Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Breathe by Belisa Vranich

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by Belisa Vranich

ISBN-13: 9781250106421
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: Dec. 27, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Contemporary science confirms what generations of healers have observed through centuries of practice: Breath awareness can turn on the body’s natural abilities to prevent and cure illness. The mental and physical stresses of modern life, such as anxiety, frustration, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive woes, and immune dysfunction can all be addressed through conscious control of your breath. In addition, it can increase energy, accelerate healing, improve cognitive skills, and enhance mental balance.

Yet most of us stopped breathing in the anatomically “right” way, the way to take advantage of these benefits, when we were four or five years old. We now mostly breathe in a way that is anatomically incongruous and makes for more illness. Dr. Vranich shows readers how to turn back the tide of stress and illness, and improve the overall quality of their life through a daily breathing workout.

BREATHE is an easy-to-follow guide to breathing exercises that will increase energy, help lose weight, and make readers feel calmer and happier.

My Review:
Breathe explains a series of breathing exercises that will help people breathe correctly and more efficiently. The author explained why people start to breath in a "wrong" way and all of the benefits to re-learning how to do it correctly. I know I breathe too shallowly and was having some trouble with stress and insomnia, so I thought I'd give it a try.

She explained some simple exercises that help you to teach your body to breathe in the correct way. She provided several different exercises to teach the same thing so if one didn't make sense, another one would. There were diagrams to illustrate the exercises. You don't need any special equipment, and the daily exercises don't take long to do. She also provided some more advanced exercises to help you to develop your lungs for deeper breathing and even provided exercises to help improve serious athletes.

I found the exercise instructions easy to follow and have been doing the more basic exercises daily for two weeks now. The breathing exercises have helped me feel healthier and more relaxed, and my sleep has improved during this time. I also appreciated the information on how posture affects my ability to relax. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Scotland Yard's First Cases by Joan Lock

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Scotland Yard's First Cases
by Joan Lock

ISBN-13: 9780709091257
eBook: 192 pages
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Released: Dec. 13, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When Scotland Yard’s first detective branch was set up in 1842 crime was very different from today.

The favoured murder weapon was the cut-throat razor; carrying a pocket watch was dangerous; the most significant clue at a murder scene could be the whereabouts of a candlestick or hat; large households (family, servants and lodgers) complicated many a case and servants sometimes murdered their masters.

Detectives had few aids and suffered many disadvantages. There was no way of telling whether blood (or hair) was human or animal. Fingerprinting was fifty years away, DNA profiling another hundred and photography was too new to help with identification. The detectives had no transport and were expected to walk the first three miles on any enquiry before catching an omnibus or cab and trying to recoup the fares. All reports had to be handwritten with a dip pen and ink and the only means of keeping contact with colleagues and disseminating information was by post, horseback or foot.

In spite of these handicaps and severe press criticism, the detectives achieved some significant successes. Joan Lock includes such classic cases as the First Railway Murder, as well as many fascinating, fresh reports, weaving in new developments like the electric telegraph against a background of authentic Victorian police procedure.

My Review:
Scotland Yard's First Cases looked at detective work done by London's police between 1836 and 1907. The focus was on the earlier years, and the 1870s through 1907 were more an overview than details of cases. The author described various cases--mostly murder cases, but also other types of cases dealt with by the detectives. The details of these cases come from case files, court reports, and newspaper articles from that time.

Through these cases, the author pointed out the difficulties that the recently formed police had, what events motivated the formation of a detective force, and the changes, challenges, and cases faced by that detective force. She also described the changes in technology that helped the detectives solve cases and get their man or woman.

I'd recommend this book to true crime fans, especially those interested in early detective work and the changes brought about by developing technologies.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell II

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The China Study:
Revised and Expanded Edition
by T. Colin Campbell,
Thomas M. Campbell II

ISBN-13: 9781941631560
Paperback: 417 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: Dec. 27, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The science is clear. You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet.

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Featuring brand new content, this heavily expanded edition of Colin and Tom’s groundbreaking book includes the latest undeniable evidence of the power of a plant-based diet, plus updated information about the changing medical system and how patients stand to benefit from a surging interest in plant-based nutrition.

My Review:
The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition is about the research that supports eating a whole food, plant-based diet. As in, plants that aren't refined or processed, and nutrition derived from food rather than supplements. I've heard references to the China Study before, so I was interested in getting more information about it. I was disappointed that only one chapter of this book actually focused on that study.

The main author talked about his career and the various studies that he's done. He recognized the limits of those studies (including the China study) but feels the probable animal-protein link to chronic disease is strong and deserves more study and air time. About a fourth of the book focused on the politics behind why we don't hear about this link very often.

The author also looked at links between diet and specific diseases: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, kidney stones, blindness, cognitive dysfunction, and Alzheimer's disease. He talked about the correlations to diet found in the China study and about other studies that confirm those links. I've heard much of this information before in isolated parts, so it was nice to have his full argument laid out.

This book pulled together or confirmed some things other research-based health advisors have been saying. I found his information on vitamin D to be very helpful as I haven't heard it explained so clearly before. I already eat whole foods and minimal animal protein compared to an average American, so I'm already moving in the direction that he advocates. I'd recommend that people at least listen to his argument before going on a high animal protein fad diet.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tough As They Come by Travis Mills

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Tough As They Come
by Travis Mills,
Marcus Brotherton

ISBN-13: 9781101904787
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Convergent Books
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Thousands of soldiers die year to defend their country. United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast four days before his twenty-fifth birthday. Against the odds, he lived, but at a severe cost—Travis became one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation.

Suddenly forced to reconcile with the fact that he no longer had arms or legs, Travis was faced with a future drastically different from the one he had imagined for himself. He struggled through the painful and anxious days of rehabilitation so that he could regain the strength to live his life to the fullest. With enormous willpower and endurance, the unconditional love of his family, and a generous amount of faith, Travis shocked everyone with his remarkable recovery. Even without limbs, he still swims, dances with his wife, rides mountain bikes, and drives his daughter to school.

My Review:
Tough As They Come is a memoir. The first two-thirds of the book described Travis Mill's childhood and 3 deployments in Afghanistan. He describes daily life and some of the action he took part in. He doesn't "talk technical," so his story is easy to follow and to get a sense of what it's like.

The last third of the book talked about the IED blast and his recovery. From the book description, I'd expected most of the book to be about his recovery, but he's not the type of guy to dwell on the past. It's part of the reason he's doing so well. He's also always up for a challenge, has a positive attitude, and has the support of a loving family. He gave enough details that you can understand what he and his family went through and how they made it through. To give an idea of what Travis is like, here's a quote (from an ARC, so the final version might be different) from page 246:

"Hard times come to everybody. When hard times happen, we have a choice to make. We can become discouraged and bitter, or we can choose to never quit. When life gets hard, the key is just to keep pushing forward. Instead of saying, "It could be worse," the key is to say, "It's going to get better." Then work with all your might toward that goal."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Effortless Healing by Dr. Joseph Mercola

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Effortless Healing
by Dr. Joseph Mercola

ISBN-13: 9781101902899
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harmony
Released: Sept. 27, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Do you have to tell your leg to heal from a scrape? Your body that it's hungry? No. Your body does these things automatically, effortlessly. Online health pioneer, natural medicine advocate, and bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals the nine simple secrets to a healthier, thinner you.

My Review:
Effortless Healing is a self-help health book. Each chapter focused on a different aspect of health, with the most important changes listed first. You implement the changes in "Healing Principle #1" first and then tackle the next one. He talked about the food and drink you consume, exercise, and sleep. He explained things at a pretty basic level and described how to carry out these changes. At the end, he even had a chapter on how to set and achieve your lifestyle change goals.

While I've heard many of his suggestions elsewhere, others confused me a bit. For example, he suggested that most people reading the book had diabetes or pre-diabetes and needed to get their blood sugar under control. Yet he didn't base his selections of "good" or "bad" foods for them on the food's glycemic load. Rather, he simply threw out all grains (even gluten-free, whole grains) and some vegetables because they have a lot of starchy carbs. Yet he strongly recommended juiced vegetables, which I've read spikes blood sugar.

Also, he recommended skipping breakfast and avoiding snacking, yet his sample meal plans at the end all included a snack and usually had a breakfast. He mentioned some benefits to eating fruit, yet later recommended largely avoiding fruit because it contains fructose. Basically, the book didn't always seem consistent from beginning to end. Did he give some good advice? Yes. I should also mention that the "effortless" refers to your body healing itself if you do all of these steps, not the process needed to get there.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.