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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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2 11, 2012

Review: The Gnome Lexicon by Marcia Lewandowski

By | November 2nd, 2012|Categories: Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: |3 Comments

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Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Gnomes have typically been a source of wonder for children and adults. People love listening to the wonderfully magical tales of these endearing bearded men who roam about as little helpers as well as mischievous tricksters. Even as adults, many of us hope we’ll still manage a glimpse while working in the garden or taking a walk through a beautifully wooded area.

Readers can dive into the many fascinating tales included in The Gnome Lexicon and enjoy the varying lore from around the world. This artfully crafted collection includes 70 gnomes in all, hailing from a total of 59 different cultures. Each gnome has his one individual charm. Some are clever little tricksters, other happy little helpers. Others still prefer a lone private life hidden from human sight. Either way, join the fun by exploring each gnome’s individual

6 06, 2012

Review: Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen

By | June 6th, 2012|Categories: Historical, Memoirs, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

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Reviewed by Rebecca Berry

Rocky Flats. I’ve never heard of it before. By the end of this book, my question is how have I never heard of it before?

It turns out that the area now benignly referred to as the “Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge,” located between Denver and Boulder, Colorado, was previously the “Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site” (a title which makes no sense, as far as I can tell) which before that was simply referred to as “Rocky Flats”. Few people who lived in the surrounding area knew that the plant was actually a nuclear weapons facility dedicated to producing plutonium pits, the radioactive core of each and every atomic weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Most of the plant employees didn’t even know what they were making, or the dangers. And when they did slowly learn what the plant was

14 05, 2012

Blog Tour & Giveaway: In My Father’s Country by Saima Wahab

By | May 14th, 2012|Categories: Giveaways, Historical, Memoirs, Nonfiction, Religion & Spirituality, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |32 Comments

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Please join Saima Wahab, author of In My Father’s Country, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours.

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy below!

Reviewed by Vera Pereskokova 

Saima Wahab was just a child when her father was taken away in broad daylight – likely sold out to the Soviets by his neighbors – never to return again. Although Saima and her two siblings had an amazing father figure in their Baba (grandfather), they grew up among flying bullets and mortar shells, in constant danger.

When Saima was fifteen, two uncles from Portland, Oregon sponsored her, her brother and sister, and three other cousins to come to the United States. Saima’s father, and later her grandfather, always told her that she was destined for something greater than the typical life of an Afghani woman, and she saw

9 05, 2012

Review: Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

By | May 9th, 2012|Categories: Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

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Reviewed by Alyssa Katanic

“Wow!” “Intense!” Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14 is definitely both, and expertly written. Harden is an experienced journalist who has written for the Washington Post, The New York Times, and has worked as a reporter for PBS Front Line (among many other excellent credentials). He doesn’t leave journalism behind as he develops the story of Shin In Geun, the only known person to have been born in and escaped from North Korea’s toughest political labor camp.

As so many average Americans, I have to admit that I am very “my little corner of the world” focused – but I am nosey! Thus, I love the opportunity to take a look at other cultures via well written books. Sometimes these stories can offer us pictures that are hard to look at, and that makes them all the more

28 04, 2012

Review: MWF Seeks BFF by Rachel Bertsche

By | April 28th, 2012|Categories: Health, Mind, & Body, Humor, Memoirs, Nonfiction, Relationships, Social Sciences, Women's Studies|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

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Reviewed by Ann Liu

If Carrie Bradshaw, from Sex and the City, and Mr. Big left New York with her three girlfriends behind, what would she do without them? MWF Seeking BFF is a true story of Rachel Bertsche, a writer herself, who moves to Chicago with her husband, on the search for new friends.

MWF Seeking BFF, or Married White Female Seeking Best Friend Forever, is Rachel’s personal memoir of her yearlong search for a best friend. She dissects the friendship element and shares a lot of research toward understanding the psychological makeup of friends. According to Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist, the size of the brain determines the number of relationships we can maintain. The human brain can maintain 150 relationships. After calculating her social network of friends, families, and acquaintances, Rachel came up short 20 people. She decided to fill

11 04, 2012

Review: The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow

By | April 11th, 2012|Categories: Nonfiction, Parenting & Family, Social Sciences, Women's Studies|Tags: , , |7 Comments

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Reviewed by Joanne Reynolds

The Magic Room is located at Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, Michigan. Shelley Becker, the third generation owner, created this room for brides to enter, wearing the gown they have chosen for their bridal day. There is a pedestal in the middle and the entire room is surrounded by mirrors for the bride to view herself from all angles.

Becker’s Bridal has been open for business since 1934. Fowler is a middle-class community with a population of 1,100. Becker’s Bridal houses anywhere from 2,500 gowns in it’s small shop, a former bank. The Magic Room was once the bank vault.

Shelley Becker spends six days a week, and up to 12 hours a day, working in her shop. She was “initiated” into the business at the age of 14. She has seen countless brides and mothers come through the doors

22 03, 2012

Review: Social Q’s by Philip Galanes

By | March 22nd, 2012|Categories: Entertainment, Nonfiction, Reference, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

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Reviewed by Sara Drake

Social Q’s: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today offers insight into polite ways of dealing with difficult situations. Philip Galanes writes an advice column for the New York Times, “Social Qs,” as well as appearing regularly on the Today Show. This book grew out of his advice columns, based on the most common questions his readers sent him.

He addresses social etiquette questions that arise from our modern world. Have you ever wondered if you should tell someone about their really bad BO? Have you ever wanted ideas on how to handle a difficult boss? Do you spend the holiday season confused by how to handle the social obligations? This book has the answers and much more. Galanes offers his advice with a mixture of humor and pragmatism, making this book an enjoyable read.

As

14 03, 2012

Review: India Becoming by Akash Kapur

By | March 14th, 2012|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , , |7 Comments

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Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Akash Kapur grew up between India and America. Returning to India decades later as an adult, he discovers a country with a bright future as a player in the world economy.

At the time of Kapur’s 2003 visit, India was in the process of reinventing itself with a vibrant energy of the new generation. People were replacing their outmoded ways of life with new tools (carts replaced with tractors), and improving things from deep within the country. People in the lower classes were able to take advantage of a new proprietary situation and were becoming entrepreneurs or newly minted business owners. They learned how to make money and generate passive income by developing family-based businesses for themselves. However, this newly acquired wealth sometimes came at a price for India. Opportunities for prosperity also

20 02, 2012

Review: A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

By | February 20th, 2012|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences, Women's Studies|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

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Reviewed by Colleen Turner

On January 24th, 1943, 230 women boarded a train in France, bound for the unknown. They ranged in age from fifteen to over sixty and encompassed positions in society from school girls to furriers to farmers’ wives to doctors and chemists. Most, on the surface, seemed to have little in common. What united them was much deeper and much more binding.

These women found themselves imprisoned together for their various resistance acts against the German invaders that had taken over France upon their occupation on June 14th, 1940. And all would have to cling together as strongly as possible in order to survive what lay ahead of them at the end of their train ride: the death and work camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau and Ravensbruck. Their united strength, intelligence and determination to live and tell others of the

11 02, 2012

Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

By | February 11th, 2012|Categories: Health, Mind, & Body, Nonfiction, Psychology & Counseling, Self-Help, Social Sciences|Tags: |8 Comments

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Reviewed by F. Scott

Quiet, by lawyer-turned-consultant Susan Cain, is a good antidote to what I call our BS society. In short, she shows that it is okay to be short with your words to the world and others around you.

Our society forces everyone in it to be an extrovert—and if you’re not, you’re just too weird to be liked, hired, or kissed. We learn this from our early days in school when the point is to be socially adept and get along with others. Cain correctly points to the “politically progressive roots” of this phenomenon in our society. However, she doesn’t really nail or name the ultimate culprit: John Dewey. Democracy demands that we socialize kids, not really teach them anything or make them think very deeply, Dewey basically said.

I always like to refer to that scene in To