Saturday, February 16, 2013

Green book review - The Gringo: A Memoir by J. Grigsby Crawford

Today we'd like to introduce you with a great book that has been called a "must read" by comedian Chevy Chase, had excerpts featured in the Huffington Post, and earned the writer an appearance on CBS News with special correspondent Jeff Glor.

Our book for today is The Gringo: A Memoir by J. Grigsby Crawford.

What this book is about?

Within weeks of arriving as a volunteer in a remote corner of South America, Crawford got a lot more than he bargained for: a narrow escape from a kidnapping plot hatched by the people he was sent there to help. Then things only got stranger.

In his quest to find adventure, Crawford undertook a savage journey of danger, drugs, sex, and alarming illness. What resulted is The Gringo: one part literary tale of two lonely years in the Amazon jungle and one part gonzo-journalism account of life in the Peace Corps, an agency wandering aimlessly through the twenty-first century. Filled with sharp humor and eye-opening observations about the human condition, this is an unforgettable story that grabs the reader and doesn't let go.

Our review:

I had to digest J. Gigsby Crawford's book titled The Gringo: A Memoir. Not because it wasn’t compelling and quite an interesting read, but for several reasons. The author’s telling is very straightforward with a sarcastic humor that I quite enjoy, and the book moves along nicely because of it, but in doing so, it seems to lacks emotion and feeling. Even though you know what the reader would feel while going through some of the events within this book, the book itself feels a bit empty. I also found it be a bit crude in places. I understand it’s a memoir and that the author is telling it how it was, but it felt a bit vulgar at times. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m female. Regardless, I was a bit taken aback now and then. And lastly, I found it a bit redundant. For example, from what I read, Mr. Crawford had abysmal training with the Peace Corps before being sent out on site. He goes on and on about it through the book. I got it, training was bad, moving on.

Now even with all that said, I found the author’s account of his two years as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Ecuador to be very interesting and very honest in its telling. He painted quite the picture of life as a white man in the underdeveloped country of Ecuador. I found this Memoir to be compelling. I read it very quickly as I didn’t want to put it down. When someone called it a brutal telling, that is quite the accurate description. I was taken with the events of this author’s life over the course of two plus years. I commend him for his dedication even if at times that dedication may have caused him more harm that good.

You can purchase the book on


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Green book review: The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen by Talya Lutzker

Today we'd like to introduce you with another great green book published by Book Publishing Co. This book takes place in the kitchen and is a great way to help get you through snow storms, like the one we have right now on the East Coast! If you don't have it with you right now, get it in time for the next storm :)

Our book for today is The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen Finding Harmony Through Food By Talya Lutzker.

What this book is about?

The Ayurveda Vegan Kitchen offers people the opportunity to follow an Ayuvedic diet without the use animal products. Ayurveda is a holistic healing system developed in ancient India to increase an understanding of the human body, mind, and spirit. It organizes the elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth into three body types, or doshas. Although each person is unique, one of these doshas will predominate their constitution and will need to be balanced on a regular basis. 

Dairy products are important foods in traditional Ayurveda; however, for every milk-based food that Ayurvedic healers revere, there is an equally effective whole-food, vegan alternative. Following the same nutritional principles as traditional Ayurveda, Talya created over 120 delicious recipes that provide healing flavors and harmony to the mind and spirit. Easy-to-follow symbols on each recipe page show how the unique chemistry of that recipe can be used to balance the body'’s constitution. 

Since a healthy digestive system is at the core of ayurvedic medicine, these recipes will keep you on track and in good health.

Our review:

The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen was a very new idea for me as a reader. Although I am not much of a meat person, I am a milk, cheese, and honey person. With that in mind, I still found the book to be packed full of information. It also has an outline that is very descriptive, helpful, as well as surprisingly insightful. The Ayurvedic system is about bringing balance to yourself, both your mind and your body through your diet. It explains the “Dosha” and then provides recipes to fit your personal needs. The author did a good job of keeping the informative side of the book fun and interesting and not overwhelming and boring. I give high praise in that regard as that is not an easy feat. 

As to the recipes, I obviously didn’t get to go through the entire book and try them all out. Instead I picked three that looked like they would work for me. The recipes themselves were very easy to follow, making the meal easy to prepare if you have the right ingredients. However, that could be a real issue for some people depending on your city and where you live. Thankfully I happen to have an organic market literally right next door. Again however, even with a full grocery full of organic and whole foods, I still had trouble finding some of the items I needed.

The recipes themselves, cooked up nicely, and looked great, even if I do say so myself. The taste, two of the three were actually pretty good. One though, was absolute gak. That is not to say the recipe is bad, but apparently I am not a mung bean fan. Who knew?

All in all I would recommend this book for anyone that is interested in the Ayurvedic system. It’s easy to read and follow, includes loads of great information, along with informative recipes that are easy to prepare from what I was able to try.

You can purchase the book on