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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blossom Street series




Debbie Macomber's book are my go-to books for light, fluffy reading. I turned to these books over a year ago when I wanted escapist fiction with mostly happy endings mixed with romance.

The series starts with The Shop on Blossom Street. Lydia opens a yarn shop, a lifetime goal after surviving cancer - twice. Little does she expect to find friends among her customers. Each of the characters that attend Lydia's first knitting class are almost predictable in their characterizations. There is the hard-edge, streetwise girl that is doing probation, the infertile woman who wants a baby, the retiree, etc. That alone put me off reading the others in the series for a long time, though to be fair this first book was more successful than other books with a similar concept. Despite the shortcomings of the first story, it was worth going back to Blossom Street to read the rest. The first book came out at the same time that knitting and yarn shops were surging in popularity. Debbie Macomber later came out with a companion series of knitting patterns inspired by the series.



Each story in the series shifts to different characters that are connected to Blossom Street. This is a great way to build a series so that readers do not get bored by reading about the same characters every time. Instead, the reader gets updates on characters from the first book in later books, and occasionally they return as major characters in a new story. My favorite books in the series are Susannah's garden and Twenty Wishes for various reasons. Twenty Wishes was almost inspiring in how the women achieved lifetime goals by writing down their wishes. Their individual journeys was written well. My least favorite story is A Turn in the Road. In this story the major character tries to choose which of two men she should date - her ex-husband or a biker she meets on a road trip. The debate turns annoying when every other paragraph the character can't make up her mind, yet again. This story is a revisit of a character from an earlier book, in which the woman goes through a devastating divorce only to discover a hidden talent and self-worth. A Turn in the Road makes her appear very weak and stupid, which is a disappointment after her recently discovered self.

Debbie Macomber is still adding to this series. There are two more books I haven't read and will review later. I also want to tackle the Cedar Cove series, which is being made in a Hallmark TV series.

Series Ratings: 4 stars, skip A Turn in the Road

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.