The 60-Minute Money Workout by Ellie Kay

The financial and home budgeting book by financial expert Ellie Kay, The 60 Minute Money Workout: An Easy, Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Finances Into Shape (Ellie Kay, 2010, WalterBrook Press, ISBN 9780307446039) is a primer on how to get your finances in order in a unique way. All the tips and steps to achieving your financial goal is done in a workout style regimen:
  • Warm Up: Prep for your money workout
  • Strength Training: Set financial goals
  • Cardio Burn: Put goals into action
  • Heart Rate: Measure financial performance
  • Cool Down: Reward yourself
For anyone needing help in getting their financial house in order, Kay does a pretty good job at touching at all the elements necessary to do so. Her tips are good too. For example, in her travel section, she suggests keeping to your budget by purchasing souvenirs at the end of the day to prevent impulse buying and the need for rental lockers when at an amusement park, and also to purchase theme park logoed gear online at discount and overstock stores, then give them to the kids when you get there. Good info in an easy-to-digest format.

Book Info:
  • The 60 Minute Money Workout: An Easy, Step-by-Step Guide to Getting your Finances into Shape, by Ellie Kay
  • WalterBrook Press; 2010
  • ISBN13: 9780307446039
  • Paperback, 212 pages

The 60-Minute Money Workout: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Finances into Shape is available on Amazon.

Disclosure: This book was provided to the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

The Cake Decorator's Motif Bible by Sheila Lampkin

The Cake Decorator's Motif Bible (Sheila Lampkin, Quarto, 2007, ISBN: 9781554072811) is nothing but the goods, with all the illustrations you need to complete any flat fondant project. Kuo Kan Chen is the illustrator, and without the easy-to-follow guides, the book wouldn't be as useful.

The book comes spiral bound which makes it easy to flatten the book to any page you are working on. The color photos and examples of finished alphabets at the back of the book make it also a pretty good pastry reference book.

For the full review, read it on the Pastry Sampler blog.

The Sweets of Araby by Leila Salloum Elias and Muna Solloum

The Sweets of Araby (Muna Salloum and Leila Salloum Elias, Countryman Press, 2011, ISBN: 9780881509298) is a beautifully illustrated pastry book interwoven with 25 tales of Scheherazade followed by a dessert. All the illustrations are done by Linda Dalal Sawaya, a Lebanese-American artist, and are richly colored providing the perfect backdrop for the Arabian sweet recipes.

For the full review, read it on the Pastry Sampler Blog.

The Keto Cookbook

If you are on a ketogenic diet, or have a family member on a ketogenic diet, this book has all the fundmentals and recipes for variety for family menus. A ketogenic diet is extremely high in fat and should only be followed by those under the care of medical doctors, such as a nutritionist, dietician, neurologist, or other medical doctor. This book isn't a low-carb diet book for those interested in low-carb recipes. It is specifically designed for ketogenic diets.

Having said all that, it is a thoughtfully presented and researched cookbook. The authors, Dawn Marie Martenz and Laura Cramp, have created recipes that look and taste as delicious as possible for anyone on the diet. Martenz's story is inspirational. The choice of recipes ensures that if one family member is on the diet, then they can still eat the same menu item, just one portion specifically measured and cooked separately for one person. For example, there are recipes for pigs in a blanket, tacos, cupcakes, sushi, pizza, and crackers. So if the rest of the family is having a pizza for dinner, the person on the ketogenic diet may have a specially prepared pizza made for them, and the whole family can sit down together and eat the same menu item.

This book has color pictures and precise measurements for recipes ensuring a particular number of calories and ratio fat to carbs are met on specific diets that are already calculated.

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, such as epilepsy, and a medical doctor has advised you to go on a ketogenic diet, this would be a great cookbook to have in the kitchen.

Book Information

The Keto Cookbook: Innovative Delicious Meals for Staying on the Ketogenic Diet; by Dawn Marie Martenz and Laura Camp, RD
Demos Health, 2012
ISBN: 9781936303036
Softcover and ebook format

The Keto Cookbook

Disclosure: This book was provided to the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

Catching Santa by Marc Franco

Fun read for young adults! Especially during the holidays, this would make a good chapter book to give to young adults if they have an ereader available to read from. It's about a boy who discovers a secret involving Santa. Great story line. Hooks older kids, and not to difficult for younger readers who are interested in chapter books.

Book Information:

Catching Santa; by Marc Franco
Pants On Fire Press; 2011
ISBN 9780982727102
Available in hardback or ebook versions.

Catching Santa by Mark Franco is available through amazon.

Disclosure: This book was recieved by the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

America - The Last Best Hope: Volume 3, by William Bennett

Another good compilation of history from William J. Bennett, this time from the years 1988 to 2008. America - The Last Best Hope Volume III: From the Collapse of Communism to the Rise of Radical Islam (Thomas Nelson, 2011, ISBN 9781595554284) records advances and setbacks between political parties and the uncertainties Americans faced due to turbulent economic times.

During this time, the Berlin Wall came down, terrorism became the number one threat to Americans, and the U.S. elected the first African American president. For those interested in a topographical view of the major events that happened during those two decades, this book would be a good choice.

America - The Last Best Hope Volume III Chapters & Overview

The six chapters touch on every part of what was important during those years: Enemies Abroad, Challenges at Home; Rise of the Boomer; Into the Fire; Bush and the Age of Terror; In War and Culture: A Clash of Values, A New Media, A New Election; Peril and Promise in War, Two Great American Stories, A New Direction for America.

The book is a recommended read for those who enjoy Bennett's picks of major events in America and around the world.

America - The Last Best Hope: Volume III is available through Amazon.

Every Book Is a Startup by Todd Sattersen

Multimedia has changed how we read and want books, and Todd Sattersen with his book, Every Book Is a Startup (O'Reilly Media, 2011; ISBN 9781449309015), talks about book creation in the same lines as entrepreneurship, rather than just ideas on a page. For tech books and their sometimes short shelf life due latest software and hardware updates and versions, knowing which ways to put the book in the best possible situation at the beginning is helpful.

Sattersen has divided Every Book Is a Startup into different chapters with good answers to typical problems with book publishing. Black Swans, Long Tails, and Big Dreams is the first chapter, and delves into what averages are, and why some books due better over time. Help the Heroes is about failure and success. A Book Is a Network chapter goes into how networks can strengthen a brand. The fourth chapter, Add or Subtract, goes into the future of bookselling including niche markets and sustaining innovations.

This is a work in progress, with later chapters being written and offered to readers in the future. Overall, a good start for those interested in how to publicize writing.

Book Information:
  • Every Book Is a Startup; by Todd Sattersen
  • O'Reilly Media; 2011, Second Release
  • ISBN13: 9781449309015
  • eBook; pdf version
Every Book Is a Startup is available through Amazon.

Disclosure: This book was provided to the author from the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

Raised Right - How I Untangled My Faith From Politics by Alisa Harris

The story line behind Raised Right: How I Unhinged My Faith From Politics is that of a young woman who undergoes a personal change, from religious conservative to liberal with a little religion mixed in. Harris details early on in the book of what it was like growing up in an ultra-conservative, god-fearing family who doesn't think twice of putting a picket sign in the hands of a child in front of an abortion clinic. As she grows up, her ideals change, and while God is still some part of who she is, she turns liberal in her politics.

Harris brings great writing with her book, with some sprinkling throughout of different bible quotes and the quotes of different people of literature. It is obvious the has at least some disdain for the way that she was brought up. In my opinion, she leaves a poor image in the mind of the reader of the 'religious fanatics' who were with her as a youth. As she grows up, she finds that what she was taught as a child isn't so black and white - the right side isn't always right and the left side isn't always bad.

In the end of the book she writes "Looking back on the years the changed me from someone carrying a George W. Bush tote bag to someone protesting corporate greed, from someone who wept with joy at the national anthem to someone who could no longer sing it withoug a pang of loss," which makes me wonder if she thinks the 'bible thumpers' of her youth, and even her family, were all wrong to begin with, and she and her liberal ideals are now right. As an adult, she is entitled to her opinion, even if it differs from her parents.

Book Information:

  • Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith From Politics; by Alisa Harris

  • WalterBrook Press; 2011

  • ISBN13: 9780307729668

  • Paperback; 230 pages
Disclosure: This book was provided to the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics is available through Amazon.

Grandma's Back to Basics All Natural More Than Just a Cookbook by Teresa Thompson

Grandma's Back to Basics All Natural More Than Just a Cookbook by Teresa Thompson is a cookbook for people with allergies or food sensitivities. Thompson gives a good overview on what causes allergies in people in her introduction, and her story may give people who suffer from sensitives tips to help cope.

While this book does provide good tips and great sounding recipes, the errors in formatting made it hard to follow. For example, after the heading for the recipe Creamed Eggs is this phantom text "Strawberry S 1 1/2 cu2", which is on several recipes including the Pecan Candy Roll, Powdered Cereal, and others. Other errors are simply double text (Sweet and Sour Shrimp directly and right above the same text Sweet and Sour Shrimp).

There were numerous phantom text throughout the recipes, which I'm assuming came from poor proofreading, or perhaps appeared without anyone's knowledge just prior to printing. I'm not sure, but it looks like it started with the Strawberry Shake recipe since multiple phantom text entries include something with either strawberry, or strawberry shake in it. Since this book is the First Printing of a book published in 2003, I'm hoping subsequent editions will be fixed and edited correctly. This is unfortunate since the overall theme is a good one.

Book Contents and Chapters

The cookbook has nine recipe chapters: Appetizers; Beverages; Breads; Breakfast; Desserts; Sandwiches/Soups; Sauces/Dressings/Marinades; Vegetables; and Main Dishes. The recipes use unbleached sugar, sea salt, unbleached flour, and filtered water to create recipes acceptable to most individuals with food sensitivity issues.

Thompson provides a good range of recipes for any culinary palate. Her many tips for avoiding chemically laden products and food substitutions are helpful.

Book Information:
  • Grandma's Back to Basics All Natural More Than Just a Cookbook; by Teresa Thompson
  • Dorrance Publishing; 2003
  • ISBN: 0805962867
  • Softcover; 281 pages, no photos
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher to the author. Any opinions are the author's own.

More info:
Publisher book info and author bio.

Up, Down, or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad, or In Between by Mark Sanborn

The latest book by Mark Sanborn, Up, Down, or Sideways (Tyndale; 2011; ISBN 978414362212) gives readers a way to answer questions they've been wondering about, like 'Is it possible to create sustainable success?'. Through his simple tips and guides, Sanborn lays out a chart to success no matter what difficulties are encountered.

Up, Down, or Sideways Contents and Chapters

The book is separated into three sections: Section 1: See; Section 2: Think; and Section 3: Do. Each of these sections has examples of individual, and individual situations, that have overcome obstacles by one of the overlaying theme.

There are 12 chapters:
  • The Surfer's Situation
  • Barrier Bashing
  • The Scorekeeper's System
  • The Optimist's Orientation
  • The Learner's Leverage
  • Produce Value
  • Create and Keep Connections
  • Continuously Innovate
  • Build Reserves
  • Practice Gratitude
  • Embrace Discipline
  • Conclusion: How to Succeed All the Time
Using these tools and reading different examples, Sandborn hopes to instill a vision of success in the reader's mind. I think he does a pretty good job of it in the end.

Book Information:
  • Up, Down, or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad, or in Between; by Mark Sanborn
  • Tyndale Publishers; 2011
  • ISBN13: 9781414362212
  • Hardcover; 170 pages
Disclosure: This book was provided to the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

Up, Down, or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad, or In Between available from Amazon.

Up, Down, or Sideways publisher and author information.

The Book of Man: William J. Bennett

The newest book by William J. Bennett, The Book of Man,  is a great collection of different writings, poems, stories, and biographies bringing real life and fictional heroes to young boys and young men. In his introduction, Bennett states that the purpose of the book is to 'explore and explain what it means to be a man.' Throughout the book, there is advice on home life, work life, ways to set an example, and ways to learn from example.

Our kids received Bennett's book The Book of Virtues as a present from their grandparents, which contains various fictional works and real life accounts of heroes that hopefully will stay with them long after story time is over. The Book of Man is a similar book, and encourages parents to read to younger boys, and older boys to read on their own with fun and insightful selections.

The book is separated into these chapters: Man in War; Man at Work; Man in Play, Sports, and Leisure; Man in the Polis; Man with Woman and Children; and Man in Prayer and Reflection. The section Man: At the End, Bennett gives a very touching reflection on his father in law, Clarence E. Glover.

The Book of Man makes a wonderful keepsake book to be given to boys for birthdays, parents of sons as gifts for them, and even expectant parents of a baby boy. Or, like me, given to a son in the hopes that when he begins to read, reading some of the works and deeds of notable men, that their good intentions and examples will rub off on him when he grows up.

L.L. Bean Fly Fishing For Bass Handbook by Dave Whitlock

L.L. Bean Fly Fishing for Bass Handbook

An illustrated guide for fly fishing bass, L.L. Bean Fly Fishing for Bass Handbook by Dave Whitlock has bass fishing basics and fly tackle information like tackle assembly and bass flies.

For those just getting into the sport of fly fishing and want to fish for bass, Dave Whitlock has put together a great book all tailored for bass. What he found after years of fishing for bass with flies and tackle, was that he was more successful if specific gear was used. He details his methods, and notes in his introduction that this book and the information in it aren't just for bass: his methods can be used for any 'predator fish in cool, warm, or brackish water.' Other fish that can be caught using his methods and tips: crappie, perch, pike, bluegill, stripers, and muskie, among others.

For the full review, read it on BellaOnline.

Stash Happy: Felt - Fun Book with 30 Different Sewing and Craft Projects

Stash Happy Felt: 30 Fun Projects for Felt (and Fabric) Lovers

For those with a stash of felt (or any fabric for that matter) and are looking for creative ways to use it up, Stash Happy: Felt by Amanda Carestio gives 30 fun projects that range from useful table top accessories, to actual accessories you can wear.
Read the full article and review on my Sew Now This blog.

30-Minute Rings Jewelry Book by Marthe Le Van

Marthe Le Van has gathered 60 different ring jewelry projects from 49 different designers, which can all be constructed in a half an hour. If you have 30 minutes to spare, then you can create a ring or so the author Marthe Le Van suggests in 30-Minute Rings. For most projects, basic tools like a hammer, jewelry saw, and pliers are all that is needed, but for other projects, a soldering kit and a complete bench tools set are required.

The Art of Good Cookies Plain and Fancy by Annette Laslett Ross and Jean Adams Disney

Old-School Cookie Book From the '60s: The Art of Making Good Cookies. My latest find at the library's 'Friends of the Library' store - a three dollar book, an older cookie recipe collection from the sixties. The Art of Good Cookies Plain and Fancy (Annette Laslett Ross and Jean Adams Disney, Doubleday, 1963) is a hardback covered recipe book with many different cookies, or cookies for special events like party cookies.

The full review for this book is on my Old School Pastry blog.

The Art of Making Good Cookies can also be found on Amazon.

For Cod and Country: Simple Delicious Sustainable Cooking

Barton Seaver in his book, For Cod and Country, cooks up delicious, sustainable food by promoting smaller fish portions and healthy amounts of vegetables.

Barton Seaver practices what he talks about with fish sustainability and cooking: he's a National Geographic fellow increasing awareness to ocean issues and is a practicing chef. His dedication to both industries has made For Cod and Country more than a cookbook. It provides tips for sustainability through portion size, using fish that are seasonally caught, and encourages the use of fresh produce.

Seaver uses the term 'eat low on the food chain.' Smaller fish are lest costly to purchase and are able to replenish themselves at a faster rate than larger predatory species. If there is a fish species you especially enjoy that is on a seafood watch list, he gives several seafood substitutions. For example, instead of Chilean sea bass, try sablefish, Pacific halibut, a farm-raised sturgeon instead. Another reason to steer away from larger fish is the levels of mercury and other toxins are considerably higher in larger fish. As the food chain travels up, so does the amount of toxins that are absorbed in the fish.

Descriptions of many sustainable fish and seafood species are listed. Seaver gives information on where they are found, why they are good choices, and tips for cooking them. There are numerous color pictures throughout the book. Techniques are sprinkled through the different sections such as cutting raw fish, shucking oysters, and shopping for fish.

For Cod and Country Cookbook Chapters and Overview

The recipes are separated by season: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and A Separate Season. Each chapter features fish caught in those seasons, and the fifth season incorporates farm-raised fish and seafood. The Techniques section has useful information on different cooking methods and brining fish. For those interested in smoking fish, Seaver goes in depth on both methods: cold and hot smoking. There are three fish brining recipes for hot smoking as well as three rub recipes for cold smoking.

Recommended For People Interested In Basic Fish Cookery and Sustainability

If there is one topic that is highlighted throughout For Cod and Country, that is to choose fish lower on the food chain and eat it in smaller portions. Categorizing the recipes by seasons helps to illustrate that fisheries also have seasons. All recipes are either photographed in the finished stage or show you how to do it. Seaver's descriptions of the different catch methods is valuable to those who are interested in responsible fishing, and teaches which methods are best at reducing bycatch, anything not targeted by fishermen.

Recipe: Mahi Mahi with Grilled Peaches and Buttermilk-Mint Dressing

Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Leaves from 8 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt
  • Four 5-ounce portions mahi mahi fillet
  • 4 ripe peaches, cut in half and pitted
  • 1 pound arugula leaves
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  1. For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, and mint. Season to taste with salt and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to two hours so that the flavors combine.
  2. For the mahi mahi, preheat a grill using charcoal or gas heat. Place the fillets on the coolest part of the grill and the peach halves over the hot part of the fire. Cover the grill and cook about 15-20 minutes for fillets 1 1/2 inches thick. The fish should be cooked through but only just beginning to flake when gentle pressure is applied. At that point, the peaches will be slightly charred and beginning to soften.
  3. To serve, mix the arugula and onion, toss with two-thirds of the dressing, and season with salt. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Place 2 grilled peach halves next to the salad. Place a piece of mahi mahi on top of the salad and spoon the remaining dressing over it. Serve immediately.

Book Information

  • For Cod and Country: Simple Delicious Sustainable Cooking; by Barton Seaver
  • Sterling Epicure, 2011
  • ISBN13: 9781402777752
  • Hardcover with Jacket, 304 pages
  • Full Color - over 200 photos
Recipe adapted and reprinted with permission from Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck

For those who enjoy light historical romances, The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck (Kathleen Y'Barbo, Walterbrook Press, 2009, ISBN13: 9780307729644) would please. While it can be read as a stand-alone novel, it is the third in a series by the Y'Barbo: the other two are The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, and Anna Finch and the Hired Gun.

The story is set in the late 1880s, from London to the Old West. Charlotte Beck is an American who wants to have an education. Alex Hambly is a nobleman who needs help refilling his family's coffers. A suggested arrangement of marriage seems equitable to them both, but after they are married, they realize it's not that inconvenient to be married to each other, and what they first wanted when they agreed to marry each other, doesn't seem so important now. The back story is the mystery of her mother and father. Light read with an obvious end, but entertaining throughout.

Book Information:
  • The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck; by Charlotte Y'Barbo
  • WalterBrook Multnomah, an Imprint of The Crown Publishing Group (Random House)
  • ISBN13: 9780307729644
  • Paperback & eBook versions
This edition was loaned to me by the publisher; any opinions are my own.

The One Page Business Plan: Start With a Vision, Build a Company

Jim Horan's book, "The One Page Business Plan," helps to dispel myths regarding business plans, and helps put a plan together quickly and concisely.

Business plans are important to any business because they help layout where a company is headed in many ways. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, business plans show current financial projections and help with future estimated ones. It can help strategize personnel and sales goals, and can also help with funding if you need to expand.

The introduction of The One Page Business Plan lays out what business plans are and what they aren't, and lists common myths. For example, they don't need to be long in length or take a great amount of time to compile for one to be useful for the business. And just what can you do with a business plan with only one page? Horan suggests it can be used for presentations to test ideas, to help with career motivation, and also summarize ideas.

How to Assemble a One Page Business Plan

The One Page Business Plan has many fillable fields to help make the process easy. The worksheets with boxes, circles, and fill-in fields make it easy to brainstorm and categorize ideas. Exercises are in each chapter where you are presented with a topic, like What's Working in Your Company? and What Targets Will You Aim For? The answers are used to help craft together the main parts of the business plan.

The Five Main Parts to the Business Plan

The goal of The One Page Business Plan is to put together in paragraph form these five parts: Vision; Mission; Objectives; Strategies; and Plans. While both the Vision and Mission statements may be the shortest in length, they are two of the most important. With them you can see what your company stands for and why it is there.

The Objectives and Strategies are more in depth and focus on actual results. They are the 'goals' part of the business plan and through the exercises you identify ways to achieve them. Using all four of the previous parts, the last element, Plans, can be implemented for the projections. Horan gives tips on how to put the business plan in action, and has several finished business plans to be uses for examples.

Recommended for Those Needing to Put Together Ideas

If you need a business plan with in-depth financial projections or long summaries, then this book isn't for you. It is useful for those who have many ideas and don't know where to go with them, or who need a little focus in business. The One Page Business Plan helps to quickly identify problem areas in the business and helps to develop strategies by putting ideas together in a useful way.

Book Information:

  • The One Page Business Plan: Start With a Vision, Build a Company!; by Jim Horan
  • The One Page Business Plan Company, 2003
  • ISBN: 1891315072
  • Softcover, 97 pages