Andy Cowe (Chartered Management Institute)

Effective Negotiations in Easy Steps, Tony Rossiter

In 130 pages of large well-spaced text with lots of cartoon-type illustrations, Effective Negotiation lives up to its claim of treating the subject in easy steps.

It is a simple and readable introduction to negotiation that is suitable for a junior manager seeking to prepare themselves to take part in a negotiation. The text is broken into 15 colourful short chapters, each of which concludes with a summary that reprises the content of the chapter. Given that there are lots of bullet points and numbered lists in each chapter, the book takes the form of an expanded sort of checklist, but at this basic level it is none the worse for that. It is certainly easy to read and would be useful for having a quick recap of essential points before actually embarking on a negotiation. The key messages are the need for preparation prior to the event, thoughtful presentation of your case and keep working for the win-win solution.

Its approach practical and accessible to a reader who wants a short focused guide to the subject. The author provides a few examples from his previous career as a diplomat and civil servant so it’s a pity he wasn’t able to successfully negotiate with the publisher to use English (as opposed to American) spellings in a book published and produced in the UK. This however is a minor quibble in an otherwise entertaining little book.

4 stars: Strongly recommended for a young or inexperienced manager who is about to be involved in a negotiation

James Kelly (Chartered Management Institute)

Effective Communications in easy steps, by Nick Vandome and John S C McVey

This easy to follow practical guide in a proven and popular series aims to help managers draw up and follow communications strategies to get across their key messages in the workplace and outside. One of the authors has already written over 80 practical guides for the In East Steps series and has clearly honed his skills in effective and clear writing. Aimed at new and middle managers, this text would also be useful to those senior managers who may have missed out first time round on I.T. skills and want to catch up on the web, U-tube and social media.

There are two welcome guidelines from the authors in the contextual introduction, firstly that managers must take an ethical approach, being honest and open, in all communications and secondly that plain English should always be used.

The various channels of communication are reviewed and the following chapters then give step-by-step instructions, with illustrations in colour, on creating a communications strategy and, usefully, guidance on how to evaluate its effectiveness, a key task in the plan-do-review cycle. The plain English message is reinforced in a chapter on avoiding corporate jargon. The authors then move on to specifically electronic communications, with instructions on setting up a website and writing for the web. There is a useful chapter to help managers decide whether to buy in a content management system and if they do so, how to project manage the process and remain in control. Finally two short chapters cover using video in embedded form or via YouTube and how to get the best from social media.

The ‘In easy steps’ series are clearly printed with icons for hot tips, things to beware of, and things to remember. They are also available to download and further resources are available on the publishers’ website. Although the series is published in England and the majority of the examples and further resources are British, the text uses US spelling, perhaps a reflection of the international distribution of this popular and useful series.

4 stars: Strong, strongly recommended for managers and leaders

Cool Scratch Projects in easy steps

Cool Scratch Projects in easy steps is an awesome book. The projects are really impressive. This is a fairly advanced Scratch book. A lot of children now learn Scratch at school and some are ready for something a bit more advanced at home where they have more time available and a bit of support.

I tried out the book with my 9-year-old who has quite a bit of Scratch experience but is more of a tinkerer than an instruction follower! However, he was drawn to the book because it’s packed with neat techniques that he’ll be able to apply if he takes the time to learn them.

The Projects
The projects, especially the later ones, are very meaty. There’s lots of code to work through and kids need to really pay attention to instructions. The level of difficulty was about right for my son though he found the volume of code quite daunting at first.

Detailed Instructions
The majority of the book gives detailed instructions on exactly what code to enter. This means that kids can create quite impressive projects. Some children won’t understand everything they are entering, but that’s okay, they’ll pick up more over time. My 9-year-old found some of the Scratch blocks quite hard to focus on in the print edition (they’re not all the same size.) I helped him keep track of where he was by reading out instructions and he was fine. It is a lot of information to take in. That’s not a bad thing, following detailed instructions carefully is a great skill to have.

Creating Graphics
My favourite thing about the book is that it spends lots of time on creating graphics using the paint tool in Scratch. This is something I always try to encourage. In my experience young kids are very happy to experiment with the paint tool and create their own sprites and backgrounds. Then somewhere around age 9 they start to think that the graphics they can create are rubbish and just want to use images they can find online. It’s important to teach kids digital arts skills so that they do have the skill to create graphics that they think are good enough. Cool Scratch Projects spends lots of time on these skills which is fantastic.

3D Glasses
The printed edition of the book comes with a pair of 3D glasses because some of the projects involve creating 3D effects. This is a great idea and instantly appealed to my son.

Scratch Versions
Although the book is recently published it refers to Scratch 1.4 on the Raspberry Pi. Scratch 2 is now available on the Pi so you don’t have to use Scratch 1.4. Some projects say that they can’t be completed on the Pi but they can (except on older models.) Technology does keep moving on! At the moment there’s no support for programmatically taking photos on the Pi in Scratch 2 (I hope it gets added) and one of the projects does use that feature so you’ll still need Scratch 1.4 on the Pi for that one. The book also includes a taster of Scratch Jr. I guess this is so younger siblings can join in.

Cool Scratch Projects in easy steps by Sean McManus is a fantastic book for more experienced scratchers. The steps are fairly easy, but there are a lot of them! Kids will need to invest quite a bit of time to work through all the projects which makes the book good value. I often say that there’s no hurry to move children on to text-based programming languages. Cool Scratch Projects is a great way to keep kids on the Scratch platform for longer.

You know those really amazing Scratch projects that kids are always in awe of? This book is a great step towards learning the skills that are needed to be able to develop projects like that.


Working with a computer for many years I have found myself in a constant cycle of learning. In this time I have found the ‘In Easy Steps’ books some of the best for getting to grips with a new topic. The instruction is steady and precise and, with useful tips and warnings in the margins, I find a good grounding in a new subject is soon built.

Inspired2Code blog

HTML in easy steps, 9th edition

I’ve never believed a book on HTML could be so simply written, with beautiful and captivating illustrations to guide one through each part of creating a fabulous, error-free webpage. This book, HTML in easy steps by Mike McGrath is more than just a typical HTML beginner’s guide on creating a perfectly correct organized script tag to create a well-read page for all eyes to admire. Of course, simple is fine, but sometimes instead of being just a simple, barebone outline of a webpage, having those additional features that you can make use of to build a more intriguing, colorful, illustrated, and engaging page or site for your visitors to want to come and see.

Additionally, the book itself isn’t a super huge, 1000 page book on HTML, but even without so many pages and being under 200, you are getting a complete updated guide that allows the reader to create pages well established and related to the up-to-date designs. In addition to learning more about HTML, you also learn how to add a bit more engaging design to the page, such as adding Python, a Canvas, links, buttons, slots, video, audio and so much more! Plus, each piece of information in this book is covering these topics with the illustrated examples, such as the correct code to use and the placement of these tags.

Unlike many other books, this is directed towards those of all ages. I didn’t find it just suitable for beginners, even though it’s stating in the title to be an easy step guide for newbies. Rather, it’s more for all ages and levels, from a young to older person, beginner, or even an expert. No matter the level and time of interest, this book can assist in current updates with HTML, allowing one to build-up some new skills, and help even a first-time learner to create webpages. I additionally want to add that this book may be easy, hence the title name In Easy Steps, but it does pack the book with such exciting complex features, which instead of being harder to initiate, are just as simple to create as it is to do the first steps of HTML. Even without a computer, one can use a notepad or just read the book and go through the code to see how it works.

To tell you the truth, I’ve always been fascinated by working with HTML. Especially, when I love to write on my site, create fun pages for my personal gain, and being able to show off my new creative fun games. I never thought of how much more fun it is to create my own pizzazz for a webpage, personalizing it my way, and just how exhilarating it is to go through the entire process and look back at the finished work. I am so thankful for this book to help me build such an extraordinary page easily!

Of course, there will be times I forget. So like many, I’m not perfect and I can’t always remember certain procedures when it comes to HTML and many other computer coding programs. Especially, when my mind is remembering many other things or not working as best as it could be. Therefore, a guide like this, with steps by steps of information and an easily organized book with labels in colored sections and content to help you discover that forgotten piece that may need to be reviewed over again, till it sinks in.

Lastly, I can’t find this book to be in any way disappointing. It’s full of useful guidance, which makes it easy to follow steps and additional source code that you can download for free to get you started right away. What a splendid way to learn and become a Pro webpage designer with just this one book!

Uke Magazine (Summer 2021 edition)

Ukulele for Beginners in easy steps

Ukulele composer Lindsay Higgs has written a new volume to set new starters with ukulele off on the right path. It’s available as an e-book from, Amazon and other popular e-book providing websites. As well as detailing a method for learning, the book also covers the basics of the instrument, anatomy and playing position, with handy hints throughout. There are instructions on chord charts, timing and an introduction to theory – which are slotted in at strategic moments. While, as you’d expect, Ukulele for Beginners in easy steps does provide a guide for those who have never picked up a uke before, its 170 pages go far beyond a simple introduction and by the end, with guides on everything from changing strings, soloing, fingerpicking, fingerboard knowledge and alternative tunings, it is in fact a well-written, clear and complete guide to ukulele playing that would benefit all players.

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