Archive for October 2017

What Will They Say About You When You Have Gone -Rabbi Daniel Cohen   Leave a comment

This was a NetGalley book I received in order for me to write a review about the book after reading it.
Rabbi Daniel Cohen has a blog and website online, where he presents himself as a mentor and motivator supplying wisdom and spiritual insight in the modern world. He has written several other books on similar themes to this book.
Rabbi Cohen sums up the point of this book as, learning to reverse engineer your life. The intention being that you can thus ensure you will be leaving a decent legacy behind after you have gone. It is not a book about preparing for death, it is a motivational book concerned with encouraging readers to look at the legacy they are leaving, their impact on life :- be it the wider world or just family and friends.
The Rabbi’s suggestions are broad and original, interspersed with personal anecdotes all influenced with a quirky hebraic attitude to life, which I personally find compelling.
This is a book for anyone at any age, it has something for everyone. A book I would recommend to all.


Posted October 31, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Keto for cancer- Miriam Kalamain   4 comments

I received this book from NetGalley prior to publishing, in order to review it. I chose it as I was very interested in the idea that a diet could positively affect cancer, and was already interested in the Keto diet from the auto immune angle.

*Keto for Cancer*is due to be published in October 2017. The author, Miriam Kalamain, first used the diet with her own son, Raffi, when he had reached the point of no further available options for his brain cancer in 2004. Raffi saw immediate improvement on the diet, and remained on it until his death in 2013.He had gained 8 years using only the diet to slow the disease. Kalamain studied nutrition at university during this time, in order to better administer the diet, and has now gone into professional practice, advising the use of the Keto diet to cancer patients and guiding them through this journey. She maintains a website and blog at *dietarytherapies*.com.

If the book were merely to contain the story of Miriam’s son, Raffi, it would be fascinating enough, but this book is designed to be a hands on approach so that anyone in the same situation, can use the diet, even if they are not near enough to personally visit the author for support.

The book covers everything a person would need to begin using the diet, a few recipes, meal templates, but mostly very intricate and detailed information of how to gain ketosis and stay there.

The largest part of the book contains the science behind each point being discussed. Some of this is very dense and perhaps too detailed, but it is clear enough that you can initially skim and then return later to understand more. There are also copious references throughout the book to other resources and in the full resource section at the end of the book.

Every aspect of the diet and how it works is covered in small detail. In addition she discusses all the small complications that are likely to arise. Co-morbid diseases are discussed, and many considerations are given to why you may not find the diet suitable for yourself. The author pulls no punches, and explains how difficult it is to follow and that you should only do it if you are determined.

She also covers other diets and modifications of the diet. Intermittent fast and methods of easing into the diet if you have certain medical issues.

Her attention to detail is impressive. Throughout the book are interspaced darker boxes, with relevant but slightly different material. I found this made the book harder to read, but it did break up the text and provide a mental break.

She also shared several stories of clients and experiences they had with the diet. Personally, not being a scientist, I would have swapped some of the dense scientific material for more testimonies, but appreciated her determination to be honest and scientifically based.

I got a lot from the book, even though I decided I could not personally manage the full Keto diet, I did feel a modified version would be worth trying in my case. As a diabetic, I gained a lot from the information she shared about the effects on the body of insulin resistance and how gaining Ketosis might help my glucose levels to stabalise, and why presently they are not.

I would recommend this book highly for anyone dealing with cancer, who wishes to look beyond the standard treatments. Even if the diet is not for you, the science will fascinate and inform. You will not leave the book with the same opinions.

Posted October 30, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Fingersmith-Sarah Waters   Leave a comment

This is a book from the ‘1001 books to read before you die’ list which I am attempting to complete. This is the second book I have read by Sarah Waters, I read Tipping the Velvet not long ago and was surprised to have enjoyed it, although I had deep reservations.

Sarah Waters is best known for her novels set in Victorian England, featuring lesbian protagonists. This book was published in 2002 and is a crime novel; the term, Fingersmith, referring to a pickpocket.

Sue Trinder is an orphan, brought up in a Fagin type house full of thieves and other criminals by her adoptive mother, Mrs Sucksby. When ‘gentleman’ arrives with a plan to trick a young heiress out of her inheritance; Sue is encouraged to play the part of a ladies’ maid. She is to encourage the young lady, Maud, to elope with gentleman. Once they are married, she will be left in a madhouse and the inheritance shared amongst the thieves.

All goes well until the point when Maud is to be left at the madhouse. At this point, it is Sue they take from the carriage, the orderlies and doctors thinking her to be Maud. Sue has been tricked.

From this point on, Sue must escape from the madhouse, and Maud must escape Mrs Sucksby and ‘gentlemans’ clutches. Can they possibly work together?

I thought the plot twist, when it was Sue taken into the madhouse, was amazing. At that point I had no idea where the story would go, and won’t share here, as it would give too much away. But convoluted is not the word!

I was absolutely hooked with this book. Personally I don’t enjoy homo-erotic fiction, (which this is not) and am completely straight in my own sexuality. However, with Sarah Waters, they are merely protagonists who just happen to be gay. The sexuality does not drive the plot or feature largely in it. There is a love interest, but it is tasteful and fits the storyline well.
This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a historical crime novel with lots of twists

Prague Sonata-Bradford Morrow   Leave a comment

This is a fiction book I received from netgalley. Their policy is that I was to read and present a review of to the publisher, usually before publication.
The book is to be published on Oct 3rd 2017. The author is Bradford Morrow, a professor at Bard University and the publisher and editor of Conjuctions literary magazine for over 25 years, for which he has received an award. He has written several other novels and also written for children.
The story revolves around the manuscript of an 18th Century piano sonata. At the beginning of the novel it is owned by a young woman, Otaylie, given to her by her father, who believed it to be an undiscovered masterpiece and very valuable. It was the one inheritance he left to her. She is living at Prague with her husband, when it is invaded by the Nazis just prior to WW2. Her husband working for the Czech resistance, goes into hiding, and Otaylie tears her most treasured possession into 3 pieces, and gives 2 away to be kept for safe keeping until after the war, so that the Nazis cannot acquire it.
Interspersed with this story, we meet Meta Taverner, a musicologist, who for her 30th birthday present is given a very unusual present. She is taken by her best friend to meet Irena, an old Czech lady with an intriguing story to tell. Meta learns that Irena’s best friend left her one movement of a piano sonata to keep safely until it could be returned to her after the war had ended.
Irena gives Meta the precious section of manuscript and the mission to reunite the pieces and return them to Otaylie. Meta’s journey takes her first to Prague, where she makes new friends, and discovers a dedication to her quest. She also makes some enemies along the way, a fellow musicologist, who has no altruism, merely sees fame and fortune in claiming the sonata for himself.
The journey continues to England, in a middle of the night escape from Prague and then finally back to the USA as everything comes full circle and resolutions are found.
As a musician, I loved all of the musical references, which were all accurate. The concept fascinated me and kept me interested, I didn’t need a love story or aspects of a baddie trying to spoil things, but they didn’t harm the plot either.
The postmodern pattern of jumping between stories, worked very well in this book, reminding me of how musical subjects work and develop themselves during a sonata.
The authors understanding of the mind of a musician and the power of music was very good and added a lot to the novel.
Prague itself becomes a character in the novel. The comparisons between Prague now and that of before and during the Nazi and communist occupation are interesting. I found the sections concerning the 2nd world war as it affected Prague, particularly interesting, although the involvement of Otaylie’s husband with Heydrich’s death was a little predictable perhaps.
I found the book very readable, and in places difficult to put down. I would recommend this book, particularly to someone interested in Prague or music.

Posted October 2, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Eclipse Of The Crescent Moon-Geza Gardonyi   Leave a comment

This is a novel from the ‘1001 books to read before you die’ list, which I am trying to complete. This was a book I had previously never heard of, but reading the synopsis, it sounded like a great adventure story.

The book was first published in 1899 and in 2005 it was voted most popular novel in Hungary. During my research, I found it was often regarded as a children’s book mainly because it is often read as part of the school curriculum.

The story is set around the siege of the fortified town of Eger, by the Ottomans in 1552. The Hungarian title is literally, ‘Stars of Eger’. The novel opens some 20 years earlier with the capture of 2 small children, by a passing Turk on horseback, Jumurdszak, who recurs throughout the book as Gergely’s nemesis. We follow their captivity on a wagon-train of prisoners and then their daring escape and return home soon after. This establishes Gergely’s bravery, initiates his lifelong problems with Jumurdszak and directly changes his life.

These children, Gergely and Eva, become the main characters in the novel. We follow them as they grow up, and maintain their love for each other, finally eloping in order to marry. Eva then follows Gergely to Eger in order to pass on important information and they experience part of the siege together.

Gergely Bornemissza was a real historical person, and although his early life is fictional, his role in the siege of Eger is accurate. Eva, his lover and wife is also a fictional addition, based on Gardonyi’s perfect woman. Gardonyi also includes an accurate description of the bloodless occupation of Buda.

It is however, Gardonyi’s description of the Ottomans, an empire which no longer exists in our lifetime, which is most interesting for us. The Ottoman Empire collapsed following the end of WW1, and Gardonyi would have been very familiar with it. He carefully describes the different cultures and their roles in the structure. The different costumes each type of soldier wore and their job. His description of the parade of the Sultan and the miles of soldiers and musicians both before and after is apparently brilliantly accurate.

The story is perhaps a little drawn out in parts, but is a real boy’s own type adventure. The additional details which are available to pick up regarding Hungary and the Ottomans make and slow sections well worth wading through.

I loved the book, the love story is traditional and romantic, and the men full of honour and pride, living for their country and ready to die for it. I felt it had echoes of Sir Walter Scott and early medieval chivalry in many places. I loved the history I learned about Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. I am not convinced many children in England would get through it, but as an adult read, it is 4 star!

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