Thursday, August 14, 2014

More minis - Run, Don't Walk by A. Levine, The Color of Fire by A. Rinaldi, My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart

In my continuing quest to catch up with myself, I give you a second round of mini reviews. One was sent by a friend, one unearthed during the library organization and one received from the publisher.

Run, Don't Walk by Adele Levine, P.T.  - published in May, Run, Don't Walk is the memoir of a physical therapist who worked at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, now closed and combined with a naval medical facility. 

As a therapist at Walter Reed, Levine worked with military amputees, helping them adjust to life without one or more limbs and learn how to live with prosthetics.

I've seen photos of famous people visiting soldiers at Walter Reed and the equipment is well described so I had no trouble visualizing the work amputees do to recover, but there were a few things that did surprise me, chiefly the fact that the amputees' therapy room was designed like a fishbowl, so that people could walk past and peer inside. Celebrities came through specifically for the photo-opportunities (although one, in particular, was admired for not arriving with photographers).

Run, Don't Walk is fascinating, educational and will definitely make you admire the determination, humor and courage of amputees and the people who work with them. It's not just about the author and her job, it's about the individuals and their struggles, how humor and friendship heal, the kindness shown by those in the world outside the hospital in unexpected ways and how Walter Reed has been abused by people who aren't really in need of therapy, as well.

Highly recommended - A well-written memoir that will touch your heart and soul. The copy I read was an ARC sent by a friend.

The Color of Fire by Ann Rinaldi is a book that I happened across while sorting books, over the weekend. I've read other books by Rinaldi (A Break with Charity is the only one I can recall, off the top of my head) and knew they're quick reads so I flopped down on the library floor, began to read The Color of Fire without bothering to read the description and found that the story was about a historical event I'd never heard of. 

The Color of Fire takes place in 1741 and begins with a series of fires. Phoebe is a house slave who knows she has an easy life. Her master and mistress are kind to her and the other slaves and servants. Cuffee also works for the Philipse family. But, when he's seen running from the scene of a fire clearly set by arsonists, he's arrested. Mr. Philipse stands up for him but when he's accused a second time, there's nothing Philipse can do to help. A mob mentality has taken over the town and they're out for blood.

Based on a true story, the tale of how frightened slaves --many of whom were innocent but caught in a chain in which the promise of release persuaded individuals to name other alleged conspirators -- led to nearly two dozen deaths by hanging and burning at the stake. 

Recommended - A horrifying fictionalized account of how group frenzy much like that of the Salem Witch Trials led to the death of both innocent and guilty without regard to evidence or facts.  The Color of Fire has received some scathing reviews at Goodreads and most common complaint seems to be a distaste for the ending. I liked the ending. While I thought the book was predictable, I actually felt a little more comfortable having a good idea how it would end, even if the real-life outcome was appalling and gruesome. 

My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart is a book I received from Harper !t for review and I'll just confess up front that I'm sticking this one in last place to bury it a bit. 

Hannah Hart is a YouTube sensation who began her "My Drunk Kitchen" videos on a night when she was bored. She had moved to New York City and was missing her friends back in California. It's a fake cooking show and I had never seen it but I figured there would be something of interest in it. Maybe a simple recipe or two that you could cook while drinking heavily? I don't drink -- I'm just a disinterested cook, so the easier, the better.

Unfortunately, all I got out of this book was a bit of goofy wisdom that I didn't need. The photos are smashing; I definitely give the book kudos for gorgeous presentation. And, I laughed at the "fortune" in Hart's version of fortune cookies (fortunes stuffed into croissants). To see if I was missing some crucial factor that made My Drunk Kitchen funny instead of just -- with apologies to the author, this is just how I feel -- a pointless waste of lovely, high-quality paper, I looked up her YouTube videos. Sigh. Not for me. I'm just the wrong audience.

I am doubly baffled by the fact that John Green wrote the foreword and Neil Gaiman blurbed it, both very positively. I just don't get the humor in this book.

Not for me, but check out Hannah Hart's "My Drunk Kitchen" videos at YouTube. If you think she's entertaining, definitely grab a copy. It's getting terrific ratings and clearly I'm not the right audience. The photography is stunning and there are bits of useful wisdom, I suppose -- nothing new to a world-weary middle-aged woman, but My Drunk Kitchen is uplifting in an offbeat way. Also, my 22-year-old thought her suggestion to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut them into 9 squares and stick toothpicks in each square was a fabulous party suggestion! Umm . . . maybe we need some mother-son cooking lessons?

One odd note:  Hannah Hart has a tiny freckle on the tip of her nose that is visible in photos throughout the book but which was edited out of the cover photo. I found that mildly offensive. So she has a prominent (albeit faint) freckle? Leave it be. My opinion. Hart is very, very photogenic, freckle and all.

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

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