Category: Non-fiction

Essential Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook
June 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

Seventy-five yummy recipes are included in Essential Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook.

I’ve had an air fryer for years that I have used solely for potato and carrot fries. However, the recipes in this cookbook might make me leave the air fryer on the counter. There is something here for all tastes.

Forty-six breakfasts, sides, and entrees including:

  • Blueberry breakfast cobbler
  • Donut holes
  • Banana chia bread
  • Mung bean “quiches”
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Buffalo cauliflower
  • Pakoras (fritters)
  • Spring rolls
  • Indian wrap
  • Lasagna
  • BBQ jackfruit nachos
  • Chimichangas
  • Taquitos
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Tamale pie
  • Asian bowl
  • Curry bowl

There are three recipes for fried tofu, four for sauces, one each for tempeh and chutney. The sauces and the chutney are not cooked with the air fryer but go well with other recipes presented here.

Instructions for using an air fryer are included. A convenient chart with vegan cooking instructions including cooking times and temperatures for common fruits and vegetables are provided too.

But don’t forget dessert! The twelve scrumptious recipes include:

  • Chocolate cake
  • Chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies
  • Caramelized apples
  • Apple or strawberry puffs
  • Raspberry lemon streusel cake
  • Pineapple upside-down cake
  • Blackberry peach cobbler

The Essential Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook is the perfect cookbook for the newly vegan or gluten-free cook, and/or owners of an air fryer. Many of the recipes are ideal for parties and office potlucks too. The only negative is that there is not a picture for every recipe. Other than that, it clearly deserves 5 stars!

Thanks to Rockridge Press/Callisto Media and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Kingdom of Lies
June 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Kingdom of Lies is an eye-opening look into the shadowy world of cyber hacking. However, much of the story has already been told by other media.

Individual stories of hacking make for compelling reading. The stories are told from both the criminal and victim’s point-of-view. However, they never lead into a real conclusion. Also, while labeled as true stories, so many details were changed that is impossible to know what is true and what is fiction.

I was so excited to read this book. I love reading about both black and white hat hackers. Perhaps that is the reason this book didn’t work for me. This book didn’t go into enough detail for me. Each of the stories could have been expanded into their own full-blown books with beginnings, middles, and endings. Instead the stories within Kingdom of Lies, and even the entire book, just stopped with no conclusions drawn.

I realize the author is a journalist and so used to the inverted pyramid of most important to least important fact. However, none of the stories were related to some overall lesson or plot point. I read a lot of non-fiction and that is the point of most of it. Kingdom of Lies is just a slice of individual or company’s life. Also, there are many television shows and online articles that would be a better way to get the same information that can be gleaned from this book. Overall, I can’t give Kingdom of Lies more than 2.5 stars.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

How to Raise Goats
June 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Who doesn’t want a pet who has “the friendliness of dogs with the intelligence of cats”? In How to Raise Goats, current and future goat owners will find answers to all their goat-related questions.

From how to select your breed to showing your goat, this book has something for every goat enthusiast. The goat breeds are separated by goal. There are dairy, fiber, and meat goats. Some, especially wethers or castrated males, make good pets. You can train goats with commands of stop, come, and up like dogs. Plus goats love to play and can run obstacle courses in your yard.

Some of the negatives of goat care are dealing with horns in a humane way. The description of disbudding, or burning them off, was intense to read so I can’t imagine doing it to my pet. Even the author states that “neutering isn’t a pleasant task”, which seems like an understatement. Hopefully, culling only applies to goat farms and not pets.

In How to Raise Goats, the author is great at explaining how to save money while raising goats by using your Do-It-Yourself skills. It also has a section on how to kill meat goats for various religious holidays, how to sell the hair from fiber goats, and how to store goat milk. There is an extensive section on how to prevent disease and how to treat any illnesses that occur. If you want to start a goat farm, this book should be on your bookcase. 4 stars!

Thanks to Voyageur Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with:

Art of Mindful Reading
June 13th, 2019 by diane92345

The Art of Mindful Reading is a beautiful book that celebrates readers.

When reading, do you picture every scene in your head? You are a visual reader. If you hear the words you are reading silently in your head, you are a dynamic reader. If you walk, highlight passages, or fidget when reading, you are a kinesthetic reader. The author includes tips to increase the pleasure of reading for every reading type.

Who knew that there was a profession called bibliotherapist, which the author of Art of Mindful Reading calls herself? The author encourages mindfulness, or living every moment fully, while reading. Though this is a short book, there are many creative ideas to increase your reading pleasure. For example, reading can be childlike by moving reading to unusual places perhaps in a specially created nook either inside or out of your house. I don’t think this book will make your Instagram-addicted daughter want to read books but it is a great gift for someone who already enjoys reading. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Leaping Hare Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with:

How to Become a Federal Criminal
June 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Everyone has heard of the country club lifestyle enjoyed by the rich prisoners at Club Fed, or federal prison. Whether you are just tired of your 9 to 5 life or trying to avoid a vindictive ex-spouse, sometimes you just want to know How to Become a Federal Criminal.

From literally killing a mockingbird to offering to barter for a flamingo, federal law has some strange laws on the books. Some are profit-making activities for the government. The US seizes billions of dollars each year from foreign nationalists traveling to the US with more than $10,000 who fail to complete the proper form. A little more enforcement of this law could make President Trump’s border wall a reality. Some are just silly like the prohibition of dressing like a mail carrier on Halloween (or any day). Not the first choice of costume with so many superhero movies out now though it does add a frission of fear knowing it is illegal. And don’t get me started on the legal issues with margarine…

How to Become a Federal Criminal appears to be fairly easy and reading about it is entertaining. With three square meals, room, and board, it sounds like I have a new retirement plan that doesn’t involve a 401(k)! If you like to reflect on life’s absurdities, this is the perfect book for you. With the lack of legislation during Trump’s term so far, it can even be used by him to support his claim to be the best president ever. At least his congress hasn’t created a law making it illegal to create a wine bottle label that insults another wine. 4 stars!

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Last Pirate of New York
June 6th, 2019 by diane92345

Albert Hicks was both the Last Pirate of New York and its first gangster in this amazingly true story set in 1860 New York City.

A ghost ship was found drifting near NYC harbor. Its crew of four were missing. However, traces of them were left behind. Copious blood, chunks of blond hair, and several severed fingers were found on board along with signs of a struggle in the captain’s quarters. The police were called in to investigate.

The Last Pirate of New York reads like an episode of Law & Order. First, a crime is committed. Then, the police investigate and arrest a suspect. Finally, the courts try the suspect for the crime. But it is much more difficult to solve a crime in the large and wild NYC with no computers, forensic tests, or DNA. Plus the US Civil War is heating up stretching an already thin police force’s ability to investigate.

This book is highly recommended for fans of Gangs of New York as the location and time period are comparable. Also, this true tale would be an excellent reference for anyone writing a historical mystery in the same environment. Plus, for any reader, it is an enjoyable Columbo type mystery of how the police catch a clever criminal. 4 stars!

Thanks to Spiegel & Grau and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Grow Your Own Herbs
June 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

For less than the price of one packet of fresh herbs or small jar of dried, you can have an entire year of them if you Grow Your Own Herbs.

A one-stop shop for all aspects of growing, storing, and using herbs. The book includes basic gardening skills, preserving methods, basic recipes such as butters and pastes, and herb-specific information. Some of the herbs described here can be grown on a sunny window while others grow into fifty foot trees.

The forty plus herbs included will be plenty for most households. All the common herbs like basil, oregano and cilantro are included. Here is the complete list.

Anise hyssop Mexican oregano
Basil Mexican tarragon
Bay laurel Mint
Black cumin Monarda
Calendula Nasturtium
Chervil Oregano
Chives Parsley
Cilantro Roman chamomile
Dill Rosemary
Fennel Saffron
French tarragon Sage
Garlic Salad burnet
German chamomile Scented geranium
Horseradish Sorrel
Lavender Stevia
Leaf celery Summer savory
Lemon balm Sweet marjoram
Lemongrass Thyme
Lemon verbena Viola
Lovage Winter savory

Each herb’s section includes at least one photo; growth zones; fully grown size; soil and watering requirements; planting, cultivation, harvesting and preserving methods; differences between variants; and tasting and cooking tips.

If you like herbs and want the freshest possible or to save money off store bought herbs, Grow Your Own Herbs is a great choice. 4 stars!

Thanks to Timber Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up
May 11th, 2019 by diane92345

The next time you upgrade a perfectly good phone because of a rebate that is denied two months later, don’t feel bad. Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up will introduce you to much worse human errors in judgment.

We celebrated when our hunter-gatherer ancestors started farming. Wrong! That practice started class divisiveness and wars over land.

We romanticized the middle-class Shakespeare fan who brought Henry IV’s starlings to New York City. Wrong! The starlings ate our crops and spread disease like salmonella coast to coast. The starlings’ kinsfolk also killed 62 air travelers in 1960 while forcing a plane to crash land.

There are many more examples of unintended consequences here. If you enjoy irony, Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up is a gem. It also explains history with an eye to the human factor. Disneyland’s Cinderella’s castle is based on a Bavarian castle created by theatrical set designers at Mad King (really just homosexual) Ludwig’s behest as a tourist attraction. It is ironic that it worked for current and olden day Bavarian sightseers but also for copycat Disney. Killing Ludwig after he had built only three castles was the gaffe here.

Other reviewers characterize this book as funny and depressing. However, I think it is empowering knowing that everyone makes mistakes. 4 stars!

Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Secret Agent Brainteasers
May 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Secret Agent Brainteasers contains over 100 puzzles in a variety of types from logic and wordplay to algebra and geometry. The chapter introductions link the puzzles to skills needed by secret agents as illustrated with true stories from the British intelligence community from Victorian times through today.

I enjoyed the chapter introductions and could see the relevance of the puzzles to actual secret agent skills. The puzzles were great fun or deeply frustrating depending on their difficulty.

There are a couple of warnings. Since many puzzle answers involve words, the use of British spelling (i.e., armour vs. armor) may confuse non-Britons. Some of the puzzles involve a map or board and so are difficult to play on a kindle or tablet. An actual physical book (remember those?) will allow for working out the answers with a pencil (and probably an eraser) more easily.

Overall, Secret Agent Brainteasers will provide many hours of fun where you can avoid social media and the intrusive light of mobile devices. 4 stars!

Thanks to Quercus and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Castle on Sunset
May 9th, 2019 by diane92345

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Castle on Sunset is not salacious enough. When the topic is the famous Hollywood hotel, the Chateau Marmont, you expect some racy gossip. But if so, you will be sadly disappointed as most of the celebrity stories have been widely told before.

The Chateau was built at the height of 1920s optimism as a homage to a French royal castle. It was finished right before the market crash and the depression began.

The well-researched history of the many owners of the Chateau and its frequent rebranding is the best part of this book. Unfortunately, I was looking for spicy gossip, which is mostly absent. The Castle on Sunset is a serious history. If you are looking for that, you will enjoy this book. However, I wanted more original scoops on celebrities’ lives. 3 stars.

Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Me, Myself & Ideas
May 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Whether you are trying to think up the perfect plot for your great American novel, create a new business, or energize an existing business with a new product or marketing plan, Me, Myself & Ideas can help.

Brainstorming is usually done in a group. But what if there is only you in the room? The authors have modified traditional brainstorming ideas so they can be performed by one person. They begin with breakouts and icebreakers to warm up your brain. But the meat of the book is in the brainstorming exercises themselves. Divided into methods using art, English, drama, and science as their muse, it is likely that at least one or two types will work for each reader.

There is nothing really new presented here. However, the style and humor in the book are a welcome addition to the surprisingly dry academic books on creativity. Years ago, I took a Master’s level Creativity Class that was my favorite MBA course. It presented these same ideas (i.e., mind maps and new ways of seeing old ideas). These methods work!

If you want to up your creativity with some pizazz, Me, Myself & Ideas is a good way to do it. Just a head’s up, I wouldn’t read this book from front to back. Stop and do some of the ideas as you read. 4 stars!

Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Ultimate Gluten-free Dairy-free Collection
April 26th, 2019 by diane92345

The Ultimate Gluten-free Dairy-free Collection is a huge assortment of both gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. Note that each recipe is both. They may also be nut, soy, and egg free as well as vegetarian and vegan.

The recipes look both tasty and gorgeous. However, most take at least an hour to prepare and contain expensive gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients. If you are only avoiding one ingredient, there are better cookbooks available. However, the Ultimate Gluten-free Dairy-free Collection is a boon for those avoiding both.

Price and/or time prevented me from trying any of these recipes (though the Tomato Tart looked particular yummy). The more than 200 recipes are categorized by meal (breakfast, lunch, weeknight dinner) and type (side dishes and desserts). There is a comprehensive index. But it is not sorted by diet type making this cookbook difficult to use quickly for those avoiding other ingredients. All recipes include a key defining their diet restriction, servings, and prep/cook time. Most have full color pictures. Unfortunately, none have calories or other nutritional information.

Overall, this cookbook is best for gluten-free and dairy-free cooks with at least an intermediate skill in the kitchen, time to cook, and a substantial food budget. 3 stars.

Thanks to Nourish and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Hacking Darwin
April 25th, 2019 by diane92345

Hacking Darwin presents an evenhanded look at the future of genetic intervention from a non-scientist’s point-of-view.

The first “test tube baby” was born using IVF in 1978. The human genome was fully sequenced in 2003. CRISPR, a method to cut and paste different genetic code into DNA, was developed in 1988 but first used on human cells in 2013. The combination of these three advances will soon allow IVF embryos to be selected for freedom from disease, hair/eye color, and gender. The ability to select based on IQ, longevity, or personality styles (i.e., extroversion or agreeableness) will soon follow. Basically, our DNA will become an IT product that can be hacked in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.

There are many ethical issues inherent in this ability. Would only the rich be able to afford the cost of manipulating their offspring to be smarter than poorer offspring conceived the old fashioned way? Would one “look” be so popular that races are effectively wiped out? Would this allow an entire generation to be wiped out by a new disease for which they are not protected by natural selection? Will we trust artificial intelligence to make humans that are smarter than even they are?

Hacking Darwin is a thought-provoking treatise on decisions that will need to be made soon to achieve the best results in the future with genetic engineering.  The best part of this book is the author’s easy-to-read style. He uses examples of people in the future casually selecting their baby’s height and IQ. There is nothing so technical here that an average fiction reader cannot understand, or worse, have to Google.

Perhaps it is because I’m a book blogger but I think this book would be a great resource for writers looking for ideas for a plot. There are a lot of unspoken “what ifs” in here. Would the genetically engineered younger children dominate the naturally made older ones? Would the smarter children be able to outsmart their parents? Could a disease wipe out a world made up of Kardashian clones? I’m not even an author so imagine what a real author could think up. For that reason, plus this is just a fascinating and well-written book, Hacking Darwin deserves 5 stars! I can’t wait to read it in twenty years and see how close or far it is from the truth then.

Thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Curious Creatable Creatures
April 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Why didn’t they have books like Curious Creatable Creatures when I was young? I made a model of Frankenstein that just stood there (and would be worth a lot more now if I had never even opened it).

Many of these twenty-two creatures light up, make music, and move! Two even spit! While your kids are having fun, they are also learning valuable math and science concepts from geometry, chemistry, earth science, electricity, and more. All of the instructions have a difficulty and cost rating. What’s nice is the most difficult, and awesome, projects are not always the most costly making this an ideal book for home schooling moms on a budget.

Curious Creatable Creatures is an ingenious and relatively inexpensive way to get your child into STEAM projects. Plus they will have fun doing it. There are simple projects involving yarn, pipe cleaners and googly eyes for younger primary graders with a parent’s help. There are more complex battery-powered creatures for older elementary age children. Overall, a good choice to see where your child’s interests lie. 4 stars!

Thanks to Voyageur Press/Quarto Kids and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Wealth Made Easy
April 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Wealth Made Easy is a short inspirational read for people just beginning to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Thirty-eight successful entrepreneurs share seventy-four wealth hacks to riches. Some of the hacks are extremely basic, like “find a need and fill it”.  While other hacks are complex, like the biggest lie is “follow your passion and the money will follow”. Some just make sense, like “make your money work for you” through usually passive income streams (i.e., rent or other monthly fee). Many of the hacks are just brief summaries requiring reading another book that is referenced. My personal favorite is Wealth Hack #1, “buy dirt”. It is very specific about how to determine what dirt to buy. It makes perfect sense but I’ve never heard it before despite getting 55% through an MBA before switching to a different major.

Most potential entrepreneurs will find a motivational idea or two within these pages. If you have already read all the books about building wealth or businesses at your library, this may just be a review. However, it is convenient to have it all in one place. Most business creation books have a large quantity of filler or examples just to get the book to a certain page length. Wealth Made Easy does not. It usually only has one example for each hack and the entire book is about 200 pages. Overall, this book is recommended for its motivational appeal. 4 stars!

Thanks to BenBella Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Goldmine Record Album Price Guide
April 5th, 2019 by diane92345

With over 110,000 albums listed, the Goldmine Record Album Price Guide is the most comprehensive listing on the market.

This guide lists all albums that are worth at least $15 in near mint condition. In addition, it lists promo and dj copies when available. There is a section describing how to determine the condition of an album. This book includes very clear descriptions of how to tell the $250 copy from the $15 copy using color or changes in the album photo in addition to the catalog number. There are rock, folk, pop, jazz, country, soundtracks, and compilation albums included. Despite being 800 pages in length, it is very easy to find a particular album as they are alphabetized by artist or group name.

It is interesting to go through and see how much the albums from your youth are worth now. For example, Prince is worth more than both Madonna and Michael Jackson. Most of the pop and rock albums are only worth $15, which with inflation is probably what you paid for them. Not only that but trying to reach the near mint condition required to get the $15 basically means that you can’t have played the record much as even bent corners on the sleeve will downgrade the album. It appears that you will have better luck searching for 1960s jazz albums in thrift stores or pawn shops if you are hoping to find a profitable album. My only complaint is that I would like to see more pictures of the album covers in the listings. At most there are only a few per page. But that is a minor complaint. Overall, if you are interested in albums from the 1950s through the 1990s, the Goldmine Record Album Price Guide is the best choice out there. 4 stars!

Thanks to Krause Publications and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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