back at 1990's pop culture and computer tech and see how far we've come. The story itself was rather lacking and predictable. How much do we really want to know about our futures? Probably not that much. Life is more enjoyable in the journey and not arriving at a destination. Sure we all need life goals that guide our choices, but we also need to look at life in the present too.

I read this book quite a while ago and I had to go back to Amazon to read the synopsis. Easy read, but also forgettable.

Book Rating: 3 stars, it's ok.

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.