Month: February 2009

Book 22 of 52: Your Big Fat Boyfriend by Jenna Bergen

There’s a lot I could say about Jenna Bergen’s Your Big Fat Boyfriend: How to Stay Thin When Dating a Diet Disaster. But I hate writing negative reviews and just had to do so about this book (I read it for a newspaper), so this is all I’ll say here:

Cute idea. Awful execution.

If you’re faced with this sort of boyfriend diet problem and want useful and practical nutrition information, save yourself the $14.95 and check out Nina Planck’s Real Food: What to Eat and Whyor Joy Manning’s blog What I Weigh Today.

Read More

Book 21 of 52: My Father’s Heart: A Son’s Reckoning with the Legacy of Heart Disease

Steve McKee did everything he could to save himself from his father’s (and grandfather’s and great grandfather’s fate). He never smoked, he stays in shape, he eats right. Yet he’s still diagnosed with heart disease, a victim of heredity.

My Father’s Heart: A Son’s Reckoning with the Legacy of Heart Disease is about McKee’s life, more specifically about his relationship with his father, who died when McKee was just 16. Steve was with him when the heart attack — his dad’s second — finally claimed him. He tells his story backward, starting with one week after the heart attack, then back day by day until the final chapter is the actual attack (and it ain’t pretty — movies don’t show what it’s really like).

Using that frame, McKee tells the story of his life, and where his dad fit in, whether he was alive or not. The saddest part (not including the actual death) is McKee sobbing the night before his wedding because his dad isn’t there. It’s an intimate look at how an event that is so prevalent (heart disease is still the number one killer in American) affects one person and one family.

My issue […]

Read More

Testing Book 20 of 52

As I read Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Fabulous and Feeling Beautiful Every Day, book 20 of 52, I stickied pages about taking care of wavy hair and how to blow dry a bob. As much as I LOVED the haircut, I had trouble re-creating the look at home, so I went to Target and bought:

1. A hair dryer with focus nozzle
2. Flat paddle brush
3. De-frizz serum

I also dug out volumenizing foam, which I used once and thought wasn’t a good idea on a head of thick, wavy hair. I tried the book’s tips on how to let wavy hair dry so it doesn’t look like a puff ball. It worked…sorta, but I also walked into a wind storm. Then today I tried the how-to-blowdry-a-bob technique, which was completely foreign to me, but I figured it was better than anything I’d tried before.

Et viola:

That’s without a flat iron — outrageous! I thought I always needed a flat iron to get straight hair like this. This is great! I’m going to give it a shot with the iron later today to see if I can get it closer to how I came out of the […]

Read More

Romances! And Love Nubbins!

Finally — the first article about romance writers is out! It was published in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

This article involved book 11 of 52, book 12 of 52, book 13 of 52, and book 15 of 52. Phew, that’s a lot of lovin!

And what’s with the title of this post? This quote from the story:

“‘They are amazingly intelligent women who are exceptionally talented,’ says Sarah Wendell, coauthor of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels (Fireside, April 2009, $15) and a romance-industry blogger at ‘They’re not just women in fanny packs or extremely rich women in big pink houses writing about love nubbins all day.’”

I didn’t think they’d leave in “love nubbins,” but included the quote anyway…and voila, Sarah has introduced the term to the Delaware Valley.


Read More

Book 20 of 52: Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Fabulous and feeling Beautiful Every Day

Yes, I’m reviewing a book about hair. But before you start asking “oh, Jen, what’s happened?” know this: I read this book for an assignment, and hair is a powerful thing.

How many times have you cringed about a bad haircut? I’ve cried over some awful chop jobs. How much time do you spend styling it, taking care of it, worrying about your next cut or complaining about bad hair days? And I’m not just directing my questions to the ladies — I’ve dated guys who spent more time on their hair than I do.

So while Great Hair: Secrets to Looking Fabulous and Feeling Beautiful Every Dayby What Not to Wear’s Not to Wear might not be a great work of literature, it’s at least been worth flipping through. He gives great advice on working with wavy hair, and how to dry a bob hair cut straight, which is important to me at the moment:

Because that’s my new do.

I’ve had long blond hair for the last few years. I think it looks nice long — I have a lot of hair, and it’s generally healthy since I don’t blow dry it every day, and I don’t […]

Read More

Book 19 of 52: Soldier’s Secret Child

We return to the romance for two reasons. First, I am working on another article about romance novelists (the first should be published on Wednesday). Second, I spent all day Saturday on the beach, and after reading about addicts and exercise, bring on the smut!

Soldier’s Secret Child by Caridad Pineiro isn’t all that smutty, though there’s some hot hot lovin’. It also encompasses a lot of things the Smart Bitches write about as being common in the genre including (but not limited to) secret babies, suspense, cowboys and military men.

It’s also a book in the Silhouette Romantic Suspense series. I learned about these when I worked at Walden Books — they’re on the shelf for a month, and then replaced with next month’s adventure. Whenever the store ran “buy two, get the third free” specials, women would by them by the crate full (literally).

They’re small — slightly larger than my hand — and short. In the case of this series, different authors take a crack at the story line from novel to novel (January’s book is about another character’s brother).

Soldier’s Secret Child is about Macy Ward, a widow with a secret: […]

Read More

Book 18 of 52: Healing Through Exercise

If you work out, you probably know this already: exercise makes you feel good.

In Healing through Exercise: A New Way to Prevent and Overcome Illness-and Lengthen Your Life (pub. date March), Jorg Blech explains why, culling together a lot of research about how exercise can heal and/or prevent everything from asthma to cancer to Alzheimer’s to ADHD.

Blech starts by throwing the idea of “bed rest” right out the window. Resting doesn’t always do a body good and can even slow or prevent healing. He writes at length about exercise and cancer, how patients undergoing chemotherapy can benefit from exercise.

Some of the research is obvious — exercise can help throw back adult onset diabetes — and others not so much. Who knew that relaxing after a heart attack is, according to a lot of research, not a good idea because it’s better to build those muscles back up? And Blech isn’t talking about heavy duty workouts here, either — usually 30 minutes of walking or cycling five times a week.

I was most shocked by information about asthma. I had exercised induced asthma in high school, and used that and a torn ligament in my shoulder as reasons […]

Read More

Book 17 of 52: The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year

Uplifting topic, eh?

The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year
(pub date April) is a non-fiction book about Dr. Michael Stein, a doctor who treats addicts . The book follows, in part, the first year of Lucy Fields’ attempt to get clean. Her drug of choice? Vicodin. While tracking the progress of Lucy, Stein writes about other patients who have succeeded and failed and about why he became a doctor and why he treats addicts.

It’s not the best book in the world, unfortunately. Stein asks too many rhetorical questions, sometimes in never ending chunks of question marks. But I still think it’s a book worth reading because it tells the story about how some people become addicted, and how they can’t just stop. I won’t tell Lucy’s back story because it would ruin the narrative of the book, but another of Dr. Stein’s patients was a mother of two and business owner who took one Vicodin and liked how it made her felt — and she kept using. He also worked with a chef who could always find pills from other cooks in the kitchen.

The best parts are when Lucy talks about how people make […]

Read More