Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mary Ann reviews How Much Do You Love Me by Paul Mark Tag

How Much Do You Love Me by Paul Mark Tag

Genre: historical fiction, romance
content: clean, there is a mention of intimacy
Pages: 226

Lovers James and Keiko marry quickly before James goes to World War II and Keiko to an internment camp. Sixty years later their daughter Kazuko, born in the camps, uncovers a secret that could overwhelm the family. Discover the very definition of human love and self-sacrifice in this saga of war, mystery, and romance.

What I liked about this book:
I really enjoyed the historical backdrop of the Internment Camps. I've studied a lot of WWII moments--mostly the European theater because it is one of my favorite time periods in history. "The best of times and the worst of times..." So many horrible things happened and there were so many evil, monstrous, power hungry men and women, but then all that was good in human nature rose to the top and eventually caused the downfall of all that was evil.

The reason I enjoyed reading about the internment camps is that comparatively little has been written or told about this side of the story. There is a lot more information out now, thanks to YouTube and the Internet. I remember finding out about the camp at Topaz Mountain in Utah and I asked my parents about it. They regretted that it existed, and they knew a few Japanese American families in the Salt Lake Valley area. They were also quick to point out that there were Japanese patriots in Hawaii and American patriots who unwittingly gave information over the phone to family in Japan. The mass hysteria was understandable and not unlike the hysteria after 9/11.

Reading about the internment camps from the perspective of those who had to stay there and endure the frustration and poor living conditions was an eye-opener. The Tanaka family chose to remain positive and look for the good in every day. They suffered loses, and opposition from other families that wanted to fight the system/government. Some families chose to return to Japan.

That's just the background for the love story. James and Keiko announce their intentions just weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Interracial marriages were not heard of before the war and once the US declared war, a Japanese-American marriage could be dangerous.

This is a love story that goes beyond the danger. It is a story of love and sacrifice on all sides of the family, with a 60 year old secret that adds suspense.

The first couple of chapters were a little confusing because it jumps back and forth from 1942-1943 to October of 2000. Once I gained my bearings I found the characters were very relatable. I figured out the secret early on, but I had to know how they would find out and what they would do with that information once it was known. I came to care about the characters and cheer for them.

There is a cast of characters and glossary at the back of the book which would've been helpful if I'd have known they were there. I got a little lost between names of Japanese characters and Japanese titles.

The writing itself was a little staccato, like I was reading a check list of informative items, and the dialogue was a little stilted, but I couldn't tell how much of that would've been cultural as Japanese at that time were very formal and proper.

All in all, I'd say it was definitely worth reading and I give it ***1/2 stars.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mary Ann reviews Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison

Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison

Genre: Romance, Jane Austen re-writes
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Release: August 2014
Content: Clean romance, mild religious content

Which is the key to love -- passion or sensibility? Sensible Elly and romantic Maren are sisters trying to hold their family together in the wake of their father's bankruptcy and death. As both unexpectedly encounter the madness and misadventures of love, they find out what true happiness means. This modern reimagination of the Jane Austen favorite will capture your heart all over again.

What I liked about this book:
I've enjoyed reading all of Jamison's books. She is able to make modern-day counterparts relevant and believable.
This book especially showed a lot of depth into depression, autism, and the one who thinks she has to stay strong for everyone else. I really liked how she handled point of view from one with depression. It wasn't overwhelming, but just a taste. It also showed that the one experiencing depression doesn't always realize that's what's going on. I liked the way she handled Elly's autistic sister, Grace, again with a light hand, not overwhelming.

I really liked how she told their story from both viewpoints. We never could've gotten into Maren's head and understood her without both points of view.

The characters seemed so real that I found myself catching my breath for them, worrying with them, and feeling embarrassed when they were humiliated. I hope to be able to write this well someday.

I'd give it ****1/2 for Jamison's best book yet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Amy reviews The Pizza Trap by Gabrielle Welch

The Pizza Trap by Gabrielle Welch

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self Help
Content:  Appropriate for all ages
Publisher:  W5Publishing
Release date:  2012
Number of Pages:  291

Book Summary/Teaser:
Junk food is everywhere: at school, at the ball field, at the mall -- even at your dinner table. Today, more and more American children are suffering from conditions that were once reserved for adults: obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease and hypertension. And unhealthy eating the primary cause. It may seem like a battle that can't be won, but you can get your kids off junk food and set them on a lifelong path to healthy eating and wellness. As a Nutritional Consultant and mother of three, author Gabrielle Welch offers easy, practical and fun ways to educate and empower your kids to eat right. The Pizza Trap is a guide for every parent. Gabrielle's simple tips will help you experience less mealtime struggles and discover new ways to eat healthy on the go.

Gabrielle Welch, founder of Welch Wellness, educates, supports and inspires women and children to help prevent disease and embrace a life of wellness through nutrition, green living and life balance. Gabrielle's passion is to empower moms with the knowledge to make better choices when it comes to cooking, buying groceries and especially eating on-the-go.
Most of her clients are busy moms, who know they are not doing all they can for their family's health and seek help from an expert who can give them guidance and support to achieve their goals.

As a mother of a child with asthma and allergies, Gabrielle has a personal interest in and passion for helping moms who have children with one of the four A's: asthma, allergies, ADHD and autism. For many years, she has been educating parents about the necessity of reducing our kids' exposure to environmental toxins, both in the food supply and through products we bring into our homes. Currently, in the U.S., more than one-third of our kids are affected by one of these four new childhood epidemics and the numbers are growing rapidly each year. There IS a direct relationship between junk food and processed foods and our kids' academic performance, behavior and health!
Gabrielle is a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a Nutritional Consultant degree from The Global College of Natural Medicine as well as an MBA from Baylor University. Gabrielle is a well-known public speaker, mom activist and author of The Pizza Trap. She has also been a regular guest of Channel 11's Great Day Houston with Deborah Duncan, as their nutritional expert on the show, as well as appearing often on The Live Well Network's "Deals" (ABC).
Show moreShow lessShow moreShow less
My Opinion:

There are SOOOO many things in this book that I agree with.  It really is frustrating that no matter how healthy I try to help my kids be they are constantly being offered unhealthy things everywhere we go.  Many of my friends have heard my complaints over and over again that I don't appreciate the excess of sweets my kids end up with.  I think it is fine to have an occasional treat, or "junk" food, but the problem with the American Standard Diet is that these things are no longer occasional.  This book is helpful and empowering in giving parents some good ideas and helpful information to change lifestyles.  It brought to light some issues that I wasn't really aware of as well.  I was worried that it was going to be a boring "bullet point" format, but it had a lot of variety and kept me interested until the end.  I appreciated the side notes, quotes and fun facts.  I think the author took a few subjects to the extreme, but overall it is a great book!
Rating: ****

You can find it on Amazon: