Monday, December 30, 2013

Non-Fiction Book Reviews to look forward to in 2014

Chasing Hepburn: A Memoir of Shanghai, Hollywood, and a Chinese Family's Fight for Freedom by Gus Lee

Chasing Hepburn is the story of the Lee family—a saga spanning four generations, two continents, and a century and a half of Chinese history. In the masterful hands of acclaimed author Gus Lee, his ancestors’ stories spring vividly to life in a memoir with all the richness of great fiction.

From the time of her birth in 1906 it was expected that Gus Lee’s mother, Tzu Da-tsien, would become an elegant bride for a wealthy provincial man. But she was shunted onto a less certain path by age three, when her warmhearted father rescued her from her foot-binding ceremony in response to her terrified screams. This dramatic rejection of tradition was the first of many clashes that would lock the family in a constant struggle between Chinese customs and modern ways.

Later, with the Chinese countryside in the grip of civil war, the Tzu family moved to Shanghai, seeking financial stability. There Da-tsien met Lee Zee Zee, the dashing son of the Tzus’ landlord, who lived across the street. With their patriarch succumbing to opium addiction, Zee Zee’s family was on the brink of ruin, and Da-tsien’s mother was working hard to secure her big-footed daughter’s marriage to a wealthy older man. But not even the protests of both families could keep the lovers apart, and these two socially displaced clans were reluctantly united.

Over the course of their courtship and marriage, Zee Zee and Da-tsien would encounter the most important movements and figures of the times, including underworld gangsters, Communist students and workers, revolutionary armies, Christian missionaries, and legions of invading Japanese soldiers. Zee Zee became an ardent anti-Maoist and an ally of the highest-ranking leaders in the Chinese Nationalist movement. But his flights from tradition took him away from his young family—first into Chiang Kai-shek’s air force and later to America in search of his idol, Katharine Hepburn. Faced with this abandonment and with the chaos of the Japanese occupation, Da-tsien would rely on all of her resources, traditional and modern—faith, superstition, tremendous courage, and her strong feet—in an attempt to preserve her family.

Gus Lee takes us straight into the heart of twentieth-century Chinese society, offering a clear-eyed yet compassionate view of the forces that repeatedly tore apart and reconfigured the lives of his parents and their contemporaries. He moves deftly from recounting intimate household conversations to discussing major historical events, and the resulting story is by turns comic, harrowing, heroic, and tragic. For most of her life, Da-tsien prayed for a son who would honor his family and respect his Chinese heritage. In this enthralling tribute, Gus Lee lovingly accomplishes both.


Body Electric- Camy Baker

Rule #6: Fuel your body.
Rule #15: Stay true to yourself.
Rule #22: Look good for you, not boys.

If growing up is so great, why does it feel so awesomely confusing?

I mean, at times it's kind of fun to see how I'm changing and my body's developing. But at other times it feels really scary and I feel very alone, as if I'm the only one in the world going through this.

When it first began happening to me, I, Camy Baker, did what I always do when I have questions I need answered: I asked my mom and sister what they felt like when it happened to them. They were both really helpful and had lots of stories and advice to share. That made me feel a whole lot better. Because growing up can be scary and exciting and embarrassing.

But don't think you have to go through it alone! Hopefully, my thirty cool rules will help you as much as they helped me. You can't stop yourself from growing up, but you can understand yourself better so you learn to love the brand-new you!


A History of Modern Europe Vol I-John Merriman

A History of Modern Europe presents a panoramic survey of modern Europe from the Renaissance to the present day. A seasoned teacher and talented historian, Professor John Merriman offers a carefully crafted narrative that guides students through a vast amount of complex material, integrating the many aspects of the European experience into a larger, interconnected whole. A full ten percent shorter than its predecessor, the Second Edition has tightened organization throughout to make room for recent research and descriptions of the current issues and events that define Europe's role in the world today.


A History of Modern Europe Vol II-John Merriman

Available in both one-volume and two-volume paperback editions, A History of Modern Europe presents a panoramic survey of modern Europe from the Renaissance to the present day.

A seasoned teacher and talented historian, Professor Merriman�s offers a carefully crafted narrative that guides students through a vast amount of complex material, integrating the many aspects of the European experience into a larger, interconnected whole. A full 10% shorter than its predecessor, the Second Edition has tightened organization throughout to make room for recent research and descriptions of the current issues and events that define Europe�s role in the world today.



A History of the Roman People-Allen M Ward

The Fifth Edition of "A History of the Roman People "continues to provide a comprehensive analytical survey of Roman history from its prehistoric roots in Italy and the wider Mediterranean world to the dissolution of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity in A.D. 600. Clearly organized and highly readable, the text's narrative of major political and military events provides a chronological and conceptual framework for the social, economic, and cultural developments of the periods covered. Major topics are treated separately so that students can easily grasp key concepts and ideas.



Chinese Cinderella-Adeline Yen Mah

A riveting memoir of a girl's painful coming-of-age in a wealthy Chinese family during the 1940s.

A Chinese proverb says, "Falling leaves return to their roots." In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to tell the story of her painful childhood and her ultimate triumph and courage in the face of despair. Adeline's affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck after her mother dies giving birth to her. Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to the disdain of her stepmother, while her stepbrother and stepsister are spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not enough to compensate for what she really yearns for -- the love and understanding of her family.

Following the success of the critically acclaimed adult bestseller Falling Leaves, this memoir is a moving telling of the classic Cinderella story, with Adeline Yen Mah providing her own courageous voice.


Falling Leaves-Adeline Yen Mah

Born in 1937 in a port city a thousand miles north of Shanghai, Adeline Yen Mah was the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family who enjoyed rare privileges during a time of political and cultural upheaval. But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative Eurasian stepmother. Determined to survive through her enduring faith in family unity, Adeline struggled for independence as she moved from Hong Kong to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer.

A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl's journey into adulthood, Adeline's story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding. With a powerful voice that speaks of the harsh realities of growing up female in a family and society that kept girls in emotional chains, Falling Leaves is a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare authentic portrait of twentieth-century China.



Funny in Farsi- Firoozeh Dumas

This new Readers Circle edition includes a reading group guide and a conversation between Firoozeh Dumas and Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner,""
In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father's glowing memories of his graduate school years here. More family soon followed, and the clan has been here ever since.
Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas's wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot.
In a series of deftly drawn scenes, we watch the family grapple with American English (hot dogs and hush puppies?--a complete mystery), American traditions (Thanksgiving turkey?--an even greater mystery, since it tastes like nothing), and American culture (Firoozeh's parents laugh uproariously at Bob Hope on television, although they don't get the jokes even when she translates them into Farsi).
Above all, this is an unforgettable story of identity, discovery, and the power of family love. It is a book that will leave us all laughing--without an accent.


How to be popular in sixth grade-Camy Baker

Help is on the way with Camy Baker's advice books!  Camy's fresh, down to earth guidance speaks directly to girls about issues that concern them the most, and she does it without being patronizing.

Girls everywhere will relate to Camy's witty, fun approach to life and all of the challenges of becoming your own person.

In How to Be Popular in the Sixth Grade, Camy has the winning formula for ruling the school!  Twelve-year-old Camy and her family have moved to Illinois from Beverly Hills, and she has had enough experiences to tell readers what they need to know about fitting in, wanting to be liked, and trying to be popular.  Camy's advice for being popular is about being yourself and being good to others -- words of wisdom for readers of any age!


It Must be love- Camy Baker

Rule #2: Develop your Boy Right wish list.
Rule #8: You don't need to be needy.
Rule #11: Become his friend.

Before I ever had a boyfriend, I thought having one would be easy. Well, girls, was I ever wrong!

I mean, sometimes the boy you like doesn't even know you like him. What do you do then? And if you do meet him, how do you know what to talk about?

So I thought a lot about what happened between me and Wesley (my first boyfriend), and then I asked my friends, my sister, and even my mother(!) about what to do when you have boyfriend problems. After I got the answers to my questions, I wrote them all down to help girls everywhere.

So if you're interested in learning how to choose a boyfriend for yourself, just open this book and take a read. Going out with a guy can be a lot of fun, but it can also be kinda scary. Who knew having a boyfriend could be so complicated?!



Life in Ancient Egypt-Adolf Erman

The fullest, most thoroughly detailed account — including much material not found in more recent books — of domestic life, religion, magic, medicine, commerce, and much more in ancient Egypt. Many illustrations reproduce tomb paintings, carvings, and hieroglyphs.


Love you like a sister-Camy Baker

Help is on the way with Camy Baker's advice books!  Camy's fresh, down to earth guidance speaks directly to girls about issues that concern them the most, and she does it without being patronizing.

Girls everywhere will relate to Camy's witty, fun approach to life and all of the challenges of becoming your own person.

In Camy Baker's second book, Love You Like a Sister, Camy is back with more cool rules, this time about being a better friend.  She shares her experiences in how to make, treat, and keep friends.  Camy tackles worries of all sorts, including how to maintain good friendships even when you are competing for boys!  Strong, supportive friendships between girls are as important as ever, and Camy knows just how to nourish them.



Men, Women and Relationships-John Grey

John Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, reveals that the key to creating and maintaining successful relationships between men and women lies in accepting our differences. By trying to make our partners over in our own likeness, Gray reminds us we destroy what we first found so appealing. Writing with the compassionate understanding that is his trademark, Gray draws on his wealth of experience from twenty years of work in couples therapy, his two mega-selling books, as well as his hugely popular national workshops and seminars. In Men, Women, and Relationships, he ably demonstrates that only through respecting, appreciating, and responding to our natural differences can we achieve real happiness and fulfillment in our relationships.

Discover the simple, practical techniques that can enable all of us to experience the healthy, supportive love we deserve.


Our Sexuality-Robert L Crooks

This is the most respected and authoritative college textbook available on human sexuality! Cutting edge and written in a direct, non-judgmental manner, this new edition of Crooks and Baur's OUR SEXUALITY has been thoroughly and carefully updated to reflect the most current research findings. This new edition is the first college text to bring cutting-edge and in-depth emphasis on the impact of politics on sexuality. Sensitive, comprehensive, and candid scholars and teachers, the authors keep you interested with the most exciting, emerging research and coverage, and focus on strengthening healthy communication among partners. Crooks and Baur have also revised their overall coverage on maintaining a responsible and healthy sexual relationship, with greater attention to diversity and inclusiveness. Other highlights include a new feature called "Sex and Politics," that examines the issue of value judgments that become public policy and what this means to sexual knowledge and to sexual choices. For example: information on different types of condoms was pulled off the CDC Website and replaced by abstinence only information, despite the fact that there is no empirical support about the efficacy of abstinence only education. You'll also enjoy the "Author's Files," which include new stories about the experiences of real people.



Sex in History-Reay Tannahill

SEX IN HISTORY chronicles the pleasures- and perils- of the flesh from the time of mankind's distant ancestors to the modern day; from a sexual act which was bried, crude and purposeful, to the myriad varieties of contemporary sexual mores. Reay Tannahill's scholarly, yet accessible study ranges from the earliest form of contraception (one Egyptian concoction included crocodile dung) to some latter- day misconceptions about it- like the men who joined their lovers in taking the pill 'just to be on the safe side.' It surveys all manner of sexual practice, preference and position (the acrobatic 'wheelbarrow' position, the strenuous 'hovering butterflies' position...) and draws on souces as diverse as THE ADMIRABLE DISCOURSES OF THE PLAIN GIRL, the EXHIBTION OF FEMALE FLAGELLANTS, IMPORTANT MATTERS OF THE JADE CHAMBER and THE ROMANCE OF CHASTISEMENT. Whether writing on androgyny, courtly love, flagellation or zoophilia, Turkish eunuch's Greek dildoes, Taoist sex manuals or Japanses geisha girls, Reay Tannahill is consistently enlightening and entertaining.



The Art of Seduction-Robert Greene

The season's most talked-about all-purpose personal strategy guide and philosophical compendium," said Newsweek of Robert Greene's bold, elegant, and ingenious manual of modern manipulation, The 48 Laws of Power. Now Greene has once again mined history and literature to distill the essence of seduction, the most highly refined mode of influence, the ultimate power trip.

The Art of Seduction is a masterful synthesis of the work of thinkers such as Freud, Ovid, Kierkegaard, and Einstein, as well as the achievements of the greatest seducers throughout history. From Cleopatra to John F. Kennedy, from Andy Warhol to Josephine Bonaparte, The Art of Seduction gets to the heart of the character of the seducer and his or her tactics, triumphs and failures. The seducer's many faces include: the Siren, the Rake, the Ideal Lover, the Dandy, the Natural, the Coquette, the Charmer, and the Charismatic. Twenty-four maneuvers will guide readers through the seduction process, providing cunning, amoral instructions for and analysis of this fascinating, all-pervasive form of power. Just as beautifully packaged and every bit as essential as The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction is an indispensable primer of persuasion and offers the best lessons on how to take what you want from whomever you want or how to prevent yourself from being taken.


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down-Anne Fadiman

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks-Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
         
Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.


Western Europe in the Middle Ages 300-1475-Brian Tierney

This chronological presentation of Western Europe in the Middle Ages provides the political, religious, intellectual, and economic history of the time. The revision of this classic, definitive text includes the latest historiography and more coverage of medieval society and women. Famous for its compelling narrative, the blend of chronology and historical interpretation, anecdotal info which brings the medieval world to life, and the accompanying readers (SOURCES and READINGS).


Why Men Love Bitches-Sherry Argov

Sherry Argov's Why Men Love Bitches delivers a unique perspective as to why men are attracted to a strong woman who stands up for herself. With saucy detail on every page, this no-nonsense guide reveals why a strong woman is much more desirable than a "yes woman" who routinely sacrifices herself. The author provides compelling answers to the tough questions women often ask: - Why are men so romantic in the beginning and why do they change? - Why do men take nice girls for granted? - Why does a man respect a woman when she stands up for herself? Full of much-needed advice, hilarious real-life relationship scenarios, "she says/he thinks" tables, and the author's unique "Attraction Principles," Why Men Love Bitches gives you bottom-line answers. It helps you know who you are, stand your ground, and relate to men on a whole new level. Once you've discovered the feisty attitude men find so magnetic, you'll not only increase the romantic chemistry in the relationship, you'll gain your man's love and respect with far less effort. Sherry Argovs work has been featured on shows such as The View and The O'Reilly Factor, as well as national publications such as Esquire, Complete Woman, and Woman's Own.

At the moment I'm reading Chasing Hepburn by Gus Lee, but which non-fiction book do you think I should read and review next? Comment and let me know. Thanks!

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