Friday, June 14, 2013

Featured Book: Here Today and Perhaps Tomorrow by Peter William Kent



About the book:

Every passing year a growing number of our ageing population will enter the retirement ranks. As they go about making their retirement decisions these retirees will benefit by becoming increasingly informed about retirement community living. Retirees typically make decisions about their future after gaining a clearer grasp of retirement community life. Knowledge is important, and retirement community knowledge is especially important to the elderly. A sense of humor is a characteristic of these communities. Humor permeates the most dreary retirement environments. However, it can be quite difficult to poke fun at an old lady as she confronts Alzheimer’s disease. Nonetheless, this book has a tongue-in-cheek perspective. The author takes a realistic and hands-on look at the retirement community scene, enabling readers to more easily appreciate what can and does happen in this retirement style.



About the author:

Peter William Kent was born in Scotland, and received his early education at Andover Grammar School in Hampshire, England. At the age of seventeen he volunteered for the British Army and served in the Far East during World War II. This experience convinced him that aspiring to long life is a wise ambition. Peter went on to receive an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a master’s degree in organization development from Pepperdine University. He also attended University College in London. While working for three Fortune 200 companies, he gained experience in marketing, organization development, and human resources management. He spent several years in the United Nations as a Senior Advisor. Mr. Kent served in several African countries. He later taught public policy at Portland State University, and following that managed his own consulting venture. In 2000 he moved to a retirement community in California.




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Featured Book: Canadian Sunrise by Robert N. List



About the book:

Canadian Sunrise chronicles the adventures of these notorious rascals as it depicts violent cultural clashes that occurred in 17th century New France and its western environs. Painstakingly researched, this historical novel places the reader in many disparate worlds—in the villages of the French and the First People of this continent; in Peter Stuyvesant’s diverse free port of New Amsterdam; on the frigid waters of Hudson Bay and inside its raucous trading posts; in the throes of the London Plague of 1666; in the intrigue-ridden Oxford and Windsor courts of Charles II; in taverns frequented by Samuel Pepys, Prince Rupert, and the shareholders of the Hudson’s Bay Company; in the court of Louis XIV; and in the cloisters of ruthless Jesuit and Recollect priests who attempt to corner the fur trade and indoctrinate the Indians. Following Radisson’s Mohawk captivity and escape, an action-packed voyage to the shores of Lake Superior, and an arduous journey to the frigid waters of Hudson Bay comprise the early action. A rebuff by the Court of Louis XIV finally convinces Radisson and Des Groseilliers to enter the service of the English and the fledgling Hudson’s Bay Company. Filled with brisk dialogue and lush natural description which bring this colorful era to life, Canadian Sunrise is stocked with an assortment of savory characters that includes frontier women who often outshine their male counterparts.



About the author:

Robert N. List received the Ph. D. in English Literature from the University of Illinois. A teaching career in the disciplines of English and American Literature and Mass Communication resulted. He recently retired as full professor and former chair of a nationally accredited department of Mass Communication to concentrate on historical research and fiction writing. Currently, he serves as an adjunct professor in the Honors College at Jackson State University. In 1999, he published a non-fiction book entitled Merlin’s Secret: The African and Near Eastern Presence in the Ancient British Isles that is available at Amazon.com.




Monday, June 10, 2013

Featured Book: The Scarlet-Ruby War by Thomas J. Black



About the book:

Taking place immediately after Mahinder’s Grand Tournament, Prince Mahinder has been executed for treason at the hands of the newly appointed King Girish. Jaywanter has declared the land King Ashok gifted to him years ago a sovereign nation known as The Kingdom of Scarlet, and in retaliation for Girish’s decision, he declares war on the soon to be Five Kingdoms of Ruby. It is soon to be five, because at the exact same time, another land by the name of The Kingdom of Pearl (formerly The Fifth Kingdom of Ruby) declares its independence, and jumps into the war as a third party. What ensues is a tangled mess of war, political turmoil, and an already crumbling empire crumbling even further. Meanwhile, in the newly formed Queendom of Jade, Xiaoling, a Jadeite turned royalty, builds alliances between the western lands, watches the war closely under the assumption the winner will want to take back what they lost, and does her best to repair the damage Mahinder caused as lord-regent. All the while finding that politics is a whole different kind of battle.



About the author:

Thomas J. Black continues The Jade Blade Legacy started in 2012 with Mahinder’s Grand Tournament, drawing influences from the likes of George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, the European metal band Sabaton, and real world history.




Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: Ice Cream Sandwiches by Donna Egan

A sweet collection of 50 recipes for ice cream sandwiches from London's popular Buttercup Bake Shop.

Ice cream sandwiches are the perfect treat for both kids and adults, whether you prefer zesty lemon ice cream surrounded by soft ginger cookies or fudgey brownies encasing refreshing mint chocolate–chip ice cream, indulgently dipped in chocolate. Somehow, combining crunchy, buttery cookies with creamy, cold ice cream makes both elements better.

The tantalizing recipes in Ice Cream Sandwiches pair easy-to-make frozen fillings and simple cookies and other baked goods to create delightful treats ranging from classics to decadent combinations like snickerdoodles with vanilla ice cream, caramel, and butterscotch; pumpkin spice cookies with mascarpone ice cream; and rose meringues. With make-ahead instructions and fun decorating ideas for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, and other celebrations, this engaging and colorful cookbook has a sublime ice cream sandwich recipe for every occasion.



E-galley received for review.

Everyone loves an ice cream sandwich so I was excited to check out this volume. Unfortunately, these are Martha Stewart quality ice cream sandwiches that not only require you to bake cookies or brownies, but to cut them into stars or pigs or whatever. Then make your own ice cream. I mean, it's one thing to bake a batch of cookies and squish ice cream between them, but it's a whole other story to make cutout pigs and then make the ice cream to go in them. And the ice cream recipes didn't even make a full quart (which is what usually fits in an ice cream maker), so there's all that effort and no leftovers. AND, the ice creams didn't require an ice cream maker. "Great," you say. Not so much. Instead, they required making whipped cream and lots of delicate folding. Frankly, after you've spent two hours baking cutout stars and then making the ice cream to go in them I highly doubt you'd even want to eat the sandwiches anyway, you'd be so frustrated and exhausted.

So, while the concept is great and the pictures fun to look at, virtually no one will actually take the hours needed to make these fussy sandwiches unless it is for a party or holiday. Everyday life, not so much. If you are looking to make ice cream sandwiches for a special occasion, this is your book. Otherwise, give it a pass.

☆☆☆ = Just Okay



Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: The Soup and Bread Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas

From one of America’s most prolific and beloved cookbook authors comes a compendium of unique recipes for a universally appealing subject. This broad collection of soups, broths, bisques, and chowders ranges from summer coolers and hearty, warming stews to smooth, creamy soups and fiery broths. Marked by their straightforward preparation, accessible ingredients, and original pairings, Ojakangas’s collection not only taps into her Scandinavian heritage but into flavorful soups from around the world—there’s Swedish Pea, Morroccan Vegetable, Borscht, and Chicken and Dumplings to Feijoida, French Onion, Italian Meatball, and Asian Lemon Ginger.

The bread recipes alone could fill a cookbook. Loaves, buns, sticks, and flatbreads are here, along with pretzels, pitas, toasts and focaccias. Organized by season and complemented by evocative photographs, The Soup & Bread Cookbook is an ideal volume for anyone who takes comfort in the essential pleasures of a bowl of soup and warm bread.



E-galley received for review.

I adore soup. I adore bread. So a cookbook that combined both simply could not be passed by!

The beautiful photographs of nearly every dish immediately grab you. Granted, some of them are a bit on the dark side and rather overly rustic, but they showcase the dishes nicely.

The recipes themselves range from cold soups to hearty stews and scones to breadsticks. There are many meat free options as well. You simply cannot come away from this book without finding at least a few recipes to try. I found several that I'm looking forward to making:

Sausage & Vegetable Minestra
Italian Turkey Meatball Soup
New Potato & Chive Soup
Ham & Green Bean Soup
Blueberry Banana Bread
Mushroom-Barley Soup
Ham & Fingerling Potato Soup

Overall, I was quite impressed with the wide variety of soups and breads offered. Many of the breads can even be made after the soup goes on the stove to simmer and they can be ready at the same time. The only things that took away from it were the wide variety of international-type soups - curries and borschts and such. Not everyone enjoys a soup that sets your mouth on fire, and one can only consume so much beets and cabbage. If the majority of the recipes had been more mainstream, then it would have been four stars, but many of the soups were just not ideal for most readers.

I do recommend at least picking up a copy from your local library if you are a soup lover. I'm sure you'll find at least a few recipes that you will enjoy.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: Pukka's Promise by Ted Kerasote

When Ted Kerasote was ready for a new dog after losing his beloved Merle — who died too soon, as all our dogs do — he knew that he would want to give his puppy Pukka the longest life possible. But how to do that? So much has changed in the way we feed, vaccinate, train, and live with our dogs from even a decade ago.

In an adventure that echoes The Omnivore’s Dilemma with a canine spin, Kerasote tackles all those subjects, questioning our conventional wisdom and emerging with vital new information that will surprise even the most knowledgeable dog lovers. Can a purebred be as healthy as a mixed-breed? How many vaccines are too many? Should we rethink spaying and neutering? Is raw food really healthier than kibble, and should your dog be chewing more bones? Traveling the world and interviewing breeders, veterinarians, and leaders of the animal-welfare movement, Kerasote pulls together the latest research to help us rethink the everyday choices we make for our companions. And as he did in Merle's Door, Kerasote interweaves fascinating science with the charming stories of raising Pukka among his dog friends in their small Wyoming village.

Funny, revelatory, and full of the delights of falling in love with a dog, Pukka’s Promise will help redefine the potential of our animal partners.



Received for review.

Despite having cats instead of dogs I found this book absolutely fascinating!  Most of the discussions about vaccinations, food, etc. are applicable to cats as well so even if you're a cat owner as well you will certainly benefit from this book.

I have to admit that I never did read the author's first book.  I'm not into depressing animal stories.  I'm just not.  However, I was intrigued when offered this book.  The information on what to feed our pets and how or if to vaccinate them has become such a tangle that it's simply overwhelming. The author untangles this web for the reader and offers a clear, reasonable discussion of the options.

I found the discussion of pet food especially fascinating.  The whole raw food thing isn't happening for either me or my furry babies.  Seriously, if they saw raw chicken they'd just stare at me like "What am I supposed to do with that?".  Of course, if you're starting an animal out with a raw food diet as a kitten or puppy, as the author did with Pukka, that is an entire different thing.  The discussion and evaluation of the various grain-free foods was also, frankly, fascinating.  After reading that section my babies are going on a completely grain-free diet.  Yes, they'll still have their dry food, but that's what they're used to.  It's like an organic apple versus a pesticide laden one from abroad.  Progress, not perfection.

In any case, while this is one fat book the reading just sails along as you become wrapped up in the author and Pukka's adventures.  This truly is The Omnivore's Dilemma for dogs.  Those who would benefit most from this are the ones who genuinely love their animals and want the best for them - who treat them as furry babies.  Those readers will benefit immensely from the author's investigations and experiences and their furry babies will be better off for it, as will the readers.

I highly, highly recommend this to all pet lovers.  This is the number one resource for dog and cat lovers alike, as well as an incredibly enjoyable and touching story.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Single Effort by Joe Keller

Whether you're single by choice or by chance, it's wildly different than living with a partner. Most books on the subject read like cheerleading for cave-dwellers or sex guides for the hopelessly hapless. Why can't someone just tell it like it is? Joe Keller does just that. From food to fun, and finance to romance, Single Effort delivers clear, real-world advice to help you live a dynamic, successful life as a single guy.

Heartfelt, funny, and always practical, Single Effort is a must-read for single guys everywhere. It's also perfect for anyone (male or female, single or not) in search of unique dating and lifestyle ideas or a more fulfilling life. Destined to become a classic, this indispensable guide will change how you think about being single and help you find the life and love you seek.



Received for review.

Okay, so you may have noticed that I'm not a guy.  So, why am I reviewing a book for single guys, you ask?  Yeah, I don't know either, but it sounded interesting!  :)

This is the basic of all basic guides for single guys.  Seriously, it is for those guys who have moved from having their mothers cook and clean for them to having wives do it for them.  The author's assertions that a guy should hire a maid/housekeeper to replace his ex-wife is borderline offensive since it implies that his wife was just there to keep house for him and he can just hire someone to do that so a guy should just stay single, date around, and have a housekeeper do all the "wifely" work for him.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of the author's attitude, there are some good tips for the "how to boil water" crowd.  He details how to choose a wine, a few simple dishes to cook, etc.

I'm going to give this two stars (as opposed to one) only because it does contain some helpful information for guys who have never washed laundry, cooked, or cleaned for themselves which may be beneficial in the transition period until they can either hire a housekeeper to do it for them or acquire a wife to do it for free.

☆☆☆ = Just Okay



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: The Path of Emotions by Dr. Synthia Andrews, ND

Do you feel there is more to reality than what your five senses reveal?

Are emotions controlling the quality of your life?

Do you avoid uncomfortable feelings or suppress past trauma?

You may have been taught that emotions aren't logical and therefore can't be trusted. That happiness depends on suppressing or avoiding "negative" feelings. On the contrary, emotions are the key to discerning energy reality. They are the language of subtle energy providing information, direction, motivation, and vitality.

Understanding and harnessing the power of emotions will help you make better decisions, heal your past, and create the life of your dreams.

The Path of Emotions explains how emotions are the key to mind-body communication, translating information from subtle energy realms into useable guidance. Reading it will help you:

  • Interpret your instincts and gut reactions
  • Expand your subtle energy awareness and increase your intuition
  • Identify and release emotions that are binding your energy, inhibiting your potential, and causing physical pain and dysfunction
  • Free up and use the energy currently bound up in limiting emotional patterns
  • Use emotions to empower your intentions and manifest the life you desire



Received for review.

There are some books that contain truly interesting information but are presented in a crunchy granola way that turn off most readers. This is one of those books. This manages tho take some very New Age concepts about energies and chakras and make them completely incomprehensible to those not familiar with the concepts while making one sleepy while reading. This is almost like a New Age textbook and has that dry, boring feel to it.

The author does know her stuff and is passionate about her subject, but cannot communicate said subject to the general public well. So, why three stars then, you ask? Simply because the information truly is interesting and compiled into a single volume from a wide variety of sources.

If you are interested in energy fields in the body this comprehensive guide is for you, but be prepared for slow going while reading it.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book Excerpt: Your Ultimate Life Plan by Jennifer Howard

Jennifer Howard, author of the book Your Ultimate Life Plan, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

Your Ultimate Life Plan will help you improve every moment of your life by teaching you how to build:

  • Confidence: Remove what's stopping you.
  • Strength: Move from your wounded ego into your sacred self.
  • Courage: Make smarter choices by embracing the Four Dimensions of Consciousness.
  • Success: Rise to your next level of happiness, clarity, and transformation.

Your Ultimate Life Plan is the distillation of Dr. Howard's 20-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. This "workshop in a book" will help you do more than understand your Wholeness--you will experience it.



About the author:

Jennifer Howard, PhD, teaches the art of conscious living. She is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, life and business coach, professional speaker, teacher, and energy healer. A leading expert on spirituality and psychology, Dr. Howard has appeared on numerous national network television shows and is a Huffington Post blogger. As creator and host of the award-nominated radio talk show, A Conscious Life, her wisdom, warmth, and sense of humor shine through. She lives in New York. For more information, visit: DrJenniferHoward.com and YourUltimateLifePlan.com.




Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: Climate Myths by John J. Berger

Climate Myths is both a primer on climate change and a definitive rebuttal of climate science denial. The book can thus be used to help educate students, teachers, and the general public about the controversy over climate change. Climate Myths puts the campaign against climate science in historical, political, and economic context and juxtaposes the claims of climate change deniers with the facts about climate change as revealed by authoritative climate science.

Climate Myths dispels common misunderstandings about climate change and spotlights the companies, organizations, and individuals who have promoted climate myths in the course of their highly successful, multimillion dollar climate disinformation campaigns. Drawing on the principles and achievements of climate science, Climate Myths summarizes the imminent threat of rapid climate change, pointing readers toward needed action.




ARC received for review.

It's hard to believe that in this day there are still some people who are ignorant enough to believe that climate change is not taking place, but alas, there are always some.  I'm sure there are still some Flat Earth people out there too, but they can't harm the rest of us with their behavior as the climate change deniers can.

Despite the rather cramped and unappealing format, this small volume systematically details exactly who is propagating climate myths and what those myths are, and then proceeds to clearly and concisely reveal each myth as the lie it is.

If you are looking for an interesting and cognent discussion of the climate change topic this is the book for you.  And, if you have any remaining friends or family members who are still in denial about climate change than you may want to buy a copy of this book for them.  I highly recommend this!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

The spellbinding true story of Anne Perry, her friend Pauline Parker, and the brutal crime they committed in the name of friendship.

On June 22, 1954, teenage friends Juliet Hulme—better known as bestselling mystery writer Anne Perry—and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a New Zealand park with Pauline’s mother, Honora. Half an hour later, the girls returned alone, claiming that Pauline’s mother had had an accident. But when Honora Parker was found in a pool of blood with the brick used to bludgeon her to death close at hand, Juliet and Pauline were quickly arrested, and later confessed to the killing. Their motive? A plan to escape to the United States to become writers, and Honora’s determination to keep them apart. Their incredible story made shocking headlines around the world and would provide the subject for Peter Jackson’s Academy Award–nominated film, Heavenly Creatures.

A sensational trial followed, with speculations about the nature of the girls’ relationship and possible insanity playing a key role. Among other things, Parker and Hulme were suspected of lesbianism, which was widely considered to be a mental illness at the time. This mesmerizing book offers a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial and shares dramatic revelations about the fates of the young women after their release from prison. With penetrating insight, this thorough analysis applies modern psychology to analyze the shocking murder that remains one of the most interesting cases of all time.



Received for review.

I must say that before reading this I was actually rather fond of Anne Perry's books and considered myself a casual fan.  After the book I will no longer be picking up a single book of hers and will in face scour my shelves in case a stray volume of hers remains and will purge it from my home.  Just having them around makes me feel dirty.  I just can no longer look at the author and her works in the same way.

A casual Anne Perry fan at the time the publisher asked me to consider this book I was intrigued. I thought "Hey, that sounds kinda cool".  Alas, not cool.  Think nightmare inducing.  I would not want to be in a room, a building, or a town with those two.  They're the female versions of O.J.  If O.J. were guilty, of course (cough, cough).  The fact that they show no remorse is simply chilling.    And that they received virtually no prison time makes me want to vomit.  Frankly, the whole darn thing just made my skin crawl.

I suppose I should address the fact that the girls were widely supposed to be lesbians.  I frankly couldn't care less whether they were or not, and being a lesbian has no impact whatsoever on whether those two are cold-blooded, unrepentant murderers.  There have been millions of lesbians through the ages and the vast majority have not gone around committing matricide.

Despite the subject the book was incredibly well written, researched, and documented.  The author is remarkably unbiased and respectful towards the two unrepentant murderers and clearly discusses each element of the case in detail.  Yes, it can be a bit tedious at times with testimony and such but the story is truly like a car accident that you just cannot look away from.  You just cannot put this book down (or into the freezer a la Joey).

I highly recommend this to true crime fans.  Anne Perry fans should certainly read this as well, and may find themselves as put off by her books as I found myself.  Regardless, you will be sleeping with your light on for days (or weeks) after you read this!

★★★★ = Really Liked It