Category Archives: Books

Review: Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?

Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness
by Timothy Caulfield
Pages: 272
Date Finished: 6/4/16

Book Reviews- Liked it Alot Liked It A Lot

Early Reviewers

  • I received this book free from the LibraryThing early reviewers group in exchange for my honest option.

LibraryThing picked the perfect book for me. I took to twitter as soon as I found out I’d been chosen to receive one. I had already been following the buzz about this book through various page I follow, like We Love GMOs and Vaccines.


The first part of the book is about the author experiencing the health and beauty routines that celebrities like Gwyneth endorse and sell. He tried a detox and a skin care routine, went to a spa, interviewed a plastic surgeon, and spent a year reading People magazine… seriously the whole thing, every issue, for a year (thanks for taking one for the team dude, because People magazine is hurl inducing for me.)

I have to admit that the first part of this book was 100% confirmation bias for me. Basically everything he said I could totally agree with. I flew through the first part, reading it very quickly. He sums it up very well:

“The bulk of health and beauty products and recommendations peddled by or through celebrities are either useless or harmful or both. They may also divert millions of individuals from engaging in the simple and evidence-based steps necessary to live in a health-promoting manner.” pg 208

The second part was much slower, and the reason the books get a “Liked It A Lot” instead of a “Loved It.” I just wasn’t as interested in his debunking of the quest for celebrity. He didn’t need to write four chapters on it to tell me the odds are pretty much impossible, and that life as a celebrity isn’t all its cracked up to be.

“Belief in celebrity success is built on a foundation of lies, illusions and empty exhortations of the reach-for-the-stars variety. The chances of making it celebrity big in any kind of celebrity-oriented career hovers near zero.” pg 208

Bottom Line:

The first part of this book is absolutely spot-on and if you are a science geek like me you’ll speed through it. The second part was interesting to me only because of the sociological implications. I don’t really want to become famous, and don’t know very many people who have that set as their goal so it didn’t have much of a personal impact. However, I know A TON of people who listen to celebrities on topics like diet, detox and vaccines.

May 2016 Book Pick-ups


May Book Pick-ups

The Deliberate ReaderMay has been a pretty busy month for book pick ups, from thrift store finds to the school book fair, plus my grandparents let us raid their basement for books. I also seem to be getting more ARCs than ever. It use to be one every two months or so and now I am getting one or two a month! This month I got my first eARC and I signed up for the First to Read program from Penguin, which means more eARCs on the horizon.


For Kindle:

Dream Casters: Light
Why I got it: A .99 cent book from BookBub. I admit that I have a soft spot for books involving people traveling between our world and a dream world.

Open Minds (Mindjack Saga Book 1)
Why I got it: Free BookBub book, and this first sentence of the description was pretty much enough to sell me on the book, “When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep”

Enemy (On the Bones of Gods Book 1)
Why I got it: My Kindle First selection for May. There were several books that looked good by the description, but once I started reading the reviews, none of the books looked good. I am not planning on reading this anytime in the future, but I feel compelled to choose at least one. The big downer was that so many reviewers complaint about the writing style taking them out of the story, choppy sentences and fantasy characters who constantly used the word “yeah.”

From The Library:

The Strangler Vine
Why I got it: I read an excerpt for the second book on the Penguin First to Read site, and was immediately interested in reading these books.


The Quest for Merlin
Why I got it: A LibraryThing giveaway, the publisher gave me a copy of the book to review. This is my first eARC (electronic advance reader copy.) It seems to be a YA coming of age fantasy tale.


The Gammage Cup
Why I got it: It looked like a fun fantasy story, and I’m a total sucker for cheep books at the Teen Challenge Thrift store.

Mutiny on H.M.S. Bounty (First Illustrated Classics)
Why I got it: I am working on collecting all these mini-books of illustrated classics. (Partly because I have a book shelf just their size.)

Make Way for Ducklings
Why I got it: A classic children’s story, that we’ve checked out from the library many times before, now we own our own copy.

Tempestuous (Wondrous Strange Trilogy)
Why I got it: It was marked as an ARC, but for sale at a thrift store, and since it’s also a fantasy story I thought, “Why not?”

It’s a Magical World
Why I got it: Calvin and Hobbs for .99 cents at a thrift store, is a yes every time.

Book Fair:

Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day
Why she got it: Much to my night time reading chagrin she loves, loves, LOVES the Bad Kitty beginner chapter books. I swear I have read Bad Kitty Gets a Bath 4,000 times. At least now that we have a new one the Bad Kitty Gets A Bath book gets a break.

Palace Pets: Adventure Tales
Why she got it: Her newest thing is Palace pets, which combines two things she already loves Disney Princesses and Pets! This book is super cute as it has mini-books within the book, each telling the tale of a different set of pets.


IFMy grandparents have decided to down size the amount of books they own, so we brought home a large box full of their books. There are too many to list here, but you can see them in the pictures on this page. A couple of highlights:

My husband reading Moon Base, which we picked up from my Grandparents.
My husband reading Moon Trip,  we picked up both Moon Trip and Moon Base from my Grandparents.

The Happy Little Handsaw:
Why I got it: This is one of the books I remember my Grandmother reading to me when I was a little kid. No I will have a chance to read it to little bug.

Little Black Samba:
Why I got it: This is one of those books that you just can’t get any more. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Silent Spring
Why I got it: I could not believe my grandparent’s owned this book, one which goes against everything they worked their whole lives for, but I guess you have to know your enemy. The harm this book did to the natural resource industry is hard to put into words.

Review: Sorting the Beef from the Bull

Sorting the Beef from the Bull: The Science of Food Fraud Forensics
by Richard Evershed and Nicola Temple
Pages: 320
Date Finished: 5/25/15

Book Reviews - Loved ItLoved It

I got this book from our local library because food safety is an issue that interests me. Coming from a farm family I have a natural interest in issues revolving around agriculture and food. At different points along the way I’ve even thought about being a food and ag scientist. Certainly some of the people I most admire fit that bill (Norman Borlaug and Kevin Folta.)

Sorting the Beef from the Bull is about a part of food science that I hadn’t really thought much about- food fraud. It takes on the tricks that fraudsters use to adulterate, fake or mislabel foods and the science used to sort the real thing from the fake. It also delves into the history of food fraud and the societal settings that allow fraud to happen.

You can take this book one of two ways. First you can get really grossed out, worried and paranoid about your food. After all this book covers a multitude of scams that have caused people to get sick because of the adulteration’s. Plus you’ll find out about things like plastic in rice and rodent hairs in spices and rotten meat being disguised and sold. It is disgusting, and I do not recommend reading this right before a meal.

You COULD read this book and decide that you have to move to some sort of commune and grow/raise all your own food.

However, that is certainly not what the authors are going for. Which brings me to the second way you can take all of the info in the book, you can embrace the science AND be a more educated consumer. My two biggest take-aways were that science is getting better all the time at being able to detect problems with our food and that you get what you pay for.

Most of the food fraud is driven by greed, often preying on those looking for a deal. Over and over again the scams were a deal that was “too good to be true.” Olive oil being sold door-to-door in Spain was a really good deal until it sent thousands to the hospital. Baby formula in China was half the price of the normal brands, it turned out to have melamine in it. There are lots of examples like this in the book. But more so, there is in-depth descriptions of the science behind keeping our food safe and detecting frauds.

They do use lots of big science-y words in the book,  which could cause some readers to gloss over the good news (science is catching the bad guys) and just focus on the bad. I hope you won’t do that.

Science is awesome! This book proves that. From DNA databases, to electronic noses and tongues, to tools to flag items that may become vulnerable to fraud this book is filled with exciting advances. Behind the headlines of the food scandals are scientists and others hard at work to keep our food safe.

Bottom Line:

I really enjoyed this book. You’ll enjoy it too if the science doesn’t bog you down and you don’t focus too much on the gross-out factor.

April 2016 Book Pick Ups


April 2016 New Books

The Deliberate ReaderInspired by The Deliberate Reader here are the new books I picked up in April. I’m currently reading Sorting the Beef from the Bull and Lord Foulgrin’s Letters. I’m really looking forward to reading Order of Magnitude, since I really enjoyed The Engineer Wizard and can’t wait to see where the second book takes the characters. I am also looking forward to reading the two ARCs (advanced reader copies) I got this month. Which induces my friend’s novel Through the Shadows. I’m also interested in getting start on the Mortal Instruments series with City of Bones.

For Kindle:

Deliver Her – Kindle First
Why I got it: It seemed like it could be an interesting mystery story, and was really the only Kindle First book that seemed like something I might enjoy.
Why I got it: I loved the first book in this series.
Why I got it: It was free from BookBub and seemed like a good fantasy story.
Why I got it: Another BookBub recommendation.

From The Library:

Why I got it: I am fascinated by food science, this book was brand new to our library and immediately caught my eye.


Why I got it: My friend Karen Barnett’s 3rd book in her Golden Gate Chronicles. Abingdon Press sent it to me as an advance readers copy (but I also bought a copy, I had it on order from day 1 of pre-orders.)
Why I got it: This book came from the LibraryThing Early Readers group. I’m pretty excited though because I had been following the buzz about the book on social media.


Why I got it: Sometimes I just need to pick up a good cheap fantasy from a thrift store.
Why I got it: I have read quite a few books by Daivd Wilkerson and enjoyed them. I am also very interested in the theology behind the names of God in the Bible.
Why I got it: Another thrift store find. Looked like the sort of YA fantasy I enjoy.
Why I got it: I haven’t read any of the Mortal Instruments yet. I know, I know… this is totally the type of book I read and love… shhh, I’m getting to it.

How to Get Books [and More] Free from the Internet

Both copies of White RavenAs an LibraryThing early reviewer, I’m not new to the idea of getting something (books) in exchange for my honest option. In fact I have received about 20 books this way. Not all of them have been winners, but overall I have been very happy with the quality of the books.

One of my favorite stories as an early reviewer is that of White Raven. This fantasy novel was translated from Russian and most of us reviewers commented on how much potential the story had, but that the translation was very rough. The publisher listened to us and had the book re-translated! Then they reached out to us a second time and offered us a copy of the corrected text.

Based on the feedback of Early Reviewers like you, we have worked on cleaning up the translation of the book and now have a much smoother read. If you think you’d be interested in updated your review, we’d be happy to send you a final copy when it’s available. There would be no obligation, of course. Simply email me at and I’ll add you to our list.

It was a great experience and I treasure the fact that I have the two copies of the book. (I did read it a second time and reviewed the updated book.)

Recently, I received my first Vox Box* from Influester. Influenster is a social review site. It works somewhat like Klout meets Amazon. You connect your social media accounts and get a influence score. Then you review products on the site, answer questions and make lists of your favorite products. One other thing you can do is answer quick surveys called snaps. These snaps plus your influence score and activity on the site can qualify you for boxes of goodies, or virtual bonuses (like coupons.)

After nearly a year on the site I qualified for my first box* from them (called a voxbox.) Check out my unboxing video below.

So how do you get these books and other goodies? I’ll list 3 steps below, but really it all boils down to one thing; put in the time. You don’t actually get something for nothing. Companies are willing to give you their products because they feel like it will help them create buzz. If you aren’t reviewing products or talking about them on social media you may not be someone who creates enough buzz to be worthy of free stuff.

3 Steps to Getting Free Stuff From The Internet

  1. Find a site the reflects your interests. My husband uses RF Generation, where he can concentrate on his video game collection. I prefer Influenster, because it’s geared toward women like me who shop and look for reviews online. We both enjoy LibraryThing because we love to read. Find a site that is specific to what you already enjoy doing. Beside giving you a better chance at earning (or winning) the goods you’ll get to be involved with a community of like minded people.
  2. Get involved. Take a good look around, kick the tires and take a test drive. If it seems like a good fit start posting reviews and engaging with comments, pictures or posts. Build up your credibility by making good use of the site, and don’t forget to connect your social accounts (if available.)
  3. Bide your time. New comers are not usually the first to get the freebies. Just be patient, keep being active on the site and keep your eyes out for opportunities. One things that helps is to see what kinds of giveaways they’ve had in the past and work on reviewing products that are similar. Another idea, while you’re waiting, is to create a niche;  fantasy books, or children’s games, or make-up, or whatever. Find a niche where you can begin to build yourself up as an expert and you may find more opportunities come your way for that kind of item.

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Drop Everything and Read 2016

deardayD.E.A.R Day is coming up tomorrow April 12th. Drop Everything and Read is a celebration of author Beverly Cleary’s Birthday.  To celebrate you simply pick a time (at least 30 mins), pick a book, and just read. It’s the perfect holiday if you ask me.

Other Ideas for Celebrating:

  • Read a book by Beverly Cleary, like Ramona Quimby, Age 8, the inspiration for D.E.A.R day. Challenge yourself to start and finish it in one day.
  • Go to the library and read there. Our library has lots of comfortable reading areas. Find a book on the shelf and sit down and read. If you like the book check it out.
  • Read a book that ties into a favorite TV. For kids read an Arthur book, like Arthur’s New Puppy or Curious George. For adults try something like this Downtown Abby inspired novel or George RR Martins A Game of Thorns.
  • Watch an interview with one of your favorite authors. Check out this great list from Reading Rockets. Then read a book by that author.
  • Do a book craft with your kids.
  • Lastly, you could to wear it. Wear a fun t-shirt, do your nail literary style (I have lots of great ideas on this pin board,) wear a vintage library button, something to say “I’m Love Reading!” I will be wearing Jamberry “Word to the Wise” nail wraps.

Bonus: Watch the Oregon Public Broadcasting special on Beverly Cleary.



#WorldBookDay 2016

69d9c10335026a0b2a3e83f74819b6d9Today is World Book Day, so to celebrate I started a new board on Pinterest. It has a ton of infographics about books, reading and libraries.

One of my favorites is the Classification of Book Lovers. I’m a Compulsive- Book Cherisher and a Free Range Reader. There’s also info on reading to children, literacy and libraries. And of course, since I’m both a book nerd and a science nerd, the Aroma of Books by Compound Chemistry (a must follow on Facebook for any Chemistry nerds.)

The board also includes a couple of 2016 Reading Challenges.

So go ahead and check it out and don’t forget to follow my other boards on Pinterest too!


Follow Arwen’s board World Book Day on Pinterest.

As a bonus I encourage you to go check out the World Book Day Reading Ideas List. A great resource to find books your kids will love.

2015 Overview and Book of the Year

I did not manage to meet my goals this year. As I said in my 2015 Reviews, I spent a lot more time this year reading other things. I don’t feel as if I read less just differently. The app Pocket has definitely changed the way I read online. I’ll be posting my 2015 Pocket stats later.

The real disappointment is that I didn’t fit in a poetry book or Classic Greek book. I will be working to make sure I include one of each in my 2016 reading.

The Rating System:

Book Reviews - Loved ItLoved It – 4

Book Reviews- Liked it AlotLiked It A lot – 9

Book Reviews - Liked ItLiked It – 4

Book Reviews- It Was OkayIt Was Okay – 1

Book Reviews - Kind BadKinda Bad- 3

Book Reviews - BadBad – 0

Book Reviews - It stunk It Stunk – 0

Total =21         Goal =35

Re-Read A Book: Prophet (Books of the Infinite Book #1)

Hands down this years book of the year is Judge (Books of the Infinite Book #2). But it comes with a caveat, you need to read Prophet and King as well. This series really needs to be read together to get the full flavor of the world the character inhabit and the love of the Infinite for his creation. This is an A+ series. I loved every minute of Judge and I hope that others will too.

Other books marked Loved It this year include The Looking Glass Wars, and Beyond the Ashes: The Golden Gate Chronicles – Book 2.

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.” ― Stephen King



2014 Overview and Book of the Year

I feel that overall this was a pretty good year. I read a lot of books I liked, I read some I didn’t. I know my reading habits have been changing over the years, as I spend more time reading periodicals and articles and less time reading books. Thankfully I have the Pocket app which helps keep track of what articles I read online. This year chalking up to around 18 books worth. So here it is the tally for 2014.

2014 Book Reviews

The Rating System:

Book Reviews - Loved ItLoved It – 12

Book Reviews- Liked it AlotLiked It A lot – 9

Book Reviews - Liked ItLiked It – 8

Book Reviews- It Was OkayIt Was Okay – 10

Book Reviews - Kind BadKinda Bad- 1

Book Reviews - BadBad – 2

Book Reviews - It stunk It Stunk – 2

Total = 44         Goal = 50

Greek Play: Persians

Poetry: Sonnets from the Portuguese

Re-Read A Book: The Book of Atrus (Myst, Book 1)

Choosing the book of the year is sometimes a challenge in years where the books I marked with a “Love It” rating are really diverse. One of the things I look for in my book of the year pick is a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. This years books all seem to be pretty niche. Inkheart is a great fantasy, but more for the YA audience. Out of the Ruins is a Christian Historical Romance, which puts it into a smaller niche. Prayer – Finding the Heart’s True Home is a book that I’d only recommend to a Christian who is really looking to grow spiritually and has a real hunger to deepen their prayer life.

So where does that leave me? Without a lot of choices, that’s where… but there is still a book of the year to choose. (And so I’ve put this off until April.) The book I keep coming back to in my mind is Number the Stars.

A really moving story about the Danes during WWII. Did you know that a German official tipped off the Jews about “relocation” plans? The Danes were able to smuggle most of their Jewish neighbors out of the country to safety. It’s an amazing story (although this story is fictional it’s based on the real actions of Danish citizens) that shows what quite courage can do to save lives.

There is a reason this book is a Newbery Award book, it’s a moving story that stays with the reader. And that’s why is my book of the year pick for 2014.

“Here’s to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy.”  ― Charlaine Harris

2014 Newbery Update

I just finished Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1990)this morning. It’s a really moving story about the Danes during WWII. Did you know that a German official tipped off the Jews about “relocation” plans? The Danes were able to smuggle most of their Jewish neighbors out of the country to safety. It’s an amazing story (although this story is fictional it’s based on the real actions of Danish citizens) that shows what quite courage can do to save lives.

Earlier this year I read Hitty Her First Hundred Yearsby Rachel Field (1930), which only bring my total up by 2 this year to 17 Newbery titles that I’ve read. Hitty is a different kind of book and took me a while to warm up to, but the story of a doll as she gets lost and found and different the different girls who play with and take care of her ended up being endearing. I’ve never thought of what an autobiography from a 100 year old doll might be like, but I think Rachel Fields hit the nail on the head. From the back of the book, “This is the story of the first hundred years  of Hitty’s life. And that’s only the beginning for  a doll as special as Hitty.”

See the full list of Newbery books here.

Currently Reading: I Saw Three Ships