Friday, March 28, 2014

Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)

If someone asked me to describe Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere in one sentence, I would say "It's the perfect combination of fantasy, horror, and comedy all rolled into one."  It's filled with twists and turns that are almost impossible to see coming, and the reader is in for a wild roller coaster ride through every page.

Richard Mayhew is just your everyday ordinary businessman trying to make a living in London.  On the surface, he seems to have it all, with a beautiful fiance and a successful job.  As he is walking to a highbrow dinner one night, he comes across Door, a girl hurt on the sidewalk.  While tending to her wounds, he finds himself unwillingly ensconced in Door's world (London Below), a world filled with the highest level of danger and things that are not at all what they appear to be.  I was entranced with the fantastical adventures of Door and her friends as Richard tries to make sense of everything he is seeing.

Neverwhere is hard to put down, and it's almost satirical in a way (it remains to be seen if Gaiman meant it like that).  At times, you will gasp at the horror of it all, and other times, you'll laugh out loud.  I recommend it highly.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eat It To Beat It (David Zinczenko)

What I love most about David Zinczenko is that he never minces words; he has no qualms about saying that most of the food we put in our bodies is filled with stuff we should back far, far away from. He has no problem calling out specific food and restaurant companies for adding "anal scent glands of beavers" to our food, and some of the things he writes will probably make you lose your lunch. However, I'm the type of person who needs tough love when it comes to diet and exercise (I need Jillian Michaels yelling at me rather than Denise Austin's encouragement), so Zinczenko has always been right up my alley. I say always because I've been reading his Eat This Not That and Cook This Not That series of books for years now. I always look anxiously ahead to January so I can get my hands on the new updated version. I was a little surprised to see that he changed things up a bit this year with Eat It To Beat It. However, the message is always the same...eating healthfully never has to be dull.

Eat It To Beat It looks very similar to Zinczenko's other books; they are all filled with colorful pictures and easy-to-read information. The only real difference I can tell is that he seems to focus more on what you should eat to fight disease; however, his other information pretty much remains the same. When you're reaching for juice at the supermarket, which one should you grab? Which produce should you choose the organic variety? Eat It To Beat It is definitely not as extensively packed as his other books, but it's still a worthwhile read.

The Eat This Not That books are popular for a reason, and I've used the information within them to make the right choices at the grocery store and in a restaurant. I've made many recipes in Cook This Not That, and I can tell you that they are delicious and definitely not "diet food." Zinczenko understands that diets don't work for the long haul; make little changes in your everyday eating habits and you'll soon be reaping the rewards.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things (Alice Hoffman)

It's hard to believe but The Museum of Extraordinary Things was the first book I ever read by Alice Hoffman.  Even though many of her novels were bestsellers, I just never got around to reading them.  However, I knew I had to check our her latest when I saw the synopsis.  Historical fiction set in New York in the early 1900s is right up my alley; couple that with a love story built into a Coney Island "freak show," and I knew this was my cup of tea.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the man behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, who also performs as the Mermaid alongside the "Wolfman" and the "Butterfly Girl."  One night, she catches sight of Eddie Cohen, a photographer of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and instantly falls in love.  When Eddie launches an investigation into one of the factory workers' deaths, he and Coralie come across each other again, only to discover that the museum is much more sinister than it looks within its depths.

Mesmerizing in its language, The Museum of Extraordinary Things is about young love prevailing in one of the most tumultuous times in our country's history.  It also begs the question "Are things ever really what they appear to be?"  If this is Alice Hoffman's writing, all I have to say is what took me so long to find it?