Reading Fanatic Reviews

Health & Wellness

Fit After Forty by Jordan Vezina

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Fit After Forty***

Staying Fit in Middle Age if Already There

As the cover might suggest, this book appears to be geared for people who are already fit and are perhaps struggling to maintain that as they get older. (Although, I have to say that I don’t think that either cover model is anywhere near 40!) As someone who is not into fitness beyond walking and using a stationary bike, I found myself confused by some terms in this book, especially in the exercise section. Things were better in the other chapters. I wasn’t familiar with the author before reading this book, so I was surprised at some of the ideas and attitudes expressed in the book. While I have no problem with an author advocating a keto diet, I was surprised at the seemingly random slam at vegan authors of anti-inflammatory diet books.

Many of the ideas in this book are not new to me, like drinking adequate water, but I found the emphasis on breath to be unusual and interesting. Especially in the beginning of the book, I thought that the author talked a little too much about himself. Now, an author doesn’t have to keep himself out of a book completely, but much of the first part felt like it was all about him. The book is rather short and can be read quickly, but if you don’t have much knowledge about exercise fitness, many of the terms and discussions will feel foreign to you, as they did to me. I wish he spent a little more time specifically addressing fitness as one heads into middle age. Much of what was written seemed to be more general.

100+ Keto Chaffle Recipes by Sam Kuma

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100+ Keto Chaffle Recipes*

Some Pretty Inventive Ideas

I used to run a specialty food store in northern California, so I am always attracted to any cookbook that I see at my favorite book review site. I also have friends who follow the keto diet, so I like to review those books for them. When I first read this title, I will admit that I had no idea what a chaffle was; I actually had to look it up on the ‘net! For those of you who don’t know, a chaffle is a waffle made with eggs and cheese as a base instead of the typical carbohydrate ingredients.

I thought the organization of the book was a little bizarre. He called the first section of recipes simply “keto chaffle recipes.” Aren’t these all keto chaffle recipes? The first couple of the section were basic ones, but the rest in this chapter were actually more of the “sweet” variety of chaffle, even if the sweet was not accomplished with carbohydrates. Sections followed with chicken chaffles, cake chaffles, savory chaffles, and finished with pizza chaffles. I was surprised to find that one of the basic recipes was for a vegan version, made with vegan cheeses and a flax meal egg substitute; vegans don’t get enough love in most keto books.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t follow some of the standard ways of writing a cookbook, which could make it confusing to some cooks. The list of ingredients should follow the order of their use in a recipe. This rarely happened in this collection. The recipes themselves sounded fine; in fact, some sounded quite tasty. There are also some issues with the introductory section of the book. For instance, a section labeled “About Keto chaffles,” more talked about the keto diet rather than the chaffles. While the author did include some hints and tips—which I think are good—I found it curious that he didn’t address why all of these recipes require a mini waffle maker instead of a regular-sized one. I imagine it would become rather tedious if you were making these for a family. However, if you have a hankering for waffles and you’re on the keto diet, you may very well enjoy this diverse set of chaffle recipes.

Anxiety Relief by Elliot Wood

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Anxiety Relief*

Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

The full title and subtitle of this book is “Anxiety Relief: A complete guide to eliminate negative thinking, stress, dерrеѕѕiоn, angеr and panic attасkѕ.” in general, I do not believe that any books, especially a short one like this, can be a “complete guide” to any medical topic. But I also found the subtitle to be an odd combination of concepts. What does anxiety have to do with negative thinking, depression, or anger? These could only be loosely linked together, at least to my mind. The subtitle also makes you think that this book is going to be all about these other topics and how they relate to anxiety or anxiety relief. But over half the book was a more general discussion of anxiety, including different types and other information. Some ideas presented struck me as rather bizarre. Like in a section that was labeled 14 destructive types of anxiety, two of them were ones that I would not think of as being necessarily “destructive” but rather just annoying, like test anxiety and shy bladder syndrome. In all honesty, it felt like this book was haphazardly cobbled together from a variety of websites or perhaps other sources. I could be wrong, but it seemed that way to me. And it also had that annoying tactic that some nonfiction authors in particular seem to use; that is, right in the middle of the book as your reading along, the author begs for a review. Yes, I know that reviews are important to writers, but asking for them like that is just the wrong way to go about it. In all honesty, you most likely could find the information in this book on the internet.

Yoga for Beginners by Elliot Wood

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Yoga for Beginners*

Maybe Not the Best Book for True Beginners

While this book does offer some useful information on yoga practice, Parts of it were just strange, the organization of the book was not quite right, and I thought it could be confusing for beginners.

Some common yoga terms were thrown around a bit too much without proper explanation when they were mentioned, which I think could be confusing for a beginner. By the way, this book doesn’t have any photos in the eBook version, so if you are truly a yoga beginner, you will most likely have difficulty following the directions for the poses without any visual reference. I thought some chapter titles were slightly bizarre. The title for Chapter 3, Most Common Reasons Why You Must Start Yoga, seems a bit commanding. Maybe the author should have said something along the lines of “most common reasons why people start yoga” or “most common reasons to consider yoga.” But I think a gentler title for this chapter should have been used. Chapter 8’s title is How You Can Supercharge your Diet with Easy Yoga Stretches. When I read this in the table of contents, I did not see how diet and yoga stretches had anything to do with each other, and when I looked at the chapter itself, the author didn’t draw any parallels.

I also thought the organization of the book was a bit strange. In a book like this, where there’s straight-up information and practical things like poses, I think it should be organized so that all the straight-up information is at the beginning of the book and all the different pose chapters should be at the end. Some topics are split into two chapters, like the brief chapter about yoga for weight loss followed by a chapter with poses and exercises for yoga with weight loss. Sometimes the informational chapter was so short, like for weight loss, that I just think they could have been combined into a single chapter that first listed on the benefits and considerations for the topic and then good yoga poses and exercises for it.

In eBook form, I don’t think this book works as it doesn’t have pictures or diagrams of the poses. I don’t know if the physical version of the book has these. I think this book could be a little confusing to true beginners. Therefore, I do not feel like I can recommend this book.

5-Day Healthy Smoothie and Juice Cleanse by Alex James

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5-Day Healthy Smoothie and Juice Cleanse*

Different Kind of Book on Food Cleanse

When I first read the blurb of this book, I found myself a little confused about what the book might contain. I wasn’t sure how some of what was stated related to the idea of a food cleanse, juices, or healthy smoothies; what would a lentil dish have to do with that? I also thought that the subtitle was confusing as well; what did the author mean by owning the weekend?

This book is clearly written by an author who is passionate about the subject and has done what the book is about. This is not about a standard, short-term juice or smoothie cleanse (though you could use it for that). Instead, the author strongly recommends using juices and/or smoothies as the basis of your diet during the week and eating other foods for dinner and on the weekends, choosing a diet plan that you believe is healthful for you. (I actually found the author’s discussion of diet beyond what this book is about to be refreshing. The author advocates that you figure out what is best for you and your body.) The author suggests three phases to the cleanse, the first being the juice phase and the second being the smoothie phase. During these phases, you either have juice or a smoothie for breakfast and lunch. The author suggests doing at least a week of each, though the author did follow Phase 1 for a year. For Phase 1, the author gives two recipes, one for breakfast and one for lunch. Phase 2 just has one smoothie recipe. You definitely need a juicer to do Phase 1 and a high-powered blender to do Phase 2.

I found the concept of having juices and smoothies like this to be an interesting one. Back when I first became vegan, I actually did something quite similar, having a large smoothie in the early part of the day and a basic dinner later. The author does give tips about how to make some of this ahead and even includes checklists and plans in the back to help you better set up your week. The author does also include some recipes that you could have for the eat-what-you-want meals of the week. That’s where the lentil recipe comes in. I found it kind of funny that the author also included “recipes”—that are somewhat detailed—for the perfect buttered toast and grilled cheese.

Unfortunately, the author did not stay on point for this book. Much more is discussed than the juices and smoothies or the cleanse aspects. Again, I can sense this book is a passion project for the offer, but I truly believe that nonfiction books should stay on topic. Write another book if you want to discuss tangential ideas.

I’ll admit that I’m intrigued enough by this idea that I’m considering giving it a try. I really did enjoy making healthy smoothies back in the day as they are a quick and easy way to get a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. I think this kind of thing is easier to try in spring or summer when the weather is warmer and produce is better than it is in late fall or winter. I might give this a try then and see how it makes me feel.

Am I Codependent? by Jane Kennedy

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Am I Codependent?*

Disorganized Bits of Info About Codependency

I have read several books by this author that are interconnected with their themes of empathy and codependency. This book, as the title suggests, the focus is on codependency, though there is a chapter on codependency in the empath-narcissist relationship. Unfortunately, I found this particular book to be poorly organized and lacking an overall coherent structure. It seemed more like unconnected bits of information about codependency put together into one book. Some chapters are longer, while others are probably too short.

Let me talk a little about the structure of the existing book. Part of my problem with this book’s framework is that it feels like the topics are out of order. For instance, I think the first two chapters should have been reversed, or chapter 1 should have been a part of chapter 2. Chapter 2 defines codependency, while chapter 1 looks at distinguishing codependency from dependent personality disorder. I would not have started the book with that narrow distinguishing factor. Next should have come more basic information, like chapter 5 on childhood roots of codependency and chapter 6 on what the author calls the one root cause of codependency. After getting these building blocks in place, she then should have moved on to looking at how codependency manifests in adult romantic relationships. Instead, some of that is sandwiched between the definitions area and the developmental causes chapter and then is explored more after the causes. Because of this lack of cohesiveness and some brevity of the included sections, I cannot recommend this book.

PCOS by Jane Kennedy

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Learn about PCOS

In this book, the author has gathered some of the latest science and writing about PCOS. She explains what it is and its symptoms. She spends a fair amount of time on the mental and emotional aspects of the syndrome. While the subtitle proclaims that you will be able to reverse PCOS, inside the author states that some symptoms and effects can be reversed but not necessarily everything. She details different ideas and techniques that either directly address the causes of PCOS or its symptoms and effects. She spends some time discussing how hormones play a factor, dedicating a chapter to insulin alone. Some later chapters address how PCOS affects fertility. At the end of the book, she has an extensive list of references. The author really has tried to take from many sources, including studies and people who are considered PCOS experts. If you suffer from this syndrome, you may very well find the information in this book to be helpful as you try to move past the difficulties it causes for you.

The PCOS Diet by Jane Kennedy

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The PCOS Diet*

Clear Bias Shown

After just having read the PCOS book by this author, I find myself surprised by this one. The book doesn’t really live up to the title, subtitle, or what the author states in the introduction. She shows a clear bias for and against particular ways of eating that don’t seem appropriate in a book that should be objective so it could help the most people.

She states in the introduction that she really won’t be discussing PCOS in general as she has another book for that. However, a large chunk of the book is precisely about that and not about diet in particular. If you’re hoping for one particular PCOS diet, she doesn’t offer that here, not even in the chapter labeled The PCOS Diet. In fact in the chapter summary of that section, she stays that there is no one PCOS diet. After discussing generalities—like an introduction to PCOS, insulin resistance, exercise, and androgens—she finally moves on to more information about nutrition as she looks at the anti-inflammatory, Keto, and plant-based vegan diets. The author clearly favors the anti-inflammatory and keto diets. The chapter on the vegan diet was so biased that I actually had a hard time reading it. Clearly, the author loves meat and cannot fathom that people would stay on a vegan diet long term. She goes so far as to state it is radical, not realistic, and requires too much sacrifice to be viable. Honestly, I could say the same thing about keto, as I find its love of fat and eschewing of carbohydrates to be extreme. I would have preferred some objectivity in a book like this. A few other concepts are discussed, like diet breaks and mindset.

I don’t know how many books are out there about nutrition and PCOS, but I would imagine that there are better books that don’t have quite the biases that this one has.

The Vibrant Life by Amanda Haas and Erin Kunkel

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The Vibrant Life*

Great Cookbook for Reading… and Cooking!

If you are one who likes to sit and read cookbooks as I do, this is the perfect cookbook to do that with. The author has expansive headnotes for most recipes, which I always love, and occasionally breaks up the recipes with small essays on topics like massage and taking care of your skin. (There are even chapters on yoga and strength training.) The author adheres to an anti-inflammatory diet and has some personal preferences which are definitely reflected in the book. She uses dairy very sparingly, preferring alternate milks and even sometimes making her own. She believes in eating a lot of green vegetables and lean protein but completely avoids gluten. The recipes I looked at seemed inventive yet refreshingly simple. These two adjectives do not always go hand-in-hand with recipes! The book has a typical organization, starting with breakfasts and drinks, moving on to veggies, then looking at dishes based around different protein choices, and her twelve staple recipes before ending with dessert. The recipe titles essentially say what the ingredients are. Ones that sounded particularly good to me include Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash, Toasted Pepitas, and Raisins; Chai-spiced Cashew Milk; and Late Summer Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Stone Fruit, Goat Cheese, and Pistachios. Before the recipes, there’s an introductory section that includes her food philosophy, favorite ingredients, and must-have tools. If you’re looking for a cookbook that’s a great read as well as filled with healthful recipes, this book might be right up your alley.

When Mediterranean Mindset Meets DASH Diet by Marcella Palmer

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When Mediterranean Mindset Meets DASH Diet*

Good Book that Looks at the DASH Diet and Mindset

You can tell when you read the early parts of this book that the author is very passionate about the DASH diet as well as what she calls the Mediterranean mindset. She has blended these two concepts in this book. First she gives an overview of the DASH diet and its origins; she also explains how she came up with seven tenets of Mediterranean mindset. She then looks at the benefits of the DASH diet from a medical perspective. The next chapter seeks to bust myths about the DASH diet, like cost and restrictions. She does talk at some length about the foods that are best on this diet, and she even gives some recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the end, she has a further tip section about how to incorporate the Mediterranean mindset with the DASH diet with very specific action plans to help you with meal planning, activity, and other concepts that support weight loss.

I’m a registered nurse, so I thought that some of what was stated in the medical section was not wholly accurate but would probably be good enough for the general reader. The book is a little repetitive in parts and could have been condensed some. Sometimes her enthusiasm overwhelms the idea she is trying to get across. In general, I agree that the DASH diet is a good one to follow as it is basically about eating whole foods. I disagree with a few of her statements. One was actually nonsensical to me. At one point, she talks about not adding sauces, salt, or other seasonings to your food—just try them as the chef intended. Well, if you’re the home chef, you will most likely be using some seasonings, or the food is going to be pretty bland and you won’t stick with a diet! There is certainly nothing wrong with most sauces or seasonings; you might need to watch for a few ingredients in sauces, but herbs and spices like oregano and cinnamon zazz up a dish. While salt isn’t strictly prohibited on the DASH diet, it is recommended to be consumed in small quantities and in balance with other minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This actually shouldn’t be a problem if you eat home-cooked whole foods that have only been lightly seasoned.

The recipes seemed straightforward, and most appeared to be simple to do. I liked how the author emphasized vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options within the diet. Indeed, the DASH diet is very friendly for non-meat eaters as well as those who are omnivores. I thought the tip section at the back was fantastic. I love the idea of mini action plans. They would definitely all be helpful to the would-be dieter as he or she tried to live a more healthful life, whether that’s through your food or lifestyle choices.



The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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