Book Review

Great Summer Read: The Dead Lie Down

June 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm , by

The Dead Lie Down by Sophie HannahAs a contributing book editor for LHJ, I get the pleasure of searching for special books I think our readers will love. Latest discovery? Sophie Hannah’s gripping mystery The Dead Lie Down, which has already climbed the best-seller lists in the U.K. as The Other Half Lives, and is surely about to do the same here. (The title change is another mystery, if you ask me.)

The plot: A fragile and traumatized Ruth Bussey is attempting to rebuild her life after barely surviving an unspeakable ordeal. But when Aidan Seed, the man she has fallen in love with, tells her that years ago he killed a woman, Ruth doesn’t believe him. When he says her name was Mary Trelease, Ruth is certain it can’t be true. She happens to know that Mary Trelease is alive.

Hannah was a successful poet when she wrote her first crime novel, the international bestseller Little Face, in 2006. Since then, her dark and twisted plots, filled with dark and twisted characters, have earned her quite a following. So, if you’re looking for a juicy, suspenseful read this summer, The Dead Lie Down is a spine-tingler I’ll bet you can’t put down.   —Susan Banta


Forgotten Cooking Skills (And How To Get Them Back!)

April 6, 2010 at 9:14 am , by

darinaDarina Allen has been called the Julia Child of Ireland. That’s just one of countless compliments and attributions this award-winning author, teacher, chef, gardener, forager and food-ambassador has been given. She’s also a darling to talk to—funny and sincere, I could listen to her Irish accent for hours.

Her new book (she’s written 16) Forgotten Skills of Cooking, gives us a modern guide to traditional cooking skills—education and inspiration to teach a new generation where food comes from and how to use it. It’s inspired by courses at Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland. She founded the 100-acre organic farm and school to teach the crafts of cheese making and bee keeping, home butchery and seasonal baking.

forgottenskillsDon’t be intimidated (like I was!). I thought Forgotten Skills would be for the over-achieving farmer, telling me to live off the land and raise my own chickens. It is…but it’s also a beautiful cookbook with useful everyday recipes I’ll actually cook. Pleasantly scattered throughout are gems like butter-making, preserving and smoking your own bacon. Allen explains that you don’t have to have a farm, you could simply start with salad greens in your apartment window box. (I would love to! I didn’t tell her I have a very brown thumb).

What I truly love about this book—and about Allen, her friends Alice Waters and Jaime Oliver and all those who champion the Slow Food movement—is that she really just wants to make sure people know where their food comes from. With our processed foods and giant grocery stores, we’ve lost the knowledge of how to use the land to nourish our bodies and enjoy each season.

As Allen says, “If we realized how much depends on the food we eat, we would re-prioritize.” Here’s to you Allen, the skills you teach that give us independence and to all the  knowledge you won’t let be forgotten! Now take me to Ireland.


Do Good: 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve

December 14, 2009 at 10:56 am , by

51Dm5fyN7hL._SL500_Here at LHJ we think one of the most powerful ways to make our world a better place is to teach our kids to give back. Helping children learn why it’s important to care about the people and world around them—and giving them the tools to help out in their communities—is one of the best ways to spark change (and raise really good kids while you’re at it!). That’s why we really like 18-year-old Sondra Clark’s book, 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve. It’s geared toward tweens and gives great suggestions for kids with different interests and hobbies—projects with animals, ideas for crafty kids, eco suggestions and lots more.

Sondra knows her stuff: She’s the daughter of do-gooder and speaker Silvana Clark, and has taught crafts in Africa, served breakfast to needy kids in Peru, and distributed shoes in Guatemala. Pretty impressive, right?

You’ll find ideas to get any kid excited about giving back: Animal lovers can collect old tennis balls to entertain dogs in animal shelters. Little foodies can bake goodies for the Great American Bake Sale. Have a tech-genius? She can teach senior citizens how to use the computer. Many of the ideas would be great to do as a family too.

What about you–do you volunteer or do projects to give back as a family? Have you tried to get your kids interested in giving back?


A Closer Look at Eating Animals: A Discussion with Jonathan Safran Foer

November 4, 2009 at 11:21 am , by

Foer_Eating_Animals_HCJonathan Safran Foer, who is best known for his acclaimed novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, has written his first nonfiction book, Eating Animals. The book is an exposé on the meat industry, and in particular mechanized factory farms where animals are cruelly raised in extremely crowded, confined spaces.  Eating Animals has already sparked much discussion—as well as some heated arguments—after an excerpt ran in the New York Times. Foer’s book has even piqued the interest of some famous vegetarians like Natalie Portman, who wrote an article for the Huffington Post about how the book inspired her to become a vegan after 20 years of eating vegetarian. Some criticized the execution of her argument and accused her of being an extremist.

It’s not surprising that discussions about vegetarianism (especially between those who do and don’t eat meat) can be particularly contentious, but I found Foer’s book enlightening, inspirational and surprisingly funny. While much of what I learned was disturbing, the tone was more educational than inflammatory. I am a vegetarian, but like Foer, I understand that what you put in your body—what you choose to sustain you—is deeply personal. I spoke with Foer about what inspired his foray into non-fiction, his motivation to become a vegetarian and what his vision of an ideal meat industry would be.

Ladies’ Home Journal: In the book you talk about how throughout your life, you’d dabbled with vegetarianism, but until recently hadn’t fully committed. What prompted you to write Eating Animals?
Jonathan Safran Foer: It was when my wife became pregnant with our first child. I’ve never met anybody who hasn’t thought about, Hey is it wrong to eat animals? I wondered about it, too. And then, when I thought about having to make a decision on my kid’s behalf—as every parent does—suddenly these casual questions became urgent. I didn’t set out to write a book, but I decided to pretty quickly. Within a week of starting my research, I felt like I was having my mind blown.

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