Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review - Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford

Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford

This book is timely, as I'd become a first time mum this summer. And we live in an area where tornado is a possibly, as well as snow storms in the winter time. But this book goes more into just natural disaster survival - it also talks about "survival finances" (if losing a job) and "essentials for safety and security" (personal safety).

I have always wanted to more prepared (been meaning to get that survival kit, or first aid kit, for years...) but well, just never got around to it. So I'll call myself an extreme beginner when it comes to disaster preparedness. The intention is there, just no follow through... 

I admit that this book is not something you'd want to read cover-to-cover in one setting. You'd probably feel overwhelmed, and well, panicked (what if something happens tomorrow? I AM SO NOT PREPARED!!) Even the author suggested to "browse through this book, read what catches your eye, and begin making 3 lists for future actions: To Learn, To Do, and To Buy". Really, this book is to help you prepare, to give you a starting point, and to guide you. Like most things though, I plan to adapt the suggestions to our needs, rather than just following everything listed. You just have to do what makes you feel secured. I mean, if you live in the desert, you probably don't have to worry about snowstorms and how to keep yourself warm if your heat is out, you know? I like how the book includes tips, stories, and checklists.

Even though the book is titled Survival Mom, I think this is a great book to read with your family so the whole family is on the same page, and that they all can actively participate. It'd be a fun family activity (plus you don't have to rely on one person's memory to remember where everything is!)

I know a lot of the tips can probably be found online (or from the author's blog) but it's great to have it in a book, especially if the electricity is out, then the book becomes handy!

As we're preparing our house to welcome the new baby (decluttering, reorganizing, cleaning and all), this is a great time to read this book with my husband while we make lists of action (rather than just read and forget about it soon after...) I think we'll start with Chapter 6 - Home Base. Then as we move to cleaning out the kitchen, we'll read the chapters on food storage. There are 12 chapters in the book plus some extra bonus materials. We can always just read one chapter a month (or more if we're ambitious) and make that into a family learning activity without feeling too stressed about having to do everything at once (and then be put off about the whole thing.) Of course, we'll hope no disasters will happen in the next 12 months :)

(Note - since I am currently pregnant, my attention span does not allow me to read every chapter in this book... so this is probably not a good review of all the content in the book. However, just browsing the book and reading the tips here and there helps motivated me to get started and take action, which is saying something during this busy time! Once we have thoroughly read the book (and hopefully have done something about preparedness), I will give a more proper review on what works and does not work for us... yes it may be a while... but I don't want to give up half way through!)

Note - Received a free copy of the book as part of the TLC Book Tours. Check out all the other blogs reviewing this book!

Tuesday, April 10th: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Wednesday, April 11th: A Homesteading Neophyte
Monday, April 16th: the state that i am in
Thursday, April 19th: The Apartment Prepper’s Blog
Monday, April 23rd: Cheerios Underfoot
Tuesday, April 24th: Being 5
Thursday, April 26th: Wandering Thoughts of a Scientific Housewife
Monday, April 30th: Mental Foodie
Friday, May 4th: 2 Kid and Tired Book Reviews
TBD: The Chatelaine’s Keys
TBD: My Year(s) of Spending Less and Living More
TBD: {A} Musing Mother
TBD: Prepared LDS Family

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


So, in preparation to become a first time mum, I thought I'd borrow some baby related books to learn about what will happen, what to do, etc etc etc.

But why, oh why, these books have so many words?!

There, I said it. And this is coming from a book lover. Someone who loves to read non-fiction even.

One doesn't usually read baby-related books until you need to. Like, when you are pregnant. And when you are pregnant, you really just don't have any energy or attention span to read a book with many, many words... yes I know you want to back up what you said with history, background, research and all that. Usually I appreciate that, and in fact, would be leery if you don't.

But right now, I just want a summary. Just tell me what to do in bullet points. If it doesn't work then I'd move on to another method to see which one will suit the baby.

What happens to writing to your target audience?!

(Granted, not all books like like that, some are very THIN and CONCISE and SIMPLE and has PICTURES. But I admit I put a lot of books back on the shelves when the many, many words in it gave me a headache. Scared me even.)

I hope my reading will return to normal after baby is here. I know, I probably won't have as much time to read. But at least I hope I won't be too put off by books full of beautiful words anymore...

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review - The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton

The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton

I read the author's first book, Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School back in 2008, and really enjoyed it. I just finished my own MBA back in 2007 so it was interesting to read about the differences between Harvard, and my non-Harvard school. So when I found out he had a new book out I was curious about it - especially since I felt the same way as he did, why isn't sales part of the MBA program. I know salesperson (think car salesperson, insurance salesperson) usually get rep, but sales really is all around us, just that we usually associate sales with profit. But it really is all around us - including "selling yourself" when you are at a job interview.

Unlike his first book, this one is not a memoir. This is also not a how-to book either. This book includes stories of different top salesperson and what makes them successful. Some believe that they shouldn't sell ice to Eskimo ("we'll sell them jackets or heaters instead!"), while others have a different philosophy - e.g. one hiring manage asked the candidate what he'd spend the money on if they suddenly came across a large amount of money. If the candidate answered "paid off debt, saved it...", they won't get hired. If the candidate answered, "I'd go buy this luxury car" or something to that effect, then they'd be hired because they understand the the desire to spend the money. I found that reading these stories rather interesting as there really is no one-size-fits-all.

If I have one feedback, I wish the book is organized differently - Right now there are 8 chapters based on some broad categories. I wish each chapter is the story of a one sales person, so that each chapter is shorter, and easier to go back to for reference.

I am not going to rate this book for the time being - only because due to my pregnancy, I am not absorbing the information as much as I usually would, and I don't have as much attention span, so I will likely rate this lower than what this book is worth (it seems like even with fiction, I can only do YA right now... haven't touched an adult novel for almost 2 months, which is unheard of! And those were books of my favorite murder/mystery genre too!) But I know I won't be giving this book away anytime soon, I'd like to revisit this book in the future when my pregnancy brain is back to somewhat normal :)

Note -  I got a free copy of this book as part of the TLC Tour. Check out all the other reviews on this tour! :)

Thursday, April 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, April 13th: 800 CEO Read
Monday, April 16th: Mental Foodie
Tuesday, April 17th: Ed Roach: The Branding Guy
Wednesday, April 18th: Nanxi Liu
Thursday, April 19th: Business Growth Strategies
Tuesday, April 24th: Man of La Book
Wednesday, April 25th: Balance In Me
Thursday, April 26th: Less Ordinary Living
Wednesday, May 2nd: The Mom Renewal Project
TBD: Dave Stein’s Blog

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review - The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters by Jeffrey Zaslow


I photograph weddings (well I am on a sabbatical right now) so this book intrigued me as the book was set at this bridal shop in a little town in Michigan. I also had a long engagement (4 years) so I got to try on lots of dresses before the wedding :) I pretty much tried on every style there was, and in the end, I chose what I'd thought I'd choose right from the beginning - a simple bias dress with no beads or lace. Though I had a dramatic necklace and a long veil. The dress was easy to transport (rolled it and threw it in the suitcase from Australia to the US, as we had to get married within 90 days after I landed in the US, so no time for gown shopping then!) but it was very me.

As I was reading this book, it brought back memories of my own wedding dress shopping. And what it went through my mind as I prepared for that next chapter of my life - not just about getting married and being a wife, but also having to leave my family and friends behind to live in a new country.

The book was more than about buying a wedding dress. It talked about how Becker's Bridal Shop got started, and how this family business and been passed on from one generation to another; and how the society had changed regarding marriage and wedding dress and wedding dress shopping. What did not change was "the love we wish for our daughters" - as the subtitle suggested. The book really was a book of stories - of the current owner, and several brides who went dress shopping at Becker's - of how they found love, of what wanted in their life, and also of the bond between the brides and their family (mostly mothers, but there were some exceptions like grandmothers and daughters.)

Some of the stories were quite touching and I got a little teary. However, I am not sure if I like the way the book was organized - it talked about Person A (part 1), then Pearson B (part 1), Person C (part 1), Person D (part 1), Person A (part 2), Person C (part 2), Pearson A (part 3), Person B (part 2)... okay this wasn't the exact order, but you got the gist. So it was a bit confusing to go back and forth among the different persons. If I read this book fast (within a few days) I probably would have remembered everyone's stories a bit better. But since I am reading at a much slow pace right now, I read this over 3.5 weeks, and I forgot a lot of the back stories... The only nice thing about this structure was that at the end, it talked about each bride's wedding day so everything came together... The book also included some pictures of the brides and dresses, though I wish the pictures showed the dresses a bit better! :)

You might remember about 1.5 months ago, I found out that the author died in a tragic accident (see post here). It was kinda coincidental that this was his last book - this book had such an emphasis on the parent-daughter relationship. I am sad that he won't get to walk his three daughters down the aisle or get to see them grow or get to meet his future sons-in-laws or grandchildren. I couldn't even imagine how his daughters would feel - that their dad's last book was written to them. For them.

3.5 / 5 /

Note - I received a free copy of the book as part of the Crazy Book Tours.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I am I am pregnant when...

I was reading The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters by Jeffrey Zaslow while waiting for the bus this morning on my way to work.

One of the brides mentioned in the book (non-fiction) had a car accident, and her right hand/fingers was severely damaged. The description was no where near graphic - and for those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know I read a lot of murder/mystery books, and watch a lot of TV shows in this genre and usually the more gore the better.... I like CSI, Bones etc... and we can talk about diseases and medical procedures at dinner table... or watch these shows while we eat hamburgers. You get the drill.

Well, while I was reading about this poor bride this morning, I started feeling nauseous. I had to stop reading and took some deep breaths. If I didn't see the bus was coming, I probably would've walked back home and have hubby take me to work a bit later or something...

Sigh. I guess baby is telling me to read happier stuff instead. Or baby books. Who would have thought, food didn't make me puke, books did :p I hope after the baby is born I can be back to normal!

(No, I didn't have a problem while watching the Hunger Games. The violence was really a minimum - it was really more implied than shown - after all, it was rated PG13, and I saw a lot of younger kids there. Though my friend who lived overseas, she had to leave half way through... she said not to go in with a full stomach and sit too close to the screen. There were some jerky camera movements, but it was done for a reason and I was fine with that even if I was not a fan of the Blair Witch.)

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Movie Vs Book - The Hunger Games

I had enough energy to go watch the Hunger Games over the weekend with hubby :)

This post is going to INCLUDE SPOILERS - so please stay away if you don't want to know what happens! :)

Overall, I think they did a pretty good job - it stayed fairly true to the book, and the details they omitted were probably due to time constraint (it was already over 2 hours). I felt indifferent about the actors selection prior to the movie, unlike some real die hard fans, but I think they all did a wonderful job!

However, there were a few things I wish were different:
  • I wish we got to see Gale more. I like both Gale and Peeta, but maybe Gale just a tad more (probably because husband and I are best friends, so I like that between Gale and Katniss). I wish Catniss would perhaps think more about Gale during the Game - now I know it's hard to portray "thinking" in a movie, but I guess she could have whispered to herself or something? To show she missed him? I also wish Gale showed a bit more emotion while watching the Game - granted I get that he probably didn't want to show emotion in public, but I don't know if he looked heartbroken enough when Catniss and Peeta kissed. It doesn't have to be very dramatic - e.g. Catniss was shaking subtly when she talked to Cinna right before she went into the tube during the countdown, you could tell she was scared and nervous - I thought that was probably one of the best acting scene in the movie.
  • It also seemed like Catniss started liking Peeta all of a sudden - I get that she was vulnerable after Rue died and that she had just killed another human being, so she felt the need to find Peeta when the game-maker changed the rule of the Game to allow 2 winners from the same district. But it just seemed a bit abrupt.
  • For some reasons I thought Haymitch would be more rough looking and drunk lol
  • The relationship between Catniss and Cinna also seemed a bit too simplistic, that they just became BFF out of the blue. 
  • While the movie was fast paced, I found that there really wasn't a climax? Maybe because I knew what was going to happen? Don't get me wrong, I still cried at multiple spots of the movie, despite remembering the gist of the story (read it 2 years ago), but there wasn't a heart-stopping moment for me.

Anyway, hubby liked it too (he hadn't read the book, and had no idea what the movie was about. I had to reassure him that it was not a chick flick lol.) He thought the ending was a bit abrupt - but he didn't know that it was a trilogy  so he thought the ending was a bit unfinished for those not familiar with the books.

Yes I will still go watch the next one :)

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.