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Category Archives: Book Reviews

Esperanza Rising Book Review

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Esperanza RisingEsperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan was a surprisingly good novel set in Post Revolutionary Mexico and Great Depression Era California.  Esperanza is a young girl who was born into a wealthy family and has never known poverty.  That is, until her father is killed by bandits, and her uncles take over the land.  Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their home to avoid a forced remarriage of Esperanza’s mother.  The two, along with three loyal servants steal away in a mango cart toward California and the promise of freedom.
In California, Esperanza learns what it is like to be poor and an immigrant.  She learns to work hard, to make do, and to think about someone other than herself. Like the mythical Phoenix she rises from the ashes to remake herself.  This was an excellent book and one I want to share with my students.

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When Healing Becomes A Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and Therapies by Kenny Ausubel

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When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative TherapiesWhen Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies by Kenny Ausubel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Exposé is the story of Harry Hoxsey and of the politics of cancer. It is an eye-opening look at the dirty secrets of oncology. The author, Kenny Ausubel, shares the intriguing story of Harry Hoxsey, whose great-grandfather stumbled upon a cure for cancer. Harry received the recipe for the herbal salve and tonic from his grandfather on his deathbed. He told Harry to guard the secret with his life because there people out there who would want it at any cost. He also told Harry not to charge those who lacked funds to pay for the treatment.

Harry Hoxsey followed his grandfather’s creed until his death. He cured thousands of cancer patients and at one time had the largest cancer treatment center in Texas with branches in 17 states. He was also touted to be the biggest snake oil salesman who ever lived.

How can a man who saves so many lives be a quack? Well according to Morris Fishbein, the editor of the American Medical Association (AMA) Journal, the Hoxey Formula was useless folk medicine against cancer. Fishbein wielded his influence to have Hoxey arrested, harassed, and his clinics closed down.

In the second half of the book, we learn that there are many alternative methods to treat cancer. Most of these methods are never shared with the American public because of the politics involved. We learn what roles the AMA, the FDA, and the National Institute of Health, play in the treatment of cancer. The standard treatment in our country is surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. They have been the only option for those who are suffering from cancer.

The author does extensive research into alternative methods and the Hoxey Formula. Scientific testing done on individual herbs used in the Hoxsey formula has been proven to have anti-cancer properties to cure some forms of cancer.

This is a must read book for anyone who has cancer or has a loved one with cancer. Although, there are not cures in this book, there are many citations of research directed at alternative methods. Warning: This book will make you furious about the state of Cancer Treatment in America at this time. The money and politics involved in the big business of cancer creates a barrier for alternative methods of treatment to be used.

Kenny Ausubel also made an award-winning documentary entitled, “Project Censored’s “Best Censored Story” that follows the Hoxsey story with live footage of Hoxey and his clinic.

You may also wish to listen to Ausubel’s interview on Coast-to-Coast AM at http://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/20…

 

 

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fahrenheit 451 is a must read classic and an original dystopian novel. Ray Bradbury, who just recently passed away, was a prolific science fiction writer with over 500 pieces published. Fahrenheit 451, one of many celebrated books written by Bradbury, focuses on Guy Montag who is a fireman. The twist is that he starts fires rather than put them out. He is charged with the duty of burning books. For years, Montag has burned books. He says, “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.”
One day, Montag is called to burn the books of Mrs. Hudson. She refuses to allow her books to be set on fire. She would rather die than lose her books. Haunted by Mrs. Hudson’s convictions, Montag collects a few of the books that have been saved by the fire and takes them home. He begins to read them in secret and his perspective on life begins to change. Fueled by his growing dissatisfaction of his profession and the meaninglessness in his life he seeks out a man named Faber. Montag once gave Faber a light charge after being caught with books. Ironically, Faber and Montag agree to copy an old salvaged Bible to save its contents from being destroyed.
The book is separated into titled sections that seem to represent the changes in Montag. Censorship is the most prevalent theme of this story. It seems the government and society does not want information to reach the people. The only information comes from media that seems to suggest radio and TV. Amazingly, in Montag’s home, he has a room where three walls hold screened TV, and his wife cannot wait until they can afford to have all the walls covered. This is surprisingly similar to the huge flat screen TV’s that current society has in every room of their homes.
Another theme is knowledge versus ignorance where Montag was happy with his life before he was bestowed the knowledge of reading. It is impossible to put the knowledge aside once he has it in his possession. It changes his beliefs and his life.
The writing style Bradbury incorporates into Fahrenheit 451 is a more formal style than what people are familiar with today. Published in 1953, the novel is often used by high schools and colleges. Francois Truffaut wrote and directed a film adaptation of the book in 1966, and it is available on DVD.
This novel’s themes are relevant today for it seems that many of Bradbury’s visions of the future have materialized in society. Thoughts and musings on these themes will haunt the reader long after he or she has finished the novel. Read this book!

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Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

THE OUTSIDERS by S. E. Hinton

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The OutsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is amazing that S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders as a teenager in high school and had it published in her first year of college. The novel takes place in 1965 in Oklahoma and the action is between two teenage groups the Socs and the Greasers. The two groups are always clashing and fighting. The Socs are the rich kids who drive mustangs and the Greasers are the poor kids without much but their “tuff” look.

The book opens with the main character, Ponyboy, jumped by a group of Socs as he is leaving the movie house. Ponyboy is saved by his gang of Greasers that include his two older brothers. Darry takes care of his younger brothers after their parents die in a car crash and Sodapop, a high school dropout works at a garage.

The next evening Ponyboy and his best friend, Johnny, meet two Socs girls named Cherry Valance and Marcia. Ponyboy learns that Cherry and he have a lot in common. They meet up with the drunken boyfriends of Cherry and Marcia and the girls go home with them to avoid a fight. The problems escalate as the story continues until Ponyboy and Johnny are on the run because Johnny killed one of the Socs when they ambushed the boys in the park.

This story, though it takes place more than 40 years ago, is still a favorite with teenagers, today. The themes of bridging the gap between rich and poor, honor, courage, loyalty, and sorrow are timeless. The time and the look of the story may be antiquated; however, the themes presented in the novel still ring true. Teenagers can associate and feel compassion for the plight of the greasers.

The writing style is simplistic and easy to follow. Overall, the plot makes the story a good read no matter what age you are. Once you finish the book, you may wish to rent the movie. Many stars got their start in this movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Some faces you will recognize are Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe. This is a must read.

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Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and RedemptionUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most fascinating biography books; I have ever read. Written like a fiction novel, it relates the story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic Track star who survives World War II as a hero.

Zamperini possesses a unique spirit and grit that allows him to survive his plane being shot down over the Pacific, 47 days adrift on a raft with two companions, and the internment in notorious Japanese POW camps. His quick mind and nimble body suffer untold horrors throughout his ordeals. Especially when Louie meets up with an evil Japanese jailor named “The Bird”.

Hillenbrand, the author, has extensively researched and interviewed Zamperini’s life. The book includes many photos, that have been saved by the Zamperini family and many illustrious stories of Louie. Laura Hillenbrand interviewed Louie 75 times and retells his life in a positive and descriptive story-like fashion.

You do not need to be a World War II buff to enjoy this amazing story of heroism, America, and survival. Read this book today!

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Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak

This 1964 Caldecott Medal award-winning children’s book written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak is a classic story of a boy’s boredom and imagination. Banned from libraries and schools when it was first released, Where the Wild Things Are has grown to be loved by both children and adults for its ability to visualize the realistic emotions children experience.

The book tells the story of Max, a boy who gets in trouble for goofing around in his wolf costume. His mother has had enough of his mischief-making and she sends him to his room without supper. Max is very angry at his punishment so he imagines that he leaves the safety of his room and sails out to where the wild things are. In this forest, there are gnashing beasts who wish to scare Max, however he is courageous. He stares into the beasts yellow eyes without blinking and impresses the beasts so much so that they make Max “the king of all wild things”, dancing with the monsters in a “wild rumpus”.

Max has a good time being “the king of the wild things”, but, before long, he finds that he is lonely and sails back to his bedroom. When he arrives, he finds that his dinner, still hot, is waiting for him. He is happy to be home and equally happy that he had an exciting adventure.

The book was made into a film released in 2009 and directed by Spike Jonze. The author, Maurice Sendak died on May 8, 2012, leaving a legacy of talent and imagination that will live on through his works.

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Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

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Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jacob Jankowski tells his story as the novel’s protagonist who is a 93-year-old nursing home resident. As Jacob is told what to do and what to eat in the nursing home, he fights the idea of giving up his will by reminiscing about his time as a veterinarian in the Benzini Brothers Circus. Going flawlessly back and forth through time, readers learn what it was like to be a part of a Depression Era circus train that traveled from town to town-bringing people entertainment.

The hero meets up with some strange characters on the circus train. His train-mate is a dwarf named Kinko whose only friend is a Jack Russell Terrier named Queenie. The trio starts roughly but grows into a sweet friendship. Jacob works for an abusive Circus owner named Uncle Al, who will do anything to make a buck. Jacob also meets up with Marlena a star performer who loves horses and her husband August who can be both charming and brutal. The three form a unique love triangle that threatens to take all their lives.

Of course, the story’s title tells us there must be elephants in this circus, and there is an elephant. Her name is Rosie and Uncle Al purchases her from another circus. Rosie is ornery when Jacob is charged to take care of her. That is, until he realizes that Rosie only understands Polish and he begins to give her direction in his native language.

This five-star novel will make you laugh, cry, and horrified all at the same time. Some of the scenes deal with the abuse of animals and for the faint at heart; this may be difficult to read. Ultimately, this is an excellently woven story that accurately depicts the time and place it is set. Its themes of morality, mental illness, ageing, and love will pull the reader into the emotional turmoil experienced Jacob Jankowski and the people he surrounds himself with in the past and present.

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Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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