Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians


Brandon Sanderson is known for a few things. First, he was the author selected to complete Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. A daunting task for anyone.  He is also known for his own series Mistborn and the The Way of Kings . He has written a few young adult novels, Rithmatist and Steelheart . I've only tried Rithmatist and it just did not hook me enough to read more than the first chapter. But then I learned that Sanderson had written a series for younger children. The first book is called Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians.

Alcatraz is an extremely unlucky kid. Alcatraz's parents have died and he is moved from one foster home to another. He has a tendency to break nearly everything he touches. On his birthday Alcatraz received a mysterious bag of sand from his grandfather. He doesn't think much about it until the bag is stolen. Alcatraz, his grandfather, and some other quirky characters must get the sand back from a group of Evil Librarians.

Alcatraz is a quirky, sarcastic, fun character. Most of the action in the story is fun and weird. He learns to accept himself and his tendency to break things - weird skill, to be sure. But the story is more about a boy that is sad and discovering that he is truly special and important.

This book is perfect for boys or girls who love sarcastic, funny books. One boy came into the library asking specifically for something like this. He LOVED the series. I've only read the first book myself, but I may pick up the rest when I work through my "to-read" list.

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, 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.