Blue Muse contains fifty photographs of blues, jazz, folk, and gospel musicians. It also includes ten more landscapes and close-ups of musical instruments. All use a tintype process that was popular during the Civil War.
The long exposures and judicious use of light and shadow make statements about the life of those depicted. All appear to be traveling a hard-luck road, whether from poverty or poor choices. The use of the old tintype process enhances this feeling. Some subjects clearly enjoy being photographed—others not so much.
Blue Muse is recommended for both photography and traditional music fans. The photographs are intense and beautiful. 4 stars!
Thanks to University of North Carolina Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Feb 27 2019, photography
Almost everyone would like to be able to retire early and make Work Optional. But few can do it. This book provides a step-by-step plan to move from a stultifying 9 to 5 job to a more fulfilling life.
Work Optional begins with a refreshing approach. Rather than determining how much money is needed to retire, first decide what are your goals, wants and needs for retirement. This not only will determine your financial requirements but also serve to motivate you to save more to achieve your goals quicker. The book concludes with how, and when, to let your employer know of your retirement plans. It also describes how to accept the changes that retirement brings.
This is an excellent choice for people just beginning to think about retiring in 5-10 years. 4 stars!
Thanks to Hachette Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Feb 18 2019, retirement
The prospect of a comfortable retirement has, unfortunately, become an increasingly elusive dream and it is Downhill from Here.
In 2017, less than half of US employers provided a company-sponsored retirement plan. Even employees who thought they were covered have lost their retirement to bankruptcy and recent changes in the law allowing companies to renege on their agreements. Employees must increasing rely on their own 401(k) investments and the uncertain future of social security.
While Downhill from Here does look at how other countries deal with retirement, there are no non-socialist solutions presented in the book. Also, the book only skims over how much worse the retirement prospects are for generation Y, millenials and older Generation X employees. Between no pensions and ballooning student debt, the author could write an entire book focusing on them.
Working for county government, many of the takeaways described in the book have already been done to us. We have a two-tier retirement system. We were forced to pay more of the employer’s share for the same benefit about ten years ago. However, I’m just grateful we have a pension at all.
Downhill from Here explores an important subject. It is recommended reading for those within 5-15 years from retirement. 4 stars.
Thanks to Metropolitan Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Jan 29 2019, retirement
So you are not an early adopter (or you have been hiding under a rock) and are just now trying to join the Fortnite craze. The 100% Unofficial Fortnite Essential Guide will catch you up to speed quicker than just learning by playing (like all those first players had to do).
The guide begins with which console is best and continues with comprehensive instructions on controls, movement, combat, looting, building materials, and weapons. All instructions includes copious amounts of picures making this a good guide for kids. The only negative is the maps change frequently so the ones in the books will probably not be of much use. However, the Guide is still recommended to noobs of all ages. 4 stars!
Thanks to Becker&Meyer Kids and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Feb 12 2019, guide, Video games
Plus+ is a coffee table book exploring plus size fashion.
Popping with pictures of regular plus size women wearing what they enjoy, Plus+ shouldn’t be unusual. After all per the National Institute of Health, 2 out of 3 women are overweight or obese. However, I have never seen another book like it. How many large women have you seen in Vogue? Not many.
Plus+ is the perfect gift for curvy girls looking for new wardrobe ideas. There are a multitude of styles shown. I do wish there were longer bios of the models. 4 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Feb 15 2018, photography
Readymade Home Furniture takes off the shelf items found at any big box home improvement store and repurposes them into practical items for your home.
While some of the projects are simple like message boards and planters, others are complex like club chairs and closet home offices. There are 23 projects within these pages so at least one will catch your eye. However, remember that Readymade Home Furniture is sponsored by tool manufacturer Black & Decker. None of these projects are for amateurs but more for intermediately skilled home diyers who want to save some time. If you are one of those, you should check out the book for creative ideas and time-saving tips. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars!
Thanks to Cool Springs Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 25 2018, home decor
The tenacious memoir of the author’s struggle with poverty and single motherhood is told in Maid.
Stephanie has dreams of going to college and becoming a writer. Those dreams are shattered by an unexpected pregnancy and an abusive baby’s daddy. With experience only as a barista in an economic downturn, Stephanie is forced into a shelter, subsidized housing and minimum wage part-time work as a Maid.
Stephanie’s inspirational story is heartwarming. Despite overwhelming odds, she continues to move forward. I particularly liked her stories of the houses she cleaned especially the ones she nicknamed the porn house and the hoarder’s house. They provided some much needed comic relief.
If you need motivation to change your life, Maid’s inspirational story can help see how even seemingly insurmountable problems can be pushed through with hard work. I hope to see another book from Stephanie in the future. 4 stars!
Thanks to Hachette Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Jan 22 2019
Rewired is the story of how one doctor changed the ways amputated arms’ nerve ending are left to allow the amputee to actually feel the fingers of the prosthetic. It also shows what doctor’s feel when working with a patient.
Melissa is an animal lover. When her two dogs cornered a raccoon on her fence, she went out to encourage the raccoon to leave. The raccoon did but first bit her on one side of her right arm and then scratched the other side. At the small hospital in the Midwest near her home, her doctor, Dr. Seth, assured her that he could save her arm. After a series of medicines and surgeries, that proves to be impossible. Dr. Seth pilots a new type of surgery allowing Melissa to be able to feel her prosthetic’s fingers. She is the first in the world with this ability.
While Melissa’s story is fascinating, the best part is seeing the emotions of Dr. Seth as Melissa is going through weeks of painful surgeries. We think of doctors as omniscient. That they don’t have feelings. However, Dr. Seth has many feelings about how he has let his patient Melissa down. This is a very Christian book with Dr. Seth taking no credit personally for his innovative surgery but instead attributing all of his contribution to God.
Rewired is recommended as an inspirational story of how one physician overcame long odds to create a better prognosis for all arm amputees. 4 stars!
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Christian, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: amputees, Jan 8 2019, memoir
Doesn’t everyone want to be an Avid Indoorsman? Sitting on your couch watching Netflix or playing video games with no special wardrobe required. Sure beats sweating in out in a pickup basketball game in expensive gear. Or worse, hunting, fishing, or camping. If this appeals to you (or perhaps to you as a not-so-subtle gift for your spouse), then you need to buy the Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman.
Beginning with a 20-question test called the Indooreagram to determine how close you are to achieving Avid Indoorsman status, the book is genuinely hilarious. An example: If you were to encounter a bear, what would be your first inclination: A)Eat the bear alive; B)Run as fast as you can; C)Make yourself bigger to scare the bear away; D)Look for snacks to share with the bear to make friends with it; or E) Use the Scare Bears Away app on your iPhone. Another question’s best answer to what is your definition of exercise: E)Shopping for two hours on Amazon for a treadmill-no purchase required. Note I paraphased a bit. However, if you found those funny, then you will love the Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman. When I took the test, I had already achieved the Avid Indoorsman level even though I would never, ever go anywhere where bears live. I respect Yogi and BooBoo’s privacy.
The Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman is the perfect bathroom read. A little goes a long way so 5-10 minutes per day (and seriously if you spend more time in there, you should eat more fiber) is about right. 4 stars!
Thanks to Harvest House Publishers for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Christian, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: humor, Jan 8 2019
Inner Alchemy is by the author of the Urban Monk. In both books, Taoist principles are explained and used to reduce the reader’s stress and challenges with modern life and free their minds for more spiritual thoughts. The Urban Monk is a more user-friendly book. True beginners will be able to quickly learn the exercises and improve their thinking. Inner Alchemy is the more advanced book and is better for either people already familiar with some Taoist principles or at least read the Urban Monk first.
Therefore, I recommend Inner Alchemy only for readers already familiar with the core principles of the Urban Monk. Read that book first and then this book will make much more sense. For those ready for more advanced topics, this book gets 4 stars.
Thanks to Sounds True Publishing for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Jan 1 2019, self-help
For decades, performers have known they have made it big when they hear, It’s Showtime at the Apollo!
More than just about the Apollo Theater in Harlem, this fact-filled graphic novel tells the story of African-American music in NYC from the Harlem Renaissance after WWI through the present. All the greats from all the eras have played the Apollo—Lena Horne, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Gladys Knight, Nicholas Brothers, James Brown, the Jackson 5, Sammy David Jr., Funkadelic and L.L. Cool J.
There are some interesting little known facts. Who knew that February in the 1960s was reserved for the drag show, the Jewel Box Revue? Or about the bomb threat that forced the Revue’s closure? I also learned where the famed Tree of Hope stump came from and why it is lucky.
Most graphic novels do not have so much text. Showtime at the Apollo reads more like an illustrated history than a true graphic novel. Even when the pictures alone could tell the tale, there is a text box labeling what is depicted. The artwork is clear. It is easy to recognize the famous faces.
For anyone who is interested in musical history or the story of African-American entertainment in New York City, this is a fantastic choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Abrams ComicArts, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: history, Jan 8 2019, music
Whether you follow a keto or gluten-free diet, Keto in an Instant has spectacular recipes you will want to eat.
After a short introduction to the keto diet and the Instant Pot, the book has a multitude of recipes for breakfast, dinners, soups, stews, sides, salads, snacks, appetizers and desserts. Most of your momma’s comfort foods are here. Meatloaf, chili, carrot cake, and beef stew are just a few examples. Your favorite snacks like buffalo wings, poppers, and artichoke dip are also included. My personal favorite is the Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Flatbread that looks exactly like real bread but has only 135 calories and 2 net carbs per serving. The author suggests using the flatbread for pizza crust too.
Due to the low carb count in these recipes, none have more than 500 calories per serving with most less than 300. Most of the recipes take less than an hour to make and much of that time is when the Instant Pot is cooking by itself. There are full calorie, protein, net carb and fat counts for each recipe. For those people also avoiding dairy or soy, there are easy options to substitute ingredients. Best of all every recipe has a full-color picture to drool over.
Keto in an Instant is great for Instant Pot owners who are also keto, gluten-free or just want to eat healthier while losing some weight. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Alpha, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Cookbook, gluten-free, Jan 8 2019, keto
The Bloated Belly Whisperer is an excellent self-help book for those with digestive distress.
The book begins with a brief overview of how the digestive system works—with helpful illustrations of internal organs. A quiz to narrow down the reader’s stomach and intestinal issues follows and then refers readers to the appropriate detailed chapter(s). In those chapters, the book lists the symptoms, the cause and possible solutions of each illness. The book describes the ten most common ailments that cause digestive distress:
- Classic indigestion
- Functional dyspepsia
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Carbohydrate intolerances
- Celiac disease
- Pancreatic insufficiency
The book concludes by providing two diets, including recipes, plus a chapter on fiber and another about digestive support supplements.
The Bloated Belly Whisperer goes into more detail than most health self-help books. Readers who have, or know someone who has, “tummy troubles” will find a lot to like about this book. The author is a dietician who worked in a gastroenterology office so she knows of what she writes. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 24 2018, Diet, self-help
If there is a strange medical tale, it is recorded in the Mystery of the Exploding Teeth.
With section titles like Unfortunate Predicaments, Mysterious Illnesses, and Horrifying Operations, how could this book be anything but a rollicking ride through the pages of bad choices. In Unfortunate Predicaments, we meet young men who did many ill-conceived things to their nether regions. We also meet a man who ate four knives on a dare and didn’t go to a doctor when only three came out his other end. A lifetime of doing this trick eventually killed him. In Mysterious Illnesses, a woman makes herself a human pin cushion and a boy vomits up his own twin. Horrifying Operations makes the reader impressed by the fortitude of his or her forebears. Before anesthesia, a man held up a candle for the surgeon while his other arm was being amputated at the shoulder. Another used a knitting needle and a tiny file three times daily for weeks to break up his bladder stone.
Okay, you either like weird stuff like this or you don’t. As someone who used to gobble Ripley’s Believe It or Not books in my youth, I love it. If you do too, you’re in for a treat with the Mystery of the Exploding Teeth. 4 stars!
Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, Medical mistakes
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is literally about all three of those things but not necessarily all at one time.
The book begins with a look back at early sex toys. The most hard to forget is the sailor’s lady made of leather and fabric and shared around the ship, ahead of the Fleshlight by hundreds of years. It continues by covering automata, mechanical robots programmed to appear spontaneous. Eventually, it arrives at sex dolls, some of which can do robot appearing tricks but are closer to automata. The author explains the difficulty in even defining what a sex robot is. Does it have to appear human? Have at least some artificial intelligence?
I like books about new technology, which is why I decided to read this book. However, I learned more about the current status of sex robots on a one-hour premium cable after hours show. As the author states in the epilogue, it is difficult or impossible to write about a technology that is changing so quickly.
However, that is not to say this book doesn’t have some valuable information and insights. Who knew there are many sex doll brothels around the world? Sometime in 2018, the first “sex robot” brothel will open in Moscow. There are many ethical issues with the idea of sex robots. Should child-sized ones be banned? The UK has already banned childlike sex dolls. What would be the impact on women? Would it encourage objectification, or worse, rape? Would robot use in porn and prostitution result in less sex trafficking and exploitation?
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is very explicit and so is not recommended to sensitive readers. However, it is thought-provoking. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Bloomsbury Sigma and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, Robot, sex
Six people have died and multiple fortunes squandered on the world’s most famous treasure hunt. The Curse of Oak Island is a comprehensive history of each attempt.
In 1795, a young man finds a mysterious depression on Oak Island, a small island off Nova Scotia. With two of his friends, they dig down hoping to find the lost treasure of notorious pirate, Captain Kidd. Digging down 10 feet, they find a barrier of logs. They find another barrier at 20 feet. Realizing the danger of cave-in, they stop digging. Around eight years later, they find investors to professionally excavate the site. Every 10 feet, another layer of logs is found. However, at 93 feet, the hole fills with water. No amount of bailing reduces the water significantly. From then until now, people have been fascinated by the incredible earthworks and potential treasure hidden on Oak Island.
If you are a fan of the History Channel’s show, this is a great companion volume. The Curse of Oak Island is a history book filled with interesting details of the treasure hunt over the past 225 years. It also contains some questionable theories about why the earthworks were built (i.e., doorway to Hell!) Personally, I found the writing style a bit dry and slightly boring but your experience may be different. 3 stars.
Thanks to Atlantic Monthly Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 11 2018, treasure hunting