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The Complete Guide to Growing Vegetables, Flowers, Fruits, and Herbs from Containers: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

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As a newbie to gardening, I was eager to read about the different ways to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs. One way is to use containers to grow in instead of planting directly in the ground. Back to Basics Growing Series by Atlantic Publishing Group has a book in their series that covers this area. “The Complete guide to Growing Vegetables, Flowers, Fruits, and Herbs from Containers: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply” by Lizz Shepherd is dedicated to answering my questions about container gardening. As the author states in her introduction, “Before growing a new plant, reference this book to find the needed supplies and required growing conditions.” As with many of the Back to Basic books, this one also covers the “why” of the subject matter; thus, why should/would you garden in containers. Interspersed throughout the book is one of my favorite things, the case studies from individuals about their experiences in container gardening.Certain plants will grow in certain areas of the United States. To find out what will grow well in your area, the author directs the reader to check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and also includes a copy of this map in the appendix. She explains why some plants will do well in containers while others are not particularly suited to it. Included are plants that require little maintenance, which is good for me since I am new to this. Along with the name of the plant (e.g. Surecrop strawberry), she also includes a description of the plant and a picture. For those who are more advanced, or perhaps more adventurous, there is also a section dedicated to plants that require a lot of maintenance, such as pumpkins. I also learned that there is no particular “correct” container to garden from. You can use the traditional pots that you can find in your local garden center, or you can use an old shoe or empty margarine tub… you are only limited by your imagination.The author covers many areas such as tools, how to prepare your soil and what is the correct soil to use, and, as the title states, growing herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers in containers. The book is broken down to be used easily as a reference guide when deciding what to plant, where to plant, what to plant in and more. It is not overwhelming and easy to understand and would be useful to the new gardener as well as a seasoned gardener.
Purr-fect Recipes for a Healthy Cat: 101 Natural Cat Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Cat Happy

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“Purr-fect Recipes for a Healthy Cat: 101 Natural Cat Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Cat Happy” by Lisa Shiroff does, in fact, have recipes… unfortunately you have to get through 197 pages before you get to them. I was really surprised that there would be so much before the actual recipes and would suggest changing the title to reflect that. The book takes us through what a healthy cat looks like, from weight, to ears, eyes, teeth, hair and skin to a breakdown of what should be in their diet (protein, fat and carbohydrates). This is all in the first chapter. Listed also in Chapter one is foods that cats need to avoid and, I feel more importantly, plants that could be toxic to cats. The author then proceeds to inform the reader about commercial and natural food industries. Here I would have liked to see a breakdown comparison between the more popular cat foods brands such as Friskies, Iams, etc. This book does have a lot of useful information for new cat owners, but for experienced cat owners it is probably a lot of stuff they already know. I was also confused where in the list of foods to avoid giving your cat, liver was listed as it may cause vitamin A toxicity if given in large enough amounts (although the author does also state that small amounts can be fine). She then has several recipes that incorporate liver, such as “Beef Liver Bites” that calls for 1 pound of beef liver, and “Chicken Liver Surprises” which calls for 1 pound of chicken livers. After reading it on the “do not feed” list, I would be quite hesitate to make any recipes that call for liver. The author also lists recipes that incorporate rabbit, duck legs and venison. Not items you would probably find in your neighborhood grocery store.Although I will probably make the occasional treat from this book, I don’t think I would change my cat’s diet because of it. As I stated above, it does have a lot of useful information, but I wanted more of a “cookbook” then an anatomy lesson.
The Complete Guide to Food Preservation: Step-by-step Instructions on How to Freeze, Dry, Can, and Preserve Food

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I really enjoy the “Back to Basics” series by Atlantic Publishing Group (atlantic-pub.com) and reading “The Complete Guide to Food Preservation” continues the tradition.As the title states, this book is to help instruct the reader on how to freeze, dry, can, smoke, juice and other ways to preserve food. As with most of the “Back to Basics” books, this one begins with a short history on the preservation of food. I really enjoy reading the history behind things, so I was happy it was included here. Ms. Duea is detailed when it comes to each way of preserving food. For example, in the canning section, she has a glossery of canning terms, canning tools (with picture), and the different ways of canning such as hot pack v. raw pack, water bath canners and pressure canners. She goes into the pros and cons of each process. This is pretty much the same procedure throughout the book. I also like that Ms. Duea included charts such as the vegetable harvesting guide, fruit harvesting guide, and troubleshooting problems and possible causes. There are a myriad of illustrations and recipes. Ms. Duea’s book is a good start to those who are starting out in the preservation method. She gives detailed instructions and covers many of the different methods. I would recommend, though, if you are looking to for more in depth recipes and instructions, you may want to look for books that are dedicated to only that method, such as if you want to mostly dry foods, then you may want to check out "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home: Everything You Need to Know about Preparing, Storing, and Consuming Dried Foods".
How to Build Your Own Website With Little or No Money: The Complete Guide for Business and Personal Use

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“How to Build Your Own Web Site with Little or No Money” by Bruce C. Brown is a comprehensive guide on how to construct a website from scratch. There is a lot of information packed into this 720 page book and seeing Mr. Brown’s other books (How to Use the Internet to Advertise and The Complete Guide to E-mail Marketing) the reader can assume that the author is very knowledgeable about the internet and all the things that go with it.I am the perfect audience for this book because I know practically nothing about designing my own web site. The author starts us off by giving us information about web site fundamentals including the difference between web site hosting and free web hosts, how to pick a good domain name and some things to take into account when planning what type of web site you will want.He then goes on to the business side of web sites such as performing a market analysis, marking strategies, employer identification numbers and business licenses. I liked that Mr. Brown included this section. When you see a book telling you how to build a web site, you don’t think about the legal aspects such as business licenses and establishing your business. This book makes it so that the reader doesn’t have to go off and look up this information elsewhere. Then we get to the fun stuff! Web Site Design 101 and HTML Fundamentals. I am the type of person who wants to learn from scratch how to do things. From the first step, Mr. Brown includes a screen shot of what it will look like as you do it. For example: Step 1: Open Notepad and type the HTML tags as shown below: then there is a screen shot of notepad with what it will look like when you type in the information. And we are only at Chapter 3 at this point and there are 20 chapters in all. That should give you a good idea about how in-depth this book is. Also interspersed throughout the book are side notes from others such as “You Must Do This Before You Begin – By Erin Pheil” on page 52 and “Generating Web Site Traffic – by Paul Pennel” on page 319.I look forward to finally getting my own web site up and running. With this book at my side, I don’t think it will be as difficult as it seems! Mr. Brown seems to have taken into account all the questions I had plus others that I should have had. This is definitely a good book to have!
How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables

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The Back to Basics Growing series is published by Atlantic Publishing Group. One of the titles in this series is “How to Build, Maintain and Use a Compost System: Secrets and Techniques You Need to Know to Grow the Best Vegetables” and it is written by Kelly Smith. Ms. Smith’s previous books have dealt with quilting, so I was intrigued on how much knowledge she would impart on composting, which is nothing like quilting. She definitely showed that she does know a thing or two about composting! She starts off by explaining what composting is and why people do it. In Chapter 1 she includes some “Common Myths About Composting,” such as: composting is difficult, it smells bad, isn’t for people who live in a city, you can use any type of worm if vermicomposting, etc., and then proceeds to debunk these myths. She moves on to discuss the different types of composting. Who knew there were so many?! There are compost bins, holes, trenches, cone digester systems, rotating barrels, stationary bins and indoor systems. Going into detail about each type, it makes it easier for the person who is new to composting to figure out which type would work best for them. She even includes a table that shows at a glance what type of system works in what type of living situation (e.g. rural, suburban, city, condo, and apartment). She also details about what can and cannot be composted and what type of substances can be added to help the composting process. As with the other Back to Basic books, this book also includes many case studies throughout where individuals share their stories about composting. I like the personal touch that the case studies add. In Chapter 4, there are instructions on how to make your own composting bins. These can be made out of many things: cardboard box, chicken wire, trash cans, trenches, concrete blocks, and more. There are instructions for those with experience in building on how to build a tumbling barrel composter which is covered in about 14 pages including pictures and diagrams. Building a composting system doesn’t have to cost much and is much more economical then purchasing one. The author covers how to use compost and about vermicomposting, which is composting using worms. In the back she includes the web address for each state’s Cooperative Extension System (these sites include agricultural information specific to your state) and information about companies who sell composters.Ms. Smith definitely has done her research and this book is a good one to keep on hand when deciding to compost. With it, the reader can make a determination of what type of composting would work best for them and cost effective ways to start and maintain a composting system.
One Breath Away

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"One Breath Away" by Heather Gudenkauf is about a gunman who enters an elementary school in a small town and holds the kids hostage. The story is narrated through the teacher in the classroom, Evelyn Oliver, the cop whose daughter goes to that school, Meg, the grandfather who recently put his two kids in the school, and his 13 year old granddaughter. On top of it all, they are unable to get outside help due to a snowstorm.I liked the story. It was interesting to see how people were reacting to the situation: the teacher who wants to protect her students at any cost, the cop whose daughter would have been in that classroom if she hadn't decided to let her go see her dad a day early, the grandfather who promised to protect his grandchildren while their mother is recovering from a serious accident, and the 13 year old who has an attitude but is willing to do what is needed to protect her younger brother.
Twcie Shy

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Okay, I have to admit that every time I look at the title of the book “Twice Shy” by Patrick Freivald, the song “One Bitten Twice Shy” by Great White runs around my head on a continuous loop. That is about the only really negative thing about this book. “Twice Shy” tied for first place in the JournalStone writing contest and I can see why. The story centers on a 16 year old girl, Ani, who became a zombie when she was 14, which is really bad because the government’s answer to those infected is to blow their heads off… no questions asked. Ani’s mother figures out a way to “hide” her condition while secretly working on trying to find a cure. Her friends see her as a bubbly, athletic girl one day, and a sulking emo the next. It kills Ani to have to hide her true self behind the emo façade and we see throughout the book her constant struggle of having to lie to everyone she knows so that they won’t find out she is a zombie.I don’t like zombie stories in general (except for Mira Grant’s “The Newsflesh Trilogy”) and so I opened this book with some trepidation. Soon I found myself involved in the story and rooting for Ani. The author gives a new twist to the zombie saga and it is refreshing. Teenagers can definitely relate to Ani and what she goes through. Although she the main struggle of being a zombie, she also is a typical teenager who wants the cute, popular boy, who doesn’t want to be bullied, and is confused about her feelings. Also, I wasn’t expecting the ending! Kudos to the author for keeping me on my toes from the beginning all the way to the very last word.**** I received this book through LibraryThing.com Member's Giveaway. It in no way affected the content of my review. *****
Craving

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“Craving” by Kristina Meister captured my interest with the blurb on the back and the image on the cover. I was drawn into the book easily when I began it… but about half-way through I found myself losing focus and wanting to skip ahead. The main character of this book, Lilith Pierce, was a sympathetic character when she finds out that her younger sister committed suicide and Lilith flies out to where her younger sister lived to clean out her apartment and take care of her affairs. When she gets there, she finds that she didn’t know her sister at all and that she (Lilith) was mostly responsible for the rift that happened between them. Lilith, convinced it wasn’t a suicide, goes on to meet a whole cast of characters in order to prove that her sister was murdered.When Lilith starts “changing” I feel that she became less interesting and more annoying. I liked the other characters surrounding her, though. This book takes the reader on a twisty-turvey ride while tasking the reader to question meaning of life. I enjoyed the philosophical theme, but sometimes felt a little lost in it. Although I am only giving the book three stars, I encourage the reader to give it a chance.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend: A Novel

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"Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" by Matthew Dicks gives us the inside scoop from the perspective of an imaginary friend. Budo is Max's imaginary friend and he is different from other imaginary friends because he has been around for more than 5 years. Although not stated in the book, Max appears to be on the autism spectrum. Budo is his only friend. This book isn't only about Max, though. Budo takes into the realm of imaginary friends (and how they are real!) and we get to meet several throughout the book. Mr. Dicks does through some excitement and tension throughout the book, especially with a teacher who is planning something devious for Max. I really liked this book. It held my attention from start to finish. Budo is an excellent spokesperson for imaginary people. I also like that Max is on the autism spectrum, so we get a peak inside his world too.
Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting a High Tech Generation

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“cyber bulling no more: Parenting a High Tech Generation” by Holli Kenley, M.A. is a book for all parents to read. Although the book isn’t very long, 21 pages, the author covers a lot of information. She discusses how to protect your child online by implementing safety measures and negotiating rules and then renegotiating as a child gets older and more responsible; how to get intervention for the child that might be a victim of cyber bulling or the child who is actually committing cyber bulling; and how to prevent destructive behaviors online.What I liked is that the author doesn’t go to the old standby of “children should be protected from technology.” She understands that technology is a way of life and the best way to protect our children is by educating them and also by modeling proper behavior online. She also discusses on having a safety plan in place (and what it should consist of) if anyone in the family is being cyber bullied.It is a quick read with a lot of good information. I know that I will be implementing her measures in my home.
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