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Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen: A Review

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Not all quacks are snake oil salesmen.  Of course, some of them are and in Quackery you will learn about them.  Some quacks are not out to make a quick buck but legitimately believe in their own ineffective or harmful treatments.  Lydia Kang, a physician, and Nate Pedersen, a journalist, will fascinate you with stories of how doctors used to use substances like cocaine, opium and tobacco to cure disease and did not recognize the dangers associated with them. Tapeworms were used as a diet aid and people thought radiation would cure just about anything that ails. 

I really enjoyed this book and the only fault that I could find with it was that it did not include any current forms of quackery.  Especially with the Internet, misinformation and improper treatments for disease are rampant.  Patients still turn to ineffective treatments and promote them with religious zeal today.

Other than not including current quackery, I really enjoyed learning about all of the unnecessary treatments th…

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave: A Review

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Sunshine seems to have the perfect career and marriage.  She is the star of a cooking channel on YouTube and is about to launch a Food Network show and her own cookbook.  Everything seems to be going according to plan until an unknown hacker reveals that Sunshine is not who she says she is.  She is far from the down home cook who has a farmer for a father.  Instead, she is from Montauk and the most elaborate recipe she has created was a really good grilled cheese sandwich.  She is going to have to start over, which involves reuniting with her sister and niece. 

This was a quick read but it really didn't appeal to me the way that some other novels have.  It was a little bit syrupy and just didn't hit the spot for me.  The author touches on themes of dishonesty on social media but those who are not interested in social media in the first place will not see this as an important piece of literary fiction.  Without that theme, we are left with the inauthentic relationship between…

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen: A Review

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According to Hendrik Groen, "Old is in".  It seems as if he is right.  Many books and movies that have recently been released have older protagonists.  Groen's diary is very reminiscent of A Man Called Ove but Groen is likeable from the very first page.  He and a few of his fellow "inmates" have decided to start the Old-But-Not-Dead Club.  Each member of the group take turns planning an outing that helps the others experience life a little more fully.  The group begins to form a close friendship and stick together as their members encounter health problems and lack the comfort that they could receive from loved ones.

This was such a sweet book and some of the parts were more funny than any of the other books I have read this year.  When Mr. Groen is pulled over for driving his mobility scooter too fast, I just about spit out my tea!  The author has a delightful attitude even with his sad past.  Speaking of this sad past, it is not a huge part of this story.  …

If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

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In a small town in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, a newcomer with a mysterious past comes to educate the youth of the town and ends up learning many new things, herself.  Kate is a teacher who was terminated from her previous position but travels to Baines Creek to work as the town teacher.  Sadie Blue is a young woman who becomes pregnant to a man who is cruel and controlling of her.  Roy and Billie were abused as youngsters and take out their frustration on Sadie and other women.  Eli Perkins is a preacher who wants the best for his community but his sister, Prudence, is as mean as Eli is kind.  Weiss tells each character's story in a fair and impartial way.  She leaves no stone unturned and lets readers know that there are often untold reasons for crimes as heinous as spousal abuse and murder.  Oftentimes, that reason is simply poverty and a hopelessness that one will never escape it. 

I really enjoyed this book for its brave honesty and Weiss' refusal to all…

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

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I read my first Lisa Scottoline novel in April of this year.  This book is so much different from One Perfect Lie. This book is more of a comedic memoir than a mystery or thriller.  Scottoline and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, write about their funny lives in a series of essays.  Serritella writes about her hiatus from men and the insanity of forcing guests to make wedding dresses from toilet paper at bridal showers.  Scottoline writes about her disabled dog that is in a wheelchair and how she only wears a bra when she absolutely has to.  Both women write about their daily lives in a way that is both self-deprecating but also empowering to women.

There were definitely some very funny parts in this book but I wouldn't say that it was the funniest thing that I have read.  I have read a lot of comedic essay books by authors like Jen Lancaster who have me laughing from the first page to the last.  What I did really like about this book was the very endearing relationship that S…

Still Here: A Novel by Lara Vapnyar: A Review

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Sergey has been living, and struggling, in the United States for awhile.  His wife, Vica, is perpetually angry at him because he can't seem to keep a job, despite his PhD earned in Russia and his MBA earned in the US.  Vica is frustrated because she gave up medical school in Russia so that she could follow Sergey to the US and now she works in a cancer hospital, where she can't seem to fit in.  Sergey has an idea for an app which will keep a person's online persona alive once a person has died.  Vica desperately wants Sergey to develop and pitch the app so that she can be a rich man's wife like her friend, Regina.

Regina is married to Bob, a wealthy American who develops web applications.  She used to be a respected translator but has since become depressed since losing her mother to cancer.  She spends her days watching TV and eating foods that an app recommends to her based on her viewing habits.  Her mother's best friend, Masha, wants her to adopt a child but R…

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian: A Review

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Richard's life begins to unravel when he hosts a bachelor party for his younger brother, Philip.  One of the guests booked strippers for the party that happened to be captive prostitutes.  The sex slaves, Sonia and Alexandra, end up killing the men who were holding them captive at the party.  This brings unwanted attention to Richard and his family and professional life is greatly affected. 

This story is more than just about exploitation of young women.  It is also about the disintegration of a marriage.  The story could be uncomfortable, at times, but I think that it was an important story for readers.  Sex slavery is such a horrible, but current, topic and one that is important for people to be informed about.  Some of the story could be a bit slow but I really enjoyed reading it, anyway.  The characters were not the best, in this book.  I really enjoyed the characters in Bohjalian's The Sleepwalker but the characters is The Guest Room were very awkward.  When Alexandra sp…