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Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West

Walter Laqueur. St. Martin%E2%80%99s/Dunne, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-06475-2

Veteran foreign affairs writer Laqueur (After the Fall) provides an incisive look at recent Russian history and Vladimir Putin’s role in it, a topic that could hardly be more timely given recent events in Ukraine. Laqueur makes the depressing observation that the KGB, and even Stalin himself, have been rehabilitated in Russian public opinion, and he doesn’t offer much hope for an imminent change in direction for the country’s policy or political culture. According to him, “Russia has given up attempts to become part of the West,” which most Russians view as being “in retreat.” The most intriguing section is a chapter entitled “The Pillars of the New Russian Idea,” which takes a multidimensional look at the forces shaping the country today. Readers hoping for specific predictions will be disappointed, though Laqueur is grimly convincing in lowering expectations that Russia will become genuinely democratic any time soon. This thorough examination of all aspects of modern Russian society and culture makes an excellent addition to recent literature on Putin-era Russia. (June)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Upstyle Your Furniture: Techniques and Creative Inspiration to Style Your Home

Stephanie Jones. Barron’s, $21.99 ISBN 978-1-4380-0556-0

Furniture artisan Jones, owner of the studio and shop Me & Mrs. Jones , compiles her techniques for furniture transformation into a helpful handbook. She begins with the basics: how to select those pieces that are worth the work of transformation, and then how to decide on the style, color, and process that will make each one look its best. Using examples from her own studio to colorfully illustrate the text, Jones shows the reader the best techniques for preparing, making repairs, finishing, and embellishing each project. The book ends with a comprehensive resource list that includes websites and case studies, along with a good glossary of terms. Jones’s focus on the eco-friendliness of salvaged furniture projects will appeal to DIY restorers with environmental concerns, while her fashionable and unique results will draw those whose interest is more design-oriented. More than 300 full-color photos and illustrations make the book inspiring and instructive. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change

Ken Druse. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $40 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61769-104-1

The 400 pictures, starting with bedewed sensitive ferns gracing the cover and helleborus and brunnera inside, give plenty of reasons to include Druse’s latest work in all gardeners’ libraries. But Druse’s words, offered in the tone of a neighbor happy to advise, make this book worth more than mere coffee-table topping. Having written The Natural Shade Garden two decades ago, Druse (Making More Plants) now extends those ideas to encourage gardeners to deal with the changing climate by attending to the low-stress benefits of life in the shade, including less demand for water and the advantage of lower temperatures. “Shade is looking good to 21st-century gardeners,” he writes. Druse addresses topics such as sustainability after he offers common sense on degrees of shade (light to medium shade, filtered light etc.), plants with a purpose, paths into the woods, water gardens, and gardeners’ ethics. He divulges secrets from experience; for example, his toilet tank helped rehydrate seeds. Even in cutlines, his delight in gardening percolates: for example, he notes attentively that prairie dropseed smells like popcorn. Druse sells shade masterfully. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Gardener’s Guide to Weather and Climate: How to Understand the Weather and Make It Work for You

Michael Allaby. Timber, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60469-554-0

Science-geek gardeners will love this volume in Timber Press’s Science for Gardeners series. Allaby (Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate) is a fount of climate knowledge, starting with the cleverly stated difference between weather, a daily changing set of conditions, and climate, or long term weather averages: “ ‘Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.’ ” Knowing that will help any gardener to begin to talk knowledgeably about climate change, one important topic in the book. But gardeners will want the dirt on plants and how their growth and flourishing is affected by weather and climate, and Allaby’s book is less helpful on this score. He’s long on hard science, written understandably, in chapters on climate, weather, and soils, but he pays relatively little attention to problem-solving and protecting gardens against harsh weather. It’s science but with little to no horticulture. Color illustrations enhance the value of this book for the reference shelf; it’s probably best read in winter by those seeking the really big picture for their gardens. (May)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Why Kids Make You Fat... And How to Get Your Body Back

Mark Macdonald. HarperOne, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-236390-9

Nutrition and fitness expert Macdonald (Body Confidence) focuses on helping parents in his latest offering. Macdonald, the father of two young children, gained 35 pounds in his first two years of parenthood. He aims to help parents to regain a measure of control, while admitting that life with children is bound to take unexpected turns. His plan calls for a one-week detox (no gluten, soy, cheese, alcohol, etc.) followed by “Ignite” and “Thrive” phases. Both “grab ’n’ go” and “gourmet style” recipes accompany each phase, since finding time to cook is another challenge for parents. “Eating in threes” is the approach’s foundation: parents should eat every three hours with the correct balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. This, the author claims, keeps blood sugar balanced and helps avoid “cracking” (e.g., reaching for pizza, donuts, or other fattening treats). Along with exercise and menu guides, Macdonald covers such topics as shopping with and for kids (never set out for the grocery store while hungry), travel, and “taxi service” tips (parents should pre-pack their MRFK—“Mobile Readiness Food Kit”—with wholesome on-the-go snacks). Macdonald’s amiable voice, combined with impressive before-and-after pictures of clients, will motivate parents hoping to drop pounds and live healthfully. Agent: Michael Broussard, ISB New Media. (May)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self

Jeff Krasno, with Sarah Herrington and Nicole Lindstrom. Rodale, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62336-350-5

Wanderlust Festivals cofounder Krasno presents a companion volume to the festivals, a series of large-scale lifestyle retreats that combine yoga and wellness with the arts. To clarify the philosophy behind the events, Krasno defines the word “wanderlust” as meaning more than just the desire to travel, but extending to an intense “yearning to explore and understand the world” and “longing to know and actualize our true and best self.” The well-known teachers, experts, artists, and business leaders who teach and perform at the festivals also provide the book’s contents: among them are musicians Moby, Krishna Das, and MC Yogi; Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa from Golden Bridge Yoga; Hormone Diet author Sara Gottfried; pioneer vinyasa teacher Rolf Gates, trance-dance yogini Shiva Rea; Insight Meditation Society cofounder Sharon Salzberg; and Ohio congressman Tim Ryan. A reader can, in effect, experience the festival’s essence through the book, which includes yoga routines, meditation guidance, blank pages for guided journaling and drawing, and recipes for conscious eating. The richly illustrated volume is a souvenir, a sampler of yoga lifestyle activities, and, perhaps, a vicarious trip for those who have yet to go in search of their own “true north.” Agent: Kitty Cowles, Cowles-Ryan Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Tone It Up: 28 Days to Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous

Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn. Rodale, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62336-570-7

With bikini season right around the corner, this book has arrived just in time. Scott and Dawn stress up front that looking good is just part of the plan—they’re aiming for “whole-body, whole-life” fitness, and the book reflects that commitment. The authors begin with the story of their friendship, which started, appropriately enough, in a gym. They then move on, in part two, to program basics. Photos of Scott and Dawn looking good in their bikinis appear throughout, and should provide plentiful inspiration for readers. There are also 15 “Knockout Nutrition Tips” and “Tantalizing Tips” (like “Rock It Raw, Baby!”) in part three’s Knockout Nutrition Guide. The authors really get down to business in part four with the titular 28-day challenge. Each day opens with a cheerful “Morning Booty Call,” the “Fab Food of the Day,” “Body-Loving Recipes,” and a “Bombshell Bonus” (going online and connecting with other fabulous girls doing the challenge). Part five goes into depth on the fitness routines included with each day of the challenge (with photos showing correct form), which become progressively harder. This cheerful, encouraging fitness guide may be just what readers need to get motivated and bikini-ready. (May)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Good Karma Diet: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion

Victoria Moran. Penguin/Tarcher, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-17315-8

Moran (Main Street Vegan), a reformed binge-eater who dropped 50 pounds by going vegan and now advocates a “high green, high-raw, high-energy” way of eating, offers an anemic follow-up to her Main Street Vegan book and podcasts. The Good Karma approach is pretty basic: eat foods high in nutrient density, and avoid animal products and processed foods to “lessen the suffering of billions of animals [and] lighten the burden on the planet.” The rewards of such conscious eating, Moran says, are radiant good health plus improved karma. In 25 brief chapters, the book offers some superficial nutritional information; a 21-day, nine-point plan for gradually going vegan; a suggested batterie de vegan cuisine; a short list of vitamins and supplements; and (sometimes) inspiring personal testimonials from the author and 16 of her friends, which together make up almost half of the entire volume. Thirty-six recipes and a recommended reading list appear in the appendices. Slim on content, this book is unlikely to be much of a contender in the now hugely popular genre of vegan cookbooks and nutrition guides. Agent: Steven Troha, Folio Literary Management. (May)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The New Single: Finding, Fixing and Falling Back in Love with Yourself

Tamsen Fadal. St. Martin’s Griffin, $15.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-06400-4

Television journalist Fadal (Why Hasn’t He Called?), who formerly ran a matchmaking business, presents the rules of the game for today’s “new single” (specifically, single heterosexual women). Married in 2007 and divorced in 2012, Fadal knows her subject from the inside out, and she also incorporates advice from relationship experts. According to her, it takes about a year to get back on one’s feet, the first 90 days being the most difficult. Fadal, following her father’s advice that “it’s better to be alone than lonely with someone,” emphasizes building self-confidence and learning to enjoy one’s own company. Heartache is heartache, but digital-age breakups present particular problems. Fadal thoroughly addresses this angle of singledom, with advice on unfriending the ex on Facebook, resisting the urge to use social media to spy on his activities, and mastering the etiquette of online dating (e.g., insist on recent photos). Fadal’s hands-on approach also addresses everyday issues like managing finances, taking care of one’s health, and finding new places to meet men; she suggests that the Apple Store is the new bookstore in that regard. Newly single straight women will find an ample supply of practical ideas here for making a gradual and successful transition to flying solo again. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (June)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen

Kathy Patalsky. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-544-37980-0

With an introduction titled “Welcome to the Plant-Based Party,” Patalsky, host of the recipe blog “Healthy. Happy. Life.” at LunchboxBunch.com, sets readers on the path to vegan cooking. The book includes information on how to build a vegan pantry, a note of encouragement to “vegan newbies,” wellness tips, and technique and method information (including how to sauté tofu and make nut-based milks). Recipes for meals and snacks rely on standard meatless proteins such as avocado, tempeh, beans, nuts, and tofu, but these ingredients are used in innovative dishes such as the Avo-Dilla (lavash wraps filled with avocado and sautéed) and BBQ peanut burgers, which blend zesty ingredients including mashed white beans, peanuts, brown rice, and barbecue spice and sauce. Standout selections include appealing, easy-to-prepare meal bowls—such as the Coconut Cloud Bowl with coconut rice, tofu pillows, and toasted cashews—and innovative Wellness Lattes, made with nondairy milk, agave or maple syrup, and spices. Headnotes and information on the author’s own vegan journey offer encouragement and background for anyone interested in embracing the meatless life or simply incorporating meatless meals into their diet. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/17/2015 | Details & Permalink

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