Nonfiction

Ask A Manager – Alison Green

5 stars

I have been a long-time fan of Alison Green’s Ask A Manager blog, where she dishes out practical advice for workplace questions all week long. The letters she answers range from the mundane to the absolutely absurd and hard-to-believe. I am so excited about her new book, where she distills years worth of advice into a handy workplace manual that will be useful for new grads and seasoned professionals alike.

 

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Cover from Goodreads

 

The great thing about Alison’s advice is that she empowers readers by giving them scripts, and suggestions on how to approach scary conversations about raises, promotions and asking your manager to step in when your coworker is cutting you out of important conversations.

The scenarios Alison addresses in her book are real scenarios, sent in by letter writers asking for advice on how to handle specific challenges they are facing in the workplace. Dedicated readers of the blog might recognize a story or two, and a lot of the advice will feel familiar, but many of the letters included are new content, never seen on the AAM blog. Alison has distilled years of her best advice into an easy to access guide.

I can personally attest to drawing confidence from Alison’s posts on how to ask for a promotion. Her scripts and framing were so crucial to my approach, which was successful.

Alison’s advice is useful for anyone with a reasonable boss. As Alison herself notes – an unreasonable person won’t be reasoned with. The scripts and advice Alison shared aren’t magic bullets, but they are wonderful tools for anyone in a workplace to have at hand.

Ask A Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses and the Rest of Your Life at Work is on sale tomorrow, May 1! You can be sure I am purchasing a copy to gift to my about-to-graduate-from-college little sister.

I received an eARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

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Cookbook · Nonfiction

The One Bottle Cocktail – Maggie Hoffman

2 stars

My best friend had her housewarming party this weekend. We were talking about the drinks she’d have on hand, and that she wanted to offer gin and whisky, but maybe do something a little more than a gin and tonic and a whisky with ginger beer. I mentioned that I had a copy of this neat-sounding cocktail book and that I’d peruse the pages for ideas.

 

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Cover from Goodreads

 

Here’s the description from the publisher:

A collection of 80 wonderfully creative, fresh, and delicious cocktails that only require a bottle of your favorite spirit, plus fresh ingredients you can easily find at the market.

In The One-Bottle Cocktail, Maggie Hoffman brings fancy drinking to the masses by making cocktails approachable enough for those with a tiny home bar. Conversational and authoritative, this book puts simple, delicious, and inventive drinks into your hands wherever you are, with ingredients you can easily source and no more than one spirit. Organized by spirit–vodka, gin, agave, rum, brandy, and whiskey–each chapter offers fresh, eye-opening cocktails like the Garden Gnome (vodka, green tomato, basil, and lime), Night of the Hunter (gin, figs, thyme, and grapefruit soda), and the Bluest Chai (rye whiskey, chai tea, and balsamic vinegar). These recipes won’t break the bank, won’t require an emergency run to the liquor store, and (best of all!) will delight cocktail lovers of all stripes.

Unfortunately for me, this book is a flop. While each of the drinks does only require a single spirit, many of the other ingredients are things I’m even less likely to have on hand. The recipes are pretty complex and many have odd things in them. Every single one of them would have required a special trip to the store. None of these are spur of the moment drinks. This book might work for those with a tiny home bar, but you’d need to have a robust fridge with many funky ingredients (who just keeps green tomato on hand?). You would want to make these drinks only when you’ve got friends over, and there’s a lot of effort put forth per drink.

I wouldn’t say this is a beginner friendly cocktail book. Definitely more for an experienced yet adventurous home mixologist who wants to make a specialty cocktail or two for a special event. These are definitely not “Tuesday night after work” drinks.

My friend stuck with her original plan for the party since neither of us wanted to be stuck playing bartender all evening.

I received an eARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

 

Home & Garden · Nonfiction

Our Native Bees – Paige Embry

5 stars

There’s so much more to the story than honey bees. In the last few years, at least for me, bees have been in the news more and more frequently. Bees dying! We’re all going to starve! No one knows how to stop colony collapse! Mites, fungus, and disease – oh my! And then, on the edges, I started hearing about mason bees. And then leafcutter bees. And then suddenly I owned a house, and keeping bees was suddenly something I could explore for more than just curiosity’s sake.

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Cover image from Goodreads

Our Native Bees by Paige Embry is a thoughtful introduction to some of the 4,000 bees native to the United States. Embry’s wry sense of humor and storytelling keeps this book from being a dry textbook recounting of bee facts and instead is an engaging book that will endear our tiny neighbors to anyone with a passing interest in our most efficient pollinators.

Embry’s book is full of anecdotes of bee hunting adventures and stunning photographs. From likely-extinct Franklin’s bumblebee to blue orchard bees, and even the ubiquitous European honey bee, Embry profiles the different species in such a way that I can’t help but want to install a mason bee house in my backyard as soon as the weather is appropriate.

In a wondrous turn of luck, Embry lives in Seattle, where I also live, so her personal beekeeping anecdotes are applicable directly to me, and where I live. In her section about blue orchard bees (also called mason bees), Embry references Crown Bees, a company based in Woodinville Washington, just across Lake Washington from Seattle, and a company I’m already familiar with. Crown Bees is the company that kicked off my interest in mason and leafcutter bees, and where I intend to purchase my cocoons and supplies from this spring.

Along with profiling the different bees, Embry also outlines the many challenges facing our bees – natural and manmade.

A fascinating read for gardeners and bee enthusiasts alike, Our Native Bees is on sale February 7 from Timber Press.

I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Nonfiction

Distillery Cats – Brad Thomas Parsons

5 Stars

I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Distillery Cats is a charming book full of lovely little profiles of the cats that live and work in distilleries and breweries throughout the United States. The profiles are accompanied by cocktail recipes from the respective distilleries, many of which are named after or inspired by the featured feline. In addition to the drink recipes, the profiles include illustrations of the cats in their element.

As a cat-lover (I have three) and spirited-liquor lover myself (currently sipping on a gin and tonic), Distillery Cats appealed to me on both fronts. Not only do I now have about 20 new Instagram accounts to follow (never too many cat pictures!) but I have been introduced to new distilleries and breweries to seek out. A few are even local to me in the Seattle area! (Field trip!)

I particularly loved the profiles of Pizza and of General Patton. Their stories put a smile on my face.

Distillery Cats is a quick, fun read and would make the perfect gift for any cat-loving drinker you know. It hits shelves on September 19, 2017.