Category: Non-fiction

Gluten Free Instant Pot Cookbook--Revised
March 31st, 2019 by diane92345

Containing a hundred delicious sounding recipes, the Gluten-free Instant Pot Cookbook—Revised is both a flavor booster and time saver for gluten-free cooks.

Beginning with a cheesy poblano frittata breakfast, savory creamy polenta and various soups like spicy butternut squash, this cookbook has a bit of everything. Who knew you could make gluten-free meatloaf in an instant pot? Or saffron risotto( no more endless stirring)? The dessert chapter sounds particularly yummy filled with tasty treats like rice and bread pudding plus a to-die-for double chocolate fudge cheesecake. There are also easy bone broths for the paleo fans.

Recipes are clearly labeled with other common allergens like dairy, egg, soy and nut. There are vegan and vegetarian recipes included too. The only issue I have is the total lack of nutritional information.

The recipes are surprisingly innovative. For example, the Shrimp and Grits uses the Pot’s sauté function to cook the aromatics first. The sauce is then covered with a trivet and bowl to cook the grits. After a short time, the grits are removed and the shrimp is added to the sauce for heating. It is very innovative to cook everything in one instant pot making this a perfect gift for a college student with an instant pot but little else to cook with in a dorm room.

The recipes are worth 5 stars. However, the complete lack of nutritional information brings my rating of Gluten-free Instant Pot Cookbook—Revised down to 4 stars.

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

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How to Write a Page-Turner
March 24th, 2019 by diane92345

If you want your readers to lose sleep because they can’t stop reading your book, How to Write a Page-turner will explain step-by-step how to it.

Beginning with the four types of tension (danger, conflict, uncertainty, and withholding), the book explains exactly how to add each one to the characters, plot, and wording of your book. With copious examples from books of various genres, it is easy to see how other authors have used the described techniques to good effect.

I have never read a Writer’s Digest Book that wasn’t a great tool. How to Write a Page-turner is no exception. This book assumes that you are editing your draft manuscript to ratchet up the tension. However, it would also be an interesting read for those still struggling to write that first chapter. 4 stars!

Thanks to Writer’s Digest and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Family Tree Problem Solver
March 23rd, 2019 by diane92345

Family Tree Problem Solver is exactly that. If you registered on any of the genealogy sites, this book can help you make better use of their tools and perhaps save you some frustration.

Beginning with five steps to solving genealogical problems, the book takes the amateur genealogist through the entire process of finding their roots. This edition has updated website addresses and two new chapters. One new section covers what to do when receiving a new hint email from a site where you have placed your family tree. Another describes how to use DNA kit results, either your own or family members, to further your genealogical research.

Family Tree Problem Solver is an excellent tool for any amateur ancestor detective’s armory. 4 stars!

Thanks to Family Tree Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Wild LA
March 21st, 2019 by diane92345

Who knew there is so much nature around urban Los Angeles? It really is Wild LA.

This guidebook contains something for every Los Angeleno (or visitor). There is a page of pictures, descriptions, and interesting facts for 101 species including birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, snails, mold, and plants. All are found in greater Los Angeles and each profile gives the best locations to find them. There are twenty-five field trips around LA described that include directions, maps, and things to see. Ways to turn your own backyard into a wildlife habitat are also included.

A comprehensive and useful guide to the nature that is all around Los Angeles. Wild LA is recommended for nature lovers around LA and those who wish to educate their children. 4 stars!

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

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Someday is Not a Day in the Week
March 21st, 2019 by diane92345

It is important to remember that promising to follow a dream “someday” never works because Someday is Not a Day in the Week.

This book gives ten life hacks that can help you align your ultimate goals with your current reality. Are the life hacks new ideas that you have never heard before? No. However, the author has an enthusiasm for them that is contagious. The book is motivating! Unfortunately, it is aimed a bit toward the well-off members of society. For example, I can’t quit my job until I put in the 30 years necessary to get my pension plus I have to wait until I’m old enough for Medicare, which is a long time from now. I wish I could just jump off that cliff with the knowledge that my family will support me like a parachute. However, that is not reality and the book encourages thinking realistically about how to implement your goals. If you are in a position to take that first step to finding a job that brings you joy, Someday is Not a Day in the Week is the perfect book to motivate you to do it sooner rather than later. 4 stars!

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

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A Short History of Europe
March 17th, 2019 by diane92345

A Short History of Europe begins with Neanderthals and concludes with the 2016 vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. In between are births, deaths, court intrigue and full-blown battles.

Whether you are planning to go on Jeopardy or just want to impress academics with your cocktail party banter, A Short History of Europe will assist in your goal. Each chapter is just long enough to read before bed. With enough information to whet your curiosity, you too will be searching Wikipedia for more details of those characters that intrigue you.

My only conplaint is the random first-person comments inserted within some of the chapters especially the rather long portion on the future of the EU at the end. However, the editing of over 4500 years into 400 extremely readable and interesting pages is pretty remarkable. 4 stars!

Thanks to PublicAffairs/Perseus Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.
March 9th, 2019 by diane92345

Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. The title really tells the entire story in a nutshell.

Paul Le Roux started out small with online prescription drug sales in the United States. Marijuana dispensaries still use his “doctors prescribe without seeing the patient” methods. Like most legitimate CEOs, Paul expanded his product line; in his case to weapons, cocaine, and meth. Who knew a nerdy programmer could be so business-oriented? His programming skills allowed him to develop an “unbreakable” encryption to keep his identity and location hidden.

Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. is true crime that reads like a thriller. Kudos to the author’s investigative journalism abilities for uncovering the entire complex story. However, the complexity made it a difficult read. There are so many characters that the author provides a list of the main ones in the beginning of the book. For true crime fans, this book is highly recommended. However, for thriller fans, be warned it is much more complicated than the typical thriller. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Chasing American Monsters
March 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Organized by state, Chasing American Monsters is a fine introduction to monsters found next door and across the United States.

With more than 250 monsters listed, this book is sure to have something to interest every monster fan. I didn’t know that the state I live in, California, has both evil gnomes and giant (six and a half feet long) cockroaches so expect some surprises.

While I liked the brief stories about the monsters, I didn’t see the value of the state overviews. Do I really need to know which state was the last to join the union or has the largest population? Also, I wish there were drawings of each monster rather than just one per state. Overall, Chasing American Monsters delivers on its promise to provide a brief overview of the most famous or unusual monsters in each state. However, fans of particular monsters will want to pick up more detailed books. 3 stars!

Thanks to Llewellyn Publications and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Non-fiction, Paranormal Tagged with: ,

Borrowed Time: The Science of How and Why We Age
March 5th, 2019 by diane92345

If you are interested in the how and why behind aging, Borrowed Time: The Science of How and Why We Age will explain current aging research in an easily understandable manner while opening up a whole new frontier of science to lay readers.

Borrowed Time: The Science of How and Why We Age is definitely a popular science book. The definitions of terms and especially acronyms are written in plain English. The science is clearly explained.  However, it is the conclusions drawn that are stunning. Experiments in worms have shown it is possible to extend life tenfold. However, it appears that “ageing is the price we pay for protection against cancer.” Unfortunately, many of the proposed aging solutions caused similar issues. Just a note on the worms: the roundworms carried on the space shuttle Columbia for experimentation were the only survivors of the explosion that killed everything else. Some of their descendants were carried eight years later to the International Space Station on the Endeavor.

I found this book to be really interesting because I didn’t know anything about how the aging process works or any of the multitude of research projects trying to stop it. I would recommend not talking to your 20-something daughter about the importance of the FOXO gene variant, where you basically won the old age lottery. My daughter’s eyes glazed over sometime during the first sentence. I should have started with the fact that fruit flies share 60% of our genes and the worms mentioned above only share 33%. I just have to give this book 4.5 stars!  I couldn’t put it down!

Thanks to Bloomsbury Sigma and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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A Fire Story
March 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Heartfelt memoir about losing your home in the worst wildfire in decades. A Fire Story is sad but ultimately uplifting.

Multiple fires merged into a Northern California firestorm of epic proportions. The resulting burn area was the size of 15 Manhattans. Entire neighborhoods burned to the ground overnight. Warnings were mishandled so many survivors had virtually no time to take any belongings. Others didn’t escape in time.

The author, a graphic memoirist, uses his craft to document, in real time, the horrific experience of losing your home and all your stuff in a split second. While he is grateful his family is safe, he states,

“Well-meaning people say, ‘It’s just stuff.’ But it’s our stuff. Stuff we created. Stuff we treasured. Stuff from our ancestors we wanted our descendants to have. Stuff is a marker of time and memory. It’s roots.”

Wow, A Fire Story is so real! It throws the reader into a situation that, luckily, few will experience. It will make you appreciate your own stuff more. For myself, I live in a fire-prone area. We’ve been across the street, literally, from two major fires in two different homes and subject to voluntary evacuation orders. I have a bug-out bag of my family pictures and heirlooms ready to go. Are you ready?

If you have been toying with prepping for disaster as a New Year’s resolution, A Fire Story is an excellent shove in that direction. But it is also an exceptional look at human resilience and resourcefulness. I can’t recommend it highly enough. 5 stars!

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

Posted in Graphic Novel, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Walmart: Diary of an Associate
March 1st, 2019 by diane92345

The author, an immersive journalist, describes his experience working in a Canadian Walmart in Walmart: Diary of an Associate.

It is amazing how Walmart treats its associates like slow children. Rules are drummed into their heads, daily exercises and pep talks are given, and they are monitored extensively. If indoctrination into the Walmart “family” doesn’t motivate sufficiently, then hopefully, the annual April bonus will. And if not, there are plenty of desperately poor people willing to work hard for minimum wage pay.

Everyone who is thinking about applying for a Walmart job should read this book first. While some of the practices are familiar from other sources, I found many new scenarios within the book too. 3 stars.

Note: I read that US Walmart local route truck drivers start at $87,000 per year. Obviously, a trip to a truck driving school may be worth paying back student loans over 20 years compared to minimum wage and annual raises of less than a dollar.

Thanks to Fernwood Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Psychology of Zelda
February 28th, 2019 by diane92345

Who doesn’t love the ongoing story of Link and Zelda told over thirty years of gaming? The Psychology of Zelda explains in college-level psychological terms the reasons why we are all enamored of Link’s story.

I’ve taken and enjoyed a couple of college psychology courses. I love and have played most of Link’s games. I thought this book would be perfect for me. However, I just couldn’t get into its dry academic language. It felt like I should have a yellow highlighter in my hand throughout, though that would have messed up my Kindle for sure. Honestly, if the Psychology of Zelda was assigned as a college textbook, I would have loved it. But as “light” casual reading, it didn’t work for me. If you have never taken any psychology courses, love Link, and are willing to put the time in, you may enjoy this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t. 2 stars.

Thanks to Smart Pop Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Blue Muse
February 27th, 2019 by diane92345

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.

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Work Optional
February 25th, 2019 by diane92345

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.

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Downhill from Here
February 19th, 2019 by diane92345

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.

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100% Unofficial Fortnite Essential Guide
February 16th, 2019 by diane92345

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 Non-fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: , ,