Category: Non-fiction

Project Management Essentials
December 9th, 2018 by diane92345

A brief look at Project Management Essentials using the sixth edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as a map of how to proceed.

Within project management, there are five processes:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

Included within the Initiating process is selecting the right project even before the project begins. Project scope, cost/budget, scheduling, staff selection and risk management are all determined during the planning stage. During Closing, lessons learned are notated so negative results will not be repeated and positives will.

Project Management Essentials has many great examples of how little things, like having a “change pot” to limit how many changes may be made, can save future project managers aggravation. It is also much easier to read than the more technical PMBOK. Project Management Essentials is a great resource for practical advice for how to run your next project and achieve the expected results in the least painful way. 4 stars!

Thanks to Maven House and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Station Blackout
December 7th, 2018 by diane92345

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake struck eastern Japan. It was followed by a 45 foot high tsunami. After the water left, miles of land were contaminated and 15,870 were confirmed dead. Station Blackout is the story of what happened within the two nuclear plants most impacted by the disaster.

Station Blackout is four tales smashed together. It is an autobiography of the author’s career working with nuclear energy. It is a memoir of the author’s time in Japan immediately following the tsunami. It is an almost minute-by-minute account of what happened during the earthquake, the subsequent tsunami and the mitigation efforts that were made. Finally, it is a story of four leaders, how their leadership had to flex with the changing conditions, and how being calm might have prevented an even larger disaster.

The first two tales were boring compared to the last two. They seemed in the book more as filler than anything else. However, the last two stories were spectacular. They read like a Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler adventure tale. The reader is placed in the seat of the leaders of the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini plants. Would you have the strength to destroy the reactor even though your company’s leader as well as your nation’s government is telling you not to do it? Even if it could overt a nuclear meltdown and subsequent nuclear fallout for miles around the plant? The 1980s movie China Syndrome had a frantic Jack Lemmon trying to prevent the exact same thing in America. The scariest part is that this story is real!

Even though Station Blackout is non-fiction, it is a great choice for thriller readers. Just skim the autobiographical details and don’t read the Introduction if you don’t already know details about what happened. 4 stars!

Thanks to Radius Book Group and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Learn to Draw Star Wars Villains
November 30th, 2018 by diane92345

Using just two graphite pencils, two types of erasers, drawing paper, and this book, you can Learn to Draw Star Wars Villains.

After a brief look at tools and techniques, the book dives into a step-by-step approach of drawing eleven Star Wars villains. Here is a complete list of those shown:

  • Darth Maul
  • General Grevious
  • Count Dooku
  • Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
  • Darth Vader
  • Bib Fortuna
  • Jabba the Hutt
  • Boba Fett
  • Kylo Ren
  • Captain Phasma
  • Supreme Leader Snoke

There are also closer looks at how to draw lightsabers and trooper helmets, drawing faces behind masks, and the differences between Boba and Jango Fett. How I wish I had read the helmet section before buying my then-teenage daughter a Storm Trooper helmet online. When it arrived, she started crying and shouted that it was a clone warrior helmet. I said but look it has the mouth scoops. I now know that it was a Phase II clone helmet. At the time, I was thinking of the Phase I clone helmet. Heavy sigh…

The steps for each drawing start with simple circles and gradually add details and texture until the finished picture emerges. There are excellent details about how to make fabrics look worn and achieve the right texture depending on the type of material. It also shows the reader how to draw leather and metallic parts accurately.

Learn to Draw Star Wars Villains is a great gift choice for the artist or Star Wars fan in your life. It doesn’t assume any pre-existing level of drawing skill. For younger artists, copying the rough outline would also work. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Walter Foster, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Willful Child: the Search for Spark
November 28th, 2018 by diane92345

If you think the show The Orville doesn’t take its homage far enough, you will enjoy Willful Child: The Search for Spark.

Captain Haddrick of the starship Willful Child is a conceited and not too smart wannabe ladies’ man. His crew consists of various stereotypes. He also has an incredibly sarcastic incorporeal AI named Tammy constantly haranguing him. His only outlet is frivolously killing entire alien races. When one, from an alien bar on a suspiciously familiar desert planet, decides to get revenge using free porn and cute cat videos, Captain Haddrick and, mostly, the female dog lovers of his crew have to fight back.

Willful Child: The Search for Spark is an over-the-top spoof of the extremely positive Star Trek and somewhat grim Star Wars worldviews. The mash-up works. Somewhere between all the jokes, homages to individual scenes, and pure human stupidity is an interesting plot. While this can be read as a standalone, I think it would be less confusing at the beginning if I had read either of the two previous books. 3 stars for those new to the series like me.

Thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , , ,

Gluten Free Soul Pilot
November 27th, 2018 by diane92345

Gluten Free Soul Pilot is a motivational book on how to live a healthy and joyful life.

Using a flight plan as an analogy, the book instructs you how to create a plan to health. It uses four principles: knowledge, strength, wisdom and drag. You decide your health goals and they don’t have to solely be gluten-free. Exercise and eating less junk food are highlighted too. There also over thirty recipes included but I wish they had all had a picture and nutritional information.

After being gluten-free through two Thanksgiving holidays, I needed a pep talk to prevent me from feeling sorry for myself. No rolls, stuffing, gravy or pie for me. I ate dry turkey and buttery mashed potatoes with my cranberry sauce. Even the green bean casserole has wheat in the soup and the onion topping and so was a non-starter. Also, I frequently have friends asking me if they should go gluten-free to lose weight. I always tell them without dire consequences, like death or diarrhea, I doubt anyone would stay gluten-free for long.

However, Gluten Free Soul Pilot brightened my Thanksgiving weekend. If I choose to be gluten-free, I might as well go all in and eat more healthy choices like fruit and vegetables. Then it feels like my decision and not some horrible misfortune from the universe—the difference as the book puts it from victim to victor.

Gluten Free Soul Pilot is an excellent book to inspire your movement to more healthy living. It would be a great gift to anyone on a restricted diet, not just gluten-free, during the stressful holiday season. 4 stars!

27Thanks to the publisher, Northcoast Post, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Delicate Crochet
November 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Delicate Crochet uses a lightweight yarn (#3 or below) to create almost a lace effect in the twenty-three projects described.

The projects include four cardigans, two pullover sweaters, one vest, one poncho, one summer top, one skirt, one necklace and a pair of fingerless gloves. There are also four wraps, three shawls, one cowl, and three scarves. All have extensive pictures and schematics of both the size and the stitches used to make the garment. Sizes extend from extra-small to extra-large depending on the pattern. The techniques vary from regular crochet to broomstick lace to Tunisian crochet.

If you like to crochet, Delicate Crochet is perfect. It has new ideas for how to modernize the crochet look to be more polished. It has excellent instructions and illustrations. 4 stars!

Thanks to Stackpole Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Better Balance for Life
November 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

Balance only turns on when a person is standing. In the modern world of smart phones and Uber, people mostly sit. Without regular practice, balance is lost. Better Balance for Life details easy exercises to be done while also doing daily tasks that will prevent this decline in balance.

With literally no time spent, the exercises in this book will prevent falls both now and in later life. Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth and curve like a rainbow while waiting for an elevator are just two of the imaginative exercises here. The exercises begin simply and get progressively more difficult. Four exercises are added each week. Most of the exercises sound deceptively easy but are somewhat challenging like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. However, all are fun.

Better Balance for Life is an enjoyably way to prevent breaking a hip when older. It would make a great gift for a grandfather or an elderly aunt. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, The Experiment, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

How to Get Rid of a President
November 18th, 2018 by diane92345

“The Executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a monarchy.” –Benjamin Franklin.

How to Get Rid of a President describes the true stories of how former Presidents were removed from office.

Ben didn’t need to worry as there are many ways to remove an unpopular President from office. Here are the eight explored in the book:

  1. Rejected by the party in the next election
  2. Undermined by others
  3. Dismissed preemptively
  4. Displaced by death
  5. Taken out by force
  6. Declared unable to serve
  7. Impeached and removed
  8. Shoved aside at the polls

How to Get Rid of a President Is a dense read chock full of examples of bad Presidents and their comeuppance. If you believe Trump is bad, you should read the story of Andrew Johnson, who is in most of the chapters as both parties tried desperately to get him out of the oval office. Nixon’s own staffers set a precedent of ignoring his often crazy or drunken executive orders. Despite democrats’ frequent calling for it to be used, impeaching a President is difficult to do and has never led to a sitting President’s removal.

This book is an important look into presidential politics. It is recommended for history buffs but also anyone unhappy with our current President. The stories here make him and even Hillary, if she had won, look good by comparison. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, PublicAffairs, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings
November 16th, 2018 by diane92345

The title, How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings, sounds intimidating. However, everyone has project planning meetings in their everyday life. Are you planning a Christmas party? Or a vacation? Or how to clean your house?

Your stakeholders are your family members. Your project scope for house cleaning may include only the public areas—not individual bedrooms—and not the garage. You have to create a schedule so procrastination doesn’t force your team to clean the entire house in an hour. You may incur some costs by purchasing extra cleaning supplies or renting a rug cleaner. Finally, as Project Manager, you must verify that tasks are completed on time. If not, a reallocation of resources (your children) may be necessary.

How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings is a comprehensive look at how to run project meetings. The meeting goblins section is invaluable to silence grumblers, side-talkers and truly hostile attendees. The appendix contains a brief rundown of the entire project management process. It also describes the different certifications that are available, has brainstorming instructions and includes meeting war stories. Overall, it is an excellent book for those tasked with leading project meetings at work or elsewhere. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Maven House, and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Insomnia
November 16th, 2018 by diane92345

Stream-of-consciousness on the topic of Insomnia.

Most people, like me, occasionally have trouble sleeping. When lying awake in bed, strange and varied thoughts run willy-nilly through your brain. If those thoughts were put on paper, it would be this book. It contains science, art, philosophy and even mythology related to the sleeping process. Plus it’s meta fun to read about insomnia while suffering from it. However, there is no true conclusion. It’s as if the author finally fell asleep herself. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Catapult, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

November 15th, 2018 by diane92345

It will be the best of times. It will be the worst of times. How will your life change when there is No One at the Wheel?

“Most transportation experts say that by 2075 driven cars will be completely replaced…By 2035, we may find that the majority of driving miles are completed by machines, not humans.”

In 2018, 1.3 million people are projected to die in road crashes with 50 million more injured. The need for a solution is clear. Autonomous vehicles are coming. Every major automobile company has one in development.

Will the resulting society be a utopia of staring at your phone continuously while your car drives you to work with no risk of accidents? Or will it cause massive disruption in the economy and overcrowded roadways? What will the one out of seven US residents who work in transportation do for a living? How will they be retrained and who will fund it? The decisions made now will determine our later fate.

No One at the Wheel shares the pros and cons of this new technological development. By making analogies to the development of the original cars, the author paints a dim view of the future of driven cars—as bleak as that of a horse and carriage in 1940.

I found both the history of cars and the potential of autonomous vehicles fascinating. But I’m still unsure what I can do personally to ensure a rosy outcome. No One at the Wheel is recommended for futurists and historians in equal measure. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, PublicAffairs, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

All New Square Foot Gardening
November 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Whether you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, eat more veggies or prepare for the zombie apocalypse, the All New Square Foot Gardening is the answer.

All New Square Foot Gardening lists ten core principles of this innovative gardening method.

  1. Plant densely
  2. Grow up (not out)
  3. Use Mel’s Mix as soil—not garden soil
  4. Garden close to your home
  5. Grow shallow
  6. Don’t fertilize
  7. Save space with small walk spaces between the garden boxes
  8. Don’t use seeds only to cull them later—only plant what you will eat
  9. Plant in squares
  10. Rotate your crops even during the same season

The book explains how to plan your new garden. It also shows how to build or buy the garden boxes and how to make the soil to put within them. The best part is the section at the end listing a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. Within each listing is everything needed to plant, grow, and harvest that crop. It also includes how many seeds or transplants to plant per square, common problems and how to cook each crop.

This is the third edition of this book. The basic idea of gardening in one foot squares instead of rows remains the same. However, the layout, organization and full-color pictures make this edition much easier to follow to achieve your dream garden. I have used the two previous editions to create some spectacular gardens in extremely small apartment back yards so I can personally attest that this gardening style works as advertised. 5 stars!

Thanks to Cold Springs Press/Quarto Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

100+ iPhone/iPad Tricks You Can Do Right Now
November 12th, 2018 by diane92345

All readers will find a few gems within 100+ iPhone/iPad Tricks You Can Do Right Now.

As phones get more complicated, it gets harder and harder to find all the tasks they are capable of doing. Strangely enough, nothing comes with a manual anymore (not that I would read it), just when it is increasingly required to understand that computer in your hand. If there are millennials and younger reading this review, I know that YouTube is the new manual. However, you have decades of more time to waste watching people begging for subscribers than I do. Time is short! This book will take all of two minutes to find what you want in the index and follow the clear and illustrated instructions to set it up on your iPhone.

Brimming with useful info, it is a given that while many tips will be familiar, many more will inspire an a-ha moment. While many tips are how to set up your iPhone features, there also some for companion apps like Safari, Hiya, Maps, Uber and Waze.

Who doesn’t want Siri to have an Irish accent (at least on St. Patrick’s Day)? 100+ iPhone/iPad Tricks You Can Do Right Now is the perfect gift for the iPhone user in your life. The clear instructions and illustrations plus logical organization make it a great resource. 4 stars!

Thanks to iWorkshop Academy Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Secret Language of Cats
November 10th, 2018 by diane92345

With over 95.5 million domestic cats in the US alone, there is a real need for cat owners to learn the Secret Language of Cats.

The author is a cat-lover with five cats of her own. She is also a phonetician at a Swedish university. This gives her the exact skills necessary to determine what cats are saying. There are three different types of cat sounds: murmurs like purrs and trilling, meows, and defensive sounds such as growling and snarling. The book provides a look at what each sound means by looking at when it is used by real cats.

If you love and own cats, the Secret Language of Cats verifies what you already thought your cat was saying. It is a good weapon against a spouse or friend that doubts your interpretation of your cat’s sounds.

The book would be a perfect gift for the cat fancier in your life. Though the phonetic symbols were somewhat confusing, the author provided a website, meowsic.info, that has videos of the author’s cats making the sounds. It is fun to see if the interpretations in the book match what you see with your own furry children. 3 stars.

Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies
November 8th, 2018 by diane92345

Have you ever wondered about the engine under the hood of your favorite movie or television show? If so, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is a comprehensive resource you need to read.

Beginning with the screenplay, this book has a chapter about each part of the movie making process. Other chapters focus on acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound/music and directing. There is also a short chapter about documentaries in the appendix.

Each of the chapters offer an in-depth look at the work of the providers of the skill. The author defines some industry terms. There are fascinating stories from the past. Who knew the first time the title of production designer was used was for Gone with the Wind? Names of actors and movies are given as both good and bad examples of the skill being studied. Finally, at the end of each chapter is a list of recommended movies to watch to see the craft at its highest level.

Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is enchanting. It’s perfect for movie fans who want to see the multiple skills necessary to make a great movie. I loved it! 5 stars.

Thanks to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

What Would Cleopatra Do?
November 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Wondering how to deal with an annoying baby brother? Think What Would Cleopatra Do? 18-year-old Cleopatra married her 12-year-old brother so she could rule Egypt. Once her subjects got used to the idea, she basically erased her brother’s name on all historical and legal documents and took all the power for herself.

While that example might be a bit extreme, this book has many good examples to share. Using the real life stories of fifty famous woman to illustrate maxims on how to deal with everyday issues is an outstanding idea. The issues vary from facing failure to not being hot to learning your worth.

What Would Cleopatra Do? is an empowering read for young girls especially pre-teens just beginning their life journey. The lessons taught here—of loving yourself and not letting barriers stop your dreams—are powerful messages. The method of using famous historic women to display these values is smart and entertaining. Most of the stories are short at around five pages. The book is recommended for young girls and others needing a boost in our tumultuous world. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Scribner, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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