Thursday, December 26, 2013

How To Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna

book cover
How To Draw What You See
by Rudy De Reyna

ISBN-13: 9780823023752
Paperback: 178 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: 1972; September 1, 1996

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
How to Draw What You See shows artists how to recognize the basic shape of an object—cube, cylinder, cone, or sphere—and use that shape to draw the object, no matter how much detail it contains. Part One discusses the fundamentals of drawing. There are clear, concise and lavishly illustrated projects. Each project is arranged so that one is slightly more complex than the one before. In Part Two, the author explains the use of media not usually described in a drawing book--wash, opaque, acrylic, and ink. He provides exercises to help the student gain proficiency in handling each of them.

My Review:
How To Draw What You See is a basic-level drawing book. I don't draw, but a girl that I mentor spends a lot of time drawing. I thought it'd be fun to take drawing lessons together, but the instructor isn't very good at explaining WHY we are doing the various exercises that he gives to us. I noticed that he was basically following the lesson plan in this book, so I bought a copy. The book does a much better job of explaining the concepts than my art lessons instructor, and I have the feeling that I could have learned just as much by using this book instead of taking lessons. (Hopefully you have access to a better instructor.)

Part One of this book covers 19 lessons which are progressive projects that build skill and confidence. He covered drawing basic shapes, perspective, shading, tones, drawing still life (indoors), drawing outdoors (which covered the differences from still life more than how to draw trees, etc.), and drawing people and faces. I wasn't as impressed with the instruction in the drawing people section, but it certainly gave some basics to start from.

Part Two gave the basics on how to use watercolor, opaque watercolor, acrylic, and ink. He gives projects using black, greys, and white paints. This section had less instruction, but I think it's mainly intended to introduce the idea of "drawing" using other media.

Overall, I felt that this book was very helpful and developed my skill at creating realistic-looking drawings. I'd recommend it to those wishing to learn this skill.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How The Settlers Lived by George Laycock

book cover
How The Settlers Lived
by George & Ellen Laycock

ISBN-13: 978-0679206842
Hardcover: 113 pages
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Released: May 12, 1980

Source: Bought in a library used book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Describes the living conditions, homes, clothes, and recreation of early Western settlers. This fascinating account of frontier days is accompanied by many detailed drawings and depicts settler's daily lives--how they reached the West, how they cleared and cultivated the land, how they built and cultivated the land, how they built and furnished their log cabins, how they made their clothes, weapons, and utensils, and more.

My Review:
How The Settlers Lived is a children's book about how the American frontier families in the early 1800s lived. The book appears to be aimed at juvenile readers. The text gave an overview of a number of topics but, while interesting, the details within a topic were brief. I remember my mother reading the Little House on the Prairie series to me when I was young, and I learned much of this information and more from those books.

Young readers interested in the topic will probably find this book interesting and informative. About half of the pages are drawings illustrating some aspect of daily live that is talked about in the text.

The book covered how they traveled West, how they made their homes (and described several types of homes, like a log cabin and a soddy house), how they furnished their homes, how they cleared and farmed the land, hunting, what they wore, doctors and illness, and what they did for fun.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Grapes of Canaan: Hawaii 1820 by Albertine Loomis

book cover
Grapes of Canaan:
Hawaii 1820
by Albertine Loomis

ISBN-13: 9781881987123
Mass Market Paperback:
338 pages
Publisher: Ox Bow Press
Released: June 1998

Source: Borrowed from my mother.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
This book is an important chronicle of the early years of the first Protestant mission in the Hawaiian islands. It is based upon the journals of Elisha and Maria Loomis, other missionary journals, and other historical sources. Their great-granddaughter, Albertine Loomis, remarked that the book was meant to be "an authentic and accurate story, using some of the techniques of fiction to give it pace and vividness for the general reader. Even the conversational passages are based on documentary accounts of what was said, and oftener than not...they are almost word for word as Elisha or one of the others recorded them."

My Review:
Grapes of Canaan: Hawaii 1820 is a biography about the first Protestant missionaries to the Hawaiian islands based on letters, journals, and other documents from the time written by the people described in the book. It covered a period from 1819 to 1827.

The book described the difficulties the missionaries faced and the changes that occurred in the islands as the missionaries developed a Hawaiian written language, taught it, started translating the Bible, and spread the Good News about Christ. The account ends with the author's grandparents, Elisha and Maria Loomis, returning to America, and so some questions about what happened next are left unanswered. Still, a lot happened in that time.

The book was a fairly easy read--the Hawaiian names were tricky, but there's a glossary in the back for the other Hawaiian words. The book felt like an accurate portrayal of what happened. I don't agree with a few of the missionary's theological stances, like they controled who was baptized and apparently felt this meant that they largely decided who was granted salvation. However, I was impressed by how genuine they were in their faith and how they cared for the Hawaiian people. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Princess by Jean P. Sasson

book cover
A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
by Jean P. Sasson

ISBN-13: 9780688116750
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Released: September 1, 1992

Source: Bought at a library used book sale.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. But she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons.

Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage--a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife--and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. They share a history of appalling everyday oppressions, like thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age and young women killed by their own families by drowning, stoning, or isolation in a padded, windowless cell until death claims them.

By telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

My Review:
Princess is a memoir about a woman who was born a princess in Saudi Arabia and what it was like to grow up, marry, and have children as a woman in that culture. She also relates stories about non-royal or poor Saudi women as well as women who come to work as maids in the Saudi homes.

It's a very sad story in many ways, and it's hard to read how cruelly people can treat one another. The author wrote the story of the princess' life for her based on diaries and conversations. The story has a very readable style that allows the personality of the princess to come strongly through, both the good and the bad. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in women's lives in Saudi Arabia. Keep in mind, though, that things have changed some since this book was written.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: A link to Amazon so you can read an excerpt using Look Inside.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

England is a Village by C. Henry Warren

book cover
England is a Village
by C. Henry Warren

Hardcover: 252 pages
Publisher: Dutton
Released: 1941

Source: Bought at a library book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
A prose record of life in an East Anglican village during the winter of 1939-40, a record touched with retrospective glimpses of men and summers past. The book is perfect in its unpretentious way; and the fine black-and-white illustrations are an admirable complement to the narrative.” - Weekly Review

My Review:
England is a Village is a series of stories about the people who lived in an certain English village. Each chapter started with a scene from the harsh winter of 1939-1940 but led to reflections on people and events in the previous years and how things were changing.

The book was written in an easy-to-read writing style and gave interesting details about living in thatched houses and the lives of various tradesmen in the village. The author had a very idealistic view of "old-fashioned" farming, though I do agree with some of his opinions. It also touched upon the war, but in the sense of how the winter snow drifts that cut them off from other towns also cut them off from immediate concern over the war.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in how life was changing in villages in England at this time.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Homeless at Harvard by John Christopher Frame

book cover
Homeless at Harvard
by John Christopher Frame

ISBN-13: 9780310318675
Trade Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: August 6, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher through

Book Description, Modified from Booksneeze:
Harvard Square is at the center of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at the heart of Harvard University. In recent years, it’s become a gathering place for the city’s homeless. While taking his a summer course at Harvard, John Frame stepped outside the walls of academia and onto the streets, pursuing a different kind of education with his homeless friends. While Frame talks about his experiences, he also allows his homeless friends to share their stories and thoughts, providing insider perspectives of life as homeless people see it.

My Review:
Homeless at Harvard is a memoir about a young man who lived among the homeless community at Harvard Square to better understand homelessness. He was taking a summer course at Harvard and had access to campus facilities, but he spent his free time on the streets and he slept on the streets. Much of the book was about his experiences on the street and about his childhood, but he also shared the stories of some of his homeless friends and included some of their thoughts "in their own words."

The writing was somewhat disjointed, though usually it wasn't hard to follow. The author would start the chapter talking about an experience he had while on the street--like learning to beg for money--and then he'd jump to a story from his past or to some thoughts he had about how he wasn't really homeless even though he was sleeping on the streets. Then he'd continue the original story. He also sometimes contradicted himself or the homeless people would--like someone said the homeless aren't all addicts or mentally ill, yet a few chapters later someone said they were.

I don't feel like I gained insight into why people are homeless, but I did learn some things about homeless people. The homeless in Harvard Square only lacked for homes--not food, not medical care, not alcohol or drugs, not lottery tickets, not cell phones or grills or digital cameras. A few of those begging money even had homes! Many were addicts. Even those who didn't think they were mentally ill didn't have an accurate grasp of reality, though sometimes that appeared to be a product of their upbringing. They had a very works-oriented, confused view of God, and even the author didn't view God as sovereign (i.e. in control of everything).

The author's conclusion was that spending time with the homeless and treating them like people will do more good than giving them your pocket change. The book didn't really show that to be true, but it is clear that giving them money doesn't help. So spending time is worth a try.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe by Helen Taylor & Richard Davidson

book cover
Prelude, A Novel
The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe
Helen Taylor Davidson,
Richard Davidson

ISBN-13: 978-1931807807
Hardcover: 296 pages
Publisher: Peter E. Randall Publisher
Released: August 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Publisher's Website:
A book in two parts, Prelude, A Novel and The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe. In the spring of 1854, a seventeen-year-old girl began to keep a daily diary. Filled with six months of the details of a young girl’s life, the diary itself offers a wonderful window into the mind of an educated young woman from a well-to-do family living in Lower Manhattan in the turbulent decade before the Civil War. Her meticulous record of the elegant music, dances and literature she and her sister enjoyed is juxtaposed with her matter-of-fact relation of epidemics and sudden deaths, conveying a vivid picture of mid-nineteenth-century life.

Adeline was the daughter of a famous nineteenth-century inventor and industrialist Richard March Hoe. Family friends included William Sidney Mount, noted as the first American painter to accurately depict African-American life; William Batchelder Bradbury, the NYC choral director and founder of the Bradbury Piano Company; and Robert Nunns, also of piano-making fame. The Davidsons’ footnotes to the diary explain Adeline's enigmatic references to the events and culture of this time.

Prelude, A Novel, is a captivating thriller about the Underground Railroad inspired by the Davidsons’ research into Adeline’s life and times. Davidson recreates the social milieu of Adeline around the most dramatic movement in the America in which she lived.

My Review:
This book is actually two books: a historical fiction, Prelude, and historical nonfiction, The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe. The diary is set in New York and the surrounding areas from May 26 to December 27, 1854. The novel was based on the diary. The author used the entries in the diary as an outline for the story and then added details to fill out entries--like having the characters drying apple slices rather than using the less specific description of helping in the kitchen.

These historical details and the historical notes on the diary were clearly carefully researched and helped to bring the time period alive. Suspense was added in the novel by giving Adeline a romantic interest and providing a secret life of working on the Underground Railroad to her love interest. I liked the characters in the novel, and they reacted realistically to various situations. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I enjoyed the interesting novel, Prelude.

The diary recorded Adeline's daily activities, like her chores, which friends dropped by, going to a party, or going out for ice cream. She talked about to the illnesses of her family and relations, the books that they read while sewing, and traveling to visit relatives. It was interesting due to the variation in activities from day to day. When she got home from travelling and the days became less remarkable, her diary petered out.

Black and white pictures were included that showed people and places mentioned in the text. There were also notes related to the diary which explained who certain people were or how billiards was played back then, or the story behind a fire in a city that was only briefly mentioned in the diary. Though the diary wasn't written with the intent that descendants might read it one day, it was still an interesting look at the time, place, and her lifestyle.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Children of the Tipi by Michael Oren Fitzgerald

book cover
Children of the Tipi:
Life in the Buffalo Days
by Michael Oren Fitzgerald

ISBN-13: 9781937786090
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Released: June 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
What was it like to grow up in the world of the pre-reservation Plains Indians before the coming of the white settlers? Prior to our modern era of television, video games, and computers how did American Indian children live, learn, and play? In this beautifully illustrated book, award-winning author, Michael Oren Fitzgerald, combines stunning photographs and simple quotations by Indian chiefs and elders to explain to today's youth what life would have been like growing up on the American plains.

Children of the Tipi includes sections on boys and girls at play, camp life, and the important role of parents and grandparents. It features historical sepia photographs of children at work and play, as well as detailed color photographs of their toys, tools, and everyday objects.

My Review:
Children of the Tipi is a children's nonfiction book about native American tribes who lived on the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains at "the time of the buffalo." The pages are full of sepia photographs taken of these tribes during that time period. There are also some full color photographs of clothing, everyday items, and weapons as well as a map showing the locations of the various plains and Rocky Mountain tribes. However, some of the people quoted in the book are from tribes not shown on the map.

The text consisted of short quotes from men and women from a wide variety of tribes who were born before 1904. About 10 of the 36 pages focused on how the children were raised and their daily life (their play, interactions with older people, how they were named, story time, etc.). The rest of the book was about daily life in general for adults and children (moving camp, women's work, men's work, spiritual beliefs and rituals, jewelry, weaving, etc.).

I found the quotes containing childhood memories very interesting. There were also quotes about the beliefs and customs of various tribes and some tribal proverbs.

Overall, I found this book interesting, especially the photographs. It's too bad that the photographs weren't captioned with information about which tribe was pictured or where they were. Also, the book didn't give a lot of information about daily life and didn't focus on specific tribes, so keep in mind that this is more of a "coffee table book" than a history book.

I'm not sure how interesting a young child who isn't Native American would find this book. Back when I was a tween, I liked to read history or "other culture" nonfiction, but I was more interested in the day-to-day activities than in quotes about how moral their people were. So I'm not precisely sure who I'd recommend this book to.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Historical DVDs

I recently watched some historical documentaries about pivotal events that happened in American history. I'd recommend the following to history lovers:

Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War
By: The History Channel
Released: 207
Run Time: 89 minutes

DVD Description:
The end of the Civil War was just the beginning of a chaotic period of rebuilding and recovery. As this History Channel documentary illustrates, the Reconstruction was almost as bloody as the years of war.

American Experience: Triangle Fire
Released: 2011
Run Time: 53 minutes

DVD Description:
One of the deadliest fires in U.S. history occurred at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911, killing more than 140 workers -- mostly young women who were locked inside -- and leading to profound changes in industry-labor relations. Historical documents and expert analysis detail how the resulting union strikes and government regulation advanced women's suffrage and addressed the plights of laborers in unsafe working conditions.

American Experience: The Great Famine
Released: 2011
Run Time: 53 minutes

DVD Description:
This installment of "American Experience" sheds light on the devastating 1921 famine that left millions of Soviet Russians starving, a pandemic that prompted then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover to mobilize Americans into action.

American Experience: The Civilian Conservation Corps
Released: December 8, 2009
Run Time: 60 minutes

DVD Description:
In March 1933, within weeks of his inauguration, President Franklin Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress aimed at providing relief for the one out of every four American workers who were unemployed. He proposed a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs in natural resource conservation. Over the next decade, the CCC put more than three million young men to work in the nation's forests and parks, planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires and maintaining roads and trails. This program interweaves rich archival imagery with the personal accounts of CCC veterans to tell the story of one of the boldest and most popular New Deal experiments, positioning it as a pivotal moment in the emergence of modern environmentalism and federal unemployment relief.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Act Soon: Google Reader is discontinuing on July 1

About three months ago, I heard that "Google Reader was discontinuing on July 1, 2013." Then I didn't hear anything more about it, and I wasn't sure what Google Reader was. Apparently, it's where you "Follow" other people's blogs and then can see the new content on those blogs when you're signed into your blogger account. (Someone please correct me if I'm misunderstanding this.)

Anyway, 47 of you Follow me that way and will lose track of Different Time, Different Place and my posts on July 1, 2013 if you do nothing.

One option is to sign up to have my new posts sent directly to your e-mail address. You can sign up for this using the below form (which can also be found along the right side of my blog):

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

I'd told that another option is to continue using an RSS reader to receive blog posts using a free service called Feedly. Feedly will transfer all of your feeds from Google Reader in a pretty simple process, and it's free. You can download the Feedly reader from Feedly's blog. That Feedly post includes tips on importing your Google Reader subscriptions.

So if you Follow me, please act soon so that you'll continue to get my reviews and giveaway posts.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Slumdog Book and Bag Giveaway

I've been participating in many Giveaway Hops over the last few years, but the coordinator of those hops has drastically cut back on the number she is doing. So this month I'm holding a giveaway just for the followers of my four blogs. It's for a book and/or bag.

Carefully read the rules as they are different that normal.

book coverNo Longer a Slumdog by K.P. Yohannan is a Christian nonfiction book. You can read my review.

"You girls stay here. I'm going to get something to drink." But after a few minutes, the train started moving again, and Mom still wasn't back! Our hearts were racing. The train kept going faster and faster. Where was Mom?

Those with no voice—the suffering children of Asia—tell their stories. K.P. Yohannan shares their stories of lives transformed, of families learning to love, of entire communities flourishing with new life.

If you are only interested in the book, you can order it for free from Gospel for Asia.

bags (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

These bags are made by widows in India to support themselves and their children. bag in useThey are used by Gospel for Asia missionaries and sold by Gospel for Asia for $15 each. It is the exact style of bag that GFA native missionaries use to carry the Gospel literature and Bibles they give out as they witness.

This contest is for USA residents only and ends on June 19, 2013 at midnight.

If you would like the book and a bag, or only a bag, you can enter by:

1) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming what you want to win--the book, the red bag, the white bag, and/or the turquoise bag. You can enter for all four items if you are interested in all of them. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement.

2) This giveaway is also on my other blogs, and you can also enter on my other blogs for a total of four entries. You can enter here on Different Time, Different Place, on Genre Reviews, ChristFocus Book Club, and on Adventures With Organics.

women's literacy3) This is not a requirement to win. You will gain an extra entry for every $1 donated for GFA women's literacy. When you donate, leave a comment giving the name you are using to enter this giveaway. That way I can credit the right person with the extra entries. I'm offering this option as a way to help make people aware of this program that I support.

When the giveaway ends, I will take every entry for the red bag across all four blogs (also counting donation entries), then randomly select a winner from that list and send that winner the bag and the book (if they asked for it). Then I'll do the same for the white bag, and then the turquoise bag. Winners can win only one of the bags, but all three can win the book.

I'll announce the winners on June 20, 2013 on all four blogs. You'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

book cover
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

ISBN-13: 9780061732478
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Released: March 20, 2012

Source: Bought at library used book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Kamila Sidiqi's life changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. After her father and oldest brother were forced to flee, she became responsible for providing for her five younger siblings. Banned from school, confined to her home, and armed only with determination, she picked up a needle and thread to create a thriving business that saved their lives.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. A story of war, it is also a story of family, faith, and resilience in the face of despair. Kamila Sidiqi's journey will inspire you.

My Review:
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a biography about a woman--and her family and community--in Kabul, Afghanistan. The book covered September 1996 to November 2001, roughly the period that the Taliban controlled Kabul.

While we do get some information about life before and after this period (with the last event reported happening in 2009), it was mainly a description of life for women before and during Taliban control. Women had to find ways to support their families even though they weren't allowed to work outside their homes. Kamila and her sisters started a tailoring business to support their family and to help provide jobs for other women in the neighborhood.

It was an interesting and suspenseful tale since running the business held many dangers, yet not doing so would mean starvation for many families. I found the story very readable and interesting.

I would have been interested in more about how life changed for women in Afghanistan after the Taliban left as I'm sure that held new and different challenges. But I understand the focus was intended to be on women entrepreneurs under the extreme challenges created by Taliban control.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Dream So Big by Steve Peifer

book cover
A Dream So Big
by Steve Peifer
with Gregg Lewis

ISBN-13: 9780310326090
Hardcover: 326 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: March 19, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher through

Book Description, Modified from Booksneeze:
Steve Peifer was a corporate manager who oversaw 9,000 computer software consultants in America. When Steve and his wife, Nancy, discovered they were pregnant with their third child, doctors told them that a chromosomal condition left their baby “incompatible with life.” The Peifers only spent 8 days with baby Stephen before he died.

Seeking to flee the pain, Steve and Nancy accepted a 12-month position as dorm parents for missionary kids at a Kenyan boarding school. This thrust them into a third-world setting where daily life was often defined by tragedy---drought, disease, poverty, hunger, and death. Their surroundings spoke to their hearts.

Steve wanted to end tears of hunger. Today, Steve helps provide daily lunches for over 20,000 Kenyan school children in thirty-five national public schools and maintains solar-powered computer labs at twenty rural African schools.

My Review:
A Dream So Big is a memoir by a missionary in Kenya. This is the story of why this family went to Africa on a short-term mission trip (which turned into a long-term one), about his work at the missionary school as a dorm parent, teacher, etc., about the differences between American and Kenyan cultures, and about their travels to various parts of Kenya. It describes how Steve's heart was touched by the sight of children faint and crying from hunger and how he started a program to provide free lunches (and, later, computer training centers) at nearby schools.

Kenya and its people are vividly described. Steve made me really care about the Kenya kids and missionary kids. The situation of the poor in Kenya really touched my heart. I wasn't aware things were so bad there or that that it costs so little to feed one child for a month. I'm glad Steve is providing a way for people to help the Kenya kids. I'd highly recommend this book to those who like stories about other cultures and/or missionary stories.

These quotes are a good summary of the heart of the book. From page 170: "I knew I couldn't do anything about world hunger. But surely, I thought, I can provide lunch for the kids in that one school. Not doing something would be making peace with the idea of hungry children--not starving, faceless children on the far side of the world but African neighbors who now looked so much like my own Katie and Ben."

And from page 322: "If [God] can use me, he can use anyone for his purposes. He can use even you. Wherever you are. Wherever you go. You don't need special talents, special training, or even a special calling to get your own story started. It's not that hard if you have eyes and ears. See the needs all around you. Hear the cries. Accept the gift of tears. And do whatever little thing he asks you to do, if only to feed a child lunch or to teach kids basic computer skills. I promise. Once you find his purpose for you, you too will discover a dream so big."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Voices of Haiti by Lisa Armstrong

book cover
Voices of Haiti
by Lisa Armstrong, Kwame Dawes, Andre Lambertson

ibook: 94 pages
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Released: July 21, 2012

Link to buy the book.
This book can only be viewed on an iPad.

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
An itinerant preacher whose story reads like Job—except for an incandescent smile and a mountain-moving faith. A woman who remains resolutely joyful despite the HIV that has infected half her family, young girls subjected to rape and forced into commercial sex, a couple whose triumph over the disease that challenges them both is a study in grace.

Haiti has always been a place of extremes, especially in the rubble of the earthquake that shattered the country in early 2010 and all the more so among those of its people who are also struggling with HIV/AIDS. The award-winning “Voices of Haiti” tells their stories in a mesmerizing presentation that combines the poetry of Kwame Dawes, the writing of Lisa Armstrong, the photography of Andre Lambertson, and the music of Kevin Simmonds.

My Review:
Voices of Haiti is a multimedia ebook that focuses on the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. To quote the book, "This book explores the critical issues affecting Haiti's future: development, poverty, displacement, HIV/AIDS, and the role of international aid. Each chapter opens with a "visual poem," a melding of Kwame's poetry and Andre's imagery, and includes stories by Kwane and Lisa, Andre's photography and video, and excerpts from the VOICES OF HAITI productions.

"The first two chapters address the aftermath of the earthquake; the third examines the consequences of the earthquake on Haitians living with HIV/AIDS. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 tell the stories of three individuals affected by HIV/AIDS [who are ministering to others with HIV/AIDS]. Chapter 7 profiles a woman who has become a sex worker to support her family. The last chapter captures the despair and resilience of the Haitian people."

The stories told were very moving. The poetry described the scenes and stories later told in narrative. The pictures were beautiful in composition and showed the tragic (scenes of destruction) and the joyful (as life goes on). The narrative was very effective at describing the scenes and circumstances to highlight both the sad and the hopeful. Since I don't have an iPad, I wasn't able to access the video portions. It appeared that the videos complimented the text--video poems with pictures and music, a video of a spontaneous song at a hospital (referred to in the narrative), a fuller interview with a doctor, etc.

This book has only 95 pages (though videos extend the content), yet it conveys a lot with its powerful stories. I'd highly recommend this book to those who are interested in Haiti or in how people cope with such challenges when life was already hard before the earthquake.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Honey Thief by Najaf Mazari, Robert Hillman

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The Honey Thief
by Najaf Mazari,
Robert Hillman

ISBN-13: 9780670026487
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult
Released: April 18, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppression of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape. The Honey Thief reveals an Afghanistan of greater richness and humanity than is conveyed in newspaper headlines.

My Review:
The Honey Thief is a collection of folk lore stories. Some of these short stories are historical tales, others are more moral tales, but all are set in Afghanistan and come from the viewpoint of the Hazara--a minority tribe in Afghanistan. These stories give insight into the mindset and customs of these people along with a history lesson about what they've lived through. May of the stories have a rural setting and give insight into daily rural living throughout their history.

The storyteller, Najaf, understood that Westerners come from a different mindset and explained the differences with gentle humor. I found the tales interesting because they offered a look into a different culture. The recipes at the end are worth reading even if you don't cook. They give insight to the culture and some of the directions were quite funny as you'd never find them in American cookbooks: "...leave them alone for maybe half an hour. Read a book, a good one....a peaceful book" (from page 276).

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to those who like folk lore and are interested in other cultures.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Prehistoric Cooking by Jacqui Wood

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Prehistoric Cooking
by Jacqui Wood

ISBN-13: 978-0752419435
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Tempus
Released: October 1, 2001

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Goodreads:
Based on experimental archaeology at the author's world-famous research settlement in Cornwall, this book describes the ingredients of prehistoric cooking and the methods of food preparation.

My Review:
Prehistoric Cooking looks at what archaeology can tell us about food in prehistoric Britian. The author initially explained what archaeology has uncovered about food practices in prehistory, hunter-gatherer, bronze, and iron ages. This included types of food and how they got it (gathered wild vs. raised). I like that she doesn't think prehistoric people were stupid just because they didn't have a written history yet.

Next, she talked about the experimental archaeology she's been doing using this knowledge and the knowledge of primitive societies today to uncover likely cooking methods and recipes. She talked some about how the food was actually cooked, but she didn't give the high level of detail I was hoping for. The photographs from some of the demonstrations they've done and of some of the cooking steps for several recipes did help, though. There was enough detail that I think I could make the recipes work successfully with a little experimenting of my own.

About two-thirds of the book was recipes and related cooking methods, and they were divided into the categories: bread; dairy; meat, fish, and vegetable stews; cooking with hot stones; clay-baked foods; salt and the seashore menu; peas, beans, and lentils; herbs and spices; vegetables; yeast, wines, beer, and teas; sweets and puddings. Some of these recipes use plants that don't grow in my section of the world (southern USA), but others did. Though I didn't buy the book for the recipes, I think I'll try a couple of them since she makes it sound fun and do-able.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

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Salt Sugar Fat:
How the Food Giants Hooked Us
by Michael Moss

ISBN-13: 9781400069804
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Random House
Released: February 26, 2013

Source: eBook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.

Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese.

In Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century--including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, NestlĂ©, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more--Moss’s narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

My Review:
Salt Sugar Fat is a food history of how processed food is made and marketed. It included interviews with the people that developed these products and information on the science behind processed food. The book is highly readable, and I found it extremely interesting.

The overall focus of the three main sections was sugar, fat, and salt. Within each section, we learned about studies done on how these ingredients effect us, on what forms we most enjoy consuming, on consumption patterns (what is our "bliss point" for sugar, and do we consume more fat if the food doesn't look fatty), and on how this has effect the nation's health. We learned how various products were first developed and the marketing strategies that lead to the success of instant pudding, processed cheese, Coca-Cola, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, and many other convenience foods.

I thought I was a good food label reader, but I learned that some healthy-sounding ingredients actually aren't--they're simply used to trick health-conscious consumers into buying their product. I learned that the food companies will slowly change the ingredients in a product without telling people, so you need to read the labels of foods that you buy regularly.

There's a lot of useful and enlightening information in this book, and I'd highly recommend it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Cat Whisperer by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

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The Cat Whisperer
by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

ISBN-13: 9780553807851
Hardcover: 254 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Released: March 5, 2013

Source: eBook Advanced Reader Copy review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Cat behaviorist Mieshelle Nagelschneider provides practical and effective strategies for solving feline behavior problems, from litter box issues to scratching, spraying, biting, and beyond. Central to her approach is an understanding of the unique way cats see the world--their need for safety and security, their acute territoriality, and their desire to catch and kill prey.

Her proven C.A.T. cat behavior modification plan is a commonsense course of action that can be specifically tailored to your cat in the context of its behavior problems and its particular household environment. You’ll discover how to harness the power of “friendly pheromones," how to create a litter box environment that will solve many problems, and how to end aggression in multiple-cat households.

My Review:
The Cat Whisperer is a reference book on solving a variety of common cat behavioral problems. While the instructions were easy enough to understand, I was surprised by how long it took me to completely read through this 254 page book.

The first 68 pages were mostly the author's credentials (why you should believe that she knows what she's talking about), talking about what she thinks is wrong with the system, and speculation about the motives and minds of cats. She places the blame for cat behavioral problems on humans and talked like cat owners are largely abusive toward their cats. I suspect she'd get faster cooperation from humans if she didn't talk so negatively about them.

She did make a few good points in this first section, though: cats are cats, not dogs, not humans. Cats don't act out of a desire for revenge. Getting angry or hitting them isn't generally going to help and will probably make things worse. Simply removing your attention or presence is far more effective.

Unless you're set on reading the whole book, I'd suggest jumping to chapter 2's "Elements of an Effective C.A.T. plan" and then to chapter 3's "Taming the Wild" and continuing from there. The author became more organized and used a more practical and instructional tone at that point. You can also jump directly to the chapter that talks about the problems you're having. The solutions that she suggests are sometimes quite complicated, other times relatively quick and simple. If you're having a problem, her suggestions would probably be good ones to try.

Of her suggestions, though, I would never try to reduce the confidence of a "confident," bully cat. I doubt the cat is actually confident. I've fixed this problem by building up all of my cat's confidence--in my cats' case, confidence that my attention is not a limited resource. I also made different locations my "focused attention" spots for different cats so they all got attention in places that felt safe to them. They're now relaxed and willing to share me in all locations, though they reserve first rights in their special spots.

Anyway, overall I thought that her advice would be helpful. She covered what types of medical problems might cause various behavioral problems, described a case with the problem, what might be causes of the problem, conventional advice NOT to follow, and how to change the cat's behavior using a C.A.T. format: Cease unwanted behavior, Attract to a wanted behavior or location, and Transform the territory.

The main cat problems and techniques that she covered were: introducing new cats or reintroducing known cats in a way that ensures friendly relations afterward; using friendly pheromones; creating enough territory and resources to reduce conflict over resources (which is a cause of many problems); properly playing with your cat using a prey sequence; cat aggression toward people or other pets; pooping or peeing outside of the litterbox; marking with urine or poop; excessive meowing; destructive scratching of items--no need to "declaw!", unwanted jumping up on counters or tables, overgrooming, wool sucking and chewing, and clicker training basics for cats.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pasta: Recipes & Techniques by Julia della Croce

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Pasta: Recipes & Techniques
by Julia della Croce

ISBN-13: 9781581590487
Hardback: 168 pages
Publisher: Cooking Club of America
Released: 1999

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description:
Pasta-based recipes, and techniques for making fresh egg pasta.

My Review:
Pasta: Recipes & Techniques is a pasta-focused cookbook with some information on making fresh pasta at home. Many of the recipes included full-color pictures of the finished dish, but step-by-step pictures were rare and mainly included when discussing a new pasta-related technique. The recipes took up 102 pages of the 168 page book and covered over 120 recipes for: pasta soups, sauces, fresh pasta dishes, dried pasta dishes, dried pasta with uncooked sauces, stuffed pasta, baked pasta dishes, festive baked pasta dishes, gnocchi and dumplings, regional specialties, and pasta deserts.

The beginning of the book gave a short history of pasta and an overview of the different types of pasta dishes the book had recipes for. Next were pictures of a wide variety of pasta types and descriptions of what types of sauces or foods that they were best with. We're given a recipe for egg pasta dough and told how to roll it out using a roller-type pasta machine. We're also told how to cut pasta by hand or using pasta tools, how to make 9 types of colored/flavored fresh pasta, making stuffed pasta (ravioli, pansotti, caramelle, tortelli, tortellini), and the proper cooking and draining of pasta.

Overall, if you're comfortable with cooking and just want some basics to try for making pasta at home, then this book will provide that. I didn't see many recipes that appealed to me, but this wasn't an American-style pasta book but one more focused on actual Italian recipes. (Though I didn't see recipes for the pasta dishes I tried and liked while briefly visiting Italy.) Anyway, my main goal was to learn more about making fresh and stuffed pastas at home, and this gave me the tips I needed to get started.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Drinking Water Book by Colin Ingram

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The Drinking Water Book,
Second Edition
by Colin Ingram

ISBN-13: 978-1587612572
Trade Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Celestial Arts
Released: June 1, 2006

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Drinking Water Book provides the information you need to determine what's in your tap water and to safeguard your health and the health of your family. Unlike water purifier manufacturers and public health officials, Ingram presents unbiased reporting on what's likely to be in your water, whether you live in a big city or a small town or have a well, and how to drink more safely--including some things you can do without spending a penny. Based on years of extensive water-quality research, including actual home installations of products, Ingram evaluates various bottled waters and rates specific purifiers currently on the market.

My Review:
This review is also on my Adventures With Organics blog.

The Drinking Water Book is a practical book to understanding water purifiers and bottled water. I was trying to do research on the internet about what each type of water purifier actually did (carbon filter, UV light, distiller, etc.) and how well, but I couldn't find consistent information. If the person was selling the device, the device did practically everything; if they weren't, the device hardly did anything so what you really needed was their device. This book provided clear, easy-to-understand answers to my questions.

The author started by talking about what types of things might be in your water (pathogens, toxic minerals and metals, organic chemicals, radioactive substances, additives) and their risks. He then talked about what is more likely to be in your water in a big city, a small city, or with a well, and about water testing. He discussed different health claims about distilled water, minerals in the water, etc. He then gave some easy ways to improve your tap water without any special equipment.

He then discussed bottled water, vended water, and bulk water stores. He talked about how filters (sediment, carbon filter, redox), reverse osmosis units, distillers, and ultraviolet units work, the different sub-types of each, what they do, and how frequently they need to be changed. He discussed using a combination of the above based on what you determined were the most probable problems with your water.

He evaluated the effectiveness of the different types of water purifiers while in actual use, compared the costs of different methods, discussed the best places to buy a water purifier, and evaluated specific brands (for house, camping, and traveling). He ended by discussing emergency disinfection of water and water storage.

If you're thinking about getting a water purification system or are concerned about your water, I'd highly recommend this book. With the knowledge from this book, you'll probably save the cost of this book through informed future water-related purchases...and you can feel assured you're actually getting what you want rather than having a false confidence based on promotional hype.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Las Vegas Then and Now by Su Kim Chung

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Las Vegas Then and Now
by Su Kim Chung

ISBN-13: 9781592237340
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Thunder Bay Press
Released: June 11, 2007

Source: Gift from a friend.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A photographic journey through the history of one of America's most distinctive towns, Las Vegas. Spanish explorers were the first to come to this desert oasis to enjoy its natural hot springs and named the spot Las Vegas, or 'the meadows.' Now just a century after it was founded in 1905, Las Vegas is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the US. Fascinating then-and-now photographs capture the city’s development from desert railroad outpost to the gambling and entertainment capital of the world.

My Review:
Las Vegas Then and Now is a picture-based history of various buildings in Las Vegas. The author described the history of the various buildings on each spot (what was built by whom and why) beneath pictures of the buildings being talked about. This book mainly covered Hoover Dam, the Fremont Street area, and the Strip. The text about future or recent projects sometimes read like a paid promotion, but it was not so noticeable as to take away from my enjoyment of the book. The book covered all the areas I was interested in except the current airport.

The pictures were very nice and gave a good sense of the development of Las Vegas. I sometimes would have liked a map, though (since I'm not a native to the area) to show where the buildings currently stand in relation to each other. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those who think it sounds interesting.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.