fitness, health

Exercises for Perfect Posture

Authors: William Smith,‎ Keith Burns,‎ Christopher Volgraf
Publisher: Hatherleigh Press
Genre: Health & Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-57826-695-1
Pages: 144
Price: $15.00

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In our modern world with desk jobs, lounge chairs, and a minimum of physical activity, it’s easy to develop poor posture. But the right exercise can easily change this. Exercises for Perfect Posture shows us how.

Poor posture can lead to a host of problems, which are detailed in the opening sections. After doing an assessment, the reader will discover the exact types of posture issues he’s having. Exercises to combat these are provided next. Finally, an evaluation of the success of these exercises is provided, along with a place to chart progress.

The exercises can be done at home, but many require a foam roller, stability ball, or resistance band. Although I didn’t test them, they looked to be appropriate for strengthening the muscles that support a correctly aligned body. If you’re looking to improve your posture, Exercises for Perfect Posture would be a great place to start.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, tween

Notebook Doodles Amazing Me!

Author & Illustrator: Jess Volinski
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0339-6
Pages: 80
Price: $7.99

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It’s fun for kids to explore the things they enjoy, and what better way to do this than with art? In Amazing ME!, Jess Volinski guides kids through various activities designed to help them discover more about themselves. Worksheets ask them to fill in things like personality traits, family members, descriptions of their rooms, and things they find funny. Each of these sheets have ample space for doodling and artwork that goes along with the lists.

In addition to these black and white line drawings and spaces to fill in, Volinski includes information on how to create a pleasing palette using the color wheel. Sample colored designs provide inspiration for kids to create their own masterpieces, and several color wheel diagrams help them choose the right colors to create mood or harmony.

Volinski’s designs begin as beautiful artwork and are just waiting for kids to add their personal touch to bring them to life. I highly recommend these coloring books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Little Old Farm Folk

Author & Illustrator: Andrea Wisnewski
Publisher: David R. Godine
Genre: Children / Board books
ISBN: 978-1-56792-594-4
Pages: 34
Price: $7.95

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A little old couple is busy with chores around the farm. Cooking, laundry, milking the cows, harvesting vegetables, and relaxing in the yard fill their days.

Each two page spread in this board book has an illustration of the farm couple in action, plus text explaining their actions. A teaser at the end of each section keeps children eager to discover what comes next.

Farm life is a fun concept for children. Little Old Farm Folk will keep them absorbed and enchanted as they read it over and over again.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

literary, romance

The Austen Escape

Author: Katherine Reay
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Women’s fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7180-7809-6
Pages: 320
Price: $15.99

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Mary Davies has a nice job at an engineering firm that she joined as a startup. But recent management changes have made work difficult, and the presence of a certain handsome consultant has jumbled her feelings. When her former best friend, Isabel, offers her a two-week paid vacation in England, she reluctantly agrees. Maybe the time away will help her figure out what to do.

Isabel is an Austen expert determined to finish her doctoral thesis, so this vacation will involve period costumes in a historic mansion. But when Isabel loses her memory and believes she’s actually living in the past, Mary’s stay becomes complicated. Isabel’s secrets suddenly all come to light, making Mary realize how little she really knows her friend. And when they involve the man she’s come to regard as important in her life, she doesn’t know what to think.

Those who are unfamiliar with Jane Austen’s works may find some of the role-playing conversations a bit confusing, but since these are not the basis for the story, they won’t interfere with the reader’s enjoyment. In fact, this book might trigger an interest in picking up one of the Austen classics mentioned. I highly recommend The Austen Escape as a pleasant and engaging read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Franny’s Father is a Feminist

Author: Rhonda Leet
Illustrator: Megan Walker
Publisher: POW!
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1576878736
Pages: 32
Price: $17.99

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Feminism has gotten a bad reputation lately, but if you look up the word in the dictionary, it simply means “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Franny’s father is totally on board with this. He believes Franny can do anything boys can do, and he helps her out as much as possible.

When Franny plays sports, he’s there to cheer her on. When she goes fishing, he shows her how to bait her own hook. And when her bicycle needs repairs, he makes sure she knows which tools to use. Franny’s dad doesn’t limit her to household chores like cooking and laundry. He lets her do the things she enjoys.

The illustrations of this burly, bearded man with his little pink-haired daughter are really precious. It’s obvious through his actions and expressions that he loves her dearly and wants what’s best for her. I enjoyed this unusual take on feminism, and I highly recommend Franny’s Father is a Feminist.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Mustaches for Maddie

Authors: Chad Morris & Shelly Brown
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Middle Grade
ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

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Maddie is so excited to be participating in the Shakespeare plays at her school. Although Cassie, the most popular girl in her class, wants the role of Juliet, Maddie secretly tries out, anyway. Suddenly Cassie is shunning her, just as Maddie finds out she has a brain tumor.

Mustaches make Maddie laugh, and she wears them whenever she wants to lighten the moment. Using her sense of humor, she tries to make sense of her diagnosis, while also befriending the lonely and trying to heal the hurting kids in her classroom. Rather than turning within, Maddie tries to brighten the lives of others, despite her own fears and concerns.

Mustaches for Maddie is one of the best middle-grade books I’ve ever read. Maddie is a wonderful girl that I couldn’t help but cheer for, and her actions often brought tears to my eyes. Please don’t skip the authors notes – they offer a final conclusion to this novel, which is based on a true story. I highly recommend this wonderfully uplifting book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter

Author: Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Victorian Romance
ISBN: 978-0-9990364-3-3
Pages: 224
Price: $8.99

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Valentine March has been forced to find employment after her father’s death. As a lady’s companion required to dress in drab clothes, she accompanies her employer to a notorious house party. She has no intention of encountering any of the eligible bachelors there, so she’s surprised when a gentleman finds her alone in the quiet place she’s managed to escape to, and converses with her.

Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton, has never had any interest in a long-term relationship with the ladies who’ve come and gone in his life. Although somewhat reformed from his younger days, he is skeptical of marriage and reluctant to settle down. But when he encounters Valentine, something stirs within him.

One moment of indiscretion changes everything, and now they must consider how they will handle their newfound relationship. Can Tristan show her that he’s not the scoundrel she thinks he is? And will Valentine allow him to be a part of her life, knowing she has secrets of her own that may come to light?

The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter is a delightfully clean romance. As both parties face their pasts, they attempt to trust and allow each other into their lives. I enjoyed seeing these two interesting characters grow in their relationship together. Highly recommended!

Reviewer: Alice Berger