vampyreThis tremendous volume tells the full stories surrounding the night Lord Byron challenged his companions to write ghost stories during a foggy, stormy night in Geneva, Switzerland.  That now famous night led to the creation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Vampyre by John Polidori.  Reading much like a good novel, the book dives right in, explaining why Byron was exiling himself to Switzerland, how he came to hire Polidori as his physician, as well as why Claire Claremont, Mary Godwin (Shelley), and Percy Shelley were also travelling that way.  The book also details the aftermath of that night, ending with an epilogue that explains each of their deaths.  It is a long and very twisted story, the facts of which seem hard to believe at times.  However, the author has faithfully documented each of his facts, once again proving that the truth is stranger than fiction.  It is nice to see a nonfiction book turn out to be such a page turner.  It was difficult to put down.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Romantic period, poetry, or Gothic fiction.

29. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, NonFiction, Tracy

1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon, read by Tracy, on 09/11/2014

The musical adventure of a lifetime. The most exciting book on music in years. A book of treasure, a book of discovery, a book to open your ears to new worlds of pleasure. Doing for music what Patricia Schultz—author of the phenomenal 1,000 Places to See Before You Die—does for travel, Tom Moon recommends 1,000 recordings guaranteed to give listeners the joy, the mystery, the revelation, the sheer fun of great music.

This is a book both broad and deep, drawing from the diverse worlds of classical, jazz, rock, pop, blues, country, folk, musicals, hip-hop, world, opera, soundtracks, and more. It’s arranged alphabetically by artist to create the kind of unexpected juxtapositions that break down genre bias and broaden listeners’ horizons— it makes every listener a seeker, actively pursuing new artists and new sounds, and reconfirming the greatness of the classics. Flanking J. S. Bach and his six entries, for example, are the little-known R&B singer Baby Huey and the ’80s Rastafarian hard-core punk band Bad Brains. Farther down the list: The Band, Samuel Barber, Cecelia Bartoli, Count Basie, and Afropop star Waldemer Bastos.

Each entry is passionately written, with expert listening notes, fascinating anecdotes, and the occasional perfect quote—”Your collection could be filled with nothing but music from Ray Charles,” said Tom Waits, “and you’d have a completely balanced diet.” Every entry identifies key tracks, additional works by the artist, and where to go next. And in the back, indexes and playlists for different moods and occasions.

journalThis is a wonderful book for anyone wanting to dive into the world of mixed-media art journaling.  There are lots of techniques to try out, particularly with watercolors.  If watercolors are a medium you wish to learn more about, this is the book for you.  The instructions are clear without being overbearing.  They still allow for a lot of experimentation on the part of the reader.  The author tells you which tools you will need for each exercise, specifying which are optional.  She also discusses some brand names to try out.  I found this book to be very useful, especially when combined with other books and magazines on mixed-media art.  There are also prompts at the end of the book for continued thought and fun with art journaling.  The author encourages the reader to make a mess and try things out for fun.  While the book gives some of the basics, there is still room for the artistic reader to soar.

16. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags:

Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, read by Lisa, on 09/15/2014

“FREE RANGE KIDS” has become a national movement, sparked by the incredible response to Lenore Skenazy’s piece about allowing her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC. Parent groups argued about it, bloggers, blogged, spouses became uncivil with each other, and the media jumped all over it. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range. Any risk is seen as too much risk. But if you try to prevent every possible danger or difficult in your child’s everyday life, that child never gets a chance to grow up. We parents have to realize that the greatest risk of all just might be trying to raise a child who never encounters choice or independence.

16. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Chernobyl's Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone by Rebecca L. Johnson, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

In 1986, the Chernobyl Reactor 4 exploded and spewed radioactive material over a wide swath of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The people were relocated from numerous towns and villages. There is controversy over how many people exposed to the radiation suffered from it. The area around Chernobyl was cordoned off and became the Exclusion Zone. Today the Exclusion Zone is a place empty of humans except for a few people who went back to their homes and scientists studying the effects of radiation on the animals and plants in the area. Some animals seem to have adapted to the radiation while others have abnormalities caused by the radiation. This book is an honest look at a couple of the studies done on animal populations in the Exclusion Zone. It is extremely readable and informative.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

15. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Arctic Thaw: Climate Change and the Global Race for Energy Resources by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

When you think about the Arctic you probably see an icy expanse with polar bears hunting seals and the occasional ice breaking ship making its way through the treacherous waters. In reality the Arctic ice is melting with little hope of renewal to previous levels. This is opening up the Arctic to all kinds of things from ship traffic to oil wells. Nations around the north pole are trying to stake their claim on these new areas and resources and environmentalists and native peoples are concerned for the Arctic way of life. Arctic Thaw does a fabulous job of explaining what is happening in the Arctic and providing information on what may happen in the future. It is a well-balanced look at an area that has seen little exploration or development.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

Zoom download (3) 513k+gGpDAL._SY300_ j=0125_UBobBerman Berman explain the scientific workings of things that move.  From the movement of the Big Bang, to the sound that moving sand makes at the base of a dune, to the speed of different insects, Berman explains the science of movement.  This was an engaging read that I enjoyed.

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

The Carb Sensitivity Program by Dr. Natasha Turner, read by Noelle, on 09/02/2014

My doctor prescribed a low carb diet and this was one of the books I picked up to learn more about it.   The main thing I garnered from the book was that some incredibly lucky people with incredibly efficient endocrine systems can eat carbs all the livelong day without negative side effects.  However, the vast majority of us are not that lucky.  And I am included in the vast majority, making the book depressing.    I feel like her system of going incredibly low carb and then slowly testing out various kinds of carbs to see how sensitive you are is great in theory, but difficult to follow.  Her program is incredibly detailed and restrictive.  I feel I could be successful at this if I was wealthy enough to hire a private chef, or retired with absolutely nothing else to dedicate my life to but food preparation.

31. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Inspirational, Kira, NonFiction

A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century by Rebecca Ann Parker and John Buehrens , read by Kira, on 08/30/2014

download  download (1) Rebecca Parker West President of the Star King Ministry, as well as a Methodist Minister co-writes this with John Buehrens (co-author of A Chosen Faith).  They examine the commonalities of liberal Christian theology, exploring what is fruitful among various interpretations.

Progressive Protestants are committed primarily to the healing and creative transformation of themselves, their neighbors, and their world. They often experience ‘theology’ primarily as ideas and teachings that are authoritatively presented and hamper more than they help the work of the followers of Jesus. Their lack of a positive theology is one reason for their marginalization in today’s religious scene. Buehrens and Parker begin with the life of service and work for justice and deepen it to show the implicit beliefs that it assumes and that are implicit in it. They show that progressive Protestants can be proud and articulate about their beliefs

One of the themes woven throughout this book, is that we are called to build Heaven on Earth.  The structure of the book did Not work for me, they assigned different aspect of liberal Christian religion to various structures of a house.  The foundation or the floor makes sense, but I just wished they had defined their terms (I’ve encountered eschatology, but don’t remember what it means), and Not attempted the metaphorical bridge.  However, I really enjoyed this book, Christian-Leftwanting to incorporatedownload (2) it into my life.

29. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Informational Book, NonFiction

It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd, read by Courtney, on 08/17/2014

It’s Complicated is the result of a ten-year study investigating the effects social media has on our nation’s teenagers. danah boyd traveled all around the country interviewing teens and parents. What she found may surprise some. Many of the fears and assumptions held by adults tend to be misguided and/or hyperbolic. The ways in which teens use the technology varies from teen to teen, but much of their use is consistent with the psychological and social needs presented by physical interactions with their peers. It’s important to remember that simply because we adults may use the same social networks, we may use them for different purposes. Most of the things we fear about online interactions, i.e. predators, bullying, etc. tend to be greatly exaggerated and may, in fact, be worse in the physical world. There’s a lot teen psychology here as well, which helps not only in understanding how the software is used, but also why (and which sites, for that matter).
I may have only given this three stars, but a lot of that is because so much of this book feels like common sense if you anything at all about teenagers. It presupposes that you, as the reader, may only have limited interaction with teens (or interaction with a limited number of teens) and thus may not have spent much, if any, time researching their behaviors. I work with teens on a daily basis, so it kind of felt like this book was preaching to the choir. The biggest take-away here can basically be boiled down to: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Teens are doing what they’ve always done; they’re just adapting current technologies to do so (mainly because their access to public spaces and unstructured time has drastically increased over the years). Still, for those who may not feel as well-versed in teen behaviors, this is an informative read.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction

Evolution of a Missouri Asylum: Fulton State Hospital, 1851-2006 by Richard L. Lael, read by Marsha, on 08/27/2014

downloadThis text provides a lot of basic information about the formation of the asylum in Fulton as well as present day status and everything in between.  Very informative if the reader is interested in some of the politics surrounding the state hospital throughout history.  Lael gives a lot of factual information, including patient statistics.  However, I feel that the book is lacking in one very important aspect: the lives of the patients who lived/live there.  In order to give an accurate history, this reviewer feels that conditions within the asylum should have been included, not just what was happening on the outside.  Though the author makes note of three patients who lived there, this is a very small and seemingly insignificant portion of the book.  An interesting read, but not what this reviewer was looking for.  So many of the treatments used were just glossed over or barely mentioned.  This is, then, truly only a PARTIAL history of this facility.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, How To's, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Beginner's Guide to Dream Interpretation by Clarissa Pinkola Estés , read by Kira, on 08/24/2014

indexindex2Estes guides you in how to interpret your dreams.  First she gives you guidance in remembering your dreams, including writing them down, having a tape recorder near your bed, and vowing to remember your dreams.  She discounts, using standard dream dictionaries to interpret symbols.  She advises paying attention to the nouns in your dreams, and then looking for synonyms to figure out what they might represent. Often, I find there is a major difference in the tone or feeling of my dream, compared to what actually happens in my dreams.  Sometimes, there are really yucky feelings, without anything ominous actually happening.  So I wasn’t sure the noun approach would really work for me.

She also covers specific dream narratives that lots of people experience, like flying dreams, or waking up late for a test, of finding yourself without your clothes.  The one recurring dream that I have that she didn’t cover is the one where I am choosing my bed in a dorm room, or some variant thereof.

I tried her methods and got some advice from my subconscious that I’ve ignored, that I know I should take care of, but don’t really want to.  So much for amplifying my subconscious.

butterfly-dreams goddess3 images4indexpI have really enjoyed this authors work and will continue to keep an eye out for her.

22. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Smartest Kids in the World : and How they Got that Way by Amanda Ripley, read by Kira, on 08/22/2014

on-the-shelfPISA 2009ChartQuoteTime Magazine journalist, Amanda Ripley, examines the superpowers of education thru the stories of 3 American foreign exchange students.  Kim goes to Finland, Tom to Poland,screen shot 2013-12-03 at 5.29.16 am and Eric to South Korea.    She asks why do US students continue to lag behind other developed countries.

So, do you think parental involvement with extracurricular activities helps children in school? actually there is a slight negative correlation with parental extracurricular involvement and children’s education scores.  However, reading to your kids, or reading at home (books, magazines) and discussing books, social issues, etc with your kids, is associated with higher educational scores.

 

Why is education so uforeign_exchange1nder-valued in the US? and whyAugust 8 I phone, last of Korea, Groths 987 d9789863204275oes this field get so mdownload (3)uch more respect in other developed score-testscountries?  Why do we as Americans think Mathematics is really an optional topic.   An interesting example was of the Bama pie making factory.  They couldn’t find smart enough people to work in their factory, so they opened another factory in Poland (okay, they can probably get skilled and cheap labor there).  Another example, was that even Head of Maintenance jobs require a fair amount of skill these days.  One needs to be able to be able to read blue-prints, perform applied mathematical equations, motivate subordinates, and communicate well, including writing reports.

I wish she has examined the effect of students studying in groups.  I had one prof who clearly believed in it, and it was a practice that I took up, finding other motivated students to study with.

She claims to only be transmitting information, and letting the reader decide, but she does seem to have a something of political agenda (though it is neither right nor left).  She advocates stronger requirements for both teachers (of which we seem to have a plethora) and for students to pass classes.  She dismisses technology and gadgets.

20. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterWant to learn how to use Twitter?  Tim O’Reilly gives a fun and easy to read book on how to use the 140 character social media tool.   This book is useful if you are a casual user or wanting to promote your busy.

 

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Business, Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor, read by Madeline, on 07/29/2014

From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age

The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, “The People’s Platform” argues that for all that we “tweet” and “like” and “share,” the Internet in fact reflects and amplifies real-world inequities at least as much as it ameliorates them. Online, just as off-line, attention and influence largely accrue to those who already have plenty of both.

What we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement. Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, a handful of giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook remain the gatekeepers. And the worst habits of the old media model–the pressure to seek easy celebrity, to be quick and sensational above all–have proliferated online, where “aggregating” the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue. When culture is “free,” creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system. The new order looks suspiciously like the old one.

We can do better, Taylor insists. The online world does offer a unique opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices and work of lasting value will not spring up from technology alone. If we want the Internet to truly be a people’s platform, we will have to make it so.

31. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Globish: How the English Language became the World's Language by Robert McCrum, read by Kira, on 07/31/2014

It seems unlikely that a small island conquered repeatedly would provide the world with a global language.  McCrum provides a historical review of how the English language developed, how its fluidity and subversive nature allowed it to flourish and become the lingua franca of the world.  He also details all the colonizing by the Brits. index globishpiespeakers   I wish only one timeline of history had been provided, I got a little confused going through history periods a couple of times, while focusing on other aspects of the language development.

25. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Hades Speaks!: A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead by Vicky Alvear Shecter, read by Angie, on 07/24/2014

I really enjoy this series by Vicky Alvear Shecter. The Anubis one was certainly entertaining and this Hades follow-up is just as fun. Hades takes us on a personal tour of the Land of the Dead. He is sarcastic and funny and very informative. In between tales of how his younger brother Zeus causes him no end of misery, he imparts all kinds of historical stories from Greek and Roman times. There is a lot of humor mixed in with all the historical information. I think kids will appreciate the fact that they are being entertained and educated at the same time. I can’t wait to see who comes next in this series. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present by John W. O'Malley S.J., read by Angie, on 07/04/2014

This book covers the history of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from its inception to the present day pope. The history of the Jesuits is an interesting and controversial one. They were disbanded by the Catholic Church at one time and made many enemies throughout history. They also did a lot of good as their missions spread throughout the world and they opened thousands of schools and universities. The book is written by a Jesuit priest and his bias does show through. The Jesuits are never shown in anything but a positive light and their controversies are always glossed over. The book was interesting but I think a more unbiased look at the Jesuits would have been just as interesting if not more so. 

I received this book from Netgalley.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson, read by Madeline, on 06/15/2014

Non-fans regard Céline Dion as ersatz and plastic, yet to those who love her, no one could be more real, with her impoverished childhood, her (creepy) manager-husband’s struggle with cancer, her knack for howling out raw emotion. There’s nothing cool about Céline Dion, and nothing clever. That’s part of her appeal as an object of love or hatred with most critics and committed music fans taking pleasure (or at least geeky solace) in their lofty contempt. This book documents Carl Wilson’s brave and unprecedented year-long quest to find his inner Céline Dion fan, and explores how we define ourselves in the light of what we call good and bad, what we love and what we hate.

19. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Self Help · Tags:

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel E. Lieberman, read by Kira, on 06/16/2014

humbod  Fabulous HominidTimelinediabetesWhats-the-Paleo-Diet-3book!  The first half recounts the changes in human physiology, from the time we first diverged from apes (chimpanzees specifically) to modern times. Dr Lieberman discusses the physical adaptations and what they mean for the way our bodies function.  Then he takes this history of the human body and shows us evolutionary mismatches between our physiology and our modern lifestyle, first starting with the foods we eat, and then discussing our bodies needs to be physically active, that we were born to run/walk long distances, and that our bodies suffer if we fail to be active.  For example he notes that people that run barefoot, rarely suffer foot injuries, in contrast to runners that wear shoes (barefooters also hit with the ball of the foot first, unlike shod runners who strike with their heel).  Type II Diabetes, Heart disease, and cancer are discussed in detail.  I found it especially interesting how our bodies process different types of foods, how damaging starches and carbs are, compared to protein, fat, fiber, and how the composition of what you eat, affects whether it is sent for fat storage, whether it triggers insulin shock or absorbed slowly and more healthily.