Book review: The Psychopath Whisperer (nonfiction)

I finished The Psychopath Whisperer by Kent A. Kiehl in two days.  In fact, when I went to post my review, I couldn’t because Blogging for Books said that I had to wait at least 5 days after downloading the ebook.

The book is very well written.  Dr. Kiehl has a nice balance between writing in lay terms so that the average person could understand his research and explaining just enough so as to not insult readers.  It was evident that he has written and published prolifically.

While many of the identifying symptoms of psychopaths aren’t shocking (narcissism, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, callousness, lack of empathy, etc.), the author’s explanation how to identify a psychopath using the Hare Psychopaths Checklist was novel to me.  He explained the reasoning behind why he gave certain psychopaths their scores on the checklist.  I especially enjoyed the case studies (e.g. Wilkes-Booth vs. Gautier) and the explanations of his research and findings.  I loved that he included some actual MRIs.

The author’s passion for learning about psychopathy was contagious.  I was motivated enough to look up some of his articles in scientific journals after reading this book.  My friends/family might be sick of hearing me talk about psychopathy.

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books

Book Review: Knockout Knits

I was very excited about Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin and really wanted to like it.  I wouldn’t call myself a good knitter by any means, but I have knit scarves, hats, mittens, and some blankets so I’m not a total novice either.  This book is for people who are advanced knitters.  The simplest patterns are for “advanced beginners” and they’re for things that I didn’t want to make like cuffs.

There is a glossary at the back of the book that describes what all the abbreviations mean and some of them had a picture to go with the description, but I didn’t find the images very helpful.  There was at most 1 image per description whereas many of the descriptions had more than 1 step.  Also, some of the pictures didn’t seem accurate.  For example, the m1R (Make 1 Right) is described as “With the left-hand needle tip lift a strand between the needles from back to front, knit the lifted loop through the front.  This creates a right-leaning increase.”  The picture, however, shows the strange going from front to back.  Even something as simple as a slip stitch required detailed instructions.  I read the instructions for the I-Cord 4 times and still don’t get it.  The redeeming feature is that she has a website with videos and there are little symbols next to the instructions that have videos posted on the website.  Personally, I want my knitting books to tell me what I need to know without having to switch between different mediums.  Who is going to go constantly from a book to a computer or tablet while trying to knit?

The knit items look really cute (I’m saying this based on the pictures, obviously I didn’t make any of them).  If anyone wants to make me one of the lovely lace shawls or the cloche hat, I would love it.

I went back and forth about how to rank this book.  Maybe I’m just not good at deciphering all the knitting instructions …  Is it me or is the book truly confusing?  Even if we take the part about the instructions out of the equation, I think that a knitting book should have patterns that cover more of a variety of difficulties.  Also, the book doesn’t seem very organized.  It’s split up into 3 sections: the first is called wrapped stitches at play, the second is for lace and the third involves beads.  However, within the sections, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the patterns.  The section with beads starts with an advanced beginner pattern then goes to several intermediate level patterns before returning to an advanced beginner pattern again.

There should be something on the cover or in the description on the dust jacket about how this is a book for proficient knitters.  There also needs to be more pictures to cover the various steps in the instructions.  I preferred the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting book .. and for people who are no longer beginners, they have a Go Beyond the Basics book.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Cookbook review: Asian Pickles

When I go to a Korean restaurant, the favorite part of my meal has always been all the pickled accompaniments.  Now, I can make some of them at home.  Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon is a collection of recipes for, just as the name suggest, Asian pickles.

The book is divided into sections for Japan, Korea, China, India, and Southeast Asia.  Personally, I would have considered all of those countries to be be part of Southeast Asia, except maybe India.  A quick look at the author’s resources section shows that the southeast Asia portion consists of recipes from Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Fair enough.  Each of the sections comes with an intro about when and how to serve the pickles and “basics” of the pickles for that region.  I find that Asian pickles go well with just about any dish .. or by themselves.  I like the pickles with a meat dish because they cut the richness of the meat with their acidity.  Sometimes, I eat plain rice with the pickled dishes (kimchi, pickled bean sprouts, hot pickled pineapple).

Much as I love Asian pickles, I had to pass on some of the recipes.  There are some recipes with ingredients that were unfamiliar to me – like shiso leaves and koji rice.  I couldn’t find them in the Asian stores that I visited so I skipped those recipes.  I also passed on the squid kimchi.  The squid gets cured in the brine, but the smell from raw squid … yech.  I know that many Asian pickles smell because they’re fermented and some of the call for fish sauce, but I have limits for what my olfactory cells can handle.

Luckily, there were plenty of recipes that were easy to follow, required easily found ingredients, and tasted great.    I liked the daikon and carrot pickle (the stuff found on Vietnamese banh mi), the pickled chiles with lime (great way to use up those jalapenos from the garden), pickled shallots, and marinated bean sprouts.  I think that the best part of these recipes is that almost all of them don’t stand up to canning so you don’t need to bother with all the canning equipment.  Of course, that also means that their shelf life is less.

This is a great book for people who love Asian pickles.  Warning: you will run out of space in your fridge.

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Edit: Here is a picture of carrots & daikon.

carrots and daikon