Book Reviews



Growing Up Online is a free and informative, interactive eBook from NBC News for parents, teachers and kids about digital literacy and Internet safety.

This eBook is divided into two sections. Part 1 is The Parent Primer which includes things like, a short glossary of technical language used in the online environment, a basic 101 of the online world, how to utilize tracking techniques and parental controls, cyber bullying, and finding safe sites. Part 1 also discusses the importance of conversation with your child and offers stories for those teachable moments. Opening up the dialog for those teachable moments leads nicely into Part 2 of the book, The World “Wild” Web, which is for both parents and kids. This part of the eBook reiterates the stories from Part 1 in an entertaining comic book format that show some of the situations that may arise when your child is online. It also includes a short 2-minute video of the “behind-the-scenes look at what the stars of NBC Universal have to say about digital literacy and Internet safety.

The eBook features NBC News journalists including Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Dr. Nancy Snyderman speaking about the importance of keeping kids safe online.

Growing Up Online is available as a free download on Apple’s iBookstore for iPad and iPad Mini, Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Kobo, as well as online for desktop and laptop viewing at


Growing Up Online

A Must Have Guide for Parents, Teachers and Kids
By The More You Know Series – NBC News
Published by NBC Publishing
eBook: 62 pages

About The More You Know
For more than two decades, NBCUniversal’s Emmy award-winning The More You Know public service campaign has been providing compelling and easy-to-use information that inspires and supports individuals to take action and create change in their lives and communities. This multi-platform campaign, through its public service announcements, digital content, programming and community outreach efforts, focuses on some of the country’s most important social issues including: diversity, education, health and the environment.

For more information please visit, and follow on Facebook and follow NBC Universal on Facebook and Twitter

A Teens Guide to the Conversation GamecoverFinal_225x225-75

A Teen’s Guide to the Conversation Game is a newly published book by a dear friend of mine, Dr. Kathryn Knox. It’s a book focused on every day conversation. We converse with lots of people all the time, but have you ever thought about how your words make impressions on other people and how your words are received? Our daily conversations are like a game and A Teen’s Guide to the Conversation Game talks about ways you can improve on your conversation game and enlightens us to some interesting statistics about talking.

Did you know that “We listen at over 480 words per minute, while we talk at approximately 120 words per minute.”? “People only hear about 25% of what we say”, because we use other means to communicate like our body language and vocal tone.

Have you ever encountered a challenging topic in your conversation? Well this book offers some valuable guidance on how to agree to disagree while conversing.

There’s an entire chapter dedicated to “Online Talking” which has become a huge part of how we communicate, whether by instant messaging, texting, e-mailing, or participating in threaded discussion. The online conversation can sometimes send a tone or message to the other person that was not the intended communication. This book offers some suggestions on how to better understand the feelings that can come into play during online conversation when those unintentional messages are sent.

“Do you know that most of us use fewer than 1000 words in our daily conversations?” Dr. Knox offers some creative tips on how to add more precise vocabulary into your conversation. And then there are those people we encounter who are difficult; the people who enjoy playing the blame game and love to get defensive. There’s some valuable guidance on how to deal with those confrontational conversations and moves to think about for the next time you find yourself in that situation.

Dr. Knox also touches on those traps we fall into while conversing, like not being truthful. There’s tips here too so you don’t deviate from your personal morals and values during that conversation.

Have you ever been a part of a discussion where you just didn’t have the background knowledge to partake in that conversation? I’m sure we all have at some point. This book touches on some things you can do when you find yourself in a discussion you know little or nothing about so you can still be a part of the Conversation Game.

A Teen’s Guide to the Conversation Game offers many strategies to practice your everyday talking skills and innovative ideas to use to improve on those skills. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it to any teen or adult who is looking to get better at the Conversation Game.

A few words from Dr. Kathryn Knox:

A Teen’s Guide to the Conversation Game came out of my work with middle and high school students. It’s about talking, not making speeches. I noticed how often many students would run into snags in daily conversation that inhibited their ability to form good relationships with other people. This book has dozens of simple strategies based on daily talking, to practice such as Gimme Two, LDL, 5 step conflict solving process, accepting a compliment, not jumping, TMM and more, implementable into chunks of daily conversation. The Apple version includes video and audio clips of simple conversations that illustrate strategies.

I hope you enjoy reading these books. Communication is all about how we work effectively together as humans.

Learn more about Dr. Kathryn Knox by reading An Interview with Dr. Kathryn Knox: Learning Styles

Dr. Knox has also just published Language Soup: A Taste of How Diverse People Around the World Communicate. This book is next on my reading list.

You can also go to Ruby Mountial Press to order A Teen’s Guide to the Conversation Game or Language Soup on the iPad (includes videos), the Kindle, or the Nook.


Fire Bubbles and Exploding Toothpaste

By Steve Spangler






I Used to Know That: Geography

Stuff You Forgot From School

By Will Williams, Edited by Caroline Taggart

This 176-page hard cover book is packed full of information divided into nine chapters including one about the Earth, one about our oceans, and one chapter for each continent.

There are some great charts and maps included in this book along with Geo Gems, which are eye-catching fun facts about our world.

Are you ready to test your knowledge?

Do you know which of our oceans is the youngest? How about which ocean is the largest? Which mountain range is the highest in the world? What are New Zealanders called?

Did you know or guess that the youngest ocean is the Atlantic Ocean? And the largest ocean is the Pacific Ocean, did you get that one? The highest mountain range in the world is the Himalayas and “New Zealanders are called Kiwis, an affectionate term that refers to the flightless kiwi bird.”

I love those moments of remembering and revisiting the things that I learned and the moments when I learn something new. This book is a fun way to test your knowledge of what you remember from your studies of geography and it offers a fabulous journey full of discovering all those amazing facts about our world. There’s something in here for every age and it would make the perfect coffee table book inspiring conversation.

Disclosure: I received I Used to Know That: Geography from FSB Associates in exchange for my honest review.


I Used to Know That: Civil War is a great way for anyone to either learn about the basics of the Civil War or review the things that you may have forgotten from school.

The book is broken up into three main sections, The Antebellum Period, The War Between the States, and The Reconstruction Era. The book does a really great job of identifying exactly what caused the Civil War, and who the predominant people of the era were.

From Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant to Jefferson Davis and of course, Abraham Lincoln, this book includes very in depth introductions and conclusions.

Interestingly enough, I found myself remembering the facts of the Civil War as I read along, recalling things that I learned several years ago.

If you are looking for an in depth textbook of the Civil War, look elsewhere; but if you are looking for a nice review, or to learn the basics, this is definitely the book for you.

Disclosure: I received I Used to Know That: Civil War from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.


I Used to Know That: Shakespeare isn’t so much a review of Shakespeare’s plays, but an in depth introduction to Shakespeare’s life, plays, and how he has affected modern day life.

This book really surprised me, mainly because I was expecting a spark notes style review of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, but this book is completely different. The entire first chapter of the book focuses on Shakespeare’s birth, family, legacy, and a timeline of his life.

Yes, approximately half of this book is a review of Shakespeare’s plays, arranged by when they were written in Shakespeare’s life. However, a very large amount of the book is “Shakespeare’s Language Legacy”, or the words, phrases, quotes, and misquotes that are used today.

Similarly, an entire chapter is dedicated to Shakespeare’s Sonnets and other poems, which are a nice touch.

The final verdict: If you enjoy Shakespeare’s works, definitely buy this. It provides a very unique view on Shakespeare’s plays, poems, and sonnets. Similarly, if you’re new to Shakespeare’s works it provides an incredible introduction to his life, works, and common quotes and sayings that are credited to him.

Disclosure: This review is written by my son who has read many of Shakespeare’s works throughout his high school career. We received I Used to Know That: Shakespeare from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.


An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs — Timeless Words to Live By

By Caroline Taggart Day

An Apple a Day is a humorous and informative book that brings understanding to the meaning and origins of everyday proverbs.

So what exactly is a proverb? The introduction defines a proverb as “It’s simply a piece of wisdom or advice, expressed in a short and memorable way.”

This book provides the fun facts behind 200 proverbs, such as…

All’s well that ends well

Curiosity killed the cat

The early bird catches the worm

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me

The old familiar proverb “knowledge is power” is a powerful piece of wisdom. Knowledge builds on knowledge is the idea behind the Core Knowledge Sequence. After all, literacy depends on shared knowledge.

If “knowledge is power” then do you agree that “ignorance is bliss”? The first proverb traces back to the Bible and the other has been around since ancient times but Thomas Gray gave us the modern wording in a 1742 poem called “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.”

This 175-page hardcover book provides a unique look at how hundred-year-old proverbs can continue to have relevance today. There are also some creative and fun cartoons that accompany the proverbs and their meanings.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today, so visit Reader’s Digest Trade Publishing to find out more about how to purchase this book. I truly enjoyed reading An Apple A Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and it’s one of those books that I know I’ll pick up again and again. Time flies when you’re having fun and time sure did fly while I was reading this book.

Author Bio

Caroline Taggart has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer’s Market UK 2009.

Disclosure: I received An Apple A Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs — Timeless Words to Live By from FSB Associates in exchange for my honest review.


Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pajamas
By Judy Parkinson

This book is a fun collection of colorful expressions to enrich your everyday speech. Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pajamas is filled with curious sayings, explaining their fascinating origins and the remarkable stories that surround them. It rounds up the usual suspects — the catch phrases, quotations, and expressions that keep our language flourishing — and makes them easy to find in a convenient A-to-Z format.

Don’t put this book on the back burner, make no bones about it, the bottom line is that Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pajamas is an awesome read!

About the Author: Judy Parkinson is a graduate of Bristol University. She is a producer of documentaries, music videos, and commercials, and won a Clio award for a Greenpeace ad. Parkinson has published four books and has contributed to a show of life drawings at the Salon des Arts, Kensington.

Disclosure: I received a gratis copy of Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pajamas, but it had no reflection on my review.



E=MC², Simple Physics: Why Balloons Rise, Apples Fall, and Golf Balls Go Awry 
By Jeff Stewart

Now honestly, how many of you actually know what this famous equation actually means? What about the Doppler Effect or even Newton’s famed three laws of motion? Well, if you don’t, this book will certainly inform you of their existence, how they were developed, and why they matter to your everyday life and future!

After skipping some of the things that I already knew and becoming completely enthralled in the things I knew nothing about, I must say that this book is a fun and comedic way for anyone to learn, brush-up on, or casually read the basics and not so basic aspects of physics.

Post written by author of Cheif Goku C

Disclosure: Our family received a gratis copy of E=MC2 from FSB Associates, but this had no reflection on the reviewer’s comments, who happens to be my son.


Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes

By Steve Spangler









The Lunar Antics Presents: Boy, I’d Hate To Be Made Out Of That Stuff !

By Robert Walters

The Lunar Antics Presents: Boy, I’d Hate To Be Made Out Of That Stuff! by Robert Walters is a creative, entertaining book that brings together Lunar inhabitants with Earth creatures in fun and often clichéd way. The comic isn’t so much funny as it is clever and you will most definitely find a smile creep onto your face as you read further in to the comic strips. This web-comic turned comic compilation is a great way to step back and observe what an alien would think of humanity and all of our many quirks. While the collection does require a certain sense of humor and understanding of human oddities, it will most definitely suck most readers in and leave them wanting more at the end. The Lunar Antics Presents: Boy, I’d Hate To Be Made Out Of That Stuff! is a must have for anyone who enjoys odd, quirky, or less than observed comedy and will enjoy and appreciate the humor that is so evident within the collection.

There are only three things a reader has to know when encountering the moon inhabitants of The Lunar Antics—

1. They have antennas.

2. They have flying saucers—although they don’t always use them.

3. They are good in math.

Disclosure: Thanks to Robert Walters for providing me with his book The Lunar Antics Presents: Boy, I’d Hate To Be Made Out Of That Stuff!. My gratis copy had no reflection on my review of the book.


How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth on Mother’s Day

By John E. Wade II

Editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays
from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

A perfect gift for Mother’s Day could be the exciting, optimistic and ambitious
book, How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth. It contains essays of hope and promise,
something that mothers embody as they introduce new life into our world.

Women today, especially in the United States, are accomplishing more and more
in field after field of human endeavor. They can be the leaders in recognizing
the ambitious and awesome possibilities in such a gift.

I believe ten elements will be included in a heaven on earth: peace, security,
freedom, democracies, prosperity, spiritual harmony, racial harmony, ecologicalharmony and health as well as moral purpose and meaning. Each of thesecategories in the book is supported by essays as well as one more category,Individual Paths to Heaven on Earth. Women will be an integral part of thishopeful process with a book that outlines the goals, obstacles, means and faithto attain that ultimate destiny.

Contributors to the book include Presidents Obama and Bush, Vice President AlGore, Tony Blair and a host of notables and ordinary people who haveextraordinary things to say.

Let me give you some specifics from two of the 101 essays from the world’sgreatest thinkers, leaders and writers that will show you how mothers will bethrilled to read and devour this book.

A heart-rending essay is “Many Mothers” by Maida Rogerson, awonderful person whom I have met who wrote about a Santa Fe charity. It starts with this: “Imagine. You’ve just had your first baby. Your husband is in a new job and doesn’t have a lot of time for you. You’ve moved away from your extended family. Suddenly, there you are, you and your beautiful baby, home, alone. Your baby starts to cry, and you’re dead tired and all you want to do is cry yourself, and you have no one to turn to.”

That’s where Many Mothers comes in with ” . . . volunteers ofgrandmothers, aunts, businesswomen and often other mothers.” . . .
“Knowing that bonding and attachment in infancy are necessary to create healthy adults,” the charity acts by nurturing the mother. The chores are broad — cleaning and other mundane tasks may be part of the volunteer’s normal duties. The joy of helping mothers goes in all directions just as you would expect in a heaven on earth.

In “Women Who Never Give Up,” Sharon L. Davie visits a women’s cooperative in Kenya. She explains that such groups ” . . . come together with serious purpose . . . and number in the tens of thousands, with millions of individual women involved.” This is not a new phenomenon, but has existed throughout Kenya’s history in one form or another.

In their society ” . . . most women cannot inherit or buy land, so they bought their house as a collective.” Gradually they bought ” . . . a cow — which led to shared milk, calves, then chickens and eggs, and finally a mill to grind their maize and millet.”

When asked if men could have such a cooperative, “The whole group [women in the cooperative] laughed uproariously. They thought that was a ridiculous idea. ‘They would drink up all the money!’ they said.”

Asked about violence, ” . . . they told of the woman in the next village who was being brutally beaten by her husband, over and over. She ran away — not something that women do, they said. Men can beat women and they must
stay.” Eventually, the group helped the woman and even assisted her in building a house.

Women will no doubt assume greater and greater roles throughout the world as their unique talents go beyond the survival stage such as some in Kenya, on the striving stage which is being demonstrated day by day, to the thriving stage, which will be part of the path toward a heaven on earth.

Happy Mother’s Day

Copyright © 2010 John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

Author Bio
John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers, is an author, investor, philanthropist, and founder of the nonprofit organization Soldiers of Love. An active member of his church and civic organizations in his area, Wade holds an M.A. from the University of Georgia and has worked in a range of fields. His extensive travels, including visits to China, India, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Brazil, inspired him to collect the essays in this work. Wade lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For more information, please visit

Thanks to FSB Associates for sharing this article and essay.


Easy as Pi

The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day
By Jamie Buchan

When we think of numbers we may think natural, whole, real, imaginary, rational, and maybe even irrational. But what about how we use numbers in our everyday lives, aside from just learning math, teaching math, and using math?

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has over the years turned into an everyday term used to refuse to answer a question…I plead the fifth!

Okay, so I’m giving my age away here, but I remember my dad using his CB radio and saying things like that’s a 10-4 good buddy, what’s your 20.

And remember your history of the 1800’s and the gold rush in the Sierra Nevada? Remember what the hundreds of thousands of fortune hunters came to be called?

How many fictional movies or novels can you think of that reference numbers in their title?

Numbers, numbers, everywhere. Easy as Pi is a great collection of how we use numbers in language, fiction, culture, mythology and religion, and perhaps the most obvious, math and science. This 176-page hard cover book is a unique compilation of those little tidbits of fun facts and trivia that we love to share. For the math aficionado to those unenthusiastic and even reluctant about the thought of numbers this book is as fun, delectable, and dare I say sweet, as π!

Disclosure: I received a gratis copy of Easy as Pi from FSB Associates. This had no reflection on my review of the book.


Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents

By Karin Piper

“What is the difference between a charter school mom and a pit bull? (Piper 65)” Are you weighing the options for public schools? Trying to decide if a charter school might be a good fit for your child? Get all of the answers to these questions by reading Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents by Karin Piper. This enlightening book combines humor, useful facts, and helpful resources to better understand this alternative public school option.

Karin Piper is a stay at home mom, volunteer, charter school parent, and an advocate for school choice. I totally identified with the author and truly enjoyed her down to earth, witty way of addressing many of the questions that I as a parent would be asking. “Who makes choices for your child? (Piper16)” In response to that question I would irrefutably answer that as a parent, I do. When it comes to making choices for where our children will go to school, do we really know what all the options are or are many of us still thinking that the nearest neighborhood school will work just fine?

One exceptional public school option is charter schooling. Karin’s book will clearly answer what a charter school is, how a charter school is governed, and why parents might chose a public charter school vs. a public traditional school. Learn about the teachers, staff, and admin of a charter school as well as the antidiscrimination laws and how student academic needs such as ESL, GT, and SPED are met. This book will provide you with all of the information you will need to help you make an informed decision as to whether a charter school is the right school for your child. You will also learn about charter school law, in mama language, so it’s very understandable. This will determine whether a charter school is even an option for you in your state and if it is, then you can move on to read how to start a charter school if there is not one in your neighborhood or if you want to start a school with a specific vision in mind.

I applaud and thank Karin for writing this outstanding, comprehensive resource, which in my opinion is an invaluable tool to help parents decide whether charter schools might be an option to think about when considering alternatives in education. I also thank Karin for wiring this book in such a parent friendly way that speaks to the questions and subject-matter that parents would focus on and for her wit which makes this book thoroughly enjoyable while learning.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents for full price and I am not getting compensated in any way from my review.

Great interview with Karin Piper on Good Day Colorado

The Education Choice Expert


A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English

By Chloe Rhodes

To be literate means, in part, to be familiar with an extensive array of knowledge that we often take for granted by speakers, writers, and sometimes even in every day conversation. A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” by Chloe Rhodes is a short, alphabetized glossary of foreign words and phrases used in English that will enhance your culturally literate self.

A few of the words in this book really reached out and grabbed me in a personal way, like the word Klutz for instance, which my mom often called me, and always insisted it meant clumsy. Hmmm…here’s how it’s define in A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”…

blockhead (Yiddish)
This comes from the Yiddish word “Klots,” which translates literally as “wooden beam,” and perhaps also from the German word “klotz,” meaning “block” or “lump.” “Klotz” is related to the English words “clot” and “clod,” both of which mean “lump” (of earth in the latter case) and also “stupid person.”

There are many foreign words we use on a daily basis without knowing their origin or what the word actually means. This book contains translations, definitions, origins, and there are even some fun black and white illustrations to go along with the words. As well as these, there are also very good examples of each foreign word used in context.

It was fun to learn the origins of familiar words like Utopia and Kudos from the Greeks, Pajamas from the Persians, Spiel from the Germans, Tycoon from the Japanese, and some unfamiliar phrases and their meanings like Ad nauseam means to sickness, and Temet nosce means know thyself.

A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” is a clever and entertaining 176-page hardcover books that any expert or amateur of the English language will simply love. It would make a great reference book, a resource for a “Word of the Day” to encourage learning, or as a gift for any lover of etymology. I highly recommend this De rigueur smorgasbord of words and hearten you to schmooze with those of high nous and the neophyte and have fun learning new words!

Disclosure: I received a gratis copy of A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” from FSB Associates. This had no reflection on my review of the book.

Synopsis of A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” By Chloe Rhodes

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