Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting by Jason Fung, M.D. with Jimmy Moore

Synopsis: Thousands of books have been written about the latest and greatest diets that will help people lose weight and improve health. But a key element in any successful nutritional health program is a tried-and-true method that most people haven’t thought about—yet it could be revolutionary for taking health to the next level. This ancient secret is fasting.
 Fasting is not about starving oneself. When done right, it’s an incredibly effective therapeutic approach that produces amazing results regardless of diet plan. In fact, Toronto-based nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung has used a variety of fasting protocols with more than 1,000 patients, with fantastic success. In The Complete Guide to Fasting, he has teamed up with international bestselling author and veteran health podcaster Jimmy Moore to explain what fasting is really about, why it’s so important, and how to fast in a way that improves health. Together, they make fasting as a therapeutic approach both practical and easy to understand.

The Complete Guide to Fasting explains:

• why fasting is actually good for health
• who can benefit from fasting (and who won’t)
• the history of fasting
• the various ways to fast: intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting
• what to expect when starting to fast
• how to track progress while fasting
• the weight loss effects of fasting
• how to ward off potential negative effects from fasting

The book also provides tools to help readers get started and get through their fasts, including a 7-Day Kick-Start Fasting Plan and healing liquid recipes. (from the online description)

Review: Jimmy Moore is a leader in the HFLC world. He is also someone who puts his money where his mouth is - excuse the pun - meaning, he follows his own advice. Alone with Dr. Jason Fung, they have teamed up to write a book about the benefits of fasting.
Personally, I already knew that fasting was good for the body. My own experiments with it have proven that true. But I wanted to know more about the science and methods. This book delivers both. Using clear language, neither muddled with medical jargon nor watered down for the masses, Dr. Fung writes about his own research and experiments with fasting as method for treating Type II Diabetes. He goes over the how and whys and gives strategies for how to start fasting. There are even recipes for when the fast is over! And each chapter had at least a page of articles and studies published in reputable scientific sources to give credence to his assertions.
I highly recommend this book if you are considering this as a management tool for diabetes, or even just for weight loss. The few attempts I’ve made at his method have gone very well and I am pleased with the results! 

Bookmarks; 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-62800-01-8
Year Published: 2016
Date Read: 11-5-2016

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee (The Birthgrave Trilogy, Book I)

Synopsis: A mysterious woman awakens in the heart of a dormant volcano. She comes forth into a brutal ancient world transformed by genocidal pestilence, fierce beauty, and cultural devastation. She has no memory of herself, and she could be anyone—mortal woman, demoness lover, last living heir to a long-gone race, or a goddess of destruction. Compelled by the terrifying Karrakaz to search for the mysterious Jade that is the answer to her secret self, she embarks on a journey of timeless wonder. (from the online description)

Review:I read this as part of First Author Contact hosted by Red StarReviews and MillieBot Reads on Instagram. I have read Tanith Lee before, but it was a collection of short stories. This was my first exposure to a novel by her. 
It was good - different than my normal reading - which I appreciated. Her characters were complex and terrifying in their realness, and the twist and turns of the plot kept me hooked. Lee explored gender and relationship issues, but not in an overt way. It was more part of the overarching exploration of the main character, and her search for self.
The ending was weird and I am still not sure what I think about it. It was incongruous with the rest of the novel, but it also connected.
I'm thankful for the exposure and the expansion of my reading habits. I will be purchasing, at some point, the sequel. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Nominated, Nebula Award, 1975

Year Published: 1975
Date Finished: 10-31-2016
Pages: 408

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Review: Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne by Arina Tanemura (Volumes 1-7)

Synopsis: By day, Kusakabe Maron is an ordinary high school girl with more than her share of problems. But by night, she is Kamikaze Kaitou Jeannereincarnation of Joan of Arc! Her mission? Hunt down demonpossessed paintings and exorcise the evil spirits! But accomplishing this mission puts her in conflict with the authorities who only see her as a mysterious stranger vandalizing works of art. With only the help of angel-in-training Finn, she must survive high school during the day and fight evil by night! (from the online description)

Review: I picked up the first six volumes of these seven volume set at a booksale, for dirt cheap. That was my only introduction to it before I jumped in. I like the premise - the idea of demons in paintings - and that Jeanne (or Maron) goes to save them. The God/Lucifer stuff was a bit weird - and the angel stuff seemed rather random. But it was entertaining and amusing, as is, and I enjoyed reading it. I might not gush enthusiastic about it, but it was fine.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Year Published: 1998
Date Finished: 10-30-2016
Pages: N/A

Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce, Book 8)

Synopsis: In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core. (from the back of the book)

Review: ALAN, WHY MUST YOU TEAR OUT OUR HEARTS!?! It's a good book, but only read it if you like having all the feels.

Note: My review is based on the audio book, as read by Jayne Entwistle.

ISBN: 978-0-449-80765-1
Year Published: 2016
Date Finished: 10-24-2016
Pages: N/A

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Has Christianity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias

Synopsis: In this landmark new book, acclaimed apologist Ravi Zacharias explores the hard questions about what it means and what it takes to be a follower of Jesus Christ. With unflinching honesty and biblical wisdom, he addresses the most common struggles he hears from both skeptics and Christians alike. Your journey for answers about what exactly you believe, and what you don’t. and about how you can reconcile your real-world doubts with genuine faith, starts today. (from the inside cover)

Review: Address to those spent time in the church and believed in Jesus, but for some reason, left. Zacharias meanders a bit in his explanations, but he manages in the end to make his point - that it is often out misunderstanding of who Jesus is and what being a Christian means. He explains that it is often the frailty and sins of humans, the sin of the church, and our own sin that makes it seem as if Jesus has failed us. Worth reading.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-310-26955-7
Year Published: 2010
Date Finished: 10-24-2016
Pages: 234

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Review: Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias

Synopsis: In this brilliant and compelling defense of the Christian faith, Ravi Zacharias shows how affirming the reality of God's existence matters urgently in our everyday lives. According to Zacharias, how you answer the questions of God's existence will impact your relationship with others, your commitment to integrity, your attitude toward morality, and your perception of truth. (from the online description)

Review: Ravi Zacharias is perhaps the foremost Christian apologetics of the current age. This book is a written transcript, edited for readability, of his many lectures on the nature of Christianity. Zacharias's work is intellectual, but accessible to someone who isn't well studied in philosophy or ethics. While he tends to wander, and it may take him a few chapters to get to his original point, but every paragraph is worth reading. He moves the reader through a philosophical look at some of the questions against Christianity and how to logically counter those questions.
But rather than expound on the details, I’ve included a collection of my favorite quotes from the book: 

“Antitheism provides every reason to be immoral and is bereft of any objective point of reference with which to condemn any choice. “ pg 32

“If life itself is purposeless, ethics falls into disarray. As Dostoevsky said, if God is dead everything is justifiable.” Pg. 39
“That scrutiny in search of truth is demanded before one submits to the  claims of any religion. But here is the point: Why is that same scrutiny not given to the thinking that directs a life lived without God? In short, where is antitheism when it hurts?” Pg. 50
I say to you with emphasis that the older you get, the more it takes to fill our heart with wonder, and only God is big enough to do that.” Pg. 89
The answer is both subtle and daring. The fundamental problem Jesus was exposing to Pilate and to the world is not the paucy of available truth; it is more often the hypocrisy of our search. Truthfulness in the heart, said Jesus, precedes truth in the objective realm. Intent is prior to content. The most provocative statement Jesus made during that penetrating conversation was that the truthfulness or falsity of an individual’s heart was revealed by that person’s response to Him. The implication was uncompromising. He was, and is, the truth. What you do with Him reveals more about you than it does about Him.” Pg. 98
“Realistically, what passes for love today would be more aptly described as self-gratification or indulgence.” Pg.  105
“Once  true love is understood, the world is opened up to a heartwarming truth. Love and sacrifice go together, and in the spending of love is the enriching of the spirit. The more one consumes love selfishly, the more wretched and impoverished one becomes.” Pg. 107
“D.H. Lawrence was right when he said the deepest hunger of the human heart goes beyond love – Jesus called that “beyond” worship. And Wolfe was right: there is that sense of cosmic loneliness apart from God. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly” (John 10: 10 NKJV). In Christ that loneliness is conquered as the hungers of the human heart are met and the struggles of the intellect are answered.” Pg. 112
“It is absolutely imperative to understand that when an antagonist of the Christian faith poses a question of the Christian, he or she must, in turn, be willing first to justify the questions within the context of his or her own presuppositions. Second, he or she must also answer the question on the basis of those presuppositions. In other words, the questioner is also obliged to answer the same question. An attitude that says, “You can’t answer my question, and therefore I can believe whatever I want to believe, “ is intellectual hypocrisy.” Pg. 126

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-8499-3943-7
Year Published: 1994
Date Finished: 10-7-2016
Pages: 219

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. (from the inside of the cover)

Review: The premise of this story intrigued me, in particular, the use of the vintage photographs. Originally, Riggs wanted to do a picture book of the strange photographs, but after collecting them, a story immerged and he wrote this book.
My other reason for picking up this book is a bit more personal. My best friend went to high school with the author, and I spent time in Sarasota, where the author grew up and where the first part of the book takes place. Riggs described Florida as only a true Floridian can. The nuance is impeccable. It was like being back in the fine city.
As for the story, it was complex, amusing, scary, and suspenseful. Riggs accurately depicts the mind and actions of a teenage boy. Told from the viewpoint of Jacob, we follow him from Sarasota to the small island near England, as he searches for answers to the death of his beloved Grandfather. There, he finds pieces to his past, his family – and himself.
With a delightful macabre, a lighthearted strangeness, and a ghoulish heart, this story explores prejudice, history, family, and what makes us who we are. This story is complex enough for adults, but tame enough for middle-school aged readers. Worth reading, particularly for a chilly winter night. 

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None (although it spend many weeks as a #1 New York Times Bestseller)

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1
Year Published: 2011
Date Finished: 10-7-2016
Pages: 352