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Reviews Written by
E. L. Weinhold "Lolly" RSS Feed (Maryland, USA)
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Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles To Timbuktu
Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles To Timbuktu
by Kira Salak
Edition: Hardcover
59 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A kayak and a big river, August 5, 2008
Following in the footsteps of Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who traversed the land and the river in the eighteenth century, Salak sets out to kayak down the Niger River in the west African country of Mali. Unlike Park's ill-fated -and ultimately fatal- journey, Salak makes it to Timbuktu, the ancient "city of gold" right below the Saharan desert. Her journey was funded by the National Geographic Society, and she often runs into the hired photographer who is documenting her travels at stops along the river. She sets out from Old Segou with only a few vocabulary words of local tribal languages and a working knowledge of French. She has her inflatable red canoe, and a backpack of supplies.

Salak's writing style is very engaging - her strength and her fortitude come across in her writing, though never with a tone of arrogance. Each trial or trouble she encounters (and they are many: ripping a bicep muscle on the first day, hostile tribes, hippopatomi, dysentery) is documented clearly and unbiased. Any other person would have called it quits - but Salak finds courage and prevails in all of the circumstances.

Interwoven throughout her own narrative, Salak recounts Park's journey, over two hundred years before her own. Park was taken hostage, many of his crew members died, and he eventually died, although the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. Salak relies on Park's diaries and determines that while they are from centuries ago, many of the stories hold true: other places have changed, but this region of Africa has largely remained the same.

My only criticism of the book is that this incredible journey is condensed into a rather small book. I would have enjoyed more passages about the river itself, describing the geography, the biology, and the life of this body of water. The river is undoubtedly a character in the book, but it is largely unknown to the reader - a looming figure that is left a mystery. Perhaps this was done consciously, showing that the river cannot be understood or predicted. The other complaint comes from the last chapter: when Salak arrives in Timbuktu, she makes it her mission to free two "slave" women (they work without compensation and are fully abused by their masters, yet the Malian government refuses to call it "slavery", despite this whole caste of people - the Bella - being continuously subjugated) from their Tuareg masters. She describes how this has been one of the missions of the whole trip. Then why did she mention it for the first time in the last 10 pages of the book? As a reader, I felt a little cheated for not knowing this earlier... that should have been something talked about at the beginning of the account. Her work is admirable, without a doubt, and she does "free" two women and gives them gold coins in order to start their own business. This whole encounter is discussed so quickly, that it almost seems like a gloss-over of the whole practice. Salak has to know that giving these women a gold coin is not going to make their life better; that being said, I am not discounting her action. One woman cannot go up against hundreds of years of the "peculiar institution" in a slowly developing country. I do wonder what happened to those two women after Salak left them in Timbuktu, only minutes after "freeing" them.

Salak's amazing journey left me hungry for more adventure - luckily she has a few more books on her other travels. She is a strikingly brave and courageous person, and a good writer too. I look forward to more.


Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures
Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures
by Wade Davis
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $3.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Defining the Ethnosphere, July 27, 2008
Due to the size of this book, many would simply think of it as a coffee table photography book. While the photos are quite stunning, all captured by Davis himself over the last 25 years in the field, it is the text that is the real gem. Davis currently researches as a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, but his career has led him to very remote areas of the world to learn about the distinct "ethnosphere", and the modern phenomenon of these vanishing cultures. With amazing detail, gathered first-hand and through interviews, he discusses his research in British Columbia, the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, the Amazon basin (Peru, Brazil, Ecuador),lowland Orinoco settlements in Venezuela and Colombia, Haiti, Malaysia, Kenya, Tibet, Australia, and Nunavut (among others with less detail). He notes that great effort has been put towards protecting biodiversity, while cultural diversity, as well as language is being lost everyday. With nods to many of the great anthropologists and scientists of the 19th and 20th century, he recognizes that modern nations can enrich themselves by accepting and encouraging the inherent diversity, "not as failed attempts at modernity", but as new opportunities to see the human experience in full color.


What now?
What now?
by Ann Patchett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.16
211 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and contemplative, July 12, 2008
This review is from: What now? (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this speech-turned-essay. So many wonderful morsels of wisdom to "chew on". She shares a few personal anecdotes, but does not make the speech about herself. It is inspiring and contemplative, encouraging her audience to look inward for happiness; and then sharing it with the world.

Because it was a commencement speech that she have at her alma mater, it is almost guaranteed that it will remind you of your college/university days. Unfortunately, I don't remember anything about the commencement speech at my college graduation, so I will keep this one in mind.

I see it becoming a bestseller gift around high school and college graduations in May and June of each year, alongside Dr. Seuss's "Oh, The Places You Will Go!"


Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods
Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods
by Gary Paul Nabhan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.95
81 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dry as Arizona soil..., April 9, 2008
Having read several books on local foods and sustainability, I really wanted to love this book. I wanted to read about this man's year of eating local in the southwest US. However, I found the book just about as dry as the soil in the Arizona, where the book takes place... his writing style did not engage me. It did not make me want to continue turning the pages. Perhaps it is because I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) right before this? It had great potential... but it left me disappointed.


The Yarn Girls' Guide to Knits for All Seasons: Sweaters and Accessories for Men and Women
The Yarn Girls' Guide to Knits for All Seasons: Sweaters and Accessories for Men and Women
by Julie Carles
Edition: Hardcover
64 used & new from $0.01

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity and Style, July 30, 2007
The concept behind the Yarn Girls' fifth book is pretty solid: knits for every season of the year. The book is arranged by season, and there are 40 patterns represented of different technical skill levels. The majority of projects are well-suited to beginning knitters who are ready to move into garment making. Intermediate and advanced knitters will appreciate the simplicity of the patterns, and can also use the basic constructions as a "jumping off point" to add colorwork, cables, shaping, or other embellishments.

The majority of the fibers and yarns used in the book's designs are easy to find, and are common weights and materials, able to be substituted easily. The fibers are natural, and there are also a few patterns that use vegan yarns and yarns from sustainable plant fibers (mainly linens and linen blends). My only complaint comes with the sizing: They are not quantified with sizes as many other knit patterns are (e.g. 34", 36", 40") but rather XS, S, M, L. Knitted measurements are provided in the pattern along with a schematic, so a XS corresponds with a finished width of 16", which would probably relate to about a size 32" or 33" (with ease). Sure, the information is there, but I am not sure why they choose to display it in this unconventional way; it could be confusing to a beginner.

The simplicity of the designs are what is so appealing - I like classic styles. If I am going to take the time and effort to knit something, I want it to be "in style" for years to come. These styles will undoubtedly stick around, and they will be fun to knit up in the process.


The UltraSimple Diet: Kick-Start Your Metabolism and Safely Lose Up to 10 Pounds in 7 Days
The UltraSimple Diet: Kick-Start Your Metabolism and Safely Lose Up to 10 Pounds in 7 Days
by Mark Hyman M.D.
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
231 used & new from $0.01

168 of 187 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Truly Works!, May 6, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I read about Dr. Mark Hyman's programs and books in a well-respected health and wellness magazine, Experience Life, and I decided to purchase both Ultrametabolism and The UltraSimple diet based upon the recommendations. This past week (from April 29th - May 5th, 2007) I followed Dr. Hyman's one-week program. Within a day of starting the program, I saw and felt results. My skin was more hydrated and moisturized, and my hair was easier to manage. I awoke each morning feeling well-rested and calm, ready to face the day. I had energy after a long day at work. These changes were also followed by 5 lbs of weight loss, and several inches of toning in my midsection.

The beauty of this program is the variety. I tried many new vegetables, and I was able to spice up each meal with new seasonings. Every night, I prepared my meal for the upcoming day - grabbing my prepared food before I left for the office. It was easy to incorporate the program into my daily activities, and by the end of the week, it was already part of my regimen.

Dr. Hyman's program works! If you can commit to this program, you will undoubtedly see the results that he promises.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2009 11:54 AM PDT


Digging to America
Digging to America
by Anne Tyler
Edition: Hardcover
325 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Perspectives on Modern America, December 15, 2006
This review is from: Digging to America (Hardcover)
Tyler creates an interesting story centering around two families who adopt children from Korea in the autumn of 1997. They meet at the airport on the "arrival day" and subsequently plan to meet on the day in the future to commemorate the children's arrival in America. The most interesting aspects of the book surround Maryam, the grandmother of one of the girls, an Iranian widow who struggles to find her place in America; and that of Dave, the American widower, who is the grandfather of the other adopted child.

The majority of the book was a fulfilling story, with many perspectives on what it is like to embrace your "adopted" country, like the Korean girls, and Maryam do throughout the book. Towards the end, Tyler abruptly shifts narrators to one of the young girls, and the tone and style are suddenly jarring and silly, specifically in regards to the "binky fairy" that other reviewers have mentioned here. It is laughable, and sticks out like "a sore thumb" from the well thought-out interpersonal relations and inner thoughts that make up the rest of the novel.

Overall, an engaging story with interesting views on modern culture and traditions in the United States.


Knitting to Go Deck: 25 Chic and Easy Patterns
Knitting to Go Deck: 25 Chic and Easy Patterns
by Kris Percival
Edition: Cards
33 used & new from $0.89

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality and Convenience, September 23, 2006
This deck of knitting pattern cards is convenient and handy - knitters can easily tuck the 4x6-inch pattern cards into a project bag instead of hassling with copy print outs, or larger books. The patterns themselves range from simple beginner blankets and scarves, and move into more detailed garment patterns, each labeled with a level of difficulty in the top right corner.

The deck is a perfect place for a beginning knitter to start making accessories and garments. For a more ambitious and/or experienced knitter, the deck offers a starting point to experiment with textures, lace, and advanced techniques with simple constructions and lines.

While I love this deck and have already made 2 items from it, I have only one complaint: I wish the cards included schematic drawings and measurements of the knitwear. One can knit without them, but schematics are a good visualization tool that many knitters use quite frequently.
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From Alice to Ocean: Alone Across the Outback
From Alice to Ocean: Alone Across the Outback
by Robyn Davidson
Edition: Hardcover
58 used & new from $2.59

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and Engaging Account, July 8, 2006
Although large in size, and filled with breathtaking photographs, this book includes so much more than the regular "picture book". Robyn's thoughtful words make you feel as if you are traveling right along with her and her famous camels. The story is engaging and heart-wrenching; and the reader runs through the same emotions that Robyn feels at each leg of the journey, from the tragedy of loss to the jubilation of completion.

Beautiful and introspective - and very highly recommended.


A Love Song for Bobby Long
A Love Song for Bobby Long
DVD ~ Scarlett Johansson
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $13.55
107 used & new from $0.01

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant -- an homage to New Orleans, September 5, 2005
This review is from: A Love Song for Bobby Long (DVD)
Watching this movie in the wake of Hurricane Katrina made this movie all the more poignant for me. The city of New Orleans was a character in this movie, just as much as Bobby Long, Purselaine, or Lawson.

Love Song for Bobby Long was a sweet, slow-tempo Southern drama about the singer, Lorraine, who passes away, and how her friends and family come together after her death. The cast of characters was top-notch: Travolta, Johannsen, and Macht were perfectly cast.

Great drama with real emotions and a lovely setting.


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