Nonfiction

This page is for those books that are nonfiction and can include any subject.

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THE EASY BAKED DONUT COOKBOOK by Sara Mellas

Nonfiction, cookbook

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Blurb: The deliciously easy donut cookbook for heavenly homemade baked donuts. Who doesn’t love a good donut? From sugared or sprinkled to frosted or filled, donuts are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and sweeten your day. The best part is you don’t need to fuss with frying to whip up these fun, flavorful treats at home. The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook shows you how mouthwatering―and mess-free―donuts can be right from your oven or donut maker, providing plenty of tried-and-true tricks and tasty recipes for beautifully baked donuts, donut holes, mini donuts, and more. From sweet staples, such as Old-Fashioned Cake Donuts to creative savory bakes like Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread Donuts, this donut cookbook serves you dozens of delightfully simple recipes to match every craving, along with perfectly paired frostings, glazes, and toppings. Easy Baked Donut Cookbook has everything you need to whip up bakery-worthy baked donuts―no fryer required.

Thoughts: Yum. Sixty mouth-watering recipes for donuts that you can do at home. Most of the recipes are from scratch, but a few use things like boxed cake mix or canned biscuit dough. That there are also a few gluten free and vegan options is also a plus. I will note that the GF ones are exactly the same as the regular ones with the exception of using GF flour instead of regular flour so I’m sure some of the others can be adapted in this same way as long as you use a 1-to-1 GF flour mix. The introduction includes information on essential ingredients, techniques, and more. Each recipe includes the list of ingredients, time needed, options for full-sized donuts, mini-donuts, or donut holes where appropriate, as well as how many of each the recipe makes. There are even “adult” recipes that contain alcohol. There are also some tips and variations with the recipes. What there isn’t is nutritional information or pictures (except for a very few at the beginning of some sections). The recipes contain a mix of cake, yeast-raised, and filled, sweet and savory. And there’s even a final “doggie donut” recipe for your favorite canine (also the only one that is relatively “healthy” with whole wheat flour and no sugar).

What I liked: the recipes look amazing and I am definitely going to be trying some of them. I liked that the recipes are clear and easy to read and follow and don’t require special equipment beyond a donut pan (which I already have). Loved the wide variety from “Cider Donuts” to “Gluten Free Old Fashioned” to “Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread Donuts).

What I didn’t like: no nutritional information and “stock” photos instead of some real pictures of some of the recipes.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for something different to make in your oven, definitely pick this up. The recipes look amazing and will satisfy any sweet tooth. Yes, the lack of nutritional information is an issue for me, but beyond that, this is a good cookbook to have on your shelf.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 6/1/2020

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FAMILY TREE WORKBOOK by Brian Sheffey

Nonfiction, Reference

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Blurb: Detail generations of your family’s unique history in one convenient workbook. Organizing your genealogical information is a snap with the Family Tree Workbook. This versatile workbook assists you in your research by providing a variety of forms, charts, and worksheets that help you categorize and track critical information. It also suggests ways to expand on the ancestral information you have already uncovered. The companion book for Practical Genealogy, the Family Tree Workbook is also suited for your own independent investigations. Featuring everything from pedigree charts and DNA trackers to marriage records and family lore sheets, this family tree workbook offers an expansive approach and unmatched versatility when it comes to recording your family’s history. The Family Tree Workbook includes: Worksheet variety―Discover dozens of different ways to expand and explore your family tree―including forms that help with bookkeeping and managing your research. Special documentation ―This workbook is inclusive of all types of family histories thanks to specialty forms, migration maps, and blended family worksheets. Treasured keepsake―Create a comprehensive history of your family that will make a wonderful and heartfelt heirloom for future generations.

Thoughts: If you’ve ever been interested in looking deeper into your ancestry, this is a good place to start. It will help you get organized and delve deeply into your ancestry. The 30+ worksheets go into great detail. They will help you with working through names/nicknames, dates of birth/death/marriage, addresses, migration maps, land records, military history, medical backgrounds, and more. There are even sections on enslavement, and Native American sections. The final section offers guidelines on what to do if you’re stumped, an extensive glossary, resources, and more. The depth of information you are encouraged to go into is amazing. There are even pages for family heirlooms.

What I liked: the depth of information you can go after and how to do that. It is very well-organized and will help you get organized as well.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. This is a really good book that will help you find your roots and more.

Recommendation: If you are at all interested in looking into your family background, I’d definitely recommend you get this book. It’s an amazing place to organize your information.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 6/4/2020

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THE ESSENTIAL SELF-COMPASSION WORKBOOK FOR TEENS by Katie Krimer

Nonfiction, self-help

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Blurb: Replace your inner critic with a big self-hug―an interactive workbook for teens

Feelings of anxiety, sadness, insecurity, and shame are challenging obstacles that may come your way while growing up, and they are difficult to manage alone. Self-compassion is a remarkable, life-changing superpower that will help you develop a healthier outlook and a more balanced, accepting view of yourself. The Essential Self Compassion Workbook for Teens is an interactive guide filled with practical and interesting activities and exercises rooted in research-based strategies that will help you calm your inner critic, deal with difficult emotions, and learn to love yourself. Inspired by the Mindful Self Compassion program developed by Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff, author Katie Krimer puts her own spin on some of their most tried and true principles, and infuses her unique, impassioned voice into the pages of this workbook. By learning core elements of self-compassion and coping skills, you can embrace yourself, overcome self-criticism, and cultivate kindness. Designed to teach you all the aspects of this beneficial practice, this hands-on workbook will help you take that brave first step in a journey that will create a kinder and more empathetic you.

Thoughts: Though I no longer have teens, I do have grandkids who are teens, and this is a perfect book for them—and me. I actually got a lot out of the book myself. Yes, the situations and exercises are for the (much) younger set, but…they are good for anyone. The writing is lighter than what you get in an “adult” themed self-help book and is geared toward teens. There is colorful artwork that enhances the book. The introduction and explanations are clear and well-written and there are real-life examples and responses that you can read over to see what would be a good way to deal with these situations. The end of the book has room for journaling with questions to get you started on a subject and the resources include things for both parents and teens.

What I liked: The light style without being denigrating. I wish more self-help books were written in this style. I liked the resources that were split into ones for teens and ones for parents. And I liked the real-life examples and suggestions.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I though this was a helpful, well-written book.

Recommendations: A must for all parents/teens who want to be more self-compassionate. I will definitely be passing this on to my teen grandkids.

Disclaimer: I received this book gratis from the publisher. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 6/4/20

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DAIRY-FREE MEAL PREP by Silvana Nardone

Nonfiction, Cooking

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Blurb: Take the guesswork out of dairy free meal prep with 6 weeks of plans and 70 tasty recipes. Whether you want to avoid allergens, save money and time, or eat healthier, preplanned dairy free meals have a multitude of perks. Simplify your daily routine with Dairy-Free Meal Prep, a complete guide and dairy free cookbook with 6 weeks of meal plans and 70 scrumptious recipes. Helpful info about meal planning, convenient grocery lists, and step-by-step prep directions mean you’ll be able to spend less time in the kitchen and more time living your life. With simple recipes like Chicken Pasta with Creamy Vodka Sauce, this dairy free cookbook is so easy and enticing, you’ll never miss dairy again.

Thoughts: While this book looks really good on the surface, I did have a few issues with it. But first… the introduction is good in that it discusses why you should be dairy-free, foods to avoid (dairy free does not always mean milk free), and the basics to have on hand to help you. There are sections on prepping, fundamentals, and storage as well as what not to prep ahead of time. There’s an excellent chart in the back on storage times. The meal prep menus start out extremely simple and repetitive (same thing every day) but gradually increase in difficulty and variety. There are shopping lists and step-by-step prep directions that are easy to follow. Finally, the last section is just extra meal-specific recipes.

What I liked: There are some really good recipes here and good directions, including how to make your own staples like oat milk, cashew milk, and other non-dairy necessities. I loved that the recipes included nutritional information. I liked that many of the recipes are gluten free (or easily adaptable), but they do seem to be heavily on the side of Mexican-style ingredient.  I believe this is a decent basic book, but…

What I didn’t like: An awful lot of the recipes are still dairy-centric even though they use non-dairy substitutes. There are many recipes out there that don’t use dairy at all so I believe the author could have used some of those instead. I also didn’t like that the recipes are not necessarily healthy. They use a lot of fats (some healthier but still…). I wasn’t enamored of the “beginners” prep – having the same thing every day… no thank you. I don’t care how easy it is.

Recommendation: There are some decent recipes in here and the more varied meal-prep menus are good. There’s some good information and this will be a decent addition to any cooking library, but I’m not sure I’d use it as my only reference.

Disclaimer: I received this book gratis from the publisher. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 6/4/2020

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ACTUALLY, THE COMMA GOES HERE by Lucy Cripps

Nonfiction, Writing, Reference

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Blurb: Fun, funny, and factual–the most complete guide to punctuation for beginners and experts alike. Period. No one’s ever said that learning punctuation is fun–until now. Actually, The Comma Goes Here takes a lighthearted yet highly informative approach to ensuring you never misplace a comma again. Whether it’s semicolons or exclamation points, this primer has you covered with chapters that dive deep into the correct use for each and every piece of punctuation. You’ll find plenty of fun (and funny) examples of proper writing while also learning how punctuation has changed throughout history.

Actually, The Comma Goes Here includes: A complete crash course–Keep things simple with chapters that progress from the most basic punctuation (like periods) to more advanced or uncommon punctuation (like brackets). Memorable advice–Never mix your clauses up again thanks to easy-to-remember breakdowns, handy mnemonics, and entertaining sample sentences.Matters of style–Discover a quick reference chart that details the differences between the most common style guides, including the Chicago Manual of Style and Associated Press. Perfect your punctuation with the help of this comprehensive guidebook.

Thoughts: My husband made fun of me as I sat down to actually read a grammar book. But it was so much fun. And I should know, I have a bunch of them. This was a light (much lighter than the Chicago Manual of Style on which it is based) read with fun examples of different types of punctuation. It targets anyone who wants to learn the finer points of grammar, but does note that this is based on CMoS and that there are other styles depending on what you’re writing—including APA, Turabian, MLA, Associated Press, and individual house styles. In fact, that’s the only nit I have with the book. The author gives you the basics but then tells you to do what you want depending on which style you want to use. However, it is also something every writer should read. I’ve reviewed way too many books of late where there is barely a passing grade when it comes to proper punctuation and grammar. This book is laid out in fifteen chapters, each one focusing on a specific punctuation mark like periods, commas, parentheses, em dashes, and more, when to use each—and when *not* to use them.

What I liked: She uses the Oxford comma! Yay! I also enjoyed that it was on the light-hearted side. There is a lot of good information here that is easily accessible and understandable. I loved the chart at the end that compared all the different styles.

What I didn’t like: The multiple references to other styles. I suggest just mentioning the styles—including house styles—once at the beginning and note that this is based on CMOS and let it go at that. Grammar is confusing enough without muddling it even more. Also, there is a complete lack of references, resources or anything else for more information.

Recommendation: This is a brief, light introduction to punctuation and has enough good information to be useful. It’s a good place to start, but if you really care about grammar, it’s not the place to end. Keep going. But I’d definitely recommend this as a decent starting reference point.

Disclaimer: I received this book gratis from the publisher. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 6/4/2020

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 INNER PEACE: A Guided Meditation Journal for Beginners by Jordana Reim

Nonfiction, self-help

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Blurb: Anyone can enjoy the benefits that come from mediation—they just need to know how to achieve them. Inner Peace is a guided journal that shows you how to get the most out of meditation and achieve a newfound sense of peace and balance. Filled with a variety of mantras, prompts, and intentions to help you reflect, this meditation journal is an ideal choice for people starting this ancient and proven practice…guides you down your path to serenity, helps you track your growth, and shows you how you can spread your newfound peace back into the universe.

Thoughts: There is a good introduction as to why you should use both meditation and journaling to help you find peace. There are quotes and affirmations sprinkled throughout that are thought-provoking and inspirational. The book is broken into four sections: Find Inner Peace, Focus Your Mind, Overcome Obstacles, and Foster Gratitude and Spread Joy. Each section contains different types of meditations including ones for walking. With each meditation, there are guided questions to help you write down your thoughts concerning the prompts. At the end, there are resources and apps where you can go to further your studies.

What I liked: the meditations and prompts—they are thought provoking and make you look deeper into yourself. Also the quotes and affirmations are good. And good spaces for writing your thoughts.

What I didn’t like: Very little. It’s a good book for the beginner.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for those looking to find a little internal peace and willing to do the work to get there.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 6/1/2020

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SELF-CARE CHECK-IN by GG Renee Hill

Nonfiction, self-help

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Blurb: Self-care isn’t about escaping life’s problems. It can actually help you solve them. This is a guided journal packed with research-based techniques to help you manage stress, nurture your values and goals, and take steps toward concrete change. Equipped with these tools, you can open the door to a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Actionable journal prompts and inspiring quotes guide you through thoughtful reflection, goal setting, decision making, and active planning. Identify unhelpful behavioral patterns along with positive creative impulses and discover how to make constructive adjustments in your life. Commit to happiness by committing to self-care, because even small, simple choices can cultivate greater joy and wellness. Each exercise begins with observation and awareness, focuses your intentions, then guides you toward practical change. Work your way from thoughts to action plans with colorful, easy-to-use format that includes room to write. Every short one-or-two page exercise stands on its own so you can flip through and find the perfect strategy for your needs at the moment.

Thoughts: I found this book very useful, especially in this time of upheaval. The prompts guide you through different challenges you might face to help you find what works for you. They include ways to set boundaries, how to deal with annoying people, social media, and a lot more. There are inspirational quotes scattered throughout and a bright, colorful format.

What I liked: the overall “happy” feel of the book. It’s colorful but the designs are around the outer edges so you can actually read the questions and guides. I liked the wide variety of guides and how each guide has three parts: Reflect (asks the question), focus (how to look at it), do (how to approach a solution).

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I really think this is a good book to have.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All the opinions here are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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ESSENTIAL FONDUE COOKBOOK by Erin Harris

Nonfiction, Cookbook

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Blurb: What’s better than a dinner party centered around a bubbling pot of delectable, melted goodness? The Essential Fondue Cookbook is your guide to a communal feast that unites different cultures and flavors, offering countless ways to indulge in a delicious life. Start by learning all of the important tips for throwing a fondue gathering—from how to pick the right fondue pot to how to select the finest cheeses. With this fondue cookbook, you’ll dive into 75 deliciously dippable recipes ranging from classic cheese dishes to savory desserts that will elevate any get-together from mundane to memorable. Cook. Dip. Enjoy. Check out what else this fondue cookbook includes: Fondues and don’ts—Discover why swirling your dipper in a figure eight is good and eating straight from your sharpened long-handled fondue fork is bad.
Beyond conventional—Not only do the recipes in this fondue cookbook feature chocolate and cheese dishes, there are also lesser-known favorites and techniques like Fondue Bourguignonne.
Cheese wisely—Learn how to select the proper cheeses to ensure your meals taste like they were imported from a Swiss restaurant. Treat yourself and your guests to the tasty flavors found in this essential fondue cookbook

Thoughts: I really appreciated the fact that this book gave instructions for absolute beginners of fondue, but also included tips and recipes for those who are experienced in the art of fondue cuisine. There are many incredible looking recipes in this book that I am dying to try; unfortunately, living where I do, it will take a special trip into a city to find some of the specialized ingredients needed. I was able to sample the baked brie fondue and the cheddar ale recipes, and they were phenomenal! The recipes are made for appetizer size portions, and we doubled them to make a meal out of them. All in all, I think this is a great book for anyone looking to experiment with fondue cooking.

What I liked: Really interesting recipes I’m dying to try. And the information on different types of pots that I didn’t know.

What I didn’t like: some unusual ingredients that are difficult to find in my area. Also, no nutritional information or pictures, both of which would have been helpful.

Recommendation: If you are a fondue lover already, add this one to your shelf. If not…it’s not the easiest book for newbies.

Vicky & Jeannine

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EVERYDAY STRESS RELIEF by Ruth C. White

Nonfiction, self-help, health

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Blurb: Stress is a natural part of life, and there’s no way to eliminate it entirely, but we can control how our bodies respond to difficult situations. (This book) is the guide to understanding your own stress and finding personal strategies that work to focus your mind so you can calm your body. Learn what causes stress and how your body reacts to emotional triggers. Then, research-backed exercises and thoughtful advice give you the tools to effectively control the influence that stress has on your everyday life.

Thoughts: Stress? We don’t have stress, do we? No. Not at all! LOL. Yes, everyone has stress and we all have to learn to deal with it. Nobody has the same issues, reacts the same way, or handles things in the same way. This book helps you work through different issues by using movement, writing exercises, mindfulness, reflection, and other techniques. Though each exercise has a specific technique to go with it, I can see where some of the other ones could be applied to each one. There is a comprehensive introduction to stress and how it affects our bodies.

What I liked: I liked the various techniques used throughout. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” answer to everything. Yes, each example (getting married, deadlines, children, spouses, illness, etc.) has a specific way of dealing, but I believe the various actions could be applied to any of the challenges. I especially liked the resources at the end: websites that offer stress assessment tests, management tips, organizations and support groups.

What I didn’t like: nothing. I thought this a very useful book.

Recommendation: If stress is something that you struggle with—and who doesn’t?—this book has all kinds of ideas to help you with your issues. A definite plus for any bookshelf.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 5/20

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A YEAR OF MINDFULNESS FOR BEGINNERS by Lee Papa

Nonfiction, self-help, health

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Blurb: 365 days, 365 ways to master mindfulness—a guide for beginners. Start your journey to living better, being present, and acting with intention today. A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners is the perfect choice for people looking to internalize the practice and develop beneficial, lifelong habits. Featuring daily doses of affirmations, exercises, meditations, and inspiring quotes, A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners helps you live in the moment and be more aware of yourself.

A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners includes: Beginner-friendly—Embrace mindfulness for beginners with simple, beginner-friendly exercises that help you take things one day at a time. A year of practice—Find out how to be more mindful with 365 entries that let you progress at your own pace.Memorable quotes—Be inspired as you discover how the ideas behind mindfulness have resonated with great thinkers, writers, and more—including Dalai Lama XIV, Oscar Wilde, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Bruce Lipton.

Thoughts: The book contains a lot of inspirational quotes from people like Norman Vincent Peale, Martin Luther King Jr., Mark Twain, and more. It also has affirmations for you to use to help with stress and become more centered. It also stresses that mindfulness “is a part of every decision. It is a philosophy of life. Mindfulness is the nonjudgmental awareness of your thoughts, actions, and the world around you.” (Lee Papa). With that in mind, some of the things in the book were a little too “out there” for me. Which is okay. Not everything is for everyone. Which brings me to the biggest issue with the book. It is very colorful—not necessarily a bad thing—but for a person with color issues, I had a lot of trouble reading some of the pages—especially white print on yellow pages. Plus, I honestly believe this book would do better as a daily calendar than a book. It just seems to lend itself to that format.

What I liked: the various quotes from famous people. They were nice to read. Also, some of the exercises/mantras/etc. did pique my interest enough to want to follow them—maybe not on a daily basis, but definitely once in a while.

What I didn’t like: a lot of the colors made it difficult to read. Really – just stick to black on white, please. Or black on yellow. I wish publishers would keep readability in mind when producing these books. Also, as noted above, the format of this book would seem to lend itself better to being a calendar.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a way to get deeper into mindfulness, this is a good place to start. Not all the daily offerings may resonate with you, but that is normal and part of mindfulness. If nothing else, enjoy the uplifting quotes and affirmations.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All the opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 5/2020

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LIVING ZEN: A practical guide to a balanced existence by Seth Zuiho Segall

Nonfiction, religion, self-help

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Blurb: Zen can be achieved by anyone—and Living Zen will show you the way. This simple and straight-forward guide helps you bring the practice of Zen into your life with scenarios inspired by the real lives of people who are using Zen strategies to overcome real challenges. Whether you’re a new or current practitioner, Living Zen provides you with a quick primer on the ideas behind Zen and its spiritual background before showing you how to bring it into your life. Discover a variety of exercises you can use to achieve peace and balance…

Thoughts: There are three sections to this book. In the first one, we learn the history of Zen, including how it is practiced both as a part of Buddhism and in self-care. It is a broad overview, but gives you enough information that you can understand the background. The second section is a series of anecdotes that show you how Zen can be applied to everyday life. Each story contains a set of maxims that are being showcased, what the problem is, and how to approach it from a Zen point. There are stories about being dumped, health, internet bullying, and more. The final section is how to find more information, a glossary and other suggestions on going forward. It’s a little sparse, but what is there is helpful.

What I liked: It is a decent introduction to the practice of Zen. There are a lot of examples of how Zen can work in your everyday life.

What I didn’t like: The final section is very sparse in information telling you to look on the internet, but not giving you places that might be a place to start. I guess this is very Zen. It doesn’t tell you what to do, just gives gentle guidance in what you *might* want to do. Plus, some of the words – though explained in the glossary – stopped me because of pronunciation issues. That took me quite a bit of time to figure out.

Recommendation: It’s an informative book with over 100 examples of using Zen in your daily life. Recommended as an addition to your Zen library, but not as a complete study.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by anyone or anything.

Vicky 5/2020

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ONE-POT VEGAN COOKBOOK by Gunjan Dudani

Nonfiction, cookbook

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Blurb: Making delicious and satisfying vegan meals at home just got easier. Thanks to the One-Pot Vegan Cookbook, you can whip up crowd-pleasing plant-based favorites with just one pot, pan, or appliance. This means less time in the kitchen, no extra dishes, and super-fast cleanup.From comfort food classics to veggies, snacks, and sauces, these dishes are simple to prepare; made with accessible, familiar ingredients; and so tasty your whole family will clamor for more. Making delicious and satisfying vegan meals at home just got easier. Thanks to the One-Pot Vegan Cookbook, you can whip up crowd-pleasing plant-based favourites with just one pot, pan, or appliance. This means less time in the kitchen, no extra dishes, and super-fast cleanup. From comfort food classics to veggies, snacks, and sauces, these dishes are simple to prepare; made with accessible, familiar ingredients; and so tasty your whole family will clamour for more.

Thoughts: Though I’m not a vegan, I can easily see myself using several of the recipes in this book. They are clear, concise, with ingredients that are mostly easy to find – and the recipes are easily adaptable for families who aren’t vegan. Vegan diets are quite popular right now and this book makes it eve easier. The first chapters give you lists of equipment (nothing odd – stuff most kitchens have already), the benefits of a vegan diet, what you can use as proteins when you’re not using meat, and a comprehensive pantry list. There are multiple recipes in each category including breakfasts, soups/stews, comfort foods, snacks, main meals, and more.

What I liked: The recipes are well-written and adaptable. There are good photos and a wide variety of “one pots” including air fryers and pressure cookers (and tips if you don’t have these). I love that the recipes have the nutrients listed as well as serving suggestions (some) and allergen information (gluten free, nut free, etc.)

What I didn’t like: very little. I thought this was a comprehensive, easy to understand and follow cookbook.

Recommendation: Vegan or not, this is a good book to have on your shelves. I know I’m going to be using several of the recipes soon, and a lot more in the future.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher for providing this book at no charge. All opinions are my own.

Vicky

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GLUTEN-FREE DAIRY-FREE COOKBOOK by Danielle Fahrenkrug

Nonfiction, cookbook

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Blurb: No gluten, no dairy, plenty of flavor—100 wholesome, healthy meals for everyone. It’s not always easy to find delicious, hearty recipes without dairy or gluten. Whether you’re new to the diet or a seasoned pro, you now hold in your hands a gluten and dairy free cookbook with 100 ways to make everyday dishes healthy and fun for the whole family. From overnight oats to pasta and seafood, these recipes are designed with easy-to-find, whole-food ingredients, and most only take about an hour from start to finish. It’s simpler than ever to go gluten and dairy free—naturally. This gluten and dairy free cookbook includes: Backed by science—Learn the science behind gluten, dairy, and your body, and how these recipes can help you feel healthier. New and classic recipes―Every recipe in this gluten and dairy free cookbook is made without any gluten or dairy (not just one or the other), but they’re still tasty and familiar enough for everyone to love. A helping hand—Charts show you how to mix and measure different alternatives like almond milk or chia seeds, and even make your own gluten-free flour.

Make healthy eating satisfying for everyone with the ultimate gluten and dairy free cookbook.

Thoughts: I liked this book overall, but don’t look for healthy for all of them, including the use of corn syrup (pecan pie). There is a a lot of good information at the beginning including alternatives you can use for both dairy and gluten. I will note that quite a few of the recipes use oats which are often not safe for those with celiac. There are even directions on how to make your own cashew milk. There is a chart of conversions in the back and each recipe includes nutritional information. It is a grain-heavy book even without the gluten and calls for a lot of store-bought ingredients.

What I liked: the “essentials” section with recipes for homemade ketchup. Yes, this has neither gluten nor dairy in it, but as someone who cannot use store bought ketchup because of other allergens (some of the spices), I like being able to make my own. There’s also dairy-free ricotta cheese, dressings, and more. Loved this section. The recipes are clear, easy to follow, and include other allergen information as well as nutritional info. There are a few pictures that are nice and enhance the book.

What I didn’t like: some of the recipes use ingredients that are not available at my grocery stores (white truffle oil, garam masala) and I would have liked to have seen some recipes on the basics like biscuits or muffins or bread instead of relying on store-bought stuff.

Recommendation: This is a decent book with some really good recipes, good information, and would be a good addition to any GF-DF shelf.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this book to me. All opinions are my own.

Vicky

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CONVECTION OVEN COOKING MADE SIMPLE by Janet A. Zimmerman

Nonfiction, cookbook

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Blurb: Even heat distribution for an extra-crispy crunch—the complete guide to convection ovens. Convection ovens aren’t just for professional kitchens—now you can enjoy everything you would from a restaurant right in your own home with this convection oven cookbook. From flaky pastries to perfectly juicy roasts, here’s how to get the most out of your convection oven—no experience required. Whether you have a built-in or countertop model, with this convection oven cookbook you’ll learn the science behind convection cooking and how these special ovens can make your favorite dishes even tastier. Then, combine your newfound knowledge of best practices with 101 creative, tasty recipes and see why everyone raves about the crispy, tender, and flavorful meals that convection ovens yield.

Thoughts: This is a nice-sized book (178 Pgs) geared toward those who have convection ovens—whether a large one or a counter-top model. The first chapter gives you an overview of the various ovens and how they work plus cookware that is best to use in them. The author also includes steps in choosing, an oven and converting recipes.  After that, there are recipes for breakfasts, sides, meats/seafood/poultry, breads, desserts, and more. Each recipe contains allergen information, times, swaps and tips. Unfortunately, there are no nutrient listings for any of the recipes. This is followed by charts that help with time conversions.

What I liked: time saving recipes (under 30 minutes); clear, concise information; time conversions; how-to’s.

What I didn’t like: there are no nutrient tables with the recipes—something that is important to me.

Recommendation: This is a helpful book for those who have convection ovens—and there are a lot of great recipes even if you don’t. The conversion charts would help you go either way. I’d definitely add this one to my shelves.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Callisto Publisher’s Club. All opinions are my own with no influence from anyone.

Vicky

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DAIRY FREE COOKBOOK FOR BEGINNERS by Chrissy Carroll

Nonfiction, cookbook

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Blurb: Your all-in-one beginner’s guide to eating dairy-free everyday―101 stress-free recipes

With a little help and guidance, living dairy-free can be both doable and delicious. The Dairy Free Cookbook for Beginners is a great way to start eating smarter and healthier every day. There are dozens of dairy free cookbook recipes you can make in minutes―everything from a delightful dinnertime feast to sweet treats for dessert, all while satisfying your dietary needs with ease. With fresh takes on classic comfort foods like Mac and Cheese and Barbecue Chicken Pizza, this complete dairy free cookbook delivers everything you need to make and serve non-dairy dishes your entire family will enjoy―and feel like you’re not missing out. If you’ve recently decided to switch to this nutritious diet plan to address health concerns, the Dairy Free Cookbook for Beginners can help you get started in a snap.

Thoughts: This is a great book for those who have to (or just want to) go dairy free. The beginning has a decent introduction on the benefits of going dairy-free, hidden forms of dairy, substitutions you can use instead of dairy products, and meal plans (a nice addition). Being severely lactose intolerant, I enjoyed the large number of recipes that give me options for foods I’ve been doing without. There are instructions on how to make your own almond milk, oat milk, cream cheese, and more. Each recipe includes servings, times, allergen options, tips and nutritional information. At the end, there is a section on recommended brands to use. Though there weren’t a lot of pictures, there were some that added to the book.

What I liked: the recipes on making my own milks, cheeses, and more. I loved that the nutritional information was included. Loved the recipes and will definitely be using a lot of them. I liked the “options” in a lot of the recipes that gives you tips on swapping ingredients for other ones.

What I didn’t like: very little. This is a good basic book with clear, concise easy-to-follow recipes. A definite must for those with dairy issues and a good addition to any cookbook shelf.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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EVERYDAY HEALTHY COOKBOOK by Kathy Hodson

Nonfiction, cookbook

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Blurb: Lay the foundation for good health with 100 healthy, family-friendly recipes. Healthy eating isn’t a fad diet or a trend―it’s a lifestyle that promotes overall well-being. The Everyday Healthy Cookbook is filled with two weeks of meal plans, 100 flavorful recipes, and tons of information to help you eat healthfully, simply, and deliciously every day of the year. These dishes cover every meal of the day, and they’re organized by cooking method for your convenience: no-cook, 30-minute, one-pot, big-batch, pressure cooker, and slow cooker. You’ll find nutritional information with every recipe in this healthy cookbook, plus labels for vegetarian, vegan, and low-calorie options. Who knew eating healthy could be so easy?

Thoughts: The author states at the beginning that she is not a nutritionist or doctor but the recipes were road tested by her kids in the real world. She gives you ten suggestions (focus on natural food, plan meals in advance, build good habits, etc.) that help you with setting good eating habits. There are pantry lists, meal plans, and more. The layout of the cookbook is unlike others in that it is not organized by meal but by cooking method: 30-minute meals, one pot meals, no-cook meals, double-duty dinners, and so on. Each recipe includes nutritional information (yay!).

What I liked: clear, concise easy-to-follow recipes with substitutions, tips, and more; nutritional stats; ten “rules” for eating better; shopping lists.

What I didn’t like: Some recipes have ingredients that aren’t easy for me to find. There are no “substitutions” for allergens (gluten free, dairy free, etc.). There are almost no pictures.

Recommendation: For a good basic book on eating healthier, I’d add this one to my shelves. There are a lot of really good recipes in here (that I will definitely be trying). Recommended.

Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. All opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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THE TOUGHEST SUDOKU PUZZLE BOOK by Christina Smith and Rick Smith

Nonfiction, puzzle book

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Blurb: Whether you’re already a pro or you’re looking to build your abilities, this book will challenge and entertain you with hours of mind-bending fun. It’s packed with 240 clever, creative Sudoku puzzles, plus complete explanations of 14 fail-proof solving techniques to guarantee your success. Along with standard puzzles, this book contains 18 variations to keep your brain engaged and your pencil sharp. Difficulty increases throughout, culminating in a bonus chapter that will stretch the minds of even the most advanced players. Finally, a helpful hints section provides three clues per puzzle to get you over any hurdles.

Thoughts: The book starts off with an introduction section that gives you all sorts of tips on how to solve the puzzles. The instructions are clear, easy to understand and will definitely help you as you work your way through the book. It starts with easier ones and builds up to ones that are beyond challenging.

What I liked: The “how-to” section in the beginning. I’ve been doing Sudoku for years, but these tips gave me new insights on how to do them. There are answer grids in the back (thank you).

What I didn’t like: nothing. Unless you consider my level of frustration. Very challenging – which is not a bad thing. And you are warned by the title alone.

Recommendation: If you love a challenge, get this book. It’s challenging, fun, and will keep you busy for hours.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher. Opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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HOLISTIC-SELF-CARE GUIDED JOURNAL by Carley Schweet

Nonfiction, Self-Help

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Blurb: Self-care is the essential, powerful practice of loving yourself―not just with fun indulgences, but with everyday habits that support and strengthen every part of you. The Holistic Self-Care Guided Journal helps you build the best self-care practices and reclaim your relationship with yourself―addressing everything from nurturing your mindset to organizing your personal space to reaching out to your community. Uncover inner truths and facilitate your own transformation with a guided journal full of writing prompts, assessments, meditations, goal setting, affirmations, and more. These evidence-based self-care strategies help promote holistic well-being and grow your self-worth through practicing mindfulness and building positive habits.

Review: This book is divided into sections about nurturing self, expanding your mind, getting creative, moving your body, getting organized, and embracing your community, but I’m not sure I’d call it a “journal”. It’s more like a guide to journaling or even a workbook, mostly because there isn’t a lot of room to really write. But that being said, it is a good book. It’s colorful, full of different types of activities, quotes, and guidance with prompts, affirmations, and meditations. And you don’t have to read it in linear order. You can jump around to whatever you want, which is nice. The tone is nurturing and calming, designed to help you, not make you feel like you’re lacking.

What I liked: the different sections (Nurture Yourself, Expand Your Mind, Get Creative, Move Your Body, Get Organized, Embrace Your Community), the inspirational quotes, the suggestions to get you moving/thinking/doing something. I also liked that it is non-linear so you can go to whatever section you need at that time and not feel like you’ve missed something.

What I didn’t like: if anything, it’s that it’s a “journal” with not much room to write and bound tightly so you have difficulty writing in it. I’d prefer a spiral bound book I could lay flat to write in. But that’s a minor nit.

Recommendation: This is a definite “add to my collection” book. Highly recommended for anyone looking to do some self-help work.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own.  

Vicky 2020

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THE SLEEP WORKBOOK: Easy Strategies to Break the Anxiety-Insomnia Cycle by Renata Alexandre

Nonfiction – Self Help

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Blurb: Conquer anxiety-induced insomnia with your mind—a workbook for rethinking sleep. If you are among the 1/3 of adults in the United States dealing with the vicious cycle of chronic sleep disruption, you can put your worries to bed. The Sleep Workbook uses the scientifically proven Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) to change your thinking, improve your life, and help you get a good night’s rest. By following easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow steps, you can reduce anxiety, change detrimental sleep habits, and sleep more easily. CBT-I can help you make measurable positive changes, boost your confidence, and have more energy to do the things that matter. Before turning to options like sleeping pills, take the time to understand your insomnia and change the things you have full control over—your thoughts and behavior.

Review: This is a good place to start if you are having trouble sleeping. It begins with explanations of why people might have trouble sleeping and different disorders that may lead to that. There are several quizzes that help you determine your personal sleep issues. Then the author uses cognitive behavioral therapy suggestions to guide the reader with journaling and a log you can use to figure out your sleep patterns. The ideas for bedtime routines are practical and easy to follow. They include meditation, journaling, mindfulness, muscle relaxation, and even lavender and chamomile tea.

What I liked: I liked the quizzes, journaling ideas, and the log. All of these things together help you figure out your individual issues and how you can address them. I also liked that each of these things is gathered into a separate part at the back of the book so you don’t have to go searching for them. I really liked the chapter about anxiety—something all of us need on occasion. The author gives you practical ideas for you to use in order to move your thoughts into a calmer pattern. I also found the tips about what to do when you wake up in the middle of the night to be helpful!

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I thought this was a very well-done book and a good place to start on your journey to dreamland.

Recommendation: If you, like me, have trouble with sleeping, pick up a copy of this book. It will help you figure out the problem and where to go from there. Definitely recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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POSITIVE THINKING: A 52-week Journal by Katherine Flannery

Nonfiction Self Help

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Blurb: Harness the power of positive thinking with weekly wisdom, inspiration, and writing prompts. Maintaining a positive attitude takes practice. This beautiful, practical journal is packed with mantras, affirmations, quotes, and simple yet thought-provoking prompts to guide you in your journey toward an optimistic outlook. Positive Thinking will help you identify the types of negative thoughts you typically have and inspire you to reshape, reform, and recast them in a constructive light with 52 weekly exercises that only take a few minutes to complete. Get on the path to a brighter point of view!

Review: This book contains prompts for weekly writing that are supposed to guide you toward more positive thinking. There are things like creative prompts for writing or drawing, mindful journaling ideas, and more. For instance: “List something you are grateful for today, something you enjoy today and something you will improve on today. If you can, make this short list every day this week and see if your outlook changes, even if just a little, by the end of the week.” There are also positive affirmations you can read and/or repeat. They are thoughtful and can lift your spirits. And there is a decent resource page at the end.

What I liked: Each week is different from the previous and the next. They switch between drawing/doodling, writing, or making lists (yay! I love lists). There are even breathing exercises to try. All fifty-two are encouraging and designed to help you feel good about yourself.

What I didn’t like: If I had to say anything, it would be that I wish the book was in some sort of more flexible binding to make writing and drawing in it easier. But that is such a minor thing. The book itself is very well done.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for anyone seeking to feel better about themselves and their world. I’ll be purchasing some copies for gifts.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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THE DAILY MEDITATION BOOK OF HEALING by Worthy Stokes

Nonfiction Self Help, Meditation

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Blurb: Heal yourself and transform your life—one day at a time. The Daily Meditation Book of Healing will help you address trauma, anxiety, and emotional distress with encouraging and inspirational reflections and affirmations for every day of the year. Discover the benefits of spending a few minutes a day in mindful meditation as you embrace possibility, awaken to curiosity, and take inspired action. Expand your potential as you devote yourself to the practice of compassionate tenderness.

Review: This is a book of sayings, suggestions, meditations for every day of the year (including leap day). Some of them are very brief (April 22: I bring heartfelt joy into every moment, and I share this warmth with others.) while others are longer and invite you to actually do something positive, like finding something to laugh at. Some of them touch on the mystical, which may turn some people off, but I found them…interesting.

What I liked: I liked the ideas about forgiving yourself—and others, letting go of doubts and embracing positive thoughts. I even found the more mystical ones intriguing and thought-provoking. While some of the daily sayings may not be anything more than “I am enough as I am, and I am worthy of this life”, most are a paragraph that gives you things to think about and reflect upon.

What I didn’t like: I’d almost rather see this as a part of a journal workbook with each day’s reflection something to journal about. I believe it would be more useful as this. As it is, it’s just something like a calendar with sayings or things to reflect on. In fact, it would make a good “daily calendar”.

Recommendation: If you are just looking for sayings or guidance for a more hopeful outlook, this could be the book for you. But be aware of the mystical aspects – though some may see them as spiritual, depending on your belief system. It’s an interesting book, but I believe would be better suited as a daily calendar than a book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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EASY CHINESE COOKBOOK: Restaurant Favorites Made Simple by Chris Toy

Nonfiction, Cooking

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Blurb: Takeout made in―85+ classic Chinese dishes you can make at home. When you think of the irresistible tastes and smells of popular takeout meals, few are more satisfying than Chinese food. The Easy Chinese Cookbook offers you more than 85 recipes to help you recreate restaurant favorites in the comfort of your own kitchen. Learn how to make staples like General Tso’s Chicken, Crab Rangoon, and Egg Rolls with easy step-by-step instructions for beginners. This Chinese cookbook will also walk you through a typical Chinese American pantry, recommend ingredient substitutions, and teach you cooking shortcuts to keep recipes fast, easy, and delicious.

Review: I love Chinese food (especially when I didn’t have to do the cooking), but had to give it up when I and other members of my family were diagnosed with food allergies. This book allows me to have some of our favorites again (with modifications). There is a lengthy introduction which includes a brief history of Chinese take-out, the differences between Cantonese, Sichuan, and Hunan bases. This is followed by an extensive “Pantry” section where the author describes essential spices, sauces, wines, and condiments as well as equipment. And no, you don’t have to have a lot of “special” equipment. Most people have things that will work perfectly fine already in their kitchens. Then we get into the recipes, and they are yummy.

What I liked: The extensive descriptions and explanations as noted above. Some of the recipes have troubleshooting tips or substitutions included. Recipes are clear, concise, easy to follow.

What I didn’t like: There are very few pictures and no nutritional values included.

Recommendation: If you’re missing Chinese take-out or just looking to experiment with your own cooking of these dishes, I’d pick this one up. There are some very tasty recipes in here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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21-DAY ARTHRITIS DIET PLAN by Ana Reisdorf

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Self-Help

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Blurb: Managing arthritis inflammation and pain with a diet plan and tasty recipes. Millions of Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, but few understand the link between their diet and their pain and inflammation. The 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan gives you essential information on the root causes of the condition and high-risk foods to avoid, plus a specialized Mediterranean-style diet plan that’s quick, easy, and delicious. From Garlic Steak with Warm Spinach Salad to Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, this nutritious arthritis diet plan and cookbook can get you on the path to gaining strength and improving your symptoms by eating smarter and healthier every day. It’s not just good for arthritis―it’s also a practical plan for anyone looking to lose weight and feel better. Get soothing relief from arthritis pain and inflammation―one healthy, tasty recipe at a time.

Review: This book with an overview of osteoarthritis, explaining the connection between arthritis and nutrition along with other influences like sleep and exercise. It follows the guidelines of the Mediterranean Diet that works against pain and inflammation as well as weight loss that will turn the tide on the effects of arthritis and even work toward OA prevention. The largest portion of the book is the three-week menu plan, shopping lists, and tips to make the menus work. Then the menu plan is followed by the recipes organized by meal. A helpful detailed index in the back makes it easy to find by ingredient. There is also a helpful bibliography list of resources and references.

What I liked: I liked that it went into detail with menu plans and suggestions and especially that it follows the Mediterranean diet plan. I liked that each recipe included substitutions and nutritional information. I liked the pantry/shopping lists so you know what you need to have on hand and most ingredients are easily obtained.

What I didn’t like: There are no pictures of any of the recipes. None. I know this is a little thing, but it does add interest and impact to a cookbook when there are at least a few photos to show what a dish looks like.

Recommendation: I would definitely add this book to my collection, not just for the sake of arthritis relief, but for the tasty recipes, menu suggestions, and more. It’s not perfect, but it is a very good place to start.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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SUGAR DETOX IN 10 DAYS by Pam Rocca

Nonfiction, cooking, self-help

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Blurb: This is your guide to cutting refined sugar from your diet and reintroducing foods that help you lose weight, improve digestion, and boost energy. Explore 10-day meal plans featuring sugar-free recipes made with whole-food ingredients. You’ll find weekly shopping lists and meal prep guides to help you make the commitment to a healthier lifestyle. “By removing sugar and refined foods from your diet, you can experience an increase in your energy level and alertness and a reduction in bloating and inflammation,” Pam Rocca writes in the introduction.

Review: This book is for those interested in getting rid of the cravings for sugar in their diet. After an introduction, the book is divided into eleven sections that contain recipes, measurement conversions, an index, acknowledgments, and the author’s biography. We are given an overview of sugar cravings and their effects, refined foods, different names for sugar, addiction, stress, and physical ways to avoid it. The second part of the book focuses on the kitchen, food lists, nutrition tips, and good habits, while the third one has four ten-day plans covering lean meat, pescatarian, vegan, and vegetarian meals, complete with pantry lists. The remaining chapters have recipes for breakfast, condiments, dips, sauces, salads, soups, vegan/vegetarian mains, seafood, poultry, and lean meat meals, and desserts. Each recipe contains prep and cook times and a descriptive paragraph. Many recipes also include additions, cooking/prep tips, substitutions, time-saving, and storage suggestions. There is also nutritional information for each recipe.

What I liked: This book is a good place to start if you are looking to switch from sugary foods to healthy choices. I like how the recipes are clear and easy to follow. Having the four different food plans is also very helpful. And the few pictures included were a nice addition (though more would be nice). I especially liked the inclusion of nutritional information.

What I didn’t like:  Very little. A nicely done book, easy to read and follow.

Recommendation: If you are serious about wanting to eliminate sugar and refined foods from your diet, this helpful book not only shows you how to do it in ten days via four types of diet plans, but it also provides over one-hundred recipes to do it. It’s clear, easy to read and follow. Recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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THE 30-MINUTE GLUTEN-FREE COOKBOOK by Jan Withington

Nonfiction, Cooking

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Blurb: Going gluten-free is stress-free―100+ tasty meals are just 30 minutes away. Whether you have a gluten intolerance or you’ve recently decided to cut gluten from your daily diet, making the switch to gluten-free has never been faster, easier, or more delectable. The 30-Minute Gluten-Free Cookbook is the perfect way to start eating smarter and healthier with tons of recipes you can make at home in just minutes. From Mexican Chili Corn Pie to Teriyaki Chicken Burgers, this complete gluten-free cookbook takes the guesswork out of being a glutenless gourmet. Discover everything you need to whip up delicious dishes you’ll enjoy. With this all-in-one gluten-free cookbook, you’ll feel great with good food that tastes great too.

Review: My husband and I have been gluten-free for years, as such, I have searched, researched, discovered, learned many things about going gluten-free. This is a decent basic book to begin with if you are going gluten-free. There is a short intro that explains gluten and how to avoid it by checking labels, cross-contamination, and more. There are alternative grain swaps and staple substitutions also. However, there is no list of ingredients that are gluten-containing contaminants that you may find on labels. Yes, reading labels is important, but knowing what to look for is more-so. Going completely gluten-free is a learning process and this book is lacking in that kind of information. And while she does talk about challenges in a family that is split into gluten/non-gluten, there is little information on how to address this. This is a decent cookbook with some good recipes, but not good for in-depth info on going gluten-free.

What I liked: Some of the recipes are really tasty. They are clear with good directions and include whether they are vegetarian, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, etc. There is information on servings, prep and cook times, as well as nutritional information. There are even a few color pictures throughout. Some of the recipes contain tips for making things easier, quicker, or substitutions. I really liked the resource guide at the end for places to go for more information, though this could also have been more extensive.

What I didn’t like: I’d really have liked to have seen more information on foods that contain gluten for the neophyte (like barley syrup, some soy sauces, etc.).

Recommendation: If you’re just starting out, I’d look for websites or other books with more information. But for some quick and easy recipes that are gluten-free and delicious, add this one to your collection.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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COMPLETE DEHYDRATOR COOKBOOK by Carole Cancler

Nonfiction, how-to, cooking

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Blurb: The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook: the definitive guide to deliciously easy meals. From sun-dried produce in ancient Egypt to salty air-dried fish aboard Viking ships, dehydration is one of the oldest, most versatile methods of preservation―creating foods that are compact, perfect for traveling, and great for a quick snack or backup meal. The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook is your all-in-one guide to easy, affordable home drying, pairing delicious dehydrated foods with easy-to-navigate guidance to get you drying in no time. Whether you’re preserving seasonal crops or making protein-packed camping snacks, this dehydrator cookbook takes you through the ins and outs of dehydrating, storing, and rehydrating a wide variety of foods. The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook is also brimming with 125 simple dehydrator recipes for everything from stews and curries to herbal teas and spice blends to ready-to-eat breads, crackers, and cookies. Whether you’re on the go or snacking at home, the portable dishes in this dehydrator cookbook will add some deliciousness to your pantry.

Review: Drying is one of the oldest and easiest ways to preserve most types of foods, including meats, fish, vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, and seeds. This book is for those who are interested in learning how to do this. It is divided into six sections: Dehydrating 100, Dehydrating Produce, Meat and Fish Jerky, Fruit and Veggies Leathers and Chips, Just Add Water, Fresh from the Dehydrator. There are also measurement conversions at the end and an extensive index. The author explains what a dehydrator is, safety, pretreatments, time factors, storage, and rehydration. The rest of the book is dedicated to how to do things and recipes for using what you have dried. Each “recipe” gives you preparation, drying times, and storage for what you’ve dried as well as explanations on how it should look.

What I liked: Detailed explanations and easy to follow instructions. I also liked that she included storage suggestions. I liked a lot of the recipes – especially for making your own spice/herb mixes.

What I didn’t like: That she is only sold on using a dehydrator. Yes, that is the most practical, safest, easiest way to do things, but not everyone has this available or can afford one. I’d liked to have seen an option for oven drying. But…her use of a dehydrator is the best way to go. I cannot argue that.

Recommendation: If you are at all interested in dehydrating for food storage, I would definitely pick this book up. It is clear, easy to understand, easy to follow with a ton of good information. A definite recommend.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky

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HERB MAGIC: An Introduction to Magical Herbalism… by Patti Wigington

Non-fiction, How-to

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Blurb: Herbal magic is a powerful method of inviting protection, love, health, and wealth into your life―it can even aid you in finding guidance through divination. Perfect for fresh and seasoned herbalists alike, Herb Magic is your easy-to-digest guide to magical herbalism, introducing you to the spiritual side of herbs and how to use them in folkloric spells and rituals. Dive into magical herbalism with a reader-friendly overview of this old-world magic belief system, including advice on the best time to practice, building an altar, and setting intentions. Learn about the healing properties of dozens of sacred herbs, how to unlock their power, and magical uses before exploring 75 easy-to-follow spells and rituals, including simplified magic for the witch on the go.


Review: This book packs a punch. There is a lot of information here – from the principles and basics, to descriptions of herbs, and spells and rituals to use them. The author included a brief history of herb use and includes explanations of infusions, sachets, burning, and more. The instructions are easy to read and understand and guide you in such a way that even a novice can do this. She gives you a listing of forty herbs with illustrations, common and Latin names, uses, and more. For each spell she guides you in what herbs to use, how to use them and what to do.

What I liked: I loved the ethics the author promotes – Do no harm. Accept responsibility for what you are doing, and magic requires effort. Do the work. She also warns you about the dangers of some herbs. I liked her instructions and guidance in different uses and properties of the herbs.

What I didn’t like: Very little. I’ve read other books on herbal magic but this was the first one I actually understood. A good basic place to start.

Recommendation: If you are interested in doing work with herbs, this should definitely be on your shelf, or in your hands. Highly recommended.

I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 4/20/20

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100 LARGE PRINT CROSSWORD PUZZLES by Chris King

Non-fiction, word puzzles

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Publisher blurb: For crossword puzzlers looking to challenge their brain, not their eyes. Entertain your brain and test your trivia knowledge with 100 puzzles that offer the perfect mix of challenge and relaxation. Each puzzle in 100 Large-Print Crossword Puzzles will sharpen your skills, exercise your mind, and unwind your stress―but never strain your eyes! Whether you’re new to crossword puzzles or already a pro, these puzzles will keep your brain active and improve your spelling recall while you relax and have fun. With each puzzle centered on an original theme, this collection of easy to read puzzles will have you captivated for hours!

Review: Time for some fun! These are easy-to-read, easy-to-do puzzles and even the answer grids are large-print and easy to read (not that I needed them!). I have been doing puzzles for years and found these a little too easy for me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them. There are clever clues, good instructions for newbies, and each puzzle has a theme.

What I liked: the size, the ease, the themes… this was a fun, relaxing book and I’m looking forward to finishing the puzzles.

What I didn’t like: Nothing! I want more!

Recommendation: For a fun, relaxing time with words, pick this book up. It’s easy on the eyes, not too taxing on the brain, and just a nice way to settle down in these unsettled times.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 4/15/2020
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ONLY THE HARDEST PUZZLES by Willa Chen

Non-fiction, puzzles, brain teasers

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Publisher’s blurb: 135 Hair-pulling puzzles to boost your brainpower―they’ll blow your mind! Complex crosswords, cryptic cryptograms, unsolvable Sudoku―they’re all here to confound and delight you! Unlike other puzzle books for adults, Only the Hardest Puzzles presents the broadest selection of absolute brain busters that makes solving super challenging and super entertaining ―even for seasoned puzzle fanatics. Featuring dozens of epic head-scratchers, Only the Hardest Puzzles goes above and beyond other puzzle books for adults by giving you the most amazing assortment of games to master. You’ll also boost your memory and mood while having tons of fun.

Review: Wow. They aren’t kidding about these being hard! If you’re looking for a challenge, this is the book to get. There are several varieties of puzzles including words, numbers, cryptograms, and more. And yes, there are answer grids in the back if you get stuck!

What I liked: the challenges! This book is going to take me time to work through, but I love it.

What I didn’t like: the size. Some of the grids are awfully small and really hard for me to read. It might have been better to put the grid on one page and the clues on the facing page in order to make them larger. Same for the word search. I actually had to photocopy and enlarge the page in order to work the one I did.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a challenge, look no further. This book is it. But, if you have trouble with small print and small grids, that could be an issue.

Vicky 4/15/2020

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SIMPLE SUPERFOOD SOUPS by Pamela Ellgen

Non-fiction, cooking

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Publisher blurb: Superfoods for super soups―complete nutrition in a bowl. Spoon more health into your everyday diet with 75 flavorful soups simmering with leafy greens, nuts, berries, and other superfoods you can find at your local supermarket. These vibrant and nutritious recipes are simple to put together and make it easy to get full servings of fruits and veggies. Learn to make 8 different superfood soup bases and how to mix them with endless combinations of superfoods and seasoning to create wholesome meals that your whole family will love.

Review: This book contains 75 recipes that are broken up into categories: stocks and broths, cold soups, comfort blends, hearty warmers, noodle soups and stews and chili. There are also sections on tools and equipment, conversion charts, references, resources, and more. Each recipe is easy to read with a list of ingredients and directions along with substitutions that can be used, nutritional information, and more. Where there are pictures, they are colorful and drool-worthy.

What I liked: the variety. There are broths, hearty stews, and more with vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free options. Each recipe has a list of whether that particular soup is gluten free, etc. which I loved. I absolutely loved the quote in the beginning: “If it comes from a plant, it’s a superfood. If it’s made in a plant, it’s not.” Thought that was cute. It’s not always accurate, but it’s cute. I liked that most of the recipes are easy with available ingredients. Directions were clear and concise.

What I didn’t like: very little. I found this to be a good book with some delicious recipes. I’ve tried a couple and can’t wait to try some more.

Recommendation: Soup is a meal we can all enjoy and this book is a good place to start. Full of information and good recipes. I’d definitely recommend this one.

I received this book gratis from the publisher.

Vicky 4/15/2020

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CULTIVATING CALM: AN ANXIETY JOURNAL by Brandi Matz

Non-fiction, self-help, journaling

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Blurb: Create calm in your life―practical, evidence-based exercises for relieving anxiety. When it comes to reducing anxiety, journaling can be a valuable therapeutic outlet. Cultivating Calm: An Anxiety Journal is full of practical writing prompts, strategies, and meditations designed to minimize anxious thoughts and feelings so you can get back to feeling like your true self. Journal your way to a calm mind with scientifically backed exercises tailored to specific anxiety triggers like clutter, finances, health, social situations, flying, and beyond. You’ll also find meditations for quieting your thoughts, getting restorative sleep, practicing gratitude, and more. With this anxiety journal, you’ll be on the path to peace! Cultivating Calm: An Anxiety Journal includes: Evidence-based prompts, thought-provoking quotes, therapeutic journaling.

Review: This book is especially appropriate for now and has some really great prompts for working through different types of anxiety including flying, crowds, clutter, finances, and more. After the prompts and journaling, there is a section on meditating – finding relaxation through the day and with different challenges. And though the prompts and mediations are self-guided, the author also encourages people with strong issues to work through this book with a therapist—a good idea. I had a few minor issues with the book as you’ll see below, but overall, I found this to be a good basic book that may help you identify why you have anxiety about certain things.

What I liked: The prompts were thought-provoking and followed by tips that helped you understand why you might be feeling what you do. I believe they will help you focus on the fear or issue that is causing your anxiety. I also found the mediations interesting and will be trying some of them in my daily practice. I liked that the author pointed you toward a therapist if you are struggling with anxiety.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked to have seen more variety in the prompts, maybe a selection of two or three for each. For instance, the “Intrusive thoughts” one talks about your children. While I do have concerns about mine, they are adults and no longer live with me. My intrusive thoughts center around other concerns. And yes, I understand what the prompt is trying to get you to think about, but not everyone has children so a different choice would be nice. Also, I’d have liked to have seen a listing at the end of maybe places to go for further help. I also wished it focused more on the calming aspect. Yes, I know what my fears are and what causes them, but how do I find calm through that? I suggest that maybe having the focused meditations with the anxiety issues and not separated might be more beneficial.

Recommendation: This book is a good place to start. Used with therapy, it could be beneficial to those with anxiety issues.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 4/15/2020

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TRIGGER POINT THERAPY MADE SIMPLE by Richard Finn

Non-fiction, Self-help, How-to

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Publisher blurb: Whether you’re recovering from an injury, dealing with a chronic condition, or experiencing daily headaches―trigger point therapy can provide pain relief. Those hidden, tender knots in your muscles―also known as trigger points―may be small but they can cause a huge amount of pain. Trigger Point Therapy Made Simple puts healing in your hands so you can stop living in pain and get back to thriving in your life. Learn the ropes of trigger point therapy with an overview of what causes trigger points, how trigger point therapy works, and what to expect. Organized by muscle, the illustrated, step-by-step instructions will help you find relief from injuries, fibromyalgia, and other myofascial pain conditions with gentle, easy motions and massage techniques. At-home treatment should be simple and effective―and now it is.

Review:

The book opens with a section on what trigger points are and how trigger point therapy works. I will note that I am married to a massage therapist and he looked through this book before I did and helped me with some of the exercises. That being said, I found this book easy to follow and understand for the most part. Even without prior knowledge, the explanations and illustrations for the exercises are clear.

What I liked: The information was easy to understand; the illustrations helped find points and the instructions were clear and concise.

What I didn’t like: very little. This is a good, basic book.

Recommendation: A definite must for anyone who has had issues with pain from injuries or has a chronic condition. Use it along with recommendations from your doctor/therapist (always consult them first!).

I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 3/23/2020

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ESSENTIAL PRANAYAMA by Jerry Givens

Non-fiction – self-help how-to

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Publisher blurb: Pranayama, translated as the extension of one’s life force, can help you improve focus, relieve stress, and deepen your yoga practice—simply through breathing. Essential Pranayama offers clear, approachable breath techniques and exercises for all levels of practitioner. Whether you’re experienced with yoga and breathwork or just beginning to explore, this guide will help you quickly feel the benefits of pranayama techniques. Discover both the modern scientific perspectives and the traditional wisdom around the effects of pranayama on the body and mind. Learn the building blocks of the techniques and find out how to sequence them to address your specific needs. You can use the short practices during a brief quiet moment in your day—or expand your yoga and meditation routines with longer combinations.

Review:

This is a good book for learning breathing techniques that can help you reduce stress (something we all can use right now). There was a lot of information at the beginning to show you why you need to learn these breathing techniques, and then the techniques themselves with levels from beginner to more advanced. They are easy to follow and understand.

What I liked: That the book is easy to follow and understand. Often books like these get very technical, and yes, there is some “technical” information concerning chakras and vayus, but the author makes it interesting. And the techniques themselves are easy to follow and understand.

What I didn’t like: Nothing about the book. Actually, I’d love it if these exercises were audio like a guided meditation. But the instructions are clear enough that I had no trouble following them.

Recommendation: This is a definite plus to add to any library for those looking to learn breathing techniques to help reduce stress and find peace and calm. Recommended.

I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 3/24/2020

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CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE FOR BEGINNERS by Carrie Chauhan

Non-fiction – self-help

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Publisher blurb: Chinese herbal medicine is a system of assessing and diagnosing the underlying causes of illnesses that has been refined over thousands of years. Taking a holistic approach, Chinese herbal medicine focuses on the whole person and emphasizes preventing illnesses by maintaining a physical, mental, and spiritual balance. Chinese Herbal Medicine for Beginners makes this vast landscape digestible for beginners and seasoned herbalists alike so you can confidently, and quickly, make soothing remedies of your own. Discover the principles of Chinese herbal medicine with a helpful primer on the systems that make up our bodies and what illness factors can cause imbalances. Set up your home apothecary with herbal decoctions, infusions, oils, and more using easy steps. Explore profiles on popular herbs, including their most common uses, before taking healing into your own hands with 100+ beginner-friendly recipes for Chinese herbal formulas.

Review:

Whether you’re new to the idea of herbal medicine or have been using it for a while, this is a great book to have in your library. As the author states, the focus is on preventing illness by maintaining balance. It breaks things down into easy-to understand ingredients and steps.

What I liked: the easy to follow instructions, the English/Chinese names of the ingredients. I especially liked the author’s comment about not using animal parts for anything. It’s all done with plants. I liked that the author included clear explanations about what is a decoction, infusion, soak, compress, and more. She also included resources where you can purchase items you would need.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I thought this a very well thought-out, easily read and understood book on the basics.

Recommendation: a definite need for anyone looking to learn more about herbal medicine. Highly recommended.

I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 3/23/2020

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THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO RUNES by Josh Simonds

Non-fiction How To

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Publisher blurb: Discover a simple way to unlock the ancient power of runes. Digging deep into both history and mythology, The Beginner’s Guide to Runes serves as the perfect starting point for anyone interested in exploring these ancient and magical symbols. Focused around the Elder Futhark (the oldest runic alphabet), this informative book offers a simple and effective path to bringing runes into your day-to-day life. Whether you want to gain insight into the future through divination or creating protective talismans, straightforward and concise instructions make them simple to understand. Read it in the runes—this book is the easiest way to get started with this unique form of magic.

The Beginner’s Guide to Runes helps you:

  • Explore the Elder Futhark—Get a complete breakdown—including meanings, magical uses, and more—of all 24 runes that make up this archaic alphabet.
  • Seek guidance—Learn how to practice the art of runic divination—a fortune-telling technique that calls on runes to provide insight into the future.
  • Master magic—From creating runescripts (straight-line arrangements) to bind runes (2 or more combined into a single symbol), find out how this mystical script can be used to bring change to your world.

Review:

This book contains a massive amount of information. It goes into the origins of runes, the history, mythology, principles, and a whole lot more. But it does it in such a way that it’s interesting and informative, not boring. There are three major sections: Origin and Types; Practices and Principles; and the Three Aetts which include definitions and pronunciation of individual runes.

What I liked: As noted above, this is easy to read and understand. It gives you good ideas on how to use runes in your daily life. You can read each section individually, but I suggest reading it in the order given helps you understand more. I also liked the resources and references section at the back.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. It’s one of the best books on runes that I’ve read in a while.

Recommendation: A definite add for anyone looking to know more about these mystical symbols.

I received this book from the publisher.

Vicky 3/23/2020

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MEDITERRANEAN DIET COOKBOOK FOR TWO by Anne Danahy

Non-fiction, cookbook

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Publisher blurb: With fresh, flavorful ingredients like crisp veggies, succulent seafood, and hearty whole grains, the Mediterranean diet makes nutritious eating a pleasure. Now, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two makes it easy, too. With these simple and satisfying recipes, you can share the healthy, rich Mediterranean flavors with a partner, roommate, or friend. Explore the basics of the Mediterranean diet, and discover its proven health benefits. Find practical advice on pantry staples and key ingredients so you can whip up quick, nourishing fare any time of day. Each dish is specifically created for two people, and every meal is covered—breakfast treats, soups and salads, seafood, poultry, lamb, pork, desserts, and lots more.

Review:

This was a well-laid out book with brightly colored pictures and a lot of good information. It is definitely a good addition to any cookbook collection.

What I liked: the recipes are really good with easy to follow instructions. Each recipe also includes information on whether it is gluten free, lactose free, vegan, vegetarian, and so on. And the nutritional info is there as well (a definite bonus that I love). At the end of the book are several pages of references for you to look further if you want.

What I didn’t like: Quite a few of the recipes either included ingredients that are not familiar to me (though the author did include explanations on some of them) or are not available in my small-town grocery. I’d have to drive to another town and a bigger (and more expensive) store to find some of these items. Or order them online. Not worth my time and money for things I might rarely use.

Recommendation: While I really liked some of the recipes (especially the olive oil orange cake!), some of them included ingredients not readily available to me. I do recommend this cookbook, but keep that caveat in mind.

This book was given to me by the publisher.

Vicky 3/21/2020

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THE EVERYTHING COLLEGE COOKBOOK, 2ND EDITION by Emma Lunsford

 

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Publisher Blurb: The newest edition to the bestselling The Everything College Cookbook features 300 simple recipes to help beginner chefs cook delicious and healthy meals on a student’s budget. Just because you’re a college student doesn’t mean you have to endure four years of Easy Mac and ramen noodles. Whether it’s your first day in the dorms or your senior year, there are ways to skip the dining hall and make a variety of quick, easy, and delicious meals from the comfort of your room. This edition of The Everything College Cookbook is packed with 300 recipes perfect for a fast breakfast before your 8 a.m. class or a midnight snack to keep you energized as you pull an all-nighter. Learn to make everything from a Paleo Sweet Potato Hash to 3-Ingredient Vegan Pancakes to Healthy Banana Ice Cream! Whether you only have an Instant Pot and a microwave or a full-sized kitchen, this book has the perfect recipe for you to make a healthy and tasty meal—all while sticking to your student budget!

Review:

This book contains not only a lot of good information, but bright pictures and delicious recipes. There are specialty recipes for those who are gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, and more. The recipes are easy to follow and with ingredients you can find in most grocery stores. There are even recipes specifically for microwave, InstaPot, slow cookers, air fryers, etc.

What I liked: I especially liked the front section with descriptions of the tools you need to cook with. I’d like to have seen a few pictures here as some raw beginners have no clue what a “whisk” is and a picture might have helped. And the glossary of cooking terms at the end is clear and informative.  Overall, nicely done.

What I didn’t like: very little. I wish I’d had something like this when I was in college!

Recommendation: I’d definitely pick this up for anyone going off on their own for the first time—whether to college or something else. Some of the recipes looked so inviting, I might even add it to my collection and I’ve been cooking a very long time. J

I received this from Netgalley.

Vicky 3/20/2020

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CELIAC DISEASE DIET PLAN by Jamie Feit

Non-fiction – Health and Wellness

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Publisher Blurb: Unlike typical gluten-free cookbooks, The Celiac Disease Diet Plan is specifically designed for people living with celiac disease. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have already made the transition to a gluten-free diet, this comprehensive book will help you better understand your condition―and give you the necessary know-how to lead a happy, healthy, gluten-free life. Featuring dozens of quick, easy recipes, this essential celiac disease diet plan will meet all of your needs, providing helpful tips for stocking your pantry, advice for traveling and eating at restaurants, and an easy-to-follow two-week meal plan to jump-start your gluten-free diet. Cook with confidence!

Review: This was a decent little book packed with good information and some great recipes, including meat, vegetarian, desserts, and more.

What I liked: There is good information on dealing with celiac issues and, at the back, a really nice list of what to avoid. Not many people realize you also have to watch out for things like makeup, shampoos, and more but this book does. There’s also good info on cross-contamination, both in the home and when out, delicious recipes (especially the turkey burgers) and I really appreciated the calorie/fat/protein/etc. stats included with the recipes. Not many cookbooks do that. 

What I didn’t like: and this is purely personal, but a lot of the recipes seemed to have peppers/paprika in them—something I’m allergic to. So yes, it’s personal. I’d have appreciated some more…less spicy ones.

Recommendation: If you’re just starting out on this journey—or even if you’ve been on it for a while as I have—this is a good basic book to add to your gluten free library. Definitely recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this book.

Vicky 2/20/2020

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COMPLETE GUIDE TO ASTROLOGY by Louise Edington

Non-fiction how-to book

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Publisher blurb: Written in the stars—understanding astrology for beginners and longtime diviners. Astrology has been used for thousands of years to help predict upcoming events, interpret the meaning of life, and interact more effectively with other people. Whether you’re new to the field, or have long been looking to the sky for answers, The Complete Guide to Astrology is the perfect way to understand how your stars align. Start with the basic elements of astrology like the signs, modalities, and houses. Then, learn how these factor specifically into your own birth chart. From there, detailed charts give you further insight into how to make conscious choices to live up to your highest potential.

Review: They weren’t kidding when they said everything you always wanted to know about astrology. But I’m not sure it’s for absolute beginners. Some of the information seemed too…hard to get. Honestly, I ended up skimming a lot of it because I didn’t understand it. This might be one of those books you have to read several times in order to “get” it.

What I liked: It is a very thorough book with lots of information. It does help you understand things, but you need to really pay attention to it.

What I didn’t like: It is very textbook-like and, like a textbook, can be rather dry at times. To the point where I put it down quite often and went off to read other things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very thorough book, but be forewarned that it can be dry at times.

Recommendation: If you’re interested in astrology, then definitely pick this up, but be prepared for a lot of details.

This book was provided to me through the publisher.

Vicky 1/23/2020

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WHOLE IN ONE by Ellie Krieger

Nonfiction – Cooking

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Blurb: We want the food we love and we want to be healthy, but who has the time or energy to figure it all out? James Beard Award winner and bestselling cookbook author Ellie Krieger shows you how to create a meal in a single pot, sheet pan, baking dish, or skillet — no additional gadgets or tools required. Divided by main ingredients — meat, poultry, seafood, vegetarian, dessert — and further separated into sheet pan, baking dish, skillet, and pot-cooked meals, the 125 nutritionally complete dinner recipes (plus healthy desserts) can each be prepared simply. Whole in One puts home-cooked meals within reach by minimizing the work load on both ends of the dinner process — cooking and clean-up — with one pot dishes that check every box. Minimal steps? Check. Crowd-pleasing flavors? Check. Easy-to-find ingredients? Check. Nutritionally complete? Check. Breezy cleanup? Check.

In this book, Ellie Krieger streamlines meal preparation by minimizing the number of pots and pans needed to produce tasty recipes. The few recipes I tried were all good and several others looked interesting. The book is organized by the protein/type of food: Plant Protein, eggs, and Dairy, Seafood, Poultry, Meat (pork, beef, lamb), Desserts

What I liked: She uses sweeteners sparingly. Honey and maple syrup are most commonly used with some brown sugar and a tiny bit of confectioner’s sugar. I liked that cooking implements were minimized, but beware that preparation is not. I loved that nutritional information is included. It’s often not and is important to me.

What I didn’t like: This is definitely not an allergen friendly cookbook. More than half the recipes were unusable for me and/or my family without substitutions.

Recommendation: With the allergen caveat in mind, WHOLE IN ONE is worthy of a spot on your cookbook shelf.

I received an ARC of this title through NetGalley.

Vicky 12/30/19

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LOSE YOUR BELLY FAT COOKBOOK by Alix Turoff

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Publisher blurb: Slim your belly and boost body health and wellness—while eating foods you love. Lose Your Belly Fat Cookbook features a comprehensive two-week meal plan, and 75 easy recipes that are not only delicious but also scientifically designed to shrink your waistline while keeping you full and energized.

The meal plan begins with a two-day smoothie cleanse to reset your metabolism and continues with 12 days of whole foods that feature lean protein, low carbs, and high fiber. You’ll also find nutrition information that helps you understand exactly when and how to eat—for 14 days and beyond.

Lose Your Belly Fat Cookbook includes:

The more you know—Learn the basic biology of how belly fat and gut bacteria work, and how to make them work for you. See your progress—Writing prompts and spaces to record your results let you see how much you’ve achieved. Not just weight—This diet plan is focused on maximizing the health and happiness that come from balanced eating, not just numbers on a scale.

Get on the path to looking and feeling better with Lose Your Belly Fat Cookbook.

REVIEW:

This book is broken down into sections that include basic information, a 14-day jump-start plan, and recipes sorted by meals (breakfasts, smoothies, snacks, salads, sandwiches, mains, desserts, etc.). Under the basic or beginning information, there’s a nice formula for helping you decide what calories you need to lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s in metric so I had to do a bunch of conversions from pounds/inches to grams/centimeters before I could use it. Fortunately, the rest of the book—the recipes—use standard American measures so no converting needed there. The recipes look easy to use, are clear and contain tips for substitutions as well as dietary information.

What I liked: clear, easily understood recipes with ingredients that are mostly available. Information that doesn’t put you to sleep reading it. Nice charts to help you figure things out. Color photographs that enhance the book and the recipes. Gluten-free options for many of the recipes.

What I didn’t like: as noted above, no conversion chart for the beginning. There’s a conversion listing in the back of the book, but it doesn’t contain pounds to grams or inches to centimeters so I had to resort to online conversions for this calculation. And although I don’t use sweetener in my smoothies, some people do so suggesting the option of maybe something like stevia would be nice. No dairy free options for the recipes—and issue for many people.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book. It’s got good information and some great recipes that I can’t wait to try.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Vicky 11/14/19

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The Anti-Inflammatory Diet One-Pot Cookbook: 100 Easy All-in-One Meals by Ana Reisdorf and Dorothy Calimeris

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Blurb: The benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet meet the simplicity of a single pot

An anti-inflammatory diet is a huge step towards healthy eating—but the stress of suffering from pain may leave you feeling exhausted before you even enter the kitchen. With this guide, you can enjoy the benefits of anti-inflammatory foods with the convenience of one-pot cooking.

Complete with labor-saving tips to keep your kitchen time short, these anti-inflammatory diet recipes can be made in one bowl so you can enjoy fast, flavorful meals without the fuss. Fight inflammation and feel great with these one-of-a-kind, one-pot recipes.

This anti-inflammatory diet book includes:

Path to wellness—Discover the health benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, complete with easy-to-read charts of foods to love, limit, or lose. Taste relief—Whip up fatigue-free dinners with 100 delicious recipes using everyday ingredients. No pain, no strain—Keep your energy up and cook times down with tips on everything from pre-cut vegetables to packing leftovers.
Cook your way to healthier living with this anti-inflammatory diet guide—all you need is one pot.

Review:

The recipes are easy, quick with times from 15 minutes to 1 hour, and include a nice selection with clear instructions. The majority of the ingredients can be found easily at most markets, though some—like jicama, pecorino cheese—not. I will also note that it seems that a lot of recipes call for bone broth—not always easy for me to find good ones at my local store and a pain to make. Also, many of the recipes also call for wine—something I don’t use so be forewarned. But I will also say that there are helpful tips for substitutes in many of the recipes.

The images, though a bit sparse, are good and add to the overall look. A few more with the dishes would have been nice.

I’m not sure I agree with the author’s “all-or-nothing” attitude that comes across as a bit harsh. Not everyone can follow this due to other issues. But still…a decent cookbook.

Recommendation: Recommended as a generally good cookbook for those looking to add to a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Vicky 11/11/19

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YOU CAN PREVENT A STROKE by Joshua S. Yamamoto and Kristin E. Thomas

Non-fiction/health

4 Sparklers

Our hearts beat over 100,000 times a day. That’s a lot of work for that one organ, and as we age, it gets a little tired. According to the doctors who wrote this book, “natural aging leads to artery plaque, high blood pressure, and slower and irregular heartbeats.” This can lead to poor heart/circulatory health which can lead to a stroke. Even though strokes affect our brain, they start with the heart.

In this book, the authors help you understand what you can do to help yourself. And no, it’s not “you need to diet! You need to exercise! You need to…” (though those are both good things). It’s about how to make sure you have good heart health, which helps your circulation, which helps you prevent stroke.

The doctors are strong proponents of medication in addition to healthy lifestyle. Medication that helps with plaque buildup, that lowers blood pressure, that reduces cholesterol. These things are all necessary to overall health. You can be a very fit marathon runner and still have poor heart health. Or you can be a couch potato, but if you’re taking your meds and being careful, you can have better heart health than that marathon runner.

The book is clear, concise, and easy to read and understand. The big thing to take away from reading this is that you have to be proactive and work with your doctor to make sure you are doing what is necessary to ensure your heart health—and thus your brain health.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be more proactive about their heart/brain health. I’d also recommend it for doctors to read so they can then recommend it to their patients for something that may help them understand what’s going on and why certain tests are necessary. It’s not a comprehensive book—you’re not going to be reading a textbook—but for the average person, it’s a good place to start. There should be a copy in every doctor’s office for patients to look at.

Thank you to the publisher for providing this book free for an honest review

Vicky 9/2/19

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Everyday Keto Baking by Erica Kerwien

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This was an interesting cookbook – colorful, informative, and with some really good recipes that include both sweet and savory dishes.

I loved that the author included conversions for substituting different ingredients. Recipes included both weight and volume measurements and–my favorite–“per serving” stats for those of us who need to know these things.

The recipes are clear and easy to follow with mostly easy-to-find ingredients. For those “oddball” ones like the sugar substitutions–she included places where the reader can find the ingredients.

All recipes are gluten-free, some are dairy and/or egg free as well – a huge plus for those on these specialized diets. As someone who is both gluten and lactose intolerant, I especially appreciated this.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who follows the Keto diet or someone who is gluten intolerant–or to someone who just wants something a little different in their cookbook collection and food choices.