Category: Non-fiction

A History of Art in 21 Cats
August 14th, 2019 by diane92345

From ancient Egyptian tomb art to modern day graffiti and YBAs, A History of Art in 21 Cats describes and illustrates the principles of 21 different art movements.

Each movement includes a cat illustrating the different characteristics of the art. Many of the cats replicate a particular painting. Though the Warhol soup cans selling “Kitty” that frame the pop art movement cat are rather ironic. Each chapter also includes a one-page summary setting the time and place plus two pages explaining how each kitty represents famous artists’ work.

Using cats to show the differences between art styles is a painless way to learn some art history. You might also get some ideas for your own art project. A History of Art in 21 Cats would make a perfect gift to the budding school-age artist. It would also spark some conversation as a coffee table book. 5 stars!

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

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

Super Low-Carb Snacks
August 11th, 2019 by diane92345

This beautifully photographed cookbook contains 100 Super Low-Carb Snacks.

By lowering the carbs, something has to go up. I was hoping it would be the protein but most of these self-described “fat bombs” are well over 50% fat. In addition, most of the recipes have high calorie counts due to this excessive fat. If you are keto and trying to keep below 50 net carbs, just two snacks may use that up leaving nothing for your meals.

However, there is good news. The food looks delicious in full color pictures. Almost every recipe has its own picture. All the recipes are gluten-free and indicate when they are also nut, dairy and/or egg-free. The nutritional information includes carbs, protein, and fat by weight and percentage. It also shows calories and fiber.

While there are many fat bombs of nut butters and cheese balls, there are also crackers, snack bars, and candy. But my favorite is Green Deviled Eggs & Bacon, which are kind of avocado toast for grain-free folks. 68% fat but at only 164 calories for two halves, it’s not too bad a hit especially with 10 grams of protein.

Overall, Super Low-Carb Snacks may, or may not, work for your diet—only you can decide. Regardless, the beautiful photographs, clear instructions, and comprehensive nutritional information makes this a 4 star cookbook.

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

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Strength Band Training
August 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

02Using a simple set of strength bands, Strength Band Training provides exercises for all the major muscle groups. All exercises include pictures. There are also variations and progressions included with every exercise. Some require a chair, an exercise ball or a small foam block to complete.

There is a special section with eighteen older adult exercises. Most are done seated and can be performed while watching television from an upholstered chair. They are intended to strengthen the senior’s body enough to move on to the other exercises in the book. There is also a section for exercising after injury.

Strength Band Training is as effective as weight machines when done correctly. This book is like having your own personal trainer at home 24/7. As a matter of fact, my former trainer used some of these exact same exercises with me using a weight machine at my gym. I have also done some of these exercises during physical therapy after surgery using bands.

It appears that this book is written for personal trainers and physical therapists to use in their work. There is no fluff here. Just a short overview with a picture of the muscles involved precedes the exercises for each muscle group. However, a regular person like me or you can cut out the middleman and become their own personal trainer using this book. Save the time and money for the trainer and even the gym! Get fit by exercising effectively with this excellent book and some inexpensive strength bands. 5 stars!

Thanks to Human Kinetics and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Dogs vs. Ice Cream
August 1st, 2019 by diane92345

Dogs vs. Ice Cream is a great palate (or eyeball) cleanser after a particular harsh thriller read.

A professional photographer takes pictures of dogs eating (and sometimes glaring at) ice cream cones. Each pic lists the dog’s name, breed and age.

You can clearly see some of the dog’s personality in their shots. The surprise on a pit bull’s face with the entire ice cream ball in his mouth. Obviously, Dudley had never tried ice cream before and it’s cold! See Stella, a 9 year old pekinese/poodle mix, suspiciously smell her cone. Finally, Ruby, a shepherd/lab mix, licks her chops to get every last drop of ice cream goodness.

Dogs vs. Ice Cream is such a fun little book. It should be mandatory in dentist’s waiting rooms to cheer everyone up. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Famillius, and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Everyday Keto Baking
July 31st, 2019 by diane92345

Marketed for keto fans, Everyday Keto Baking is also perfect for those sensitive to gluten, eggs, nuts, or dairy. Each recipe is clearly labeled with calories and amounts of protein, carbs, and fats. Almost all the recipes include a picture making deciding what to make first the hardest part.

The best thing about Everyday Keto Baking is that it only requires two types of flour: almond and coconut. Everyone knows that if they see a gluten-free label on bread or cakes (even mixes), the price will be at least double of one made with wheat flour. This cookbook has recipes for all those expensive products like waffles, pancakes, muffins, sandwich rolls, and cakes. But it also has items rarely seen in stores like donuts, crepes, popovers, and tiramisu.

Most of the recipes have many ingredients that you will already have in your pantry. Along with the sweets and breads are about twelve main dishes like salmon croquettes and coconut shrimp. Everything looks yummy, easy to make, and inexpensive so 5 stars!

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

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Ten Years a Nomad
July 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Budget travel guru Nomadic Matt turns introspective in Ten Years a Nomad.

I was expecting more travel and less ruminating on why Matt is compelled to wander the world. I love his website but this book has a more internal focus. He tries, with varying success, to apply what he has learned about himself to others. However, I just wasn’t buying it. Ten Years a Nomad seemed like a self-indulgent trip down memory lane. If I wanted to listen to that for hours, I would have become a therapist and be paid $150 an hour.

Okay, you can tell I didn’t like this book much. However, you might enjoy it if you know going in that it is not really a travel book so I’ll give it 3 stars.

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

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Unsolved Mysteries of World War II
July 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Unsolved Mysteries of World War II include missing treasures, murders, and bombs.

What group was responsible for the bombing at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York? How did Glenn Miller die? What happened to all the missing treasure of those victimized during World War II? Was the aircraft of Leslie Howard, “Ashley, oh Ashley” from Gone with the Wind, shot out of the sky because of his agent’s resemblance to Winston Churchill?

This book has many intriguing questions, some conspiracy theories, some contemporary responses but no definitive answers. This absence of answers is frustrating. I believe with some more research in fewer topics, the author could have suggested his own solution to these mysteries rather than letting them hang there in the air. Because of the lack of conclusions, I have to give Unsolved Mysteries of World War II only 3 stars. It is effective only if you are willing to spend additional time researching so you can draw your own conclusions.

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

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

Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day
July 12th, 2019 by diane92345

I was cautiously hopeful that Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day would contain more than just how to prioritize your To Do list. Luckily, it has many more tips and tricks to manage your time and achieve your goals in life. Many that I have never heard of before.

The book briefly covers to do lists, prioritization, and the SMART goal-planning method so it is suitable for beginners. However, it goes further to focus on your long-term goals and using mindfulness to determine the time-sucks in your day. It also gives specific strategies to make your time more productive in specific situations including meetings, community projects, home cleaning, and meal preparation. The author also names apps, books, websites, and physical goods that may help you in your time management journey.

There really is something for everyone in Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day. I enjoyed it so much, and believe it is so useful, that I volunteered to talk about it in our bi-weekly staff meeting at work. Truly an excellent time management resource and I read a lot of them as an acknowledged To Do List Fanatic. 5 stars!

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

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English Grammar
July 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Filled with common writing issues, English Grammar is a fun (yes, actually fun!) way to correct your grammar, punctuation, and word use.

Quick! What is the easiest way to determine whether to use “further” or “farther” and “affect” or “effect”? If you said for the first pair, farther refers to distance, you would be correct! For the second choice, if you said affect is a verb and effect is a noun, you would match what I thought before reading this book. But you would be wrong! Both can be used as nouns or verbs. It depends on usage. Affect is a noun when writing about the flat affect of someone’s face. Effect is a verb when you mean to make happen. You can effect change in your grammar if you read this book. If you wonder how I could be writing a review of a grammar book and start a sentence with “But”, you need to read the author’s section on the changing face of English grammar. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is fully acceptable everywhere but in an English composition class. Just a side note on my side note, does anyone else hear the Conjunction Junction song in their head every time they read or hear the word “conjunction”? They really should bring back the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.

The author uses clear explanations and examples to explain grammar and punctuation rules. There is even a quiz afterwards for the more complex ideas. There is also a section about the differences between English (from England) and American English. For example, theatre is the English (from England) spelling but theater is the American English spelling. However, just to confuse everyone, Americans use the British spelling when trying to sound refined. Also, Shakespeare used the American spelling. English grammar differences are nothing but inconsistent. Thanks Noah Webster, who the author blames for trying to un-French the English language in An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.

If you read through my review all the way to this paragraph, you will probably enjoy English Grammar (the book—not necessarily the subject). It is an excellent reference that is short and to the point. And it entertains while it is teaching you something most writers, reviewers, and basically humans, need to use daily. 4 stars!

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

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

Healthy Habits Suck
July 5th, 2019 by diane92345

“The majority of North Americans eat too much processed food, don’t sleep enough, drink too much, and are overweight.” Why? Because Healthy Habits Suck!

Healthy behavior goes against our caveman instincts to rest, avoid pain, seek pleasure, and live in the now. To override those instincts, you must find more pros or reduce the cons of a healthy behavior like exercising. You may never experience a runner’s high but the bragging rights of running a marathon may be enough of a pro in your eyes to encourage running 10 miles before work each morning.

The goal you set has to be within your control. Sometimes, despite eating low calorie food, you just can’t lose weight. You’ve reached a plateau. So you give up and indulge in a chocolate sundae. This happens because your goal shouldn’t be “losing weight” because your body controls that. Instead, you should make “eating more fruit and vegetables” or “eating fast food only once per week” your goal because that is totally within your control.

Healthy Habits Suck uses well-researched psychological methods to allow you to motivate yourself to reach your goals. The author suggests working on only one goal at a time and reading just one chapter per week. The ideas in each of the nine chapters require some introspection so that timeframe seems reasonable. The book also has a website with a 22-page workbook used within the chapters plus three short audio files.

There is a lot to like about this book. It approaches healthy goals in new ways. This is not just another book with a diet and recipes. It digs into the underlying motivation or stagnation of our actions. It might be the way to achieve truly long-term healthier living. 4 stars!

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

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Succeed with Social Media
July 4th, 2019 by diane92345

If you have a product or service that you wish to sell, you must know how to Succeed with Social Media.

Here are some tips from the book:

  1. Use the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time not selling your product but instead provide information about your product’s subject area. The example in the book was providing an overview of the artist, Matisse, when your product was your own artwork. The remaining 20% can be used for selling your own items.
  2. Use free programs like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to see all your social media in one dashboard. This also allows you to see where your customers are really coming from and what their demographics are.

The book clearly focuses on Facebook as the main platform and videos as the method to become viral.  While that is true, that may not be your goal. You might just want to sell your widgets without spending a lot of time trying to become viral. The author understands that thought and even states that the reader should spend some time determining their supply before trying to pump up demand. You don’t want to have the Shark Tank effect of massive advertising that turns customers away when the items quickly sell out.

There is an excellent section near the end focusing on how to know your customer and how much it costs to acquire a new one. This information is useful when making pricing decisions for your product since that cost must be factored in. It is also needed to decide which social media platform is best if you decide to buy ads.

This is definitely a beginner-level book, which might be okay if that is where you are now. At the end, the author recommends books for further reading that go into individual aspects more deeply. He follows his own 80/20 rule and only mentions one book by him out of fourteen. For a short overview of how social media works and how to make it work for you, Succeed with Social Media is a good choice. 3 stars!

Thanks to Allworth and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Hangry
June 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Hangry is an empowering read letting woman get back their mojo by using a personalized diet and exercise plan.

No one wants to be an Hangry B*tch. This book will describe why woman feel tired all the time, have sleep issues, and feel overwhelmed. Spoiler partial answer: we are overwhelmed because we try to do too much for others instead of ourselves.

Hangry gives a comprehensive explanation of how and why hormones, poor eating and either over or under exercising is causing our problems. It gives a solution of five pillars and five habits. The five pillars are:

  1. Find and commit to what works for you
  2. Opt out of overwhelm
  3. Full-engagement living
  4. Be your best friend
  5. Be who you are

The five habits are:

  • 5 walks per week plus 5 minutes of breathing per day
  • 4 meals per day
  • 3 strength training sessions per week
  • 2 liters or more of water per day
  • 1 commitment to rest, recovery and real-self care

Each week of the four-week plan works on at least one of the pillars and builds one or more of the habits. The diet incorporates a combination of paleo and Mediterranean diets (lean proteins, avocado-type oils, limited fruits & starchy veggies as carbs, and a required one pound of non-starchy veggies per day). The exercise plan encourages strength training leading up to heavier weights than usually used by women and walking while practicing breathing, meditation and mindfulness.

This is one of the better diet books I’ve read lately. I like that it doesn’t talk down to its reader. It also combines science and advice I’ve seen in a bunch of other books, which will save the reader from reading all of them and trying to merge them together by herself. Of course, I love quizzes so the quiz to determine potential hormone issues is perfect. Plus it picked out one hormone issue that my doctor had already found to be true through blood tests. Overall, if you are looking to commit to a diet/exercise plan now that it is bikini season, this is a good place to start. 4 stars!

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

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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.

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