Thursday, January 24, 2019

Ready Player One

Wade Watts is a teenager that lives in a trailer. The only time he feels like his alive is when he is plugged into the Oasis, a virtually reality world where nearly everyone lives their lives. It's how he attends school and has social interactions. But like any virtual reality, there is a creator behind it. In this case the creator of the Oasis is ready to pass on the torch for maintaining and running the Oasis. The Oasis creator has hidden clues and puzzles in the Oasis and the new game master has to find all the keys. Wade Watts finds the first key and the race is on. Ready Player One.

The story is a throwback to many pop-culture gaming references including Pac-Man, Dungeons and Dragons, and more. I listened to most of the book which is read by Wil Wheaton. Wil is the perfect person to read this book. He does a very good job and as a listener, I know that Wil is a gamer at heart. He gets the story. I did return the audio book because it was taking me a long time to read it, so I finished up reading the print edition.

Overall, I found the story interesting and engaging. The author does a good job delving into the Oasis but also pulling out and seeing the real world. But, the story does start to drag about three-fourths of the way through. I simply got bored of the ongoing quest to find the next key. I did get most of the references mentioned in the story, but only because I lived through some of the things mentioned. I had to wonder if kids today would understand it. But as kids borrowed the book at the library, they did.

I was curious about the movie adaptation. I haven't seen it, but I have wondered how the movie would portray the Oasis. There is also the problem of all of the gaming references, which would require extra rights to mention or portray. From what I have read, the reviews were mixed and the movie over-all did not do as well as expected. Still, I'm curious and may watch it one day.

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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Who's the new kid

Nine year old Breanna Bond weighed 186 pounds. At such a young age, she was experiencing the health consequences of obesity, not to mention the teasing and taunting from classmates. Something had to be done. Breanna's mom, Heidi, had made attempts to limit food, but almost always gave in to her daughter's wants. Finally, Heidi made one more attempt to save her daughter. Who's the new kid is their story.

Heidi started by throwing out all the junk food in the house and buying healthy foods instead. She had been unwittingly enabling her daughter by just having junk food in the house. Next she and her daughter started exercising. She soon realized they both needed to start slow and work up to running. So began their daily walks. Over time, with Heidi's firm hand, her daughter began to lose weight. Eventually, Breanna lost enough weight to be considered normal.

This book has received some criticism. Some believe Heidi acted like a bully, though she did have to take a tough stance. There is also the sustainability of her eat less, move more approach. With all the nutrition and health books I have read, I have to agree that it could become a problem. There were moments where Breanna complained of being hungry. Still, Breanna did lose the weight and eventually wanted to eat better to feel better.

This book is an interesting look at childhood obesity and one family's experience. It may motivate other families to make different lifestyle choices. From a nutrition perspective, it is problematic since the eat less, move more concept has been largely debunked. I have to wonder where Breanna is now. Has she maintained her weight loss? Does she have a healthy relationship with food?

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Folks, this ain't normal

Joel Salatin is a famous American farmer. He is considered to be controversial for his methods. But when you read or listen to the things he says, it can make a lot of sense. He promotes sustainable permaculture farm methods, methods long passed over for "modern" farming systems that damage the soil and raise sick animals. As these things go, he has garnered attention of animal activities and government regulators. Salatin's book Folks, this ain't normal is a collection of essays filled with Salatin's observations and personal experiences both with farming and a few other topics.

I really enjoyed this book. I found his folksy way of speaking interesting. Some of the difficulties he has had with government regulators is almost unbelievable, but amazingly true. His observations about the problems with current farming methods are spot on. Anyone who eats a more traditional foods diet will recognize the problems Salatin highlights.

I appreciated Salatin's insight and I think this book is worth a read.

Book Rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Secret Life of Fat

The Secret Life of Fat by Dr. Sylvia Tara is an interesting book. Fat, both what we consume but also the fat in our body is not really understood well. Dr. Tara presents the science and case studies about fat. There were two particularly interesting cases regarding fat. One was of a girl who had no fat. Her body simply could not absorb and process it. The result was a very sick, thin girl. Another was of a young woman who literally could not stop eating. Both cases make you wonder about fat and the importance of it in the diet. Our bodies, especially hormones and our brains, depend on fat to function properly.

The book claims to provide the secret to losing weight. This is the weakest part of the book and the advice was really not all that helpful. This book provides insight and interesting case stories about fat and that is the main reason to read the book.

Book Rating: 4 stars.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Herbal Antibiotics

Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Buhner is a great reference manual. I picked this up because I was curious. Are there herbal remedies that can help fight infection? According to Buhner, there are and they are more effective long term than antibiotic pharmaceuticals. The herbal remedies are gentler on the body and have fewer side effects. More studies need to be done to really understand how the herbals work in comparison to prescribed antibiotics, but it is worth knowing what options may exist.

The books is a bit dry, detailed, and technical. There are bits and pieces of humor sprinkled throughout, so you may be surprised to read some of Buhner's personality coming through. I did read most of the book, skimming a few sections. Buhner describes each remedy, sources, side effects and warnings. He includes some dosing and preparation recommendations.

This is a handy manual to have on hand. Buhner has written extensively about herbal medicine and he is considered an expert on the topic. He does get some criticism because herbal medicine relies on "folk wisdom" rather than scientific. It's not that he hasn't encouraged more studies, it's just there isn't much motivation because there is little to no profit in it's application. Buhner is especially well known in the lyme community for putting together an herbal protocol for those patients.

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, which are affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Everything I Never Told You

I picked up Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng because I was intrigued by the mystery. The story is centered around a Chinese-American family living in Ohio. All of the parents hope are placed on their daughter Lydia to make something of herself. She is under intense pressure to perform and succeed. On an outing at a local watering hole, Lydia is found dead. Did she commit suicide or was she murdered? No one can quite figure out what happened.

As the story unfolds, the family must deal with their grief and guilt. The pressures of the investigation cause the family to fall apart. The mother and father drift apart, blaming each other. Siblings turn on each other and their parents. Secrets are slowly revealed.

I only continued reading this book to see if there was any resolution to Lydia's death. Otherwise the story is just so depressing. Individuals make decisions that are just despicable. Do people really do these things to their family? Maybe some do but I find it hard to read. I always hope that in the midst of tragedy a family would pull together for comfort and strength no drift apart and begin despising each other.

I don't know if I can recommend this book completely. If you are ok with a depressing story, this might be for you.

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, which are affiliate links.

Thursday, January 03, 2019


I immediately liked the premise of Pines by Blake Crouch. It had a definite X-files vibe. The main character reminded me of Mulder. In this case Agent Ethan Burke is sent to Pines, Idaho to find and retrieve two agents that have gone missing. Shortly after his arrival, Ethan wakes up in a hospital with no i.d. and no idea how he ended up there. As he begins to explore the town, things don't seem quite right. There is a secret in Pines and none of the inhabitants seem too willing to talk. The town seems to be stuck 50 years in the past. No smart phones. No internet. And yet, the inhabitants seem to get along just fine. As hard as Ethan tried to escape, the more entrenched he becomes in Pines.

The mystery unravels slowly, but keeps you interested and intrigued. I could visualize the story as though it were a TV show. In fact, as I was reading I kept thinking that it should be a TV show, which eventually did happen.

I found the first story in the series to be really good. It had an intriguing and engaging story. You secretly hope Ethan can find a way to escape while also learning the town's secret. The first story does leave you hanging, so there are two more books in the series.