Nonfiction

******************************

BE CALM: A GUIDED JOURNAL by Christopher Hutcheson

Nonfiction, Self-Help, Journaling

5*****

Blurb: Relieve anxiety and find peace with supportive writing prompts. Set yourself free from anxiety with a gentle guided journal that can help you achieve inner calm and thrive. You’ll find simple strategies for addressing and managing all the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can come with anxiety. Cultivate tranquility―and learn how to make it last―through an engaging mix of writing exercises, drawing prompts, meditations, and more. Start recovering from anxiety and live life to the fullest again with help from this guided journal.

Thoughts: This is an interactive journal with prompts and ideas for you to use as you figure out how to lesson anxiety, something we could all use these days. The author talks about the different kinds of therapy: ACT (acceptance and Commitment Therapy), mindfulness, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), the SUDS Scale (subjective units of distress), and more. There are quotes for you to study and learn from. But I thought his STOP technique was the most useful. STOP: Stop, take a breath, observe, proceed.

In the introduction, he says that feelings do not define you. And he’s right. But they can sidetrack you quite a bit. Working through this book will help get you back on the right path and work through your emotions to a calmer you.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended. Even if you’ve never had an anxiety attack, if you’ve ever felt anxious or need to work things, this book can help.

Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

***************************

EASY GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE COOKBOOK BY Silvana Nardone

Nonfiction, cookbook, Specialty Diet

5 *****

Blurb: Discover how fast and easy it is to make gluten-free, dairy-free meals. Eating gluten free and dairy free can be both simple and flavorful with the right guidance. This essential cookbook introduces the busy cook to nourishing, no-hassle meals for even the most discerning palate. Recipes include healthy versions of comfort foods you love, like pizza and chili, so you never feel like you’re missing out. Whether you’re embarking on this healthy lifestyle because of allergies, food intolerance, or digestion issues, your body and your taste buds will thank you.

This gluten-free and dairy-free cookbook features:

  • 75 enticing recipes―Delight the family with mouthwatering meals, like White Chicken Chili, Easy Margherita Pizza, and Spicy Sichuan Beef with Mixed Vegetables. And for dessert, surprise them with gluten-free, dairy-free Blackberry Cheesecake Bites and more.
  • Easy-to-make meals―Serve up savory gluten-free, dairy-free meals in no time with recipes that call for one pot or pan, 5 main ingredients, or just 30 minutes to cook.
  • Helpful hints―Turn your gluten-free kitchen into a well-oiled machine with time-saving tips and shopping guidance.

Eat healthy and feel better with the quick and simple meals in The Easy Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cookbook.

Thoughts: As someone who is both gluten and lactose intolerant, this was a perfect book for me to look at. And it is a good book to have on my shelf. I especially enjoyed that it uses regular, whole foods and not packaged stuff. There were color pictures of some of the recipes – always nice to see – and abundant recipes to keep your GF/LF kitchen going. The author also includes recipes for gluten free flour blends and alternatives to dairy.

The breakdown of sections includes: Breakfast/Brunch, Bread & Baked Goods, Soup & Salad, Vegetable Mains & Sides, Fish & Seafood, Meat & Poultry, Desserts, and Staples. The recipes are clear and concise and include times for prep and cooking, how many servings each has, tips, substitutions, and more. The only thing they don’t have are nutrient counts.

Recommendation: I’d definitely add this to my shelf if you are one of those who is both GF and LF.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this book. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

***********************************

EASY GLUTEN FREE BAKING COOKBOOK by Jessica Kirk

Nonfiction, cookbook, special diet

5*****

Blurb: Living without gluten doesn’t mean giving up the joy of fresh-baked sweet and savoury treats. With this gluten-free cookbook, bakers of any experience level can enjoy the baked goods of their dreams. The straightforward guidance, familiar ingredients, and foolproof flour blends make it simple to turn out perfect pumpkin pie or cornbread warm from the oven. Apple Pie with Salted Caramel—This showstopper dessert nestles warm baked apples and homemade salted caramel sauce inside a flaky pie crust. Coffee Cake Bars—The soft bars are perfectly moist and spongy, topped with cinnamon-sugar crumble for an extra sweet crunch. Sweet Southern Corn Bread—It’s just as cornbread should be: slightly sweet and slightly creamy, with the perfect golden-brown crust. There’s no limit to the gluten-free treats you can bake with the help of the Easy Gluten-Free Baking Cookbook. 

Thoughts: As someone who is gluten free, I was excited to see this book. GF baking is definitely different from regular baking. But this book does make it easy. Or easier. The author gives you recipes for different blends to use for different things like biscuits, bread, or all purpose baking. She also recommends two commercial blends that you could substitute, making baking even easier. In the introduction, she also give you pantry essentials and what they’re good for including substitutes for dairy and eggs.

The recipes are clear, concise, and easy to follow. Each one contains times (prep, cooking), number of servings, ingredients, options, and tips. Unfortunately, there are no nutrient values – that’s the only thing I didn’t like about this book. The lists of recipes include breakfast treats like lemon-rosemary scones (yum!), quick breads like honey-cream biscuits, cookies/brownies like snickerdoodles, cakes/cupcakes like red velvet cupcakes, pies and cobblers, pastries and tarts, breads and crackers, and more. So many of these sound amazing. I can’t wait to try them.

Recommendation: Except for the lack of nutrient information, this is a really good book to have in your gluten free library. Enjoy. I know I will.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this book. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

*************************************

TAROT JOURNAL FOR BEGINNERS by Dawn Marino

Nonfiction, How-to, Self-help, Journals

5*****

Blurb: Learn the cards and hone your skills with this guided tarot journal. Tarot is a fascinating and enlightening practice that offers wisdom and guidance with every flip of the cards. If you seek to demystify the tarot, this journal is your helping hand. Learn how to interpret the most common pulls and spreads, and develop your instincts with writing prompts, readings, and card interpretations. 

  • Enter the tarot―Even if you’ve never used a tarot deck before, you can start right away with clear explanations of each of the 78 cards, accompanied by beautiful illustrations.
  • Record what you learn―Writing prompts and open questions help you refine your readings and remember your experiences so you can reflect on them as you practice.
  • Connect to the cards―Over time, these exercises can help you increase your spiritual awareness as you manifest your intentions and desires.

Unlock the secrets of tarot and build your natural intuition with the Tarot Journal for Beginners.

Thoughts: If you’ve never used a tarot deck before, this is a good basic book – but it is very basic. This could be a good place to start, and then move on to stronger books that are more in depth.

In this one, the author gives you basics of what each card is in both the major and minor arcanas. You’ll learn what each card is, how to prepare your deck, and how to ask questions. Questions should not be “yes/no” but more open ended. Instead of “Will I have a good day?” you can ask, “What will my day be like?”. There are also descriptions of common pulls for the day or year, relationships, and more.

Recommendation: If you are very new to tarot, this is a decent place to start. I’m definitely adding it to my shelf.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this ARC. Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

******************************

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE OCCULT by Deborah Lipp

Nonfiction, Reference

5*****

Blurb: Discover the secret world of the occult. The occult is an ancient field of supernatural study that was formed to help unravel the mysteries of the universe. The Beginner’s Guide to the Occult helps you explore some of these mysteries for yourself, with simple explanations of different occult practices and their fascinating history. This guide is designed for any beginner who seeks to learn more about the occult and answer big questions about human nature as well as natural phenomena like the sky, the stars, and the Earth.

Thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but it is an amazing source of information. The author goes into several types of occult practices, their history, and a way for you to delve into them yourself. What’s even more impressive is the extensive reading list and references she has included specific to each type.

The book begins with an overview of the history, philosophy, and beliefs of what the occult is – and isn’t. She also shows how some of the practices led to contemporary sciences like chemistry and meteorology. Some of the different types that she goes into are: Wicca/Witchcraft, Folk magic, astrology, numerology, alchemy, Kahbalah, tarot, ceremonial magic. For each type, she explains the history, the practice, what each is specifically, and more.

Recommendation: I highly recommend this as a basic reference book for your shelves. Read through it. If you’re interested in practicing, she includes reading lists where you can find more in-depth information.

Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

****************************

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR SLEEP by Kye Peven

Nonfiction, Self-help

5*****

Blurb: Discover non-pharmaceutical solutions for better sleep. A good night’s sleep can do wonders for your physical and mental health. But if you struggle with falling or staying asleep, your frustration may have you looking to sleep medicine for help. This natural remedies book will show you a better way. Natural Remedies for Sleep provides the knowledge, tools, and natural solutions for how to sleep smarter. Explore why we sleep, along with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, meditation, essential oils, acupressure, and more to help you get the full, consistent rest you deserve. Fall asleep and stay asleep with the helpful and all-natural techniques and resources in this empathetic book.

Thoughts: As someone who has chronic sleep issues, I was very interested in what this book had to say – and it had to say a lot. The author discusses the basics of what good sleep is, why we need it, some common sleep issues, and the short- and long-term benefits of a dependable night’s sleep. There is also a “sleep tool kit” – lists of resources for getting a better night’s sleep and routines to follow. Then there are scenarios to help you figure out what you need. Finally, there are extensive resources and references at the back for even more information.

He also talks about cognitive behavioral therapy which helps you change behaviors that may lead to poor sleep. Under “tools”, he discusses sleep trackers, bedding, teas, essential oils, white noise/music, journaling, and more. There is so much information in here, it’s impossible not to find something you might be able to use.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. This is a great book to look through and see what you can use to get a better night’s sleep.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Callisto Publishing for providing this book. Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

***********************

ESSENTIAL OIL MAGIC by Vervain Helsdottir

Nonfiction, DIY, Magic, Herbs, How-to

4****

Blurb: Cultivate your craft with the natural power of essential oil magic. Distilled from the most fragrant, magical, and healing plants, essential oils have been used in witchcraft for thousands of years. Essential Oil Magic is your own personal reference guide to making magic with oils. It simplifies and modernizes the practice, showing any witch how to use potent plant essences to transform their body, mind, and spirit. Discover detailed profiles on 30 powerful essential oils like basil, cedar, and sage, then explore an array of rituals and recipes that will elevate your practice and the magic you can conjure. Practice the art of oil magic and unlock the green witch within.

Thoughts: This is a good book to have for your shelves (and to use!) if you are into green magic. There is a lot of information in these pages. According to the author, essential oil magic is a subset of green witchcraft and is a combination of both art and science.

She sets up the background by giving you the history, what to look for when buying oils, storage, carrier oils (and their pros and cons), and blending. She also adds a lot of cautions. Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently to oils. They can be beneficial, but also dangerous.

There is a listing of the thirty most common oils to use and each listing has: name, common name, Latin name, folk name, polarity, magical intentions, planetary ruler, elemental ruler, description, uses, precautions, and substitutes. The recipes that follow list the ingredients, amounts, directions, and equipment. Following these are charts for substitutes, a glossary, and resources.

In other words, this is a valuable book to have on hand for your spell casting. The only thing I would have added to it—and thus making it a five star—would have been color pictures of the plants. Descriptions are nice, but pictures are even better.

Recommendation: If you’re thinking of adding oils to your spell casting practice, this is a good book to have for reference.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this ARC. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

***********************************

KNIT 2 SOCKS IN 1 by Safiyyah Talley

Nonfiction, DIY Craft, Knitting

4 ****

Blurb: Socks continue to be a favorite project of knitters, but “single sock syndrome” — losing interest in knitting that second sock after the first one is done — is the perpetual dilemma. Knit 2 Socks in 1 introduces a distinctive new method that will appeal to sock knitters of all levels as the simplest, most accessible way yet developed to knit two socks at a time. This innovative technique begins with making the first sock’s cuff. The knitter can then relax and knit a long tube, which makes up the main body of both socks. With the help of a lifeline (scrap yarn that is threaded through stitches to hold them in place), the knitter can easily separate the long tube into two socks. The heels and toes are worked with a simple two-row repeat and are finished with a “hat closure,” a novice knitting technique often used to close the tops of hats. Much like choosing an alternate ending in a classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, the knitter can choose from a wide range of stitch patterns, design features, levels of difficulty, and sizes ranging from child to adult. Knit 2 Socks in 1 is a tried-and-true sock-knitting technique that allows knitters from all backgrounds to join in on the fun. 

Thoughts: This was a well-written, easy to follow book with a lot of good information. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned knitter, you will find something of use in this book. There is a section on different kinds of fibers, how each one feels, and how they affect the results of the knit. She goes into the pluses and minuses of animal vs. plant vs. synthetic materials, the weights of the yarns, how much you need, needle sizes, and more. She strongly suggests you do a swatch with what you plan to use so you can block it and adjust as necessary for what you want. The pictures help a lot too.

In this book, she offers the solution to “second sock syndrome” when knitters don’t want to make a second after finishing the first. The solution is to make one long tube sock which is then cut and completed with toes and heels.

The only minus I really saw in the book was the editing—and since this was an ARC, I know there will be some issues, but the index included with my advance copy was, weirdly, for a cookbook and had nothing to do with a knitting book. Plus some of the charts were very confusing.

Recommendation: Overall, I think this will be a really good book once it is finally proofed and published. Definitely recommended then.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

**********************************

FAST METABOLISM WEIGHT LOSS DIET PLAN by Megan Johnson McCullough

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Self-help, Diet

5*****

Blurb: Boost your metabolism and jump-start weight loss in five weeks. The path to weight loss can be frustrating—and an imbalanced metabolism can slow down progress. Pave a smooth road to weight loss with this fast metabolism diet plan. The five-week meal plan is designed to reboot and maintain a healthy metabolism and includes plenty of recipes and guidance for maintaining the lifestyle. Key steps to success—Learn the essential elements of a metabolism reset, including an anti-inflammatory diet, intermittent fasting, and physical fitness. Straightforward plan—Get started with a four-week metabolism reset plan and a one-week plan to kick off ongoing maintenance, plus shopping lists and prep tips. Wholesome meals—Stick to the plan as you enjoy metabolism-boosting recipes at every meal, many of them grain-free, sugar-free, and vegan. Discover how to lose weight and boost overall wellness with this plan for following a healthy fast metabolism diet. 

Thoughts: This was an interesting read with a ton of good information. There is information on finding your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), food lists (good foods, medium ones, avoid these), exercises, tips on interval fasting, and five weeks worth of meal plans along with shopping lists. The recipes are clear and easy to follow. And the color pictures are mouth-wateringly nice. There are some things, however, that I will not do—mostly because of food sensitivities. And I am definitely in the “real cheese and meat” corner, please. I rarely eat veggie burgers or veggie “meat” because most of it contains things I cannot eat because of allergies. But that’s me. There are a lot of amazing recipes in here and ideas and I am going to be trying some of them for myself. Like any “diet” book, there are things in here that will work for you, not me. And things I’ll do that others may not.

Recommendation: If you’re looking to jumpstart your metabolism and lose some weight, this is a good book to look at. It’s got great information and makes sense.

Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

*************************************************

MEDITATION JOURNAL FOR ANXIETY by Peter Economou

Nonfiction, self-help

5*****

Blurb: guided approach to soothing anxiety through meditation Worry less and relax more with the Meditation Journal for Anxiety. This guided journal combines daily meditations with short writing prompts to help you explore your thoughts and feelings. Simple instructions teach you how to gradually expand your meditative routine and find the strength to overcome your anxiety. Whether it relates to work, health, or personal growth, this meditation journal helps you assemble the tools you need to live a less anxious and more fulfilled life.

Thoughts: I’ve read a lot of these types of books over the last few months, but this one really resonated with me. From the first page (contemplate your toes!) to the end, I read through each exercise. This ARC was supplied to me by the publisher as an e-book, but you can be assured that I will be purchasing a hard copy.

There are three basic parts to the book: the mind, body, and spirit. Each section has its own unique set of prompts, meditations, and exercises to work through. Under “Mind”, you are given mediation techniques, word association challenges, how to let go of control, and how to start slow and build. Under “Body”, you look at what you eat, your posture, and accepting your body as it is. And finally, the “Spirit” section discusses values, judgement, compassion with yourself and others, motivation, and more. This book hopes to help you learn patience, curiosity, and commitment. I will note that there are some Buddhist based exercises in here, like discussion of chakras and more. I find them intriguing, but some may have an issue with them. I don’t. Keep an open mind and heart, and you will succeed.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. I will be purchasing this book in hard copy as soon as it is available and I suggest you do too.

Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. Thanks to Callisto Publishing and Rockridge for providing this ebook.

6/3/2021

**************************************

PLANT-BASED DIET IN 30 DAYS by Sara Tercero

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Diet, Vegan

5*****

Blurb: Make it simple and delicious to enjoy all the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle might seem challenging, but a Plant-Based Diet in 30 Days gives you the information and support you need to succeed. Start things off right with a month of menus that make it easy for you to prepare plant-based meals every day, from breakfast to dessert. Plant-Based Diet in 30 Days includes: Plant-based primers—Learn about the benefits of plant-based eating, and get basic dietary advice, strategies for stocking your kitchen, and more; a comprehensive plan—Keep things simple with a 30-day meal plan that offers delicious, easy choices for every meal, plus weekly shopping lists and prep tips; flavorful recipes—Make it a joy to move beyond meat and dairy with richly seasoned recipes featuring creative combos of familiar ingredients. With this easy-to-follow plan, you are only a month away from transitioning to a fully plant-based diet.

Thoughts: If you are thinking of going vegan, or even vegetarian, this would be a good book to have in your cookbook arsenal. There is a lot of information here and the author guides you step-by-step, day-by-day through the process. She starts with a primer on going vegan and why you should, including substitutions for animal products—and not just meat, but honey and eggs too (thus the vegan vs. vegetarian). There are five sections after the introduction material. One for each of four weeks, then a fifth with extra recipes.

Each of the four weekly sections contains a weekly menu broken down into individual days, shopping lists, what to have on hand, and the recipes to go with that week. There is an extensive index at the back so if you forget which week a specific recipe is in, you can find it there.

Each recipe is clear and concise and includes number of servings, ingredients, times, whether it is allergen free, if it’s quick (like a smoothie) and (best of all) nutrient information. There are also tips and variations for you to use.

Recommendation: If you’re thinking of going vegan, this would be a great book to start with. And even if you just want to go that direction a couple days a week, there are some really good recipes in here that you can use. It’s informative without being preachy and has valuable information.

Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. Thanks to Callisto Publishing and Rockridge for providing this ebook.

*************************************

GLUTEN-FREE BAKING FOR BEGINNERS by Johnna Wright Perry

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Diet, Gluten-free

5*****

Blurb: Become a gluten-free baker with this easy introductory guide. You don’t have to be an experienced baker to make gluten-free versions of the baked goods you know and love. Gluten-Free Baking for Beginners is filled with guidance and a selection of sweet and savory gluten-free recipes for whipping up familiar favorites and creative new flavor combinations. Simple, dependable recipes—Dive into a collection of gluten-free recipes that use affordable, easy-to-find ingredients to make cookies, cakes, loaves of bread, muffins, and more. Recipe tips and tricks—For each recipe, learn what you need to know before you get started to help ensure baking success. Gluten-free flour recipes—Make your own flour blends with quick recipes for all-purpose, whole-grain, and bread flours to suit all your gluten-free baking needs. Learn to make baked goods that will tempt any palate, with help from Gluten-Free Baking for Beginners.

Thoughts: My husband and I have been gluten-free for years, and I love to bake, but I am still learning. And this book taught me some things I didn’t know. It’s one of the best “beginner” books I’ve read, even for someone as seasoned as I am. It’s definitely not the first GF baking book I’ve seen and not even the biggest, but it is definitely one of the best. GF baking differs significantly from regular baking and you can’t just do a simple 1-1 substitute usually. GF flours require additional ingredients to make them work.

The author starts out by explaining what gluten is and its role in baking and how to get around this. She gives you tips on different types of flours to use, what each is like, different starches and binders – all the things you need to know and know how to use in GF baking. She also gives a chart on the most common GF baking failures and what to do about them as well as some tips on adapting your own recipes to gluten-free and how to do it.

Each recipe is easy to follow (after all, this is a beginners cookbook) and the recipes themselves are pretty common and basic—chocolate cake, lemon bars, snickerdoodles, cheesecake, etc. Again, this is for beginners. But it also has a lot of good recipes for anyone, even old pros like me. The recipes include both volume and weight measurements, times for prep and cooking, whether they’re dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, etc. There are also options and tips. What isn’t there are the nutrient values. This is a big negative for me, but not an issue for most people.

The lists of recipes include breakfast treats, cookies and bars, quick breads, crackers, raised breads, pies, fruity desserts, and more.

Recommendations: A definite must-have for any GF cook, especially if you’re new to GF baking. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this digital book.

****************************

PLANT-BASED BEAN COOKBOOK by Katherine Green

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Vegan Diet

5*****

Blurb: Celebrate the versatility of beans with nourishing plant-based recipes

Beans are an adaptable, inexpensive protein you can integrate into almost any meal. This bean cookbook is full of nutritious recipes that highlight black beans, pinto beans, green beans, chickpeas, split peas, and more. Whether you already follow a plant-based diet or are looking to add more plant-based dishes to your rotation, you’ll discover the health benefits of enjoying beans and learn to easily prepare dishes from scratch with just a few varieties of canned or dry beans in your pantry. Discover the possibilities of beans in a wide variety of recipes with this dedicated bean cookbook!

Thoughts: This is a really nice cookbook for those who want to add more vegetarian meals to their diet—though there are ideas for adding meat-based proteins to the recipes for those who simply must have meat. But it is mainly a vegan cookbook—and a very good one. There are 70 recipes from snacks and spreads to sides and salads, soups and stews, suppers, and even sweets and staples. The author goes over the basics of types of beans/legumes there are and how to use them. Beans, especially dried ones, are cheap, easy to use, low fat, full of fiber and protein. She also gives us info on yields (1 pound dry beans = 3-4 (15 oz) cans; 1 can = 1 ½ cups, etc.). But the best info in the front of the book is how to overcome the “musical” use of beans in our diets—gas. Note: not all the recipes use “beans” as the bean. Some of them use bean flours like chickpea flour (used to make flatbread), which can usually be found in gluten-free aisles of a store.

Each recipe contains the number of servings, prep and cook times, whether it is gluten/nut/egg/etc. free, tips, substitutions, as well as nutritional information (yay!). The recipes are easy to read and follow and contain ingredients that are mostly easy to find even in smaller stores.

My favorite part of the book were the cooking reference charts at the back. It listed types of beans, their cooking times for slow cooker, pressure cooker, or stovetop. I found this incredibly helpful.

Recommendation: Highly recommended, especially if you’re looking to add more vegetarian meals to your repertoire.

Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” Thanks to Callisto Publishing and Rockridge for providing this ebook.

*********************

30-MINUTE MIND DIET COOKBOOK by Amanda Foote

Nonfiction, cookbook, diet

5*****

Blurb: Meal plans and quick recipes for a healthy MIND diet

Studies show that the right nutrition can help prevent and manage cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. With The 30-Minute MIND Diet Cookbook, it’s easy to make delicious meals that support your brain health. Discover the science behind the MIND diet and a wide variety of simple, affordable recipes that you can put on the table in 30 minutes or less. A 14-day jump start—Dive right into the MIND diet with a 2-week meal plan, complete with handy shopping lists and supplemental snack and dessert recipes. Recipes for every taste—Discover brain-healthy recipes including updated comfort food favorites, Mediterranean dishes, and a range of international flavors. Fresh, wholesome ingredients—Enjoy a delicious diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, seafood, poultry, and more. Start eating the right foods to protect your brain with help from this research-based guide to the MIND diet.

Thoughts: This is a colorful, informative book on how to help with your brain health and possibly avoid Alzheimer’s or dementia. There are 153 pages of information and recipes for you to look through. The MIND diet is based on the Mediterranean-DASH diet. It stands for M(Mediterranean-DASH) I(Intervention for) N(neurodegenerative) D(delay). The author goes into risk factors and how diet affects the brain. There are sections on what is good for your brain like healthy fats, vitamins E and C, and the Bs as well as other nutrients. She also gives you tips on what to eat, and what to avoid. Before you get to the recipes, there is a fourteen day meal plan with shopping lists.

Each recipe contains prep and cook times, number of servings, whether it is gluten/dairy/nut free, vegetarian, options, notes, and nutrient information. The recipes are easy to read and follow with ingredients that are available in most stores.

Recommendations: This is an informative, well-written cookbook with some great recipes and tips on how to help your brain stay healthy. It’s a definite plus for anyone looking to work on this area. Or for anyone who just wants some good recipes.

Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this ebook. Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

**************

PREDIABETES ACTION AND DIET PLAN by Alice Figueroa

Nonfiction, Diet, Cookbooks

5*****

Blurb: Reclaim your health with a lifestyle guide and plant-based meal plan for managing prediabetes. The changes to your life that come with a prediabetes diagnosis can feel overwhelming, but this prediabetes diet plan makes those changes easier. You’ll learn how to make reasonable adjustments to your diet and stay motivated to move your body, calm your mind, and manage prediabetes through mindful eating and plant-based nutrition. An overview of prediabetes―This prediabetes diet plan includes information about how prediabetes develops, the risk factors, and how this book can help. Comprehensive guidance―Build a healthier life with a prediabetes diet plan that covers exercise and mental health, along with 50 recipes and a detailed two-week meal plan. Trackers and tools―Use the lists, meal plan, and goal charts to keep track of your nutrition, especially when grocery shopping or dining out. Take control of your health in manageable steps with the ultimate prediabetes diet plan.

Thoughts: This is an amazing book full of a ton of good information. Whether you have just been diagnosed with prediabetes or have been there for a while, this book would be a good one to have in your arsenal. The author packs a lot of information into 176 pages. She points out that her plan has basically three “pillars”: nourishment (food), movement, and stress reduction. All three play an important part in your overall well-being. Understanding insulin resistance (and reversing it) are explained as well as the glycemic index. She also goes into things you can’t control (age, genetics, ethnicity, sex, etc.) and things you can (exercise, smoking, diet, etc.) as well as how nutrition can help you, including the fact that carbs are not the enemy. You just need to be aware of what kinds you are consuming. There are lots of charts to help you as well: family health history, serving sizes, goals, and more. There is also a two-week meal plan with shopping lists.

In addition to nutritional information, she urges the reader to get active when possible and to pay attention to your mental health through stress management, sleep, and coping mechanisms. And to ask for help when you need it. All of this is important to your health.

The recipes are mostly Creole or Latin American based which means I can’t sample a lot of them because of major food allergies (peppers, chilis, etc.) on my part. But the ones I could sample are good. Each one contains the number of servings, the time, whether it is dairy/gluten/nut free, tips, and nutrients. There are no pictures, however, which is a bit of a drawback, but a very minor one. There’s so much else here that lack of pretty pictures is a shrug, not a detriment.

Recommendations: I would definitely get this book if you are in the prediabetes area. Or even if you might be trying to avoid that. It’s full of good information that is vital to your overall health and some really good recipes.

Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this book.

Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

*********************

VEGETABLE SIMPLE by Eric Ripert

Nonfiction, Cooking, Vegetarian

4****

Blurb: From one of the world’s most renowned chefs, 110 essential recipes that celebrate the beauty, simplicity, and elegance of vegetables. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY  Eric Ripert is the chef and co-owner of the acclaimed restaurant Le Bernardin, and the winner of countless Michelin stars, well known for his exquisite, clean, seafood-centered cuisine. But lately, Ripert has found himself reaching for vegetables as his main food source—and doing so, as is his habit, with great intent and care. In Vegetable Simple, Ripert turns his singular culinary imagination to vegetables: their beauty, their earthiness, their nourishing qualities, and the many ways they can be prepared. From vibrant Sweet Pea Soup to Fava Bean and Mint Salad, from warming Mushroom Bolognese to Roasted Carrots with Harissa, Eric Ripert articulates a vision for vegetables that are prepared simply, without complex steps or ingredients, allowing their essential qualities to shine and their color and flavor to remain uncompromised. Complete with gorgeous photos by renowned photographer Nigel Parry, this is a necessary guide for the way we eat today.

Thoughts: I love cookbooks. Let’s get that out there first. I love trying new recipes or even visiting old ones with new twists. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination. I am a simple home cook who likes trying out new things. But I do not love reading a cookbook that even on the first page lists ingredients I’ve never heard of, can’t be found in my local stores, or are so expensive, I’d have to mortgage my home to afford them. Unfortunately, that’s what some of the recipes in this book have. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing recipes in here, like: Flash-cured Cucumbers. Aigo Boulido (Garlic soup), Vegetable Pistou, and more. I am eager to try them. But…the first recipe was for Yuzu-citrus Popcorn. I had to look up what Yuzu was (a Japanese citrus fruit) – and can only get it online. There’s nothing like that where I live. Or shichimi togarashi. Most of the recipes are much simpler with easy-to-find ingredients that are affordable, and there are tons of beautiful color pictures to accompany the recipes. Each recipe includes the list of ingredients, number of servings, and directions. What they don’t include are the time it takes to prepare the dish or nutrient information. For recipes that require special equipment, that is also listed.

I did like the Tips & Guidelines at the end as well as the Seasonal produce guide. Those are really helpful. And the book contains not just vegetable side-dishes, but main meals and desserts—all vegetable based—as well.

So…a balance of pluses and minuses in this book. It would definitely fit in a kitchen of someone who loves “fancy” food, even though this is “Vegetable Simple”. There are some really good recipes in here—actually a lot of them—but I wouldn’t purchase this for a simple cook without access to some higher-end ingredients. I would, however, purchase it as a gift for foodie friends. And I know I am going to enjoy trying some of these recipes for myself and my family.

Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. My thanks to Goodreads and Random House for providing this book.

****************

5-INGREDIENT HEART HEALTHY DIET by Andy De Santis and Katherine Green

Nonfiction, Diet, Cooking,

5*****

Blurb: Heart healthy cooking is easy and delicious with 5-ingredient recipes. Supporting your heart’s health is fast and flavorful with The 5-Ingredient Heart Healthy Cookbook. Find expert guidance for maintaining a heart healthy diet, along with 101 ultra-simple recipes that focus on fresh, whole-food ingredients and enhancing flavor with spices. 5-ingredient dishes―Minimal ingredients mean less time in the kitchen, fewer trips to the store, and instructions that are simple enough for home cooks of any skill level. Comprehensive advice―Take control of your health with a heart healthy cookbook that covers key topics like the science behind fats and cholesterol. A combination diet―Support your heart with an approach that draws from multiple healthy diets, including Mediterranean, DASH, veganism, and the Portfolio diet. Reform your diet while still eating delicious meals, with a hearty healthy cookbook that guides you through everything you need to know.

Thoughts: This is a really nice cookbook if you’re trying to change over to a healthier diet. The pictures are full-color and add to the overall look. The author takes the time to explain what a heart-healthy diet can be and what the top five diets are, including: DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, Vegetarian/Vegan diets, and the Portfolio diet. Then he goes on to give you guidelines on heart-healthy foods like legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits, oats, places to get good Omega-3s and how to use herbs and spices in place of salt. He finishes with information on what to avoid, like sodium, processed foods and refined carbohydrates.

The recipes are simple and mostly contain five ingredients. Each one contains: the time for prep and cooking, servings, whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, etc., ingredients, clear directions, options, and nutrition information. And there is a wide variety from Cauliflower Shawarma to Chicken, Quinoa and Spinach Bowls, to Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin. There is also a chapter on sweets and dressings.

Recommendations: If you’re looking to adapt your diet to a healthier one, I’d definitely pick this book up. Good recipes and decent information. A nice way to start.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this book. Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

*********************

THE 30-MINUTE PRE-DIABETES COOKBOOK by Ranelle Kirchner

Nonfiction, cookbook, self-help, health

5*****

Blurb: Fast and delicious recipes to help manage prediabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or are at risk, managing your diet can be challenging. The 30-Minute Prediabetes Cookbook is here to help, with a collection of recipes that are based around healthy whole foods and moderate portion sizes and come together in 30 minutes or less. Learn how to make a wide variety of flavorful dishes that are designed to help you ease your symptoms and live a healthier life. Prediabetes explained―Understand the link between diabetes and diet, which foods to embrace, which foods to enjoy in moderation, and healthier ways to prepare them.
Something for everyone―Try out recipes that complement a variety of dietary needs and can be made with a range of easy cooking methods.
Comprehensive advice―Find nutrition information for every dish, along with tips to make shopping, prepping, and storing food even easier.
Make it simpler to manage prediabetes with a book of recipes and nutrition advice that helps put you on the right track.

Thoughts: This is a great resource book for anyone facing a prediabetes diagnosis. The author starts out with information on understanding what it is, the causes (modifiable like inactivity, high blood pressure, weight and non-modifiable ones like age, ethnicity, genetics), the types of diabetes, treatments, and more. She also gives you easy to understand information understanding what carbs and the glycemic index are. There’s a lot of good information here that is clear and easy to understand.

The recipes are clear and concise and contain number of servings, prep and cook times, variations, tips, and nutritional information (yay!). She also notes whether the recipe is gluten free, vegetarian, and more. They are clear, concise, and easy to follow. And most have common ingredients that are not a challenge to find even in small stores, or online.

Recommendation: I would definitely recommend this for anyone facing the challenge of pre-diabetes who needs to get things under control for their health.

Disclaimer: I received this e-book from Callisto Publishing in hopes of a review. All opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 2/25/21

**********************************

SMALL BATCH BAKING by Sakura Kline

Nonfiction, cookbook

4****

Blurb: What do you do when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to bake a full batch? Small Batch Baking has the perfect solution, with 60 recipes for sweet and savory treats that have been expertly scaled down to make just enough for you! Baking in small batches means fewer leftovers, less food waste, and the ability to eat everything while it’s still fresh. This friendly guide breaks it down for you, meaning you won’t need to calculate any complex measurement conversions. Just follow the tips and instructions and you’ll be whipping up smaller batches of cakes, brownies, breads, pies, and so much more. Exactly the right amount―Portioned for just 6 cupcakes or 12 cookies, these baking recipes make the perfect number for serving a small gathering or just yourself. Customizable recipe yields―All of the ingredients are measured by both weight and volume so it’s easy to double or triple a recipe if you need to make more. Simple kitchen equipment―These sweets can be made with standard bowls and pans, with no need for any specialty or mini bakeware. Create perfectly portioned treats anytime with the Small Batch Baking Cookbook.

Thoughts: This is written by a pastry chef who obviously knows her stuff. My mouth was drooling as I read over some of the recipes. Alas, I can’t try any of them without serious reworking as none of the recipes are gluten free- which I am. But still… Yum.

What I liked: A lot. Each recipe is made for anywhere from 4-6 servings with the exception of cookies, which are 12. I liked the listing of essential equipment and adaptations you can use with them – like using muffin tins to make individual pies. I also liked her tips on what to do with leftover ingredients like egg yolks or whites or pumpkin purée and other things like that that happen when you’re making smaller batches. She also had tips on how to store your goodies correctly – not something a lot of cookbooks have.

The recipes are clear and concise with measurements in both volume (cups) and weight for cooks who use one or the other. Each recipe contained information on how much it made, prep and cooking times, tips, equipment needed, and ingredients. There were nice pictures at the beginning of each chapter (and a note on what that was a picture of and where the recipe was!). Nice. Finally, at the end, there was a measurement conversion chart, resources, and shopping tips.

What I didn’t like: There was only one thing I didn’t like and that’s the fact that there were no gluten free recipes. But beyond that, this is an excellent book.

Recommendation: If you are someone who wants to make just a few of something and not dozens and dozens of cookies or big batches, I would definitely get this book. It’s a really good one for making smaller batches of things. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Callisto Publishing in hopes of a review, but that was by choice, not demand. All opinions are my own.

Vicky 2/25/21

*********************************

THE COOKIE BIBLE by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Nonfiction, cookbook

5*****

Blurb: This is your must-have cookie book, featuring nearly every cookie imaginable, from rustic Cranberry Chocolate Chippers to elegant French macarons, and everything in between—simple drop cookies, rolled-and-cut holiday cookies, brownies and other bars, pretty sandwich cookies, luxurious frosted or chocolate-dipped treats, and much more. With legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum’s foolproof recipes—which feature detail-oriented instructions that eliminate guesswork, notes for planning ahead, ingenious tips, and other golden rules for success—it’s easy to whip up a batch of irresistible, crowd-pleasing cookies anytime, for any occasion. Standout classics and new favorites include: Rose’s Dream Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lemon Lumpies, Black Tahini Crisps, Peanut Butter and Jelly Buttons, Double Ginger Molasses Cookies, Caramel Surprise Snickerdoodles, and more.

Thoughts: Wow. Just…yummy wow. This is definitely not a cookbook for anyone who wants to lose weight, but oh my, are the recipes ever delicious looking! I will definitely be digging deeper into some of these. The author lays out the golden rules of baking cookies and ingredients – as well as equipment needed and more.

There are chapters dedicated to cookies rolled out by hand, dropped or piped, shaped by hand, holiday cutouts, bar and cake cookies, meringues and candies, as well as a chapter on extras like making your own duche de Leche, candied peels, lemon curd, jam and more. Some of these things are gluten free, but most are not. And there are no substitutions for GF within the recipes. But still… yum.

Each recipe gives you the number of items it makes, the prep and baking times, ingredients by both volume and weight, tips (she calls them gems), variations, and storage. They are clear, concise, and easy to follow. And delicious!

Recommendation: I received this as an ebook but I will definitely be adding it to my “buy this” pile and getting copies for friends and family. It is definitely a keeper and a perfect addition to any cookbook collection.

Disclaimer: I received this from Netgalley in hopes of giving a review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 2/25/21

************************

THE ULTIMATE MEMORY ACTIVITY BOOK by Alexis Olson. Puzzles by Phil Fraas

Nonfiction, Self-help, Memory

5*****

Blurb: Give your brain a boost with 130 memory-stimulating puzzles and activities. Adjusting to changes in memory and cognition can feel frustrating and discouraging. Make it fun to strengthen your thinking skills with The Ultimate Memory Activity Book! Curated by a clinical neuropsychologist, 130 entertaining exercises and puzzles will keep you both entertained and challenged―engaging your mind while also supporting your brain’s health. Dive in to a variety of word and number puzzles, games, and activities. Three different challenge levels make it easy to choose the right memory game, so you can work on building up your mental abilities. Fresh, new activities help stimulate your brain, counteract the effects of cognitive decline, and add more fun to your day! Boost your cognition and sharpen your recall with this activity-packed memory book.

Thoughts: The first section of this book is full of good information about our aging brains and what we can do to help keep them active and healthy. There are chapters on word play puzzles, number puzzles, and engaging activities with varying levels from easy to challenging. And answers are included. (thank goodness!). The lowest levels help you out with parts of the answers while the hardest levels are more challenging. I found the puzzles intriguing and the activities fun and creative. I especially loved the “New Language Challenge” where you learn common English phrases in Spanish, Italian, Farsi, Chinese, and more. There are also good references/resources listed at the end.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. This would be a first on my shelf for a purchase not just for the memory exercises, but just for the fun of the book. I received this as an ebook for review, but it is definitely on my “must buy” list for the print copy.

Disclaimer: as noted above, I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Vicky

*******

MIND DIET FOR BEGINNERS by Kelli McGrane

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Diet

5*****

Blurb: Feed your brain with the MIND diet—a beginner’s cookbook and meal plan. The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or the MIND diet, is a brain-building way to eat that’s proven to treat hypertension, support your brain health, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia—all while enjoying delicious and nutritious meals. Kick-start your MIND diet with an easy step-by-step guide, plus a 7-day meal plan—complete with shopping lists. And dig in to 85 tasty beginner recipes that keep your brain (and body) healthy and happy.

Thoughts: This is a really good introduction to the MIND diet. It takes the basics of both the Mediterranean and DASH diets and pares them down to specific foods that help keep your brain healthy. The author explains the science behind the diet as well as defines Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive decline in a way that is easy to understand even for a non-scientist. She also goes into what your brain needs to function well. Things like: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, flavonoids, etc. Once she’s done with the science and explanations, she has charts and lists of what you should have on hand, shopping lists, a 7-day menu, food trackers and advice for success. She also suggests non-diet things to do like exercise, get enough sleep, reduce stress, etc. for better health overall. The recipes are easy to follow and contain number of servings, prep and cook times, gluten free, vegetarian/vegan, notes, swaps, tips, and nutrients. They are broken down into breakfasts, poultry, soups/salads, fish, and more.

What I liked: the nutrient lists as well as all the helpful charts and shopping lists to help you keep track of what you’re having and what you need. There is even a chapter on desserts – not something a lot of “diet” books have.

What I didn’t like: Very little. Yes, there are recipes I will never use due to other food allergies, but most of them look really good and I can’t wait to try some of them.

Recommendations: I would definitely add this one to my cookbook shelves, especially if you’re interested in healthier eating and focusing on brain power.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this book in hopes of a review. All opinions are my own.

Vicky 12/20

*****************************

LOW-CARB DIET FOR TWO by Bek Davis

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Diet

5 Sparklers

Blurb: Cooking healthy meals for two on a low carb diet doesn’t have to be expensive―or end in excessive leftovers. Low Carb Diet for Two makes it easy with shopping and meal-planning tips alongside 100 flavorful, healthy low-carb recipes―all created with two people in mind. This cookbook guides you through your low carb diet journey, letting you eat deliciously while on the path to better health together.

Learn what carbs are, how they affect your body, and why eating a low carb diet can be so beneficial. Find grocery shopping advice, lists of kitchen essentials, and simple ingredient swaps to make the food you already enjoy lower-carb. All the beginner-friendly, two-serving recipes include complete nutritional info.

Thoughts: There are lots of easy-to-follow recipes (100 of them) are scaled for two people with little to no leftovers. The book starts off with explanations of what exactly carbs are and how to count them. It also emphasizes that this is not a Keto/Paleo cookbook, but that it is low-carb (80-100 grams per day). Each recipe tells you whether it is gluten free, vegetarian, low sodium, etc. There are also cooking and prep times, servings, tips for swaps (lettuce for lo-carb tortillas for white bread), nutrients and more. I loved the seasoning recipes! At the end, the author has resources and apps you can use as well as references and a good index.

Recommendation: I would definitely add this to my cookbook collection. Even if you’re cooking for more than two, I believe you could just increase the amounts and still have them come out right. But I love that it is for two people. Not many cookbooks are.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this book in hopes of an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 12/20

************************************

30-MINUTE DASH DIET COOKBOOK by Andy De Santis

Nonfiction, Diet, Cookbook

4 Sparklers

Blurb: Adopting a low-sodium diet may feel like a challenge, but this supportive cookbook will make your transition to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) as enjoyable as it is rewarding. With a straightforward overview of the diet, 90 delicious recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, and a 21-day meal plan, the 30-Minute DASH Diet Cookbook is for anyone looking to lower their blood pressure through flavorful, easy to prepare food.

Thoughts: I thought this was a pretty good book. The authors explained what the DASH diet is (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) – in other words, how to lower your blood pressure through what you eat. There are three weeks’ worth of meal plans as well as shopping lists so you can have everything on hand. I loved the seasoning mixes recipes so you can make your own seasonings. Each recipe includes number of servings, prep and cook times, tips, and (most important to me) nutrient information. And some really good recipes too with ingredients that aren’t too hard to find or “once and done” – you know, those recipes that call for that one ingredient you don’t have, you will never have, and will never use again except for that specific recipe.

Recommendation: I’d definitely add this one to my cookbook stash, especially if you’re looking to work toward a healthier lifestyle.

Thanks to Callisto Publishing for providing this ARC in hopes of an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 12/20

**********************************************

30-Day Healthy Weight Loss Plan and Cookbook: 100 Easy Recipes and Workouts for a Balanced Life by Kelli Shallal

Nonfiction, Diet, Cookbook,

5 Sparklers

Blurb: If you’re looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle but don’t know where to begin, you’re in luck. This healthy cookbook is all about starting fresh. It’s your template for developing skills and habits around cooking, nutrition, and exercise that will set you up for weight loss success, and help you stay positive and realistic about your body and your health.

Thoughts: This is a book for those who want to, and can, do it by themselves. She walks you through not only what losing excess weight will do for you, but how to do it by setting SMART goals, not just for what you eat, but for exercise as well. There is also information on how to calculate your BMR (basic metabolic rate) and the number of calories you’d need to follow. The exercises and charts she includes will help you reach your goal. There are four weeks of meal plans and the shopping lists and recipes needed for those days. The recipes include information on whether they are gluten free, vegetarian, nut free, etc. The number of servings, prep and cook times, and nutritional information as well. And there are bonus recipes at the end for swapping out if there’s something you don’t like or can’t have. At the end, there are references and a decent index. All in all, a good book for starting your healthy weight journey.

What I liked: the allergen and nutritional information as especially important to me and not all cookbooks include these. I like that this info was there. The recipes are clear and easy to follow and most of the ingredients are readily available even in small town grocers. For those that aren’t there are online options for ordering. The calculations, though challenging, give you good information for what you need to know on your journey.

What I didn’t like: Very little. It’s a well-thought-out, well-done book with a lot of good information.

Recommendation: If you are looking to gain a healthier lifestyle and lose some weight, this is a good book to add to your collection. I definitely recommend it.

Thanks to Rockridge Press and Callisto Publishing for providing this ARC. All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 12/20

**************************************

CANDLE MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS by Mystic Dylan

Nonfiction, How To, Magic

5 *****

Blurb: Are you new to candle magic, but with a burning desire to learn? Light the flame with Candle Magic for Beginners, the comprehensive guide to beginning your candle magic practice. With detailed, step-by-step instructions for everything from choosing the right candle to performing the perfect ritual, you’ll find everything you need to know to start magically manifesting your goals. Discover the different types of candles and their ideal uses, and find out how shape, size, color, and burn time can influence your results with candle magic. Learn how to create a sacred altar, prepare your candle for spellwork, and focus your intentions. Select a spell like Mental Health Magic, Kemetic Flame of Protection, Lucky Cat Candle, Aphrodite’s Beauty Ritual, or Druid’s Circle of Serenity, and get started!

Thoughts: This is a good book for those just starting out in using candles for spellcasting. I found the directions easy to follow, the background and explanations on using different colors, shapes, sizes, etc. interesting. I never realized there was so much difference in working with candles. There are spells for healing, protection, love, and more with step-by-step instructions. There are even instruction on the three Cs – how to clean, consecrate, and charge your candles. I also found the bits on lighting, relighting, letting candles burn down, etc. interesting. I learned a lot from this book. Especially useful were the tables of correspondence at the end – what types/colors of candles are best for what uses, herbs to use, oils, days of the weeks to cast, lunar cycles, and stones to use in casting. There was also a section on resources such as podcasts, where to get supplies and more. All in all, I thought this a very good resource book.

What I liked: it was easy to read, easy to follow, and had an abundance of good information without being dry and boring.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I thought this a well-written, informative book.

Recommendation: If you are at all interested in doing candle work with spellcasting, definitely pick this book up. It is a good addition to any spellwork reference library.

Disclaimer: I received this book gratis from Rockridge Press via Callista Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Vicky 11/2020

*****************************************

Create Your Own Graphic Novel: A Guide for Kids by David Wayne Chiu

Nonfiction, YA, Writing

4****

Blurb: Create your own graphic novel and bring your coolest stories to life.Do you have a story to tell? Now you can write your own books for kids by creating your own graphic novel! With this step-by-step guide, you’ll discover the storytelling skills of sequential art. For budding young storytellers with fantastic tales to tell, this guide will get you drawing in no time. Write your own books for kids with the guidance provided on outlining, scripting a story, pacing the action, and planning transitions. Then break out of the traditional comic book panel with a variety of blank templates to fill in! Place your own captions, speech balloons, and sound effects―or don’t! It’s all up to you when you write your own books for kids. With this book, you can experiment and explore to create a graphic novel of your very own.

Thoughts: This is a brightly colored book that will appeal to young persons. It explains technical terms like emanata, panel bleeds, pacing, planning panels, and more. And it does so in a way that is entertaining while being informative. There are a lot of blank pages for the reader to practice the exercises, but I believe this is better geared toward middle-teens rather than younger kids. There are exercises that show kids how to develop story outlines and plan the story out, including coming up with titles.

What I liked: the bright colors are inviting and interesting. There are plenty of blank pages for the budding author to practice what they are learning. It guides the reader on planning out panels and gives guidelines on how to fill them out. It even shows the reader how to express sounds and motion in the panels.

What I didn’t like: Although I read this as a PDF, this is a bound book that can make it difficult to work in. Spiral binding might be better for this than standard binding.

Recommendation: I definitely recommend this book for budding graphic novelists.

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

Vicky 10/26/2020

*************************

THE 5-MINUTE PRODUCTIVITY JOURNAL by Jennifer Webb

Non-fiction, self-help

5*****

Publisher blurb:

Thoughts: This is a good book for those who want to become more productive through journaling. There are two main parts—Starting Out and Journal Entries—along with resources and references. If I had any criticism at all, it would be that both the resources and references were a bit thin, but…it’s a jounaling book which doesn’t take a lot of research. Each journal entry gives space for your feelings, productivity, setting priorities, and more. Including a place to vent/rejoice/plan. The first section gives you ways to set SMART goals, find a routine, how to tackle large tasks, planning and prioritizing, evaluating and more. It also encourages you to create a “life wheel” as a way to understand what is important to you and figure out what you really want.

What I liked: I liked the quotes the author uses to move you into a positive place and the little challenges offered each day. Those are interesting and fun—like go for a walk or meet someone new. Each day is the same as far as what needs to be filled out, but the challenges and quotes change. That makes it easy to get into a routine but keeps it fresh.

What I didn’t like: very little. I thought this was a good journaling book.

Recommendation: If you like journal books that help you become more productive, this is a definite pick for you. It’s easy to read and understand and will help you set your priorities.

Vicky 9/20/2020

*************************************

CRAFTING CATEGORY ROMANCE by Amy Lane

Non-fiction, writing

5 Sparklers

Blurb: Category romance is a precise art. With such a small word count, writing the perfect category romance is a little like writing a haiku. But how do you write a book in seventeen syllables? How can you cram compelling conflict, satisfying character development, and toe-curling romantic tension into less than sixty thousand words? In Crafting Category Romance, two-time RITA™-nominated author of nearly one hundred books Amy Lane describes the rules of engagement, traps to watch out for, and how to leverage common tropes to create conflict, craft a character, develop a plot, and leave readers with a happy ever after that’s different every time—all in a tidy package. With practical exercises in plot, conflict, and character development, Crafting Category Romance will teach you how to use the rigid rules and expectations of the genre to your advantage and win a loyal readership following for life.

Thoughts: This is a break from the author’s standard romance writing. Though it is still about romance, it is a well-written non-fiction book about how to write the stories. She has exercises you can follow to help you set up your book, how to brainstorm ideas, tropes, plots, and more. I have read a lot of “how to write” books, and this one definitely makes the cut. It’s something everyone who thinks of writing romance should read—whether you’re writing category or stand-alones. She highlights the hows and whys of writing a category romance—as well as the different types (sub-genres).

What I liked: Everything. Well, almost. You can skip the intro pages and get right to the meat of the book. Follow the exercises and you can start getting ideas on writing your own book. As she says in the book: Grab your notebook. Follow her exercises. Her style is easy to follow and understand. Go through this step by step and you will learn. I did. And I’ve been in this game for a very long time.

What I didn’t like: For me, the whole “haiku” bit didn’t work. I understood the analogy, but I liked the “Flavor” of your story better. That hit home more for me.

Recommendation: If you have any idea at all about writing a romance book, especially a category one, pick this book up and read it. It’s a great place to start. And even if you’ve been in the business a while, it’s a good reference book. Highly recommended.

I received this book from the publisher with the wish I’d write an honest review.

Vicky 10/5/2020

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE BIG BOOK OF GLUTEN FREE BAKING by Paola Anna Miget

Nonfiction, Cookbook, Gluten Free

tsparklersparklersparklersparkler

Blurb: The complete cookbook for gluten free bakers. Staying gluten free no longer means missing out on delicious baked goods. With more than 100 recipes and a comprehensive guide to baking success, this is the only gluten free cookbook you’ll need to create your favorite breads, cakes, and confections―without the gluten. Start things off with a detailed look into the science of gluten free baking before moving on to a giant collection of recipes perfect for all tastes and occasions. Whether you’re in the mood for something quick, indulgent, simple, or showstopping, this gluten free cookbook has got you covered.

What I liked: the recipes! I tried a few and they are easy to follow and delicious. I intend to try more as time allows. There are nice photos scattered throughout and the explanations are detailed without being boring. I also liked the conversion table at the end.

What I didn’t like: There is no nutrient information and weights being in grams instead of ounces (or ounces included).

Recommendation: If you’re gluten free, definitely add this one to your library. Yes, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darned close and is a good addition to any cookbook library.Vicky 7/18/2020

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE EASY BAKED DONUT COOKBOOK by Sara Mellas

Nonfiction, cookbook

sparklersparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FAMILY TREE WORKBOOK by Brian Sheffey

Nonfiction, Reference

sparklersparklersparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE ESSENTIAL SELF-COMPASSION WORKBOOK FOR TEENS by Katie Krimer

Nonfiction, self-help

sparklersparklersparklersparklersparkler

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 ofyourself. 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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DAIRY-FREE MEAL PREP by Silvana Nardone

Nonfiction, Cooking

sparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ACTUALLY, THE COMMA GOES HERE by Lucy Cripps

Nonfiction, Writing, Reference

sparklersparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Nonfiction, self-help

sparklersparklersparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SELF-CARE CHECK-IN by GG Renee Hill

Nonfiction, self-help

sparklersparklersparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ESSENTIAL FONDUE COOKBOOK by Erin Harris

Nonfiction, Cookbook

sparklersparklersparklersparkler

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 cookbookThoughts: 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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EVERYDAY STRESS RELIEF by Ruth C. White

Nonfiction, self-help, health

sparklersparklersparklersparklersparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A YEAR OF MINDFULNESS FOR BEGINNERS by Lee Papa

Nonfiction, self-help, health

sparkler sparkler sparkler

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~