health, home

Natural Remedies for Your Home & Health

Author: Laura Ascher
Publisher: Mango
Genre: Home / Health
ISBN: 978-1-64250-548-1
Pages: 188
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
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Many of the household products we buy are filled with dangerous and toxic chemicals. But if you’re looking for alternatives, they aren’t always available or they can be very expensive. It’s helpful to be able to create your own from natural ingredients that you know are safe.

Natural Remedies for Your Home & Health is filled with wonderful recipes for anything you might need at home. This guide included natural kitchen, bathroom, laundry, bedroom, baby & kids, bath & beauty remedies, as well as roller bottle recipes and diffuser blends. Common ingredients such as vinegar, rubbing alcohol, Castile soap, baking soda, and essential oils are used to create safer and better smelling household products.

While the idea of creating nontoxic recipes is terrific, it’s also helpful that many of these turn out to be cheaper than the more toxic varieties. Once you’ve made the initial investment in the common ingredients, you will be able to create whatever you need from them, over and over again. I highly recommend Natural Remedies for Your Home & Health.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, history

So You Want to Be a Knight?

Author: Hannah Pang
Illustrator: Takayo Akiyama
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 978-0-500-65211-4
Pages: 96
Price: $14.95

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Eddie, Kate, and Angus are back again, and this time they’re exploring the possibility of becoming a knight. But their dream of swapping their backpacks for a suit of armor and riding off to join their fellow knights on a quest might turn out to be more difficult than they expect.

In order to be successful as a knight, they will need to be physically fit, accomplished horseback riders, and great on the dance floor. Having wealth and a family of influence also helps, since a knight’s suit of armor can be expensive. Knights thrive on chivalry, and socializing and jousting are a big part of their job description. But on the battlefield, expertise with a sword, lance, and shield is expected, and this can pose a problem while riding, since the equipment is very heavy.

So You Want to be a Knight? is a fun, tongue-in-cheek look at how to be a knight. I found it very entertaining, and it will be a big hit with kids, who will enjoy the author’s sense of humor. I highly recommend it, along with all the others in the “So You Want to Be a …” series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Iron-Sharpened Leadership

Author: John L. Gronski
Publisher: Fidelis Publishing
Genre: Business
ISBN: 978-1-7358-5636-0
Pages: 296
Price: $17.00

Author’s website
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John L. Gronski is a U.S. Army Retired Major General. He has faced situations where his decisions were crucial for the preparation and survival of his team, and he knows how to lead effectively. In Iron-Sharpened Leadership, he shares his military experience and demonstrates how to use it in a civilian setting.

Gronski believes there are three things that define a leader – character, competence, and resilience. Focusing on his years in the military, he provides examples of how he handled situations and worked with the people around him. Leadership is critical when lives are at stake, but it’s just as important in the work force, and his advice would be helpful for any manager.

Iron-Sharpened Leadership is well-written and inspiring for anyone who wants to be a great leader. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

food & drink

Nora’s Naturals Coffee

Sometimes it’s nice to just curl up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee.  I’ve had the pleasure of sampling Nora’s Naturals Coffee as I read, and I’m really savoring the experience.  I am enjoying a dark roast that has none of the harsh or bitter flavor normally associated with dark coffee.  Instead, the flavor is very smooth and easy to drink.  And Nora’s Naturals Coffee is not only good for you – it’s good for the environment.

I asked Nora to join us for a chat:

What is unique about Nora’s Naturals Coffee?

There are so many incredible single origin farms producing quality coffee beans and talented roasters who create the complexities of taste. I am thrilled to be working with the multi-generation family farm in the Finca Isabel mountain range of Nicaragua. The beans are grown in volcanic soil, rich in silica, an essential mineral for anti-aging collagen production. The line is Rainforest Alliance certified and donates 3% of all profits to the Environmental Defense Fund.

What are some of the health benefits of coffee?

Coffee produces brain chemicals that has a mimicking effect of antidepressants. Quality coffee is rich in polyphenols that inhibit the growth of cancer cells and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This is a type of antioxidants that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the cells, assisting with skin complexion, hair growth, muscle repair and helping to ward off chronic disease.

The New York Times reported consuming four or five eight-ounce cups of coffee (or about 400 milligrams of caffeine) a day has been associated with reduced death rates. In a study of more than 200,000 participants followed for up to 30 years, those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, were 15 percent less likely to die early from all causes than were people who shunned coffee. Perhaps most dramatic was a 50 percent reduction in the risk of suicide among both men and women who were moderate coffee drinkers, perhaps by boosting production of brain chemicals that have antidepressant effects.

What are some interesting ways to enjoy coffee?

One of my favorite ways to enjoy coffee is by making elixirs. I am excited to share my Nora’s Naturals recipes designed for specific goals- stress relief, fat burning, strengthened immunity and beauty boosting. I formulated the recipes with celebrity chef, Sonny Sweetman, to ensure incredible taste in addition to the benefits.

Nora’s Naturals elixirs utilize powerful ingredients to shift physiology to adapt to stress, speed fat burning and increase anti aging collagen production.

Beauty Booster

  • NN Coffee 8 ounces
  • Vanilla Collagen Protein 1 Tbsp
  • Macadamia Cream 1 Tbsp
  • Cocoa Butter 1 Tbsp
  • Cocoa 1 Tea spoon
  • Nutmeg 1/8 Teaspoon
  • Cinnamon 1/4 Teaspoon
  • Raw Honey 1 Teaspoon
  • Siberian Ginseng (adaptogenic herb to regulate stress) 1/2 Teaspoon

Fat Burner

  • NN Coffee 8 ounces
  • Chocolate Collagen Protein 1 Tbsp
  • MCT Oil 1 Tbsp
  • Coconut Cream 1 Tbsp
  • Vanilla 1/2 Teaspoon
  • Stevia 1/2 Teaspoon
  • Garcinia Cambogia (plant native to India, inhibits fat storage) 1 Teaspoon

In addition to drinking coffee, I love to use the grounds for a homemade body scrub to stimulate circulation and provide antioxidants for the skin.

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coffee grounds

Melt coconut oil, add sugar and coffee, store in refrigerator.

What is one of the best health upgrades we can make?


Consuming sugar found in processed foods, fruit juices, and sugary soft drinks creates a constant state of high Inflammation in the body. Prolonged levels of stress also create high levels of damaging inflammation. This type of inflammation wreaks havoc on the gut, and a number of other areas in the body. This depletes the microbiome of beneficial bacteria and greatly lowers protective immunity.

Quick Swaps To Cut Sugar

Swap Soft Drinks for Matcha Green Tea, Quality Coffee or Club Soda with Citrus

Each of these swaps provides a refreshing option to soft drinks without the negative effects. Matcha green tea has the added bonus of delivering a potent antioxidant called EGCG that has been shown to greatly reduce inflammation and elevates immune response.

In a recent study conducted by Stanford University, researchers found that matcha shifted cancer cells towards a quiescent metabolic state and stopped their spread at a relatively low concentration. They also found that matcha could affect the signaling pathways that promote cancer stem cells. Diseases thrive in acidic environments. Matcha helps to create an alkaline state in the body.

Swap Packaged Snacks for Nuts, Seeds, Apples and Almond Butter, Hard Cheeses, Hard Boiled Eggs

All of the above provide protein and fiber that curb cravings, lower blood sugar and provide the brain with healthy fats essential for cognitive performance and immune strength.

Swap Candy for Dark Chocolate

The U.S. National Library of Medicine found cocoa strengthens the cardiovascular system. Polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant high in cocoa, improves blood circulation and mitochondria health. Cocoa is also a top source of tryptophan- precursor to serotonin (happiness hormone).

Sounds like some very good advice!  Thanks for stopping by for a visit today, Nora!

animals, children, nature

Whose House Is That?

Author & Illustrator: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children, Animals, Nature
ISBN: 978-1-64755-074-5
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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Animals create unique and interesting places to live, and Stan Tekiela invites us into their homes for a virtual photographic visit.

Each home is pictured on the first spread, with an opportunity for children to guess who built it. The following spread shows the animal and provides facts about it. Animals featured are the: bald eagle, American robin, bald-faced hornet, Monarch butterfly, American beaver, black bear, garden spider, prairie dog, sunfish, cottontail rabbit, and common ant. The final page invites kids to look for animal homes near them.

Whose House Is That? is a fun exploration of animals and their living quarters. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Keep an Eye on Ivy

Author & Illustrator: Barroux
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65253-4
Pages: 32
Price: $18.95

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It’s a boy’s birthday, and he has received a very special gift – an ivy plant. The following day the cat isn’t around, but his sister says he must be outside. The next day, his sister goes missing, but dad thinks she’s at her music lesson. The next day, dad is missing… and so it goes. Every day someone disappears until finally the boy finds himself alone.

As he looks at Ivy, a magical pop-up surprise awaits him, and he finds himself inside the plant, along with all of his missing family members. Scolding the plant, he announces that it’s not polite to swallow people, and that EVERYONE will be keeping an eye on Ivy from now on.

Keep an Eye on Ivy is a cute pop-up book with a slightly sinister houseplant. Sensitive children might be afraid of this book, but most kids will be amused by the situation this family finds themselves in. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Growing Pains

Author: Alison McLennan
Illustrator: Melissa Johns
Publisher: EK Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-925820-52-2
Pages: 32
Price: $18.99

Author’s website
Illustrator’s website
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Finn’s family has planted a tree, and Finn begins to worry about it. Do trees get cold? He provides a scarf for warmth. Do trees get hungry? A plate of toast is placed at its base. Will his tree get lonely? He spends some time near the tree talking to it and asking it questions.

But when Finn’s night light suddenly goes out, Finn is worried that the tree is also scared of the dark, like he is. Once he realizes that the tree is not afraid, he draws strength from his tree and faces his own fears.

Growing Pains is a story of a boy who is very much in tune with nature. Finn looks after the tree’s perceived needs, and the tree gives back when he needs it most. I highly recommend this sweet and gentle book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Make Yourself at Home

Author & Illustrator: Signe Torpe
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65214-5
Pages: 48
Price: $19.95

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People live in many different kinds of places. Their home can be an igloo, a castle, a tree house, or even a windmill. These and many other kinds of homes are featured in Make Yourself at Home.

In this charming book, children can see all kinds of homes around the world. Detailed illustrations cover fold-out spreads, and the pages are filled with fun facts. Kids will have fun exploring all the unique places that people of the world live.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Goodnight Great Outdoors

Author: Lucas Alberg
Illustrator: Megan Marie Myers
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-59193-888-0
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

Illustrator’s website
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A family is camping in the wilderness and is getting ready to go to sleep. But before they slip inside their tent, they say goodnight to the animals and environment around them.

This simple bedtime book repeats the word “goodnight” to all of the family’s surroundings. It also introduces the animals the family might see in the woods and provides a nugget of information on each. Goodnight Great Outdoors is the perfect bedtime book for families of outdoor adventurers.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


KidVenture Vol. 1: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue

Author: Steve Searfoss
Genre: Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1672411417
Pages: 125
Price: $14.99

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Chance really wants a midnight blue bike, but he doesn’t have the money to purchase it. His dad will give him some money to clean the pool each week, but at that rate, he won’t be able to buy the bike for a year. So he decides to create a pool cleaning business to see if he can earn enough money before the end of the summer.

Cleaning pools turns out to be the easy part of his new business venture. As the summer progresses, he learns about marketing, business partners, employees, equipment, price testing, and keeping track of profit and loss. Each chapter offers new insights into how businesses operate and how to make a profit.

While it may seem like a “how to run your own business” story would be boring, Chance is a fun character, and his interactions with his dad, sister, and best friend are enjoyable and amusing to read. Kids will naturally root for him to reach his goals so he can purchase his dream bike before summer ends. I highly recommend Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue.

Reviewer: Alice Berger