This is the story of chocolate from its beginnings in South and Central America to its trip across the pond into Europe. It is the story of how chocolate went from being a bitter, ceremonial and medicinal plant to the candy we all love today. The history of chocolate is complex with ties to colonialism, slavery, the industrial revolution and climate change. I really enjoyed the history of chocolate, but was less than thrilled by all the scientific information packed into the book. This is geared towards middle grade readers who I am not sure will care about the chemical make up or how those chemicals were found to affect humans. This is a pretty long book for the age it is geared towards as well. I think it could have been paired down a bit to focus more on the historical and modern parts of chocolate’s story which would have made it a little bit more readable for its audience.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church by Patricia Miller, 344 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/22/2015

Good Catholics tells the story of the remarkable individuals who have engaged in a nearly fifty-year struggle to assert the moral legitimacy of a pro-choice position in the Catholic Church, as well as the concurrent efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to suppress abortion dissent and to translate Catholic doctrine on sexuality into law. Miller recounts a dramatic but largely untold history of protest and persecution, which demonstrates the profound and surprising influence that the conflict over abortion in the Catholic Church has had not only on the church but also on the very fabric of U.S. politics. Good Catholics addresses many of today’s hot-button questions about the separation of church and state, including what concessions society should make in public policy to matters of religious doctrine, such as the Catholic ban on contraception.

From Goodreads.com.

27. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

Bright bazaar : embracing color for make-you-smile style by Will Taylor, photographs by Andrew Boyd, 191 pages, read by Noelle, on 02/19/2015

I love color and I love Will Taylor’s style.  Bright and beautiful!

Known for his bold and refreshing take on color, Will Taylor, the founder of Bright Bazaar, one of the world’s leading interior design blogs, shares his secrets to choosing colors that work for every room in your house. Structured around the different spaces within the home, the book breaks down the how, when, and where of using different shades and color combinations. Will’s fun and lighthearted approach shows the reader how to look around for color inspiration and how to start to incorporate colors into both the smaller and larger components of a room like walls, floors, furniture, fabrics, and accessories.Beautifully photographed inspirational examples will be accompanied by “Color Scrapbooks” which break each room down to the individual elements drawing the reader into the details that make each colorful space successful. With pearls of “Will’s Wisdom”, like top painting tips or how to add temporary color, and recipes for “Color Cocktails” in a range of palettes, Taylor’s vibrant and easy-to-follow guide to color and its ability to transform our homes and our lives offers readers the confidence they need to perfect their color choices.

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18594358“Get Up” is a book that explores the detrimental health consequences of our chair-addicted society. Humans are not meant to sit all day, and doing so results in a wide array of issues from back pain to obesity. “Get Up” is a fascinating read, and it has inspired me to move more through my day and maybe even get a treadmill desk. The only problem with this book is that it didn’t give much practical day to day advice for people to be more active and less chair-addicted.

23. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Sarah, Science

The World's Oddest Inventions by Nadia Higgins, 32 pages, read by Sarah, on 02/17/2015

  This book is full of entertaining inventions that came from a need or was just dreamed of and followed through.  Things like smittens, a toaster that will burn images in the side of your toast, or a baby cage that hangs out of your apartment window are just a few that are mentioned.  This book will definitely make you smile.

19. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Choosing Courage: True Stories of Heroism from Soldiers and Civilians by Peter Collier, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 02/18/2015

Choosing Courage is a wonderful book filled with stories about Medal of Honor recipients. The book spans WWI through the present day. The story of how each recipient earned the Medal of Honor is told in detail. I was surprised at how many of the recipients received their Medal many years after the fact. Seems that even distinguished service and heroism could not overcome racism during our history. It was good to hear that Congress did extensive reviews and awarded the Medal of Honor to deserving minorities who were overlooked however. A common theme running through all the stories was the fact that the men and women believed they were just doing what they were supposed to do and what anyone else would have done. The fact that they were heroes and saved the lives of many of their comrades just made their selfless acts that much more heroic.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes by Amber J. Keyser, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 02/12/2015

The history of sneakers is an interesting one. It is kind of hard to believe that they have only been around a bit over 100 years since they are a constant part of our lives now. Sneaker Century takes the reader through the history of sneakers from the very first ones in the 1800s to modern celebrity-designed ones today. I found the history fascinating. I know almost nothing about sneaker brands other than their names so this was definitely an education for me. I learned that two brothers started a shoe company in pre-WWII Germany and outfitted some of the Olympic runners. After WWII they fought and broke up the company into Adidas and Puma. I also learned that Keds are one of the oldest sneaker brands. The history of Nike and Reebok are also covered. The one thing I wish the book had more of is pictures. It mentions specific shoes or styles of shoes but doesn’t show what those shoes looks like. I think it would have been stronger with more pictures of actual sneakers.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Running Dry: The Global Water Crisis by Stuart A. Kallen, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 02/12/2015

Running Dry is a very interesting look at the water problems facing the world. The book details the importance of water to the human population, where it comes from and how it is used. Then it deals with the issues facing us in regards to water: pollution, over-use, increasing demand, and climate change. There is a lot of good information in this highly readable book. I found the parts about how much water farms and industry are using especially interesting and was shocked by the attitudes of bottled water companies who do not think clean water is a human right but a commodity with a price. I also thought it was interesting how different countries are dealing with the water shortages they are facing. This is an excellent resource for students and those interested in the issue.

I received this book from Netgalley.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction

Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman, 208 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/04/2015

Skin Rules is a concise and practical instruction manual from a renowned Fifth Avenue dermatologist on how to attain beautiful skin, a taut and sculpted body, and a much younger appearance. Actors, models, and newscasters go to Dr. Jaliman for her cutting-edge technology and the latest in skin care, as well as for her reputation for being the “last stop” doctor, the one who fixes what others can’t.

Skin Rules has something for everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have to spend. This small, invaluable guide supplies the same advice Dr. Jaliman gives to her celebrity patients, from lasers to remove sun damage and turn back the clock to suggestions for simple products and  habits anyone can adopt for a small outlay of time and money.

In Skin Rules readers will learn:
• about the one ingredient that should NEVER be in sunscreens, but often is
• how to use inexpensive Aquaphor to heal wounds and prevent scarring
• which drugstore products really work for acne and wrinkles

Description from Goodreads.com.

10. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics by Marilee Peters, 166 pages, read by Angie, on 02/10/2015

Patient Zero is a look at epidemics of the past and how doctors and scientists found what or who was causing them. The epidemics covered were the plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, Spanish flu, ebola and AIDS. Each chapter focused on the “patient zero” who was the first to get the disease and start spreading it. It is a pretty interesting read with lots of good historical information. However, it is not a book for research. The diseases are covered pretty thoroughly but in a more surface way than would be needed for reports or assignments. I think kids who are interested in this type of thing will really enjoy this more for pleasure reading.

My one gripe with the book is actually the illustrations. There are clip art type pictures throughout the book instead of actual photos or historical data. I thought the pictures didn’t fit with the text and actually distracted me from the seriousness of what I was reading.

I received this book from Netgalley.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō, 213 pages, read by Kristy, on 01/20/2015

22318578In an attempt to de-clutter my home for the new year, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Though there were some tips that I found unnecessary (fold you socks like a sushi roll!), I did take to heart a handful of Marie Kondo’s tricks. She advises that people clean by category (first clothes, then paperwork, then miscellaneous, etc) which is actually easier than room by room. She also advises to only keeping items that spark joy in you. Her process has led to me getting rid of about 1/3 of my possessions, and my house feels much more peaceful. It’s definitely worth a read if you wish to organize your closets and your life in general.

Down Size: 12 Truths for Turning Pants-Splitting Frustration into Pants-Fitting SuccessWritten by Ted Spiker, author of several health books, Down Size is a book about the “twelve truths about successful weight loss.” I did find some of these truths to be useful, but Ted’s constant self deprecating humor left me feeling uncomfortable. Down Size seemed geared more toward overweight men with a competitive streak. Since I am not a man and I’m not into competitive physical activities, I didn’t glean as much valuable information from this book as I had hoped.

26. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

One Plastic Bag is the story of Isatou Ceesay and how she created an industry in Gambia where the women recycled plastic bags into bags and purses. Plastic bags were a huge environmental problem in Gambia and one day Isatou had enough. She cleaned the bags, made them into string and wove bags out of them. The new bags were sold and helped the people of her area. It is an inspiring story about how one person can make a difference.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

22. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, History, Humor, Informational Book, Tammy

Bed Manners: A Very British Guide to Boudoir Etiquette by Ralph Hopton , 151 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/15/2015

bed manners Ever wonder how to avoid offending your spouse with your evening sleeping habits? Or perhaps wonder what the challenges might be of sleeping with another person if you never have? This could be the guide book for you. Originally published in the 1930s the book addresses bedroom etiquette with a sense of humor. It is amazing how few of the basic problems have changed over the years. Husbands and wives still bicker over whose job it is to investigate noises in the middle of the night, who has to get up to get another blanket or close the window or do we even want the window open.

22. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: History, How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags:

Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff by Charles Carson , 117 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/14/2015

downton Some items refer specifically to the household of the television show Downton Abbey, but most information given is historically researched. Even includes recipes and instructions for everything from cleaning silver to properly storing seasonal clothes to protect them from dust and bugs. For fans of the show as well as those looking for traditional cleaning information.

12. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Haunted Air: Anonymous Halloween photographs from c. 1875–1955 by Ossian Brown, David Lynch (Introduction), Geoff Cox (Afterword), 216 pages, read by Angie, on 01/12/2015

So I saw this book on Goodreads and just had to check it out. It looked super creepy and I was not disappointed. There is just something about these old photographs of people in homemade Halloween costumes that ups the creep factor to about 11. I have no idea what most of the costumes are nor do I want to know. The sepia color of the photos makes everything just a little bit more bizarre and demonic. If I saw any of these costumes at my door on Halloween I think I would lock the door and hide in the closet for the rest of the night.

09. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Humor, Informational Book, NonFiction

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan, 157 pages, read by Angie, on 01/08/2015

Ahh, the joys of working in a public library. You just never know what kind of crazy, sweet, angry, beautiful people you are going to encounter day to day. Gina Sheridan has collected stories about her experiences working in the library in this little gem of a book. I really enjoyed the fact that she categorized the stories by the Dewey Decimal System. While my experiences are not the same as Sheridan’s I can definitely relate to them. Public libraries are open to the public and that just means anyone and everyone can be there. Some days are a delight when you find the right book for a patron or help them with a sticky problem. Other days are a chore when you get yelled at or sneezed on or have to deal with too many frustrating situations. Each day is different and makes coming to work interesting.

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Outsourcing Technology by Robin Hastings, 107 pages, read by Brian, on 01/03/2015

techRobin Hastings, is an acclaimed speaker, writer, blogger and technology person, her books are easy to read and understand and this is no different for, Outsourcing Technology:  A Practical Guide for Librarians.  With this book libraries can learn to be more effective and resourceful.  In return this will save libraries money and make the library a better run organization.  If you are a Library administrator or an IT Manager check this book out.

 

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy F. Castaldo , 160 pages, read by Angie, on 12/23/2014

Sniffer Dogs is a delightful little book about working dogs. Nancy Castaldo does a great job illustrating the different jobs a dog’s nose is perfect for. Dogs can be trained to sniff out bombs, arson, people, dead bodies, and even illness. I really enjoyed the stories about actual working dogs and their partners. This book is kid friendly with lots of pictures and pop-outs of dogs, short chapters and lively text.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, How To's, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction

Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin, 291 pages, read by Kira, on 12/31/2014

51u6aQwkMxL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ 9780399166013_IL_3-300x217 CarolsFerals1 3546954 Alinta VickisDiningRoom-Before-lr VickisDiningRoom4-after-lrThis is a how-to-book showing you ways to make your abode more liveable for you and your cats.  This is especially important if you live in a small space – like an apartment – and if your cats cannot go outside.  But it involves a fair amount of construction, including attaching hangers to the walls, so that might be a problem for some apartment renters.  One of the first couple examples depicts the makeover for a man who lived with 2 Savannah cats, one of whom was launching himself on top of the range hood that hung from the middle of the ceiling.

 

I need to figure out some catification to keep my cat off the kitchen counter where he looks for more catfood – maybe I’ll try some perfume .