Kettlebells: A Love Story

photo 1When I first moved to New York City, I was feeling slow and sluggish.  Although the city itself was energizing and living in Greenwich Village provided me with new things to explore daily, I was exhausted from the previous months of commuting. While commuting I would trudge through the hell that is Port Authority, board a crowded, smelly bus, and then drive home to my parents’ house where I would scarf down dinner and plant myself on the couch or in bed only to wake up and do it all over again. When I moved, I had the freedom of a shorter commute and more time after work.  My friend introduced to me the NYC-studio of Dasha Libin Anderson and her class Kettlebell Kickboxing. The first class I was so scared I would pass out or puke.  But I didn’t. Anderson’s class combines martial arts and kettlebells with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  I was hooked after the first class for two reasons: 1. Kettlebells are so versatile. 2. I felt energized and empowered.  The way that Anderson’s body looks–sculpted and strong–was something I was looking for and wasn’t finding on the treadmill or elliptical.  I started seeing a lot of progress not only in the tone of my muscles but also in my pant size and on the scale. But more importantly, I wanted to train harder to improve myself physically and mentally. I had fallen in love with kettlebells and the way training with them made me feel.  Moving to Jersey City, I wasn’t able to attend classes every week at Anderson’s studio, but I purchased her DVD set (Kettlebell Kickboxing The Body Series 11 DVD Set & Nutrition Guide) to work out with kettlebells at home.  The DVDs are just as engaging because Anderson mixes up every move to engage multiple muscle groups and challenge your flexibility, mobility, strength, and endurance. The moment I heard that Anderson was writing a book, I had to get my hands on it.  The 325-page book is your definitive guide to kettlebells, but more than that Anderson encourages you “to be confident to take action and opportunities because our strong, agile, healthy, and fit bodies can move and bend and lift and push and pull and live.” If you’re looking for a fitness program that shows you the moves to sculpt your body, gives you exercises to do and a plan to follow, and provides empowering advice to maximize your results–this is it.

I also recently received a book by Lauren Brooks called Kettlebells for Women. Although I don’t know Brooks, have never trained with her, or viewed her DVDs, I wanted to give this book a chance too.  Kettlebells really are the perfect tool for women to use because the kettlebell swing engages the posterior chain (your booty) rather than your arms.  You won’t bulk up from using kettlebells, but you will tone a variety of muscle groups depending on the moves you do.  And even as you become more advanced there are a myriad of moves to conquer.  And you’ll always have the kettlebell swing as a foundational move that produces results.  I guarantee you, with proper training you’ll master moves you never thought possible like the Turkish get-up and a deck squat. Both books acknowledge the history behind kettlebell training especially their use in Russia and Europe.  Both books provide a program for weight-loss, strength, and conditioning. The moves are shown through step-by-step photographs with descriptions, tips, and important information about proper form and safety.  Below I’m going to list 5 Reasons to Read for each book, because I think they are both great resources for your kettlebell training. Keep Reading…


THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford

pocket wife

Courtesy of William Morrow

I have reviewed a few suspenseful books here on Skyline Book Reviews, but they have all ended up being very different.  There was Crooked River about two young girls whose father is accused of murder.  Also, Big Little Lies about a death at a elementary school fundraiser in Australia.  And Tina Seskis’ One Step Too Far told the story of Emily who leaves her old life behind only to be propelled back into it after a tragic death.  Susan Crawford’s cerebral debut, The Pocket Wife, involves a murder in a suburb of Paterson, NJ and is no exception.




The siren is inside her ears, inside the car.  It screams and pries inside her brain.  She opens the car door and steps outside. She’s forgotten her shoes, but she can’t feel the pavement.  She’s so light her feet are barely touching down.  She looks out at the cars toward the Hudson, and it shimmers, it hums, it sings, eclipsing the sound of the siren with its lovely, lilting song.


5 Reasons to Read:

  1. Crawford’s main character, Dana Catrall, is captivating during her descent into a mental breakdown in the wake of the violent death of her neighbor.
  2. The detective investigating the murder, Jack Moss, is not typical law enforcement–his dedication to his job, his desire to help Dana, and the guilt motivating him to protect his son is very real and multi-faceted.
  3. Crawford’s lyrical and phenic writing delves into Dana’s psyche as she discovers clues that push her closer to the edge.
  4. Clues are pieced together while Detective Moss investigates and Dana racks her memory until ultimately the truth settles to the surface amidst a storm of lies.
  5. This murder mystery won’t disappoint when it comes to suspense and unexpected outcomes.

Keep Reading…

Dreaming of Warm Weather


Fort Myers Beach, FL

Today in NY/NJ the weather was a tab bit warmer, but I’m still dreaming of palm trees, bikinis, and beaches! I’m also really excited for some of the books I have coming up on the blog, especially Kettlebell Kickboxing: Every Woman’s Guide to Getting Healthy, Sexy, and Strong. Dasha Libin Anderson is the creator and martial artist behind NYC-based Kettlebell Kickboxing.  I have to admit, as soon as I found out Dasha was writing a book I couldn’t wait to read it.  When I tried Kettlebell Kickboxing in 2012, I was seriously out of shape. Dasha’s classes are a full-body workout and teach you how to use kettlebells properly, no matter your fitness level.  Her classes are empowering and energizing too.  I can’t wait to share more about this transformational exercise program and about Dasha’s book, due out in May.

In the meantime…Follow my blog with Bloglovin and stay warm!


Cover photo courtesy Sunrise River Press

Cover photo courtesy Sunrise River Press

With the start of a new year it is easy to get bogged down with unrealistic fitness and diet resolutions. Holli Thompson encourages seasonal and local eating that is unique to your health and lifestyle needs. Her educational and inventive book provides all the tools you need to listen to your body and feed it the healthy, plant-based diet it deserves.




5 reasons to read:
1. Thompson, a former fashion exec, ditched the unhealthy and inflammatory foods and transformed her life–she is a success story herself.
2. This book answers all your health questions: What does it mean to do a cleanse? What foods should be avoided? How can I eat seasonally? What is a chia seed? The health newbie and expert alike will learn a lot from Thompson’s well-researched book.
3. With glossy pictures and a colorful design, this book is pretty enough to be a coffee table book, plus you’ll want to refer to it often so it won’t stay on the shelf for long.
4. The abundance of tables takes the guessing out of your nutritional style, seasonal eating, foods to avoid, foods to embrace, and food shopping.
5. Real-life case studies will help you apply Thompson’s advice to your own experience in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Keep Reading…

Jump Start a Healthy 2015 with INSPIRALIZED


Photo courtesy of Ali Maffucci

When I moved in with my boyfriend from my sixth-floor walk-up to an elevator building in Jersey City, I started packing on the pounds.  I found myself embarrassingly too lazy to head up to my buildings’ roof-top gym and instead of cooking like I once did in my miniature kitchen, I was constantly being persuaded to order food despite finally having a normal-sized oven.  That’s when I joined a boot camp and committed to working out again.  I saw my body begin to transform, but I needed to improve my diet to fuel my workouts and further boost my weight loss.  Being Italian and loving pasta there were just certain foods I couldn’t give up.  That’s where Inspiralized comes in.  Fellow Jersey City-resident, Ali Maffucci’s blog was inspired by her love of pasta, her Italian heritage, and a vegetable slicing tool (or as my boyfriend calls it, a vegetable torture device).  As Ali proves on her blog ( and in her forthcoming cook book, Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables Into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals, due out in March, you can easily transform your favorite calorie-heavy meals into delicious vegetable-based ones.  Ali’s blog largely focuses on dinners: zucchini noodles, sweet potato rice, butternut squash fettuccini, and the list goes on.  She even uses some more uncommon veggies like taro, celeriac, and jicama.  The cookbook, while containing plenty of beginner recipes involving noodles, also has ideas for breakfasts, snacks, casseroles, and desserts too. I sat down with Ali in Jersey City bright and early to talk about the Inspiralized life.  But before I get to what Ali had to say, let’s cut right to the chase with 5 reasons to read.

5 reasons to read:

  1. These recipes are easy to follow and don’t take much time to prepare or cook. Once you have a spiralizing tool, you’ll be ready to jump right in. No training needed.
  2. You can spiralize for any occasion. Need an easy and healthy app to bring to a dinner party? No problem.  Quick dinner after a long commute? You’re covered! Need to satisfy a carb-craving?  Easy!
  3. Ali’s recipes will inspire you to try new things and create your own. Recipes like Blueberry Sweet Potato Waffles, Spicy Butternut Squash Nachos, Jicama-Stuffed Peppers, and Sweet Potato Carbonara will convince you—the sky is the limit when it comes to spiralizing!
  4. These recipes are perfect for someone trying to eat a diet high in vegetables whether for weight-loss, dietary restrictions, or overall healthfulness.
  5. The cookbook contains helpful tips and how-to’s, but if you just can’t get enough spiralizing, Ali’s blog and youtube site (and Instagram account) will keep you in the know, with new recipes, tips, and even fitspo. Keep Reading…

ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis

one step too far

Courtesy of William Morrow










Have you been searching for a story that is unsettling yet too gripping to put down since Gone Girl? Us too. Tina Seskis’ debut, originally published independently as an e-book in the UK, is what you’re looking for.

5 reasons to read:

1. Emily abandons her life in Manchester, England in the face of a horrific secret and becomes Cat, a London ad exec with a penchant for cocaine, champagne, and shop-lifting–Hello, London!
2.  Sounds melodramatic, you say? Seskis is skilled at rooting the story in the very real struggles of family life, jealousy, betrayal, and grief with characters to support a drama-filled plot.
3. Seskis delves into the lives of Emily/Cat, her twin sister Caroline, her parents Frances and Andrew, and Ben, the brokenhearted husband Emily leaves behind–recounting pivotal moments that propel the story.
4. We won’t give it away, but there is a heart-wrenching twist even we predicted wrong (and that’s saying a lot).
5. Seskis’ ability to zoom in on details and properly pull back when needed comes through to bring together a wonderfully unnerving story.

Keep Reading…