Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes (Marcus Sakey)

I remember reading a magazine article about Marcus Sakey a few months ago, which deemed The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes as the next great thing in literature. There have only been a few books that I remember with that much "word-of-mouth" exposure before it was even printed...The Lovely Bones being an example. I was anxious to get my hands on this book, as I had never read Sakey. I love to be introduced to authors I have never read before, because sometimes I will read their entire repertoire...Kate Morton being the last. Well, Sakey stops here.

This is the story of a man who wakes up naked on a beach in Maine, not knowing his name, where he came from, or how he got there. He finds a BMW with a driver's license inside that guessed it...Daniel Hayes, and a gun in the glove compartment. Working with very vague memories, such as having to turn the TV on at a certain time to watch a show, he tries to piece his life together bit by bit. The police are also on his tail, but why?

When Daniel finally begins to figure things out, the novel takes a sinister tone. He realizes that things are not always what they seem. With echoes of The Fugitive, Daniel desperately tries to get his memory back before it is too late.

Very often in crime thrillers such as these, the author chooses to write a slew of characters. This is often confusing to the reader. To Sakey's credit, he focuses on just a few, weaving them in and out of each other's story. I also liked how Sakey used the fact that Daniel was a writer to include scripts in the story.

Sakey divides this novel into parts with, what are supposed to be, huge cliffhangers at the end of each. Usually, if a novel is written well, the reader can't wait to find out what happens next. I just didn't get that feeling, which is disappointing. I didn't get that sense of anticipation, as, I would think, most readers would be able to guess what will happen next.

While not a page-turner, many readers of crime thrillers and mysteries will enjoy it. Just don't expect to be awed.


This review can also be found on

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Secret Kept (Tatiana de Rosnay)

Out of the books I have reviewed in my quest to reach 1,776, Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key has been my favorite bar none. I loved it so much, that I am very hesitant to see the movie. Movies are rarely as good as the books they are based on. I had such a profound experience reading Sarah's Key that I do not want the movie to change the images I have in my mind. Readers who think that A Secret Kept will be like Sarah's Key (even though the covers are very similar) will be surprised.

The narrator, Antoine Rey, takes his sister, Melanie, to a memorable place, Noirmoutier Island, for the celebration of her 4oth birthday. This island was a special place for them as children, as they spent summers there with their family. Even though they had not been back there since their mother's death, the weekend brings back memories, some welcome, some not. On the drive back home, Melanie is just about to tell Antoine something about a memory when she loses control of the car. Antoine escapes without a scratch, but Melanie is in serious condition. Will she ever recover? Will she ever remember what she was going to tell Antoine before the terrible crash? This is the "secret kept".

The problem de Rosnay (hopefully) knew she was going to face (along with Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help when she writes a second) is that the next book after such a moving one will bound to be compared to the first. This is unfair to de Rosnay because, as I said, the books are not similar at all. de Rosnay is a huge talent in the book world, and while Sarah's Key will always be my favorite, A Secret Kept is well written and worth reading.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health (Joy Feldman)

The subtitle of Joy Feldman's Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health is Restore & Heal Through Nutritional Balancing. Feldman is passionate about bringing her message of nutritional balancing to the masses; however, in doing so, one is not quite sure what type of book this is. Beginning as an informational tome about the proper things to eat and what our society has become nutritionally, and ending as a cookbook, where does this get categorized?

Depending on what you believe, this will be either be right up your alley, or way too "new-agey" for you. While a slew of studies have been done on the effects of nutrition on the psyche, Feldman goes one step further. While I'm sure no one can dispute the fact that we feel much better when we eat well, Feldman surprises her readers with WHAT to eat and not eat.

Feldman is a big believer in the Oriental philosophy of "yin and yang". Avoiding the "yin" and focusing on the "yang" is at the heart of nutritional balancing. She writes that "It is important to try to avoid yin foods such as sugars, sweet juices, most fruit, nightshade vegetables (this includes eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes as they are inflammatory) and most uncooked food."

Of course, one should avoid sugars, but avoiding fruit and some vegetables? Feldman also writes that raw milk is the best (not pasteurized) and to avoid all wheat, even whole wheat. Make your own decision on whether you believe in "yin and yang". The recipes are easy to follow; however, I need pictures when I cook. I want to see what my "Spinach Lentil Soup" is supposed to look like.

Being from the education field, I can certainly agree with the fact that nutrition is everything. I could definitely see a difference in the afternoon between the students who had healthy lunches and those who had donuts and french fries. However, giving up fruit, pasteurized milk, peppers, whole wheat, and tomatoes is not the way to go (for me).


This review can also be found on

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Julie & Julia (Julie Powell)

This book did not get the best reviews, but I wanted to read it for myself before I decided its fate. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams deemed it worthy enough to star in the movie with the same name, so it must be enjoyable, right? Eh.

I am always intrigued by people who do something like this...AKA having a "Project". In this case, Julie Powell decides that, to take respite from her everyday life (you know...the job, everything going wrong in the apartment, etc.), she will cook her way through Julia Child's masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in one year. She will also begin writing about her cooking escapades in a blog. Julie & Julia is the story of that year.

If you are thinking that this book is exactly like the movie, think again. The producers of the movie told the story of Julia Child much more than this book did. To me, the most enjoyable part of the movie was Meryl Streep's interpretation of Child. In the book, Powell just includes excerpts of letters that Paul Child wrote about his wife. However, in Powell's defense, the movie and book are based on HER project, so she can do what she wants.

While laugh-out-loud funny at times and absolutely adventurous at others (I give Powell all the credit for even thinking about cooking kidneys, brains, and bone marrow.), Powell never, ever holds back her thoughts. She rips on everyone who she does not share viewpoints with, from her employer, to a specific political party, to her mom. I am all for refreshing honesty, but sometimes she goes too far (in a published book, anyway). However, I admire Powell for having the guts to do something like this. My husband says I should cook my way through the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks. Maybe some day. Thanks for the inspiration, Julie Powell.