01. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, History, Kira, NonFiction

The Mental Floss History of the World : An Irreverent Romp through Civilization's Best Bits by Erik Sass and Steve Wiegand with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur., read by Kira, on 09/23/2014

3242424mental-floss-forbidden-knowledgeMentalFloss500mentalfloss   This was a far more interesting history of the world, or most any history than I’ve previously read. The downside, is that I will have difficulty remembering all the individual facts.  The narrative was constructed more like Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader including Harper’s Magazine Index-type lists of comparative statistics that really make you think. Much more attention is given to Asia, Africa and South America than your standard Euro-centered histories of the past.   Did you know that the Khan that Marco Polo visited was the same Kubla Khmentalfloss2an mentioned in Coleridge’s poem?  I listened to this title and thus missed some formatting and organization that would have been communicated on the page.   Apparently, they had sidebars that listed who-or-what was up at a given point in time, who/what was down. They also had important events listed within a given time-period.  These interesting tidbits didn’t translate as readily to the audio version, they needed more verbal placemarkers, such as these highlights apply to this time period.  Still I really enjoyed this book, and will look for more Mental Floss titles.

01. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, History, Lisa, NonFiction

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, read by Lisa, on 09/30/2014

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

01. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Inspirational, Marsha, NonFiction

Mixed Media Self-Portraits: Inspiration and Techniques by Cate Coulacos Prato, read by Marsha, on 09/30/2014

self-portraitsThis is a wonderful book for anyone who works in mixed-media.  The idea of doing a self-portrait may make many people put the book down before they even crack it.  This book is something you should at least flip through as it gives you clues of what to look for when trying to define yourself and how you are unique.  This is useful study for any type of portraiture as it makes the artist pay attention to things like eye placement and lip shape in comparison to other portraits.  The portrait does not have to be an exact image of the artist.  It can also be a representation or it can be a portrait of the person the artist wants to be.  The main thing for artists to keep in mind when creating a portrait of the self is to be introspective.  The book walks the artist through the importance of a self-portrait, knowing yourself, and revealing yourself.  A lot of the things talked about in the book are good for artists regardless of the medium they choose.  I highly recommend this book to anyone more curious about discovering what makes them unique.

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.

25. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Strike!: The Farm Workers' Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner, read by Angie, on 09/24/2014

Strike!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights details the history of the farm workers struggle that started in California with the grape workers. These workers were generally migrants who travelled northward through California as the grape harvest came in. The Filipino and Chicano workers were not paid very much and their living conditions were deplorable. In the 1960s, two dynamic leaders started organizing the workers and trying to get them better working conditions. Cesar Chavez worked with the Chicano workers and Larry Itliong worked with the Filipino. They eventually banded together to form the United Farm Workers of America Union and led a successful strike and boycott of the industry. Their efforts took many years, but they showed through peaceful, nonviolent means that they could accomplish their goals. This book is an excellent source for kids to learn about the creation of unions and the conditions workers had to endure. It offers a wonderful historical perspective on what was going on in the agriculture sector during the 20th century.

25. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

Artist's Journal Workshop: creating your life in words and pictures by Cathy Johnson, read by Marsha, on 09/24/2014

downloadThis is a nice book for anyone wanting to get started in creating an artist’s journal.  While a bit different from art journaling, there are still some fundamentals here that could be used for that craft.  This book focuses more on the types of journals an artist can create, such as travel.  The book discusses multiple media; however, many pages shown only combine a couple such as ink and watercolor.  If you are wanting to complete multimedia pages, this is probably not the book for you.  However, if you want to create pages that document your daily life or certain parts of it, in an artistic way with illustrations, Cathy Johnson provides a great starting point.  This book asks questions such as, “What do you want from an artist’s journal?” to help the reader get started in finding the type of journal that is right for him/her.  There are also chapters on test driving different media and the journaling lifestyle, just to name a couple.  Great book to start with!

23. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow, read by Angie, on 09/22/2014

I have never heard of Pellagra or the fact that it was an epidemic in this country in the first half of the 20th century. After reading this book I am pretty happy that it is not a disease we need to worry about any longer. This book was so very interesting. I love learning about new things; I also really like reading about disgusting things. Pellagra is a disease that was around Europe for hundreds of years before appearing in the United States in the 1900s. It was believed the disease was caused by eating bad corn products which is why it affected mostly poor people in the South. They lived on grits and cornmeal and little else. Pellagra caused the four Ds: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death. It killed between 1 in 10 and 6 in 10 people affected. It took almost 40 years of investigations by multiple doctors to figure out what really caused Pellagra and how to treat it. Dr. Joseph Goldberg worked on the Pellagra problem for over 15 years and was the one who discovered that it was a lack of niacin in the diet that caused the problem. Because of his work with the Public Health Services that our grain products are now fortified with vitamins and minerals to decrease the chances of diseases caused by dietary deficiencies. This was a truly fascinating book.

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.

17. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Paula

James Dean, The Mutant King: A biography by Dalton, David, read by Paula , on 09/17/2014

http://www.syndetics.com/index.aspx?isbn=0312439598/LC.GIF&client=mobius
This is the book that restarted the James Dean cult by celebrating him as the cool, defiant visionary of pop culture who made adolescence seem heroic instead of awkward and who defined the style of rock ’n’ roll’s politics of delinquency. The only book to fully show how deliberately and carefully Dean crafted his own image and performances, and the product of still unequaled research, vivid writing, intimate photographs, and profound meditation, James Dean: The Mutant King has become almost as legendary as its subject.
Second biography of James Dean that I have read.  Added another dimension to the man and the myth.
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: Adult Books, How To's, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

How we learn the surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens. by Benedict Carey, read by Kira, on 09/14/2014

how-we-learn-by-benedict-careylearn_3019445a mgtjVsu 0824-bks-Hurley-master495 download After reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They got that Way, I started wondering how much can pedagogy be taught, and how much of it is just having a good personality.  And by “good personality” I was thinking of the charismatic “hail fellow well met type”.   I should have remembered that people with  “hail fellow well met” type of personalities, usually get more credit than they deserve see the book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Should teachers be required to get a good education or does getting a degree in physical education, qualify you to teach math in high school.  How much can Blond girl learning Chinese 4training benefit a teacher?

Well, given that I learned several ways to study better, to learn faster, and retain more, from this book, I think getting a good education is necessary for teachers as well.  Some of the methods I learned seemed intuitively correct, but I didn’t know why, I was unaware of other things.  I did know that studying for two hours all at once was less effective than studying 1 hour on one day, and then another hour, a couple of days later.  Why does this work better? because the deeper we have to dig to retrieve a piece of information, the more likely it is to stick.  That is why Comprehensive Exams are better for you, though less popular, because you have to study more.  It also helps explain why pop quizzes are good for students, its Not that they tell you so much about what the student knows, its that it is a good tool to help students learn.  Trying to find the answer in your brain is helpful.  Students dislike pop quizzes, yet maybe if they didn’t count for lots of points, student’s wouldn’t object to them as much.  I did know that when you reach an impasse, you should stop, take a break, then go back to the problem.  I advise my husband to do this all the time, now I have evidence to back me up.

I also  didn’t realize how important it is to mix things up, Carey call interleavement.  Drills are fine, but you don’t want to spend a long period of time on the same one, or same type, do some scales, then some etudes, then play a piece through, then work on tone, then back to scales, etc.  This is really critical in math, because you need to be able to figure out which type of formula to apply to different problems.  Often in school, a student does fine on an individual section, but then fails the comprehensive test, because, now they have to select a given formula.  Another way to mix things up, is to study in different places, under different conditions, though if you can study in the room where you will take the test, that can benefit you for the test, but Not for the long run.    part of it boils down to, do you want to just pass the class, or do you really want to learn, do you want to challenge yourself.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and wish more of my professors had imparted this type of knowledge.

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.

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Children's Books, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

From Slave to World-Class Horseman: Tom Bass by J. L. Wilkerson., read by Kira, on 09/10/2014

downloadimages (12 Bassahs7  This is a short biography of a African American born into slavery, then emancipated with his family, who loved working with horses, and ended up owning his own stables and showed horses at major events.  Bass was able to overcome a number of racial barriers because of his great skill with horses, and because other people, whites, stood up for him.  He was a quiet, gentle man, and one wonders if an African American with a different temperament would have succeeded in his place.

I liked the fact that so much of the story took place here in Mid-Missouri, in Columbia, Boonville, etc.  download (1) download (2) images

10. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Paula

James Dean The Biography by Val Holley, read by Paula, on 09/10/2014

On September 30, 1955, en route to a car race in Salinas, James Dean, in a Porche Spyder, crashed head-on with a Ford and died instantly; he was 24 years old. This year he will have been dead 40 years; Holley’s biography is the most definitive biography yet written, and it is quite interesting without being sensational. Holley does take off into flights of verbosity at times, but his general style is so forthcoming that his work gains in credibility, albeit slowly, as the very first chapter, “A James Dean Primer,” is too breathless, dazzling readers with his subject’s legendary achievements and controversies. But then the pace slows, and Holley begins building his portrait with fine use of the 100 or so interviews with people who have never before spoken on record. His presentation of Dean’s career in New York onstage is surprising in that for most people his image is filmic. But, like Brando, he worked well on the stage, gained notoriety, and became a member of the Actors Studio. Holley reveals that Dean’s television work was extensive and continued after he became a Hollywood star. It seemed before that James Dean came from nowhere, a total myth, who in the last 18 months of his life acted in three films–East of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, and Giant, and only East of Eden had been released when he crashed. Now it’s different; an icon has human dimensions. Bonnie Smothers

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This year he will have been dead 59 years.  From reading this book I learned so much about the “real” James Dean, not the Hollywood version of the man.  His mother died at the age of 9 and he was sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Indiana.  Feelings of abandonment followed him his whole life.  There is much controversy about his sexuality, which I never knew.  From various accounts of people, he was an enigma. He changed his persona to fit the person he was with.  Giving them the version of himself he thought they wanted to see.  Extremely interesting and intriguing man.  I recommend anyone who has ever watched his films to read this book.  You will see him in a whole new light.

 

09. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Fat Cat by Robin Brande, read by Kira, on 09/07/2014

Overweight teen Cat takes on a high school science project where she takes up the diet and physical habits of hominins.  In the process she loses lots of weight, dates a number of guys, and tries to recover from an old emotional injury.

The books starts out well enough, but gets pedantic towards indexsthe $_72end.    images36090411 index

09. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Wild Born: Spirit Animals Bk1 by Brandon Mull, read by Kira, on 09/06/2014

In
images Spirit Animals_thumb[4] Animal_spirits_squares_black_detail AnimalSpiritCircle The beginning of the Spirit Animals series.  At the start of the adventure, 4 11-yr olds drink the special honey liquid and are able to call spirit animals.  But Not just any spirit animals appear to these 4, rather the Great 4 Fallen, who died in the old battle with the Destroyer.  Each youth is from a different country on Erdras and from a different segment in society.

 

This is a fast moving, action filled adventure.

indeximg-thing 6a00e54efdd2b38834015393b5f173970b A delightful set of guidelines on how to live your life, especially if you live within fairy tales.  Some of the wisdom applies to our reality on this earth as well.