Friday, July 3, 2020

142. Gardening in Iowa by Melinda Myers

Myers, Melinda. Gardening in Iowa. Franklin, TN: Cool Springs Press, 2007. Print.

291 pages

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

 This book is a helpful month-by-month guide to gardening in Iowa. The book is divided into sections: annuals, bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers, herbs and vegetables, lawns, perennials and ornamental grasses, roses, shrubs, trees, vines and groundcovers. Each section walks the reader through the year by month. Each month is broken into sections: planning, planting, care, watering, fertilizing, problems, and grooming.

 There is so much practical, applicable information in this book, it will stay on my bookshelf long term. While Myers does not do a deep dive into any particular type of garden plant or species, she covers a wonderful amount of information—enough for a beginning gardening to dive right in to gardening. The information is specific to Iowa but I imagine if you live in a similar zone and have similar soil, the information would work well for you too.

The language is simple and Myers does a great job of breaking down scientific information into language that is accessible for a broad audience. She also provides an extensive appendix including names and addresses of Iowa organizations and extension offices that Iowa gardeners can reach out to for further help if needed.

If you are a novice gardener, I recommend picking up a copy of this book.

Would I read it again? 

Yes, this is staying on bookshelf and I will refer to it throughout the year as I continue to grown my own gardening skills.

Recommended for

Beginning gardeners in Iowa or in locations of a similar zone and soil type as Iowa.

Not Recommended for

Experienced gardeners looking for a deep dive of information on specific plant species or garden types.

4 stars out of 5

 

Melinda Myers website: https://www.melindamyers.com/\

Melinda Myers on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/311605.Melinda_Myers

 

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Friday, June 26, 2020

141. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

 

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Ramsey, Dave. TheTotal Money Makeover. New York, NY: Nelson Books, 2007, Kindle eBook.

229 pages

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

I picked up The Total Money makeover because it has been pushed on me and pushed hard. Any mention of finances in any of my social circles and I was suddenly being in-boxed adamant suggestions that I read this book and adhere to Ramsey’s advice. I finally caved and bought a copy for my Kindle. I now regret spending my hard-earned dollar on this book rather than checking out from the library.

Ramsey uses the metaphor of “fatness” to describe when a person is lacking financial freedom. He calls lacking financial freedom being “financially flabby.” He describes fat bodies in ways that make them seem undesirable, disgusting, and unworthy of existing. This fat-phobic theme arches through the entire book and set me on the path to greatly disliking not only the book, but Ramsey himself.

Ramsey in the very first chapter tells you that what he wrote in this book are a collection of unoriginal ideas. He admits that he not adding anything new to the field of finance but repeating financial “truths” and debunking some financial myths. You can so easily find this information literally anywhere else. It is not Ramsey specific and he doesn’t provide a unique or original strategies to the field. I’m not making that up. He flat out states that in the first chapter. So why write a book and then market it to a bunch of people struggling financially, desperate for answers? Money, duh. Ramsey’s ultimate goal is to be super rich and I guess exploiting readers is one way he meets that goal.

The chapters are made up of a recipe of thirds. One third of the chapter is actual, practical advice (that you can find anywhere else online), the second third is Ramsey shaming people for being financially “flabby,” and the final third of the chapter is “testimony” (AHEM: marketing) from “real life couples (usually white couples) who have used Ramsey’s strategies (that are not really his original strategies) for financial freedom so you should buy ALL OF RAMSEY’S PRODUCTS. :: insert cheerleader split jump here ::

My ultimate takeaway is that there are good principles in this book, but they aren’t Ramsey’s. He is a wordsmith who knows how to grind into people’s emotional vulnerabilities around money, so I’m not surprised that there is what I am calling a “cult of personality” around this guy and his work. Because his work isn’t really that good, but his personality is what he’s selling.

1 star out of 5

Would I read it again? 

No, and I won’t be reading or investing in any of his other products either.

Recommended for

Nobody. Don’t. waste. Your. Money. On. This. Rubbish. You can find this information online. FOR FREE.

Not Recommended for

People who are trying to save money or who are looking for financial advice that isn’t deeply rooted in shame.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

140. The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen


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Gerritsen, Tess. The Sinner. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group, 2003. Print.

355 pages

This is the third installment in the Rizzoli and Isles series. Tess Gerritsen continues her exploration of evil in a story about two nuns who were murdered in their convent. The story spans across continents with a connection to a chemical plant in India. 

At this point in the series, Gerritsens’ characters have started to materialize in a more personal way. The depth of character has deepened and readers can start to feel attached to them. We’ve spent enough time with them at this point to feel like old friends. This makes the tension and suspense in the novel all the greater.

Not without scandalous affairs, The Sinner addresses evil from a number of angles. Much like The Surgeon, it explores how evil can be just around the corner. An otherwise average human can have an alternative life that we know nothing about.

In addition, this novel explores the concept of corporate greed as a source of evil in the world. Corporate greed is not only found in large corporations but in charitable organizations and smaller businesses as well. It can be the source of atrocities, including what unfolds in this story.

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

Would I read it again? 

Yep

Recommended for

Rizzoli and Isles fans

Not Recommended for

Not for kids of those sensitive to violence.

 

3 stars out of 5

 

Tess Gerritsen’s website: https://www.tessgerritsen.com/

Tess Gerritsen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18149.Tess_Gerritsen

 

Reviews of previous novels in the series:

The Surgeon

The Apprentice


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Friday, May 8, 2020

139. Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza and Steve Irwin


Ilibagiza, Immaculee, & Erwin, Steve. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. New York, NY: Hay House, 2007. Print.

 

214 pages

 

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

 

The Rwandan genocide happened in the spring of 1994. It is one of histories darkest events and Immaculee Ilibagiza survived it. Left to Tell is her memoir documenting how she survived the genocide. She credits her survival to her faith in God and explains how she relied on prayer while hidden in a tiny bathroom with several other women.

 

This book is horrifying and inspiring. It is horrifying because of the atrocities that Immaculee so eloquently documents. It is inspiring because of her faith and the example she sets for other Christians. Her faith and prayer was unwavering in a situation that drove many other to madness.

 

It is hard to say I loved this book because I wish she had never needed to write it. If you are someone who is sensitive to violence, please don’t read this. It will be very triggering for you. I do think it is important that she told this story and that people read it and absorb it. Like the Holocaust during WWII, the genocide in Rwanda needs to be remembered, lest we forget and repeat the mistakes.

 

 

Would I read it again? 

I’m undecided. I may read certain passages again when I need some faith-based inspiration or a bit of perspective, but this was a difficult book and I don’t know if I will read it cover-to-cover again.

 

Recommended for

Anyone over the age of 18 who is not triggered by violence. This is an important memoir.

 

Not Recommended for

Readers who have trauma in their past. The violence depicted here will trigger you.

 

 

5 stars out of 5

 

Immaculee’s website: https://www.immaculee.com/

Immaculee on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/40411.Immacul_e_Ilibagiza

 

 

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Friday, May 1, 2020

138. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte



Bronte, Emily. WutheringHeights. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1974. Print.

Originally published in 1847.

308 pages

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

Wuthering Heights is a classic. Many know the basic story and there have been film adaptations. It is a classic love story about two lovers who are unable to be together. The Bronte sisters are masters of the gothic novel and this is a masterful work worth reading.

One of things I loved about this novel is how devastatingly human the characters are. They love to the point of madness and misery. The relationships are dysfunctional and full of hyperbole.

The simplicity of their lives also stood out to me. Very few of us anymore can appreciate the simple beauty of sitting in a tree and listening to the birds or laying on the grass and watching the cloud. Bronte makes these simple activities feel like a paradise. Novels of this era delight in the depiction of long walks through lovely countryside to work through internal conflict. It is something I think more of us need to adopt in our own lives.  

This review is short, but what more do you say about a masterful work? If you read or have read this novel, let me know what you thought about it in the comments below.  

Would I read it again? 
Yes.

Recommended for
Readers 18 and older mostly because the language is complex.

Not Recommended for
Young readers. The prose will be difficult for a young person to navigate.


4 stars out of 5


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Friday, April 3, 2020

137. My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein



Bornstein, Kate. My Gender Workbook. New York, NY: Routledge, 1998. Print.

292 pages

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

In Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook, the author’s goal is to help readers discover their own gender identity. The book includes journal prompts along with an in-depth discussion of what gender is, and what it means in a larger societal context. Bornstein provides several different models of gender that address the intersecting concepts of gender, power, and sexuality.

I thought the more academic part of the workbook was well done. It was thorough, thoughtful, and based on sound academic research on gender and what it means to have a gender identity.

The workbook part of the book was clearly biased toward readers choosing to not identify as any gender at all. The journal prompts and questions in the quizzes were leading and lead readers toward agender or non-binary identity. They almost make someone feel guilty for choosing a more stereotypical gender identity and make the claim that those who want to maintain a more common cultural construct of gender is misinformed and naive about gender. I don’t agree with that position. I hold the position that all gender identities are good identities whether they are non-traditional or not.

Aside from the obvious bias toward agender/nonbinary identity, the book was an interesting and though-provoking read and I enjoyed it.

Would I read it again? 
Yes, I think this is a book that I will continue to learn and be inspired from the more I read it.

Recommended for
Those interested in gender identity politics and gender studies.

Not Recommended for
Readers under the age of 15, mostly because some of the content may be hard for them to comprehend.

Word Bank
·         None


3 stars out of 5

Kate Bronstein’s Website: http://katebornstein.com/


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Friday, February 21, 2020

136. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs



Briggs, Patricia. MoonCalled. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.

288 pages

Reviewed by Jess d'Artagnan Love

Mercy Thompson is a shape shifter who can shift into coyote form. She lives next door to a pack of werewolves and makes a living as an auto mechanic for vampires. When her local pack is invaded by  rogue bunch of vampires and the pack leader, Adam’s, daughter is kidnapped, Mercy starts the process of solving the mystery and tracking down the kidnapped girl.

This book is whimsical, sexy, and well paced. I know a lot of my Christian readers have an issue with any kind of book that represents magic or the fantastical but interestingly, Mercy is portrayed as a Christian character. The werewolves, fae and other magical creates are seen as evolutionary more than anything. I found that an interesting world-building choice that may appeal to a Christian audience more readily than other fantasy novels.

There weren’t a lot of big questions asked or much exploration of major themes. Briggs is more interested in entertaining the reader than teaching them. If you want to read a book that doesn’t make you think to hard about life but still provides enough context to be good escapism, this is a great book for you.

Would I read it again? 
Yes. This was actually the second time I read the book as I’d like to re-read the series this year.

Recommended for
Readers who want some decent escapism.

Not Recommended for
Readers who desire a book with heavier themes.

Word Bank
Reticent p. 7
Sufference p. 10
Desultory p. 12
Limpid p. 49
Canted p. 55
Gracile p. 62
Quelling p. 96
Cozen p. 127
Anathema p. 129
Obstreperous p. 186
Vassalage p. 189

3 stars out of 5

Patricia Briggs' website: http://www.patriciabriggs.com/

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