Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

Thanks to the McCord Library in North East, PA for making this book available to me.


This is my review of Sizzling Sixteen for

This is your typical Stephanie Plum mystery book. If you have been reading the series, it is a continuation of the amazing adventures of Stephanie, Lula, Joe, and Ranger and featuring more of Connie from the bail bonds office. We find that Connie makes great stink bombs and was known for it when she was in high school. Stephanie is still wrecking cars, Lula is on yet another diet where she is allowed to eat one item, only she hasn’t decided if that means one donut or one dozen donuts. Joe and Stephanie are currently on the outs although that doesn’t mean he won’t come to her rescue as needed. Ranger is still hot stuff and continues to loan Stephanie cars as she continues to total them. This time it is Vinnie the bail bondsman that has disappeared and the three girls need to find him and rescue him or come up with a million dollar ransom if they want to keep their jobs. In other words a typical fun story.

If you have never read a book from this story, you can jump in any time, but I suggest you start from book number one if you can. Otherwise, be prepared for a cozy mystery, humor, fun, romance, crazy grandma’s and a whole slew of oddball people. It is a great hot, humid summertime book to read to make you forget how miserable you are and at times you may find yourself laughing out loud. In the sense of great literature, this book doesn’t cut it, but if you want a fun entertaining book to read this whole series will do it for you.

This book did need to come with a warning though. Cluck in a Bucket extra crispy fried chicken played a huge role in this book. I was able to read this book in one sitting and by the time I was done I HAD to go get a bucket of Colonel Sanders extra crispy fried chicken, my brain wouldn’t stop demanding it! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


I never read reviews of books until I have actually written and posted mine, so I was surprised than many readers didn't like this book. That is their right, but I am continually amazed when I see some reader's reviews of books and they pick books like this one apart as if it were supposedly the next Great American Novel. This book was quite simply meant to be fun and entertaining. I know I enjoyed it. All of the Stephanie Plum books are over the top silly and the times I have laughed out loud while reading them are too many to count. Then my husband asks what I'm laughing at and I read him a section and he laughs too. That is the fun part of this series of books. Perhaps I've had enough sadness and pain in my life that I enjoy anything that takes me away from the pain, if only for a few hours and so I am greatly indebted to Janet Evanovich for doing this for me. I was in very bad pain the day I read this and so the relief was enormous to get lost in a fun book and I firmly believe that "laughter does good like a medicine".

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Great Starvation Experiment by Todd Tucker

Whenever my son Ron comes for a visit as he did this past July 4th, we have an official exchange of the books routine within about the first 5 minutes he is here. Of the 4 books he brought me this time, I started reading with this one, The Great Starvation Experiment: The heroic Men Who Starved so that Millions Could Live by Todd Tucker.

The Great Starvation Experiment was intended to see what is the best way to help war-torn starving refugees or any large group of people that have had their food sources stopped for so long due to natural disasters, etc. that they are literally starving. The experiment itself was started during World War II but didn’t finish in time for the end of the war, obviously you don’t keep a war going just for the sake of experimentation. During the draft of World War II the powers that be tried to keep Conscientious Objectors out of sight and busy on conservation projects or helping out places like mental hospitals. But for some pacifists, it was not enough that they could do for the cause of peace. Then Dr. Keys, the inventor of the K rations, came up with the plan for the starvations experiment. He found close to 40 conscientious objectors who were willing, at great personal sacrifice, to become part of an experiment on starvation and how to restore starving people to health.

After finding his initial young, physically fit men, Dr. Keys spent the first three months of the experiment, gathering health data on their general fitness and how many calories it took for them to maintain their normal weight. The men on average were 5’ 10” tall and weight on average 165 pounds. The had to walk 22 miles a week on top of the walking involved to get to the dining room and the exercises on the fitness machines that measured them. At this point the men were consuming around 3000 calories a day depending on the man as each diet was structured individually to the man’s size.

The next six months was the starvation part of the experiment. From the very first day of the this part of the experiment the men were cut down to around 1500 calories a day plus all the water and coffee they wanted to drink. They had to maintain their physical exercise including the 22 miles of walking a week. The exercise to simulate the activities of people having to rebuild their lives following war or natural disasters. The men dropped on average 25% of their body weight during the six months. As the men got hungrier and hungrier, a buddy system had to be instituted to be sure that no one was cheating on the diet. If they dropped a pea while eating, they grabbed it up off the floor and ate it. Any food given to them was not wasted and the men literally licked their plates clean. As the weeks and months moved along, they began to care less and less about world events and the only things they could focus on was food and looking forward to the end of the 6 month starvation phase and getting to recovery phase.

However the recovery phase wasn’t what they were expecting. This was actually the most important part of the experiment as Dr. Keys needed to see how many calories it took for a starving person to regain their strength and interest in life so the men were divided into groups and only got intermittent increases in their diets of a set amount of calories. Although the men slowly began to gain strength back, they were still focused on food, especially those who were only getting an extra 400 calories a day. The war was winding down and so was the experiment time when Dr. Keys realized that what the men needed to recover fully was food and as much as they wanted. When given back their full diets, the men quickly recovered their strength and interest in usual activities.

Space does not allow me to tell more about the book. It is fascinating reading and I urge you to read it. This was an experiment that due to the special circumstances of it, can never be repeated again. The data and book published from this study is still the authoritative guide to starvation and eating. These were immensely brave men who went through this experiment. In its way it does answer many things about diets for me. No wonder when someone tries to go on a 1000-1500 calorie diet that have trouble succeeding, as they are literally trying to starve their body to death and the body will refuse to cooperate. All the person will do is think about food and will do whatever it takes to eat food.

While this book deals with medical problems and issues, it is discussed in layman's words and is very understandable. You will find the individual stories of the men fascinating and enjoy hearing the updates on them as most lived to old age.

Unexpectedly, Milo by Matthew Dicks

I received this book to read and review through the Amazon Vine program.

I was privileged to read the author's first book, Something Missing: A Novel, and to comment on it and so it was a double treat to get a copy of his second novel, Uunexpectedly, Milo to read. His writing style is fresh and funny. His very observant eye picks up the details that many of us don't see and that really is the premise of his books, no body is looking!

Milo quite obviously has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and has untold routines that he has to do so that his head doesn't feel like it will blow off. Yet he has managed to be married for 3 years without his wife knowing about his quirks and when she keeps telling him she needs space, he moves out. Apparently she meant only to go visit a friend for a week or two and to not sign a lease on an apartment. They aren't communicating very well at this point. But Milo had signed a lease and he is starting to realize that life feels so much better when he can do his rituals when needed instead of having to wait to be sure no one will observe him.

Then life takes an unexpected detour when he finds a video-camera and film on a park bench. In his search to find the owner, he discovers that the owner was using the camera as a video journal and that she feels responsible for the death of two friends. Milo decides that he has to help her and goes off on many tangents to help this girl. Along the way he makes friends and discovers that even when he lets himself and his problems be known to others, they still like him and care for him. As he observes the people around him, he comes to realize that we all have some kind of quirk and it doesn't make us bad, it just makes us each an individual.

Matthew Dicks is a very talented author that writes books that you can enjoy reading to the point of laughing out loud and yet is sensitive to the ways that each of us are different and unique and being unique in a one size fits all world is okay. This book was a delight to read and I hope to read many more books by this author.


Matthew Dicks book's are a treat to read as they are enjoyable, fun and see people for who they are and the great potential within each of us.