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The Mason Jar Cocktail Companion by Shane Carley  

The Mason Jar Cocktail Companion appeals to me on several levels. I find author Shane Carley’s writing succinct and interesting. Reading his  entries for each drink, my taste buds flare and my brain works to conjure up the drink experience. Seems to me that’s the most important effect a book of drink recipes could have. Kudos to everyone.

I know it’s a cliche to gush over the photography in food and drink books, but I’m going to do so anyways. There’s not even a featured camera artist for these shots, but the pics are delicious and help turn casual page-turning into reading and drink prep.

Here’s why you want this book: #1 The Mason Jar Cocktail Companion will look great on your “cookbooks and drinking books” shelves. #2 Some of your friends will notice it, ask about the recipes #3 And you’ll impress them ‘cause you’ll have tried several of them!

Mason jar drinks aren’t just for summertime. I’ll be dipping into this book all winter long., @cidermillpress, #masonjarcocktailcompanion



Exercising the Printed Word  


 Life lessons often accompany exercise. For many people, longer endurance situations precipitate thoughtfulness, introspection and some sort of mental cleanse. In The Ultra Mindset, endurance athlete and author Travis Macy presents a compelling case that the mindset allowing him to win races carries over to success in all areas of life. He’ll teach you. Macy breaks what he’s learned mountain biking and adventure racing into eight core principals; The Ultra Mindset revolves around them. 

All endurance or ultra-athletes will find much of interest within Macy’s enthusiastic writing style and his anecdotes. His stories highlight his points, and I found myself agreeing with how success in business, sports and life can be enhanced by the same mindset employed in ultra-sports. I found Macy’s evolved thinking on these topics fascinating. 

In my opinion, the older a competitive athlete is and the longer the experience base, the more critically useful The Ultra Mindset is., @travismacy, #TheUltraMindset


If you are unfamiliar with Dan John’s writing, please take a few minutes to order from On Target Publications a copy of everything with his name on it. Get to their site, provide Laree with your credit card number, relax knowing you’ve performed your duty to yourself, and only then come back to my site.

Can You Go? digs deeply into the cluttered, but oh-so smart and logical mind of legendary coach/trainer/athlete Dan John. While pretending to write a book aimed at trainers and coaches, every hungry-for-knowledge athlete, no matter the sport, will benefit from reading and understanding how John thinks of assessments. 

This glimpse into his mind shines a light on the magical simplicity Dan John is willing to share from his 30 years experience coaching and training: “...there’s great value in just about every training system.”

How many coaches do you know with such an open mind? They’re rare. Learn from the best, improve yourself and those around you in the gym. Read Can You Go?, @lareedraper, #CanYouGo


Anyone teaming up with Dan John, as Josh Hillis does with Fat Loss Happens on Monday, by definition is not dogmatic, is smart, and combines experience with success. Turns out that’s the case. The combination of these two brains working together, creating this book, provides a simple path to fat-loss success. 

 Inside themselves, most people recognize that willpower-based “diets” can only fail. Everyone knows fad diets don’t work, but they continue to proliferate. And nobody following these paths succeed, not for long.

Fat Loss Happens on Monday is a series of logical guideposts, aimed at helping your fat-loss, get-into-shape journey make sense and get you to your destination. As he usually does, Dan John tosses out a few statements sure to generate debate (“pull-ups are the strength move for fat loss.”), and I’m sure he enjoys the resulting conversation. 

I find the logic and simple truths Hillis and John present in this book appealing and workable for everyone. They aren’t writing for uber-athletes. Fat Loss Happens on Monday shows the path to success, how to set up workout and eating plans that will work for you. Broken down into simple steps, the world of losing body-fat and getting into shape seems less mysterious and more do-able, in the pages of this marvelous book.,, @fakedanjohn, @joshhillis, #FatLossHappensOnMonday

Carrying around a copy of Kelly Starrett’s Becoming A Supple Leopard is a small workout in itself. A new, revised and expanded edition creates an even more compelling reason for a copy of Supple Leopard to be in every gym, personal training studio and the home library of anyone liable to read this. I’m not exaggerating or kidding, that’s how critical and useful Starrett and co-author Glen Cordoza’s book is.

You cannot be unaware of this book; if you don’t yet own a copy for some reason, this is the ideal excuse to finally buy it, as there are 70-80 additional pages of information woven throughout this edition. Becoming A Supple Leopard will extend your personal career as an athlete, no matter your level. Lessen pain, gain movement and flexibility; enjoy life better. What more can you ask for in a book? Kelly Starrett is the real deal, a guy unafraid to ask questions and provide answers. Help yourself and others with a copy of the new revised Becoming A Supple Leopard.,, @mobilitywod, @glencordoza, #BecomingASuppleLeopard


Great Books You May Have Missed

 The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy is a keep-the-pages-turning adventure story set in an apocalyptic future. The Sanctuary, an outpost of survivors of flu and nuclear fallout, is run by a mad despot, and most inhabitants fear any other living thing that may exist outside of their walls. When an outsider appears at their walls, a woman with black eyes on a horse, all their worlds begin to crumble. The Dead Lands is a saga, a journey across the country and through an ever-changing future society. I found Percy’s story to be thought-provoking and exciting, with surprising twists and turns. He writes an exciting adventure story, replete with elements of horror, yet charges his characters with compassion and his stories with relatable themes. Impressive.



 The Fateful Lightning by Jeff Shaara completes the series of American Civil War novels picking up where his father, Michael Shaara, left off with The Killer Angels. William Tecumseh Sherman’s “March to the Sea” through the Confederate South drives the story. All the characters on both sides of the war revolve around the colorful General of the northern army. Shaara performs his magical feat of getting inside the heads and hearts of historical figures, examining their motivations and purpose while they go about horrible and exciting acts. A slave freed by the roving army who attaches himself to Sherman’s soldiers makes for an interesting perspective throughout the story. Fateful Lightning is consistently exciting and thought-provoking.



 Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is a huge, dense, imaginative novel that drew me in slowly. Allow yourself to go into the world Stephenson weaves, acquaint yourself with the many people he inhabits it with, dive into the remarkable story that evolves, and you will be rewarded. What begins as a complex science fiction story taking place sometime in the near future changes into a challenging examination of how people think, and how society works. Stephenson is a writer of vision, a master of the craft, and clearly relishes challenging the traditional worldview. Seveneves is a terribly complex story, yet at the same time frighteningly simple and oh-so-thought provoking. How do people come up with these ideas?



For me, a long-time writer and editor in the print publishing world, Mary Norris’ Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, was refreshing and entertaining. I worked with editors like Mary. Sometimes they made me want to cry (when I was writing), often they drove me to exasperation (when deadlines were near). 

A long-time copy editor at The New Yorker, where language is prized as at no other publication, Norris somehow makes her theories about punctuation, clarity, spelling and the strangeness of the English language entertaining as she recounts three decades at the magazine. Her vivid recall of specific writers and their foibles and eccentric writing styles makes Between You & Me entertaining at all times. I enjoyed the pleasure she clearly takes in language, keeping her lessons clear, brief and memorable. How a book about grammar can be so entertaining is a testament to Norris’ candor and insight.


Fourth of July Creek by Smith Hendson was published in paperback last spring. I read it in hardcover last year and was enthralled by the backdrop and tough environment of Montana, and the equally hard people living there. This is part adventure story, partly an examination of our society and the quest for freedom so strong in people. 

The story is based upon a deeply flawed social worker, Pete Snow, whose decision-making process consistently gets him into trouble while he’s attempting to save children from dangerous domestic situations. Characters ranging from modern-day mountain men to another social worker inhabit the corner of western Montana where this takes place. Hard people and hard living make Snow’s challenges all the more difficult, bringing him to tough decisions and anguish. 

Brutal lessons are learned in Fourth of July Creek, a wonderfully written debut novel. Author Henderson has a compelling grace with words, inhabiting his characters with an eye for observation I found fascinating.



The Fatal Flame by Lyndsay Faye

Rave cover blurbs from Lee Child and Gillian Flynn moved me to dig into The Fatal Flame immediately, no matter that I was in the middle of a couple of other books. I enjoyed author Faye’s earlier The Gods of Gotham, and was hoping Fatal Flame’s characters and storyline would again captivate me. They did.

New York City in the 1840s is an eye-opening environment for copper star Timothy Wilde (policemen were then so new in American society they were described by the badge they wore). Open gas lamps, wood-stoves and fireplaces, not to mention wooden buildings were the norm, and contributed to fires being commonplace. Wilde carries within himself a deep fear of fires, going back to his parents dying in one, his brother’s involvement and guilt, all piling on to leave him scarred both emotionally and physically. 

Arson becomes a weapon of choice for politicians as Wilde and his brother Valentine become embroiled in New York City power struggles. Long-buried emotions make their mark when Wilde’s long ago love, Mercy Underhill, unexpectedly re-appears in his life. Toss Wilde into the erratic ride of corrupt businessman Robert Symmes and his efforts to strengthen his hold on the city, Tammany Hall, and the sordid world of immigrant labor fresh off the boats from Ireland, and you’ll find yourself engrossed in New York City of the 1840s and Wilde’s life.

Faye splendidly brings the little-known pre-Civil War New York City to life. How seamstresses lived and worked in appalling conditions, the role of the garment industry in daily life, and how social mores evolved, are skillfully woven into this compelling story. Author Faye drew me into the dirty, foul, hardscrabble world of 1840s city life. 

When I saw there was a glossary at the beginning of The Fatal Flame, I laughed it off. I even commented to my wife that I would be skipping it! The joke was on me. Flash, as the street dialect of the time was known, plays a major and at times unexpected role in the story, especially the relationship of the Wilde brothers. 

Smarmy politics, back-stabbing relationships, fires, exploitation of the poor classes, and plenty of adventure fill the pages of Fatal Flame. Timothy Wilde’s life comes vividly alive, against the backdrop of this important era in one of the most compelling cities in the world. 

Lyndsay Faye’s The Fatal Flame had me eagerly turning pages from beginning to end.


The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food & Flavor by Mark Schatzker  

Damn, the truth hurts. At least it should pain the big food conglomerates.

Dorito Effect author Schatzker vividly blows the lid off the modern processed food industry, showing how the use of flavor has changed how people eat, what they consume, and certainly how much they jam into their bodies! Not the real flavor of foods (because perhaps over-consumption and over-buying wouldn’t be as common). What Dorito Effect clearly makes evident is the pervasive use of artificial flavoring designed to compel buying and eating habits to spiral out of control, all in the name of profit and production. Health isn’t part of the big food companies’ worries. They do not care.

Just what is flavor and why is it so important to people? A good case has long been made that “modern” production, harvesting and processing means have altered food quality, nutrients, texture and taste. Forever. But science, as easily explained in The Dorito Effect, is manipulating our desire and cravings for food and non-foods. This isn’t so much about tampering with food as it is manipulating the brains and habits of people 

The Dorito Effect is an important call to everyone interested in their health and the quality of food. Schatzker has written an easy-to-digest expose about the food industry, about “what happens when food gets blander and flavor technology gets better.”

Simon & Schuster, $27 hardcover

#doritoeffect, @markschatzker, @simonschuster