Category: Non Fiction

“Mercies in Disguise” by Gina Kolata

“Mercies in Disguise” by Gina Kolata

A poignant story about unraveling the mystery of an untreatable illness. The Baxley family is a pillar of their community but a strange illness is taking family members at early ages. They consult with leading doctors but no diagnosis or treatment is in sight. As the youngest generation comes of age they must confront the prospect of the illness affecting them and make choices that could alter their lives forever.

In this book, Gina Kolata traces both the Baxley family and the science behind their family illness in expert fashion. This book reads more like a story than a case report and I think this is largely due to the structure she uses. The chapters alternate back and forth between the scientists working to decipher the cause of the illness and the family as they deal with its consequences. It moves at a really good pace and the alternating storyline keeps the reader engaged and wondering what happens next. This story is both poignant and tragic, and full of hope. I really enjoy a book where the author can take a very scientific subject and make it approachable for the average reader. I highly recommend.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-5-star-rating  4.5 stars!

Happy Reading!

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“The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore

“The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore

Genre: Non-Fiction

You are probably familiar with the saying “truth is stranger than fiction”. I think this book fits into that category perfectly. The events detailed in this work are like something out of a sci-fi movie. The pages of this book tell the stories of the young ladies who worked as painters in the radium dial industry starting in 1917. At the time the story opens, the scientific community’s understanding of radium and its effects was still in its infancy, but the substance’s characteristic of glowing in the dark made it a very profitable business venture. It was used commercially as a paint for the dials of clocks so that the numbers could be seen in the dark. As World War I began it became highly demanded for the instrument dials used in the military. The challenge at the time was that the painting of these dials had to be done by hand, this led to large-scale hiring of young girls as dial-painters. The girls were told that the substance was safe and they would even paint the substance on their bodies so that they could glow-in-the-dark when they went on dates. The painting technique involved putting the brush between the lips in order to form a point and in this manner the girls were ingesting the radium in dangerous quantities. Radium was also being used at the time as a treatment for cancer, and as an additive to health tonics.

It didn’t take long before some of the girls starting having health problems. Often the first indication that something was wrong was when a girl’s teeth starting to loosen and fall out. Some girls began to have sarcomas. One of the girls had to go so far as to have an arm amputated because of a sarcoma. It took a few years for the various doctors and dentists who were treating these girls to understand that the root cause of the symptoms was the radium that they had worked with. This diagnosis led to a long, drawn-out legal process as the girls tried to get the companies to take responsibility for having lied to them and to offer some compensation for the pain and expenses they had endured.

The author’s stated objective with this book is to tell the story of “The Radium Girls” from the perspective of the women themselves and she has done just that. I found this book to be both shocking and emotionally moving. These girls are heroes for the fight they put up, and without their efforts this country may not even have a process for protecting the health and safety of workers. Today, we take for granted, and are sometimes annoyed by, the safety procedures present in our workplaces, but after reading this book you will never take them for granted again. I think this book should be required reading and I am giving it a 5-star rating because of the quality of the writing and the importance of its message.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating 5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“In Such Good Company” by Carol Burnett

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Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Crown Archetype

If you are a fan of “The Carol Burnett Show”, you will definitely want to read this book. In its pages, Ms. Burnett takes us back through all 11 years of the show and tells about how the show became the icon of TV comedy that it is today. The book starts with a history of how the show came to be in the first place. Ms. Burnett then takes the reader through her favorite skits, her co-stars, her guest stars and even the feedback that some of the show’s parodies received, not all of it good.

“The Carol Burnett Show” premiered right about the time I was old enough to understand television, and continued throughout my growing up years. It was a staple at our house. I was so excited to receive this book and reading it was like reminiscing with an old friend. I highly recommend this book!

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-star-rating 4 stars!

Happy Reading!

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Non-Fiction Book Review: “The Cult Next Door” by Elizabeth Burchard and Judith Carlone

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We typically think of cults as living on a remote compound somewhere, but in this true story we see that a cult can form anywhere, even in the house next door. Elizabeth Burchard’s mother invites a biofeedback therapist she sees and some of her friends to gather at her apartment every week. They seek wisdom and direction for their lives. This man says all the right things and claims to speak the truth of the universe. Over the course of 30 years he subtly manipulates these men and women to do his bidding. After 20 years Elizabeth meets Judith and their friendship starts to change her perspective of her guru. Gradually she is able to disentangle her life from the effect the The Group.

This is a heart-wrenching story as you see Elizabeth being brainwashed by this charlatan. It’s a very eye-opening story. These people were educated, holding down good jobs, but their emotional vulnerabilities make them the perfect victims. The fact that Elizabeth is able to eventually extricate herself is a testimony to her fighting spirit and the support she receives from Judith. The story is told in a way that reads like a novel, taking you step by step through her journey. I really enjoyed this book and found it easy to read. This is a great book for anyone who’s interested in a look behind the scenes of a cult.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: “Caitlin’s Cruise” by Caitlin Dinoski

Book Review: “Caitlin’s Cruise” by Caitlin Dinoski

This is a collection of blog posts made by Caitlin as she and her husband watched every movie Tom Cruise was ever in, in order. Caitlin gives a rating for each movie overall, and a rating for Tom Cruise’s work in the film. I was sure what I was going to find in this book, but it turned out to be a fun read. Turns out there is more to Tom Cruise than just Mission Impossible. I liked that she watched the movies in order because it gives the reader a chance to see how Tom has developed as an actor over the years. I found the concept behind this book to be fun and Ms. Dinoski’s reviews were enjoyable to read.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP

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Book Review: “Siddhartha’s Brain” by James Kingsland

Book Review: “Siddhartha’s Brain” by James Kingsland

“Siddhartha’s Brain” is a fascinating look into the human brain and how meditation can have an impact on the way the brain works. Using the latest in scientific research, Mr. Kingsland has opened the door to understand how the meditation practices of Buddha worked to literally change the way his brain worked. The book starts off by laying a foundation of the various areas of the brain that process our perceptions and prompt us to act in think in certain ways. The author then goes into the research of meditation and describes the impact that meditation appears to have on the brain structures and how that impact changes our perceptions and thinking processes. Along the way, the author ties in relevant Buddhist teachings and reveals that Buddha was way ahead of his time in his understanding of human thinking.

I found this book to be relatively easy to read, though some chapters have more scientific terminology than others and that may prove daunting to some readers. This book is best for readers who have an interest in the structure and function of the brain, or those who desire a greater understanding of meditation from a scientific perspective.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!! The author has done a fantastic job of elucidating the subject matter in a readable way.

Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Reading!

View on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1REJ0rl

Book Review: “Good Morning Diego Garcia” by Susan Joyce

Book Review: “Good Morning Diego Garcia” by Susan Joyce

Batten down the hatches! This memoir will take you on a wild ride across the Indian Ocean on a 54’ yacht. This is the second book in a series of Susan Joyce’s memoirs. In this book she and her husband Charles agree to join their friends Dylan and Mia as they sail a yacht from Sri Lanka to the Seychelles. The author’s vivid descriptions have you feeling like you are right there with her. When she described the storms on the ocean I actually started to feel queasy. This story takes place in 1975 and the author incorporates well the political upheaval taking place in India and Sri Lanka at the time. The trip also turns out to be a significant personal journey for the author and she includes her many reflections throughout the story.

I really enjoyed the story and the author’s descriptions of all the places they visited. If I were planning a trip to India, this book would certainly give me lots of ideas for things to do and see.

Alinefromabook’s recommendation: THUMBS-UP! To a great travel story/memoir.

Happy Reading!

To purchase click here: http://astore.amazon.com/alinefromab00-20/detail/1943158908

Book Review: “The Art of Remaining Calm” by Clyde Deschamp, PhD

Book Review: “The Art of Remaining Calm” by Clyde Deschamp, PhD

An excellent treatise on a common malady. Stress related anxiety is becoming more and more common in today’s world. Many people turn immediately to medication, some of which can be addictive. In “The Art of Remaining Calm”, Dr. Deschamp has done an excellent job of explaining anxiety and the various mechanisms available to treat it. I was very impressed by the readability of this book, the average Joe will find the explanations easy to understand. I also appreciated the way the book was laid out, the topics in each chapter build on each other in a logical sequence. Dr. Deschamp begins with an explanation of what stress is and its causes. He then moves to complications that can arise and a discussion of why some people are more susceptible to stress than others. In the final chapters he discusses various forms of treatment from exercise and nutrition to herbal supplements and medications. He gives a lot of options and encouragement along the way. If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety, this book would be a great place to start looking for answers. I would consider this book like a map and you can pick the destinations (treatments) that are most appealing to you.

Who is this book appropriate for?: This book is a good one for anybody who has anxiety or just wants to learn more about in a simple, easy-to-read style. This book is appropriate for teenagers and adults.

Alinfromabook’s rating: I give this self-help book a big THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Book Review: “In Search of Buddha’s Daughters” by Christine Toomey

Book Review: “In Search of Buddha’s Daughters” by Christine Toomey

This is a biographical book where the author travels across the globe interviewing Buddhist nuns. She has presented their stories here in a way that was absolutely delightful to read. Being a Westerner, raised in a conservative Christian community, the only exposure I’ve had to Buddhism was seeing them in the airports when I was a kid. I have, though, always had a curiosity about other religions and cultures, so this book seemed like a good way to learn a little bit about these women. I was not disappointed! Ms. Toomey traveled to Nepal, Burma, Japan, the West Coast, Britain and France to meet these women, some of them well-known for the lives they led before becoming nuns, others known only in their own communities. All of the stories were fascinating and along the way the reader gets an introduction to the Buddhist faith (turns out it is not a demonic cult as I was told). Even if you have no interest in being a Buddhist, there is much in these stories to admire and inspire you. These women are not weaklings locking themselves away in a convent, but vibrant personalities who, in some cases, have endured much hardship. Hats off to Ms. Toomey for this beautifully crafted book!

Who would enjoy this book? Those who like biographies, who have an interest in different lifestyles, cultures, or religions.

What age is this book appropriate for? Older teenagers on up. There is nothing really graphic, but there is a chapter where she discusses the sexual abuse scandals of recent years.

Rating: I give “In Search of Buddha’s Daughters” a THUMBS-UP. Definitely a good read.

This book is set to be released in March 2016. Thanks to NetGalley for making a preview copy available.

Happy Reading!

Professional Reader
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Book Review: “Ten Days in a Mad-House” by Nellie Bly

Book Review: “Ten Days in a Mad-House” by Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was a female journalist in the late 1800’s. At the time, female journalists wrote about the home and society gatherings. Nellie set a new standard for investigative journalism, often writing about the plight of working women of her day. One of her assignments was to pretend to be insane and get herself committed to the Woman’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island in New York. She spent ten days locked away and the result was this book. In it she exposes the substandard conditions and brutal treatment of the women who were incarcerated there. Nellie’s book led to a grand jury investigation of the facility and the eventual improvement of conditions.

This book is a relatively short read and the edition I have included two articles at the end which she wrote about working conditions of women. Though the subject matter is very unpleasant, I nevertheless enjoyed the book. I found it shocking how easily the doctors she encountered wrote her off as insane. Our current mental health system is far from perfect, but in comparison to what she describes, has improved immensely. This would be a good choice for history or journalism buffs alike.

Happy Reading!

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