Monday, September 18, 2017

The Englishman's England by Ian Ousby

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The Englishman's England
by Ian Ousby


ISBN-13: 9781910670859
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Released: Sept. 12, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The English tourist industry is not the modern creation we often suppose. Ian Ousby investigates the landmarks chosen by the English for their leisure travel over the centuries. He looks in particular at four types of attraction still prominent on the tourist map of England: literary shrines, country houses, picturesque ruins and the natural landscape. All these first became objects of fashionable attention during the eighteenth century, when improvements in transport combined with a spirit of practical inquiry to breed the first generation of travellers who called themselves ‘tourists’.

Drawing on a wide range of sources - journals, travel books and guidebooks, novels and poems, as well as many engravings – Ian Ousby traces the canons of taste which led the early tourists to seek out places like Stratford-upon-Avon, Chatsworth, Tintern Abbey and the Lake District, and records the stages by which these places acquired the trappings of the tourist attraction. Above all, he shows the development not just of an industry but of a state of mind marked, from its earliest phase, by the underlying fear that tourism is fated to spoil or even destroy the very thing it most admires.


My Review:
The Englishman's England looked at what sites and objects drew the interest of the eighteenth century tourist. The author looked at traveler's letters, diaries, journals, and guide books to see what sites they visited and what they thought about them. He often quoted from these sources. If one tourist talked about a place, others soon came to visit until it turned into a tourist trap. Locals sold mementos, guides demanded fees, stations were marked out for ideal viewing of a scene, or cannons, singing, or instruments were used to heighten the traveler's experience.

The author looked at the literary shrines they visited (graves or monuments to an author, the places the author wrote about, their birth places, etc.), their opinions about various fancy country houses (and the fees and attitudes of those allowing or guiding these tours), the draw of ruins like Stonehenge or of old abbeys and cathedrals, and places in the Peak District and Lake District that drew people for the caves, crags, and views. He talked about changing tastes reflected in how they viewed various sites and what they criticized.

These sites were usually under private ownership at the time, so what the owners did with the sites provoked discussion about how far a site (like a ruin) should be preserved in its present state or developed to accommodate tourists. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Start Your Own Etsy Business by Jason R. Rich

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Start Your Own Etsy Business
by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.,
Jason R. Rich


ISBN-13: 9781599186092
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Entrepreneur Media Inc.
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Whether you’re a master crafter, a carpenter, a jewelry designer, or have become passionate about making the best home décor in town, now is the time to go from hobby to full-time business owner. And with million shoppers ready to discover your unique offerings it only makes sense to join the largest, most successful online community of creative entrepreneurs on Etsy®.

Our experts have teamed up with successful shop owners to provide you with Start Your Own Etsy® Business, an easy-to-understand, comprehensive blueprint that takes you through setting up, branding, marketing, and managing your store. You’ll learn how to:

• Create listings and marketing plans that attract the right customers
• Choose keywords and tags design to drive traffic to your shop
• Pick the right shipping and packaging methods to meet your inventory needs
• Define your brand with carefully crafted logos, product listings, and images
• Reach more shoppers with targeted social media and advertising campaigns
• Create storytelling product listings and professional looking product photos
• Decide when it’s time to turn your part-time hobby into a full-time business venture

Plus, gain worksheets, templates, resource lists and tips designed to go from passion to profits. If you’re ready to share your passion for your craft with millions around the world, this guide is for you.


My Review:
Start Your Own Etsy Business is a book about starting your own small business and effectively selling your crafts on Etsy. The book started with an overview of Etsy and starting your own small business. Then the author went into more detail about what's involved in setting up a small business, from business plans and tax IDs to inventory management and accounting. He talked about determining what you need to get set up, your costs and prices, your target audience, and branding.

He then described step-by-step how to open an Etsy account, set up your store, and add product listings. He also discussed fees, setting prices and shipping costs, taking (or hiring) professional photographs of your products, choosing and including search words, writing effective text to describe your product, and more. He also discussed promotion and marketing using paid advertising and social media.

He included advice from successful Etsy sellers, including specific things they did that increased their sells. I found this advice both interesting and helpful. The author included plenty of links to online help pages and included some sample worksheets. While this book will help anyone who wants to set up an Etsy account, it's targeted at those who want to create a profitable business from their crafting. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond by Alex Lewin, Raquel Guajardo

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Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond
by Alex Lewin,
Raquel Guajardo


ISBN-13: 9781592337385
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Fair Winds Press
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Fermented foods help improve digestion, enable us to better assimilate vitamins and minerals, and strengthen the immune system. Of all fermented foods, drinks are some of the most versatile—and tasty! Think kombucha, kefir, and real ginger ale. Many of these items you can buy in the store, but making them at home is simple, economical, and even better for you. With just a few ingredients and materials, you can start brewing your own delicious beverages for your family.

Ferment Your Drinks is packed with innovative drink recipes, from healthy homemade sodas to traditional kvass and cider, that you can make in your home kitchen and enjoy all year long! Inside, you’ll learn:

--The history of fermentation and the value of traditional foods
--The benefits of fermented drinks to your health
--All the basics: the process, the tools, and how to get started
--How to use starters to make kombucha, kefir, root beer, wine, and others again and again
--Age-old recipes for kvass, switchel, vinegar, and mead
--Everything you need to know about why the recipes work, why they are safe, what to do if they go wrong, and how to modify them to suit your taste


My Review:
Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond explains how to safely make your own fermented drinks. The authors talked about why you should drink fermented drinks, provided an evolutionary history of fermented drink consumption, gave a simplified version of the science of fermenting foods, and described the tools that you need or might like to have to make your own fermented drinks.

They provided about 24 recipes that use fermented foods--plus other ingredients--to make a drink. Most of these were in the fermented cocktails section. The rest of the recipes were how to ferment a food, some part of which can be used as or made into a drink. They started with 6 master recipes for making ginger bug, yogurt, milk kefir, whey, vinegar, and water kefir.

The next chapter was about tea fermentation (kombucha and jun). Next were 6 recipes for vegetable drinks using brine from fermented beets, cucumbers, or radishes and making a juice out of kimchi and such. Next were 7 recipes for making bubbly sodas by fermenting hibiscus, coconut water, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, or fruit juices. The last chapters covered recipes for fermenting mildly alcoholic drinks: 5 beer recipes (including root beet and ginger beer), 10 wines and ciders (including berry wine, apple cider, pear cider, mead, and rice wine), 4 Mexican drinks, and 18 fermented cocktails.

The instructions were easy to follow and most should be easy to do. They don't require expensive equipment or ingredients. I've made yogurt and kefir in the past, and I felt like they gave good instructions for those. It looked like the other recipes were as useful. I plan to try the ginger bug, apple cider (non-alcoholic version), and coconut water soda recipes soon.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Modern Watercolor by Kristin Van Leuven

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Modern Watercolor
by Kristin Van Leuven


ISBN-13: 9781633223561
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
This dynamic and inspirational guide will set you down a path of exploration as you learn to play with watercolors. You will learn to effectively use basic techniques and principles to create beautiful, expressive works of art. From selecting your first watercolor paints to learning to blend colors into a unique palette, we are here to guide you as you begin your journey.

These easy-to-follow lessons will explore using watercolor on different surfaces, how to create basic shapes using fun techniques, and how to create myriad gorgeous effects that can be achieved with different brushes and strokes. You will even learn how to add layers of dimension and texture and how to work with resist techniques to create pretty patterns and gorgeous backgrounds.


My Review:
Modern Watercolor is an art instruction book for using watercolors. Kristin has a loose (not highly detailed or realistic) style. This is a good book for a beginner at watercolor as she provided plenty of pictures and clear instruction. When showing how to make a flower or animal, she explained how to achieve the desired affect rather than just a brief summary of what she did. By focusing on the techniques, the reader can learn to use watercolor not just replicate her paintings. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

She started by briefly explaining what supplies you need, then she explained basic techniques (wet-in-wet, etc.), color theory, and color mixing. She showed how the different types of brushes make a wide variety of marks, what brushes are good for certain marks, how to make basic shapes (circles, squares, etc.), and how to use watercolor brushes to make cursive lettering. She also covered various ways to preserve white and remove paint.

She showed step-by-step how to make several types of flowers, like peonies, roses (top view), pansies, tulips, and small flowers. She also demonstrated several types of leaves and foliage and how to put them all together to create wreaths (for framing text) or floral patterns (a wallpaper type look). She also did step-by-step demonstrations for several animals (fox, squirrel, chicken, pig, dog, cat, rabbit, beetle, butterfly, elephant, lion) and discussed how to create different human skin tones by mixing colors. She ended with some brief demonstrations for "abstract" landscapes (lakeside, sunset) and interiors (vintage and cottage living rooms). The animals and interiors were sketched before being filled in with paint.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lettering with Purpose by Brittany Luiz

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Lettering with Purpose
by Brittany Luiz


ISBN-13: 9781633223424
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Whether you’re hoping to personalize greeting cards, or just enjoy the art, hand lettering is an uplifting and compelling craft to learn. Aspiring artists and lettering enthusiasts will explore and deepen their understanding of this art form by delving into a variety of lettering techniques. You will also enjoy 100 reflective lettering prompts to spur the imagination and help readers answer the question: "What should I write?"

Your lettering journey will begin with lettering basics. This intuitive guide includes suggested tools and materials, the anatomy of letters, how to pair different lettering styles, and thorough tutorials on working with a variety of mediums. You’ll be creating striking layouts and compositions in no time.

Additionally, artists will find a wide range of lettering styles and techniques demonstrated step by step, including brush calligraphy, bounce lettering, and more, plus complete alphabet ideas that include reproducible practice pages that can be used to perfect their skills. Once your artistic bones are there, move on to adding embellishments and flourishes! Add pizzazz to your work with frames, laurels and garlands, flowers, swirls, and more.

To cap it all off, a section of perforated pages at the back of the book contains fully illustrated frames, with blank openings so readers can fill them in with their own inspired lettered designs.


My Review:
Lettering with Purpose is a book teaching how to "letter" to personalize greeting cards and such. I once read a nib-pen calligraphy book that left me feeling so overwhelmed that I never even tried it. Besides, I wanted to use a brush and maybe not just with ink but with watercolor. Well, this was the book I was really looking for! The author teaches how to use markers or brushes (with watercolor) to make fancy-looking lettering.

She started by explaining the anatomy of a letter, how to make calligraphy-style letters, and suggested tools and materials. She talked about other styles of lettering, how to lay out a phrase to make a cool-looking design, how to digitize your work, how to add flowers and such as a way to fill in block letters or frame a phrase, and more. She provided a step-by-step guide for 5 easy-looking projects and 100 writing prompts to get you busy practicing various words.

This book left me feeling eager to try out lettering and made it seem both do-able and fun. I'd certainly recommend it.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 25, 2017

So Close to Amazing by KariAnne Wood

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So Close to Amazing
by KariAnne Wood


ISBN-13: 9781496422019
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
A debut memoir from the beloved Thistlewood Farms blogger, So Close to Amazing is a collection of hilarious and heartfelt reflections on getting it almost right--and how, instead of giving up, we can choose to simply embrace our real selves right where we are. It's about grace and learning from mistakes and rejoicing in every victory, no matter how small. Because when you find joy in the "you" God created you to be, you'll discover the amazing that was there all along.

Contains beautiful DIY project ideas anyone can do--Homemade signs, centerpieces, recipe walls, and more!


My Review:
So Close to Amazing is a humorous memoir by a DIY blogger. She mainly focused her stories on the challenges of moving from Texas to Kentucky and remodeling their "new" 100-year-old home in the country. The overarching theme was how she thought she'd done something amazing (perfect outfit, awesome project, etc.) only it didn't quite work out as she expected. She'd tell a story of something that had happened, wrap up with a life lesson (usually tied to her relationship with God), and then provide a step-by-step Do-It-Yourself project on 2-5 pages containing hand-drawn pictures with some instructions text.

The 12 DIY projects were: a hand-painted sign, too-short curtain rods, sanded and stained old table, large table centerpiece involving foliage, pottery wall mosaic, hand-painted linoleum "floor cloth," huge chalkboard calendar, giant recipe decoration, pillow with a monogram, rustic mirror, coffee crate dish display holders, and mason jar vases. She likes to work big, so the instructions were usually for projects that will take up a lot of wall or floor space. The instructions look do-able, but she assumed you already have basic work-working and other DIY skills.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ladies of the Ticker by George Robb

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Ladies of the Ticker:
Women and Wall Street from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression
by George Robb


ISBN-13: 9780252082719
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Released: Aug. 15, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Long overlooked in histories of finance, women played an essential role in areas such as banking and the stock market during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet their presence sparked ongoing controversy. Hetty Green's golden touch brought her millions, but she outraged critics with her rejection of domesticity. Progressives like Victoria Woodhull, meanwhile, saw financial acumen as more important for women than the vote.

George Robb's pioneering study sheds a light on the financial methods, accomplishments, and careers of three generations of women. Plumbing sources from stock brokers' ledgers to media coverage, Robb reveals the many ways women invested their capital while exploring their differing sources of information, approaches to finance, interactions with markets, and levels of expertise.

He also rediscovers the forgotten women bankers, brokers, and speculators who blazed new trails--and sparked public outcries over women's unsuitability for the predatory rough-and-tumble of market capitalism. Entertaining and vivid with details, Ladies of the Ticker sheds light on the trailblazers who transformed Wall Street into a place for women's work.


My Review:
Ladies of the Ticker is a history of women involved in the American stock market from around the 1880s to 1920s. The author started by describing the laws (in England and America) that made it difficult for women to control and invest their own money and the changes that came about in the late 1800s that allowed more women to invest in stocks and bonds.

The rest of the book focused "the Gilded Age to the Great Depression." He started by describing how novels, magazines, financial manuals, and similar sources portrayed the stock market and women who invested in bonds or stocks. He then looked at records from two stock brokers showing what women actually invested their money in, their investment habits, and how they acted in their correspondence with the stock broker. He acknowledged that women didn't all behave the same way, yet there were certain general trends. He contrasted women's investment behavior to the records of men's investments and to how popular culture portrayed women investors.

The author also talked about fraud (involving banks, stocks, and bonds) that was directed at women or that was done by women. He looked at the women's rights movement and how they promoted financial education and empowerment for women. He talked about early women brokers, capitalists, and financiers. Some parts read like biographies. We're told about several women who tried to set up as a stock brokers, what the press and such said about the woman, what she said about her past, and what we know about what happened to her. We also learned details about several women who carried out sensational financial frauds.

This book had an academic tone. As in, I felt like the topic had been carefully researched and a balanced view presented. As a woman who is interested in this time period and who invests in stocks, I found it very interesting. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Education of a Coroner by John Bateson

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The Education of a Coroner
by John Bateson


ISBN-13: 9781501168222
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Scribner
Released: Aug. 15, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the country. Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health, yet it is far above the norm in drug overdoses and alcoholism, and comprises a large percentage of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County Coroner’s Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. As he grew into the job—which is different from what is depicted on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, preparing testimony for court to notifying families of a death with sensitivity and compassion. He also learned about different kinds of firearms, all types of drugs—prescription and illegal—and about certain unexpected and potentially fatal phenomena such as autoeroticism.

Complete with poignant anecdotes, The Education of a Coroner provides a firsthand and fascinating glimpse into the daily life of a public servant whose work is dark and mysterious yet necessary for society to function.


My Review:
The Education of a Coroner is both a biography and a collection of crime stories. We're given details about how Ken Holmes got into a career as a death investigator (then coroner's assistant and later coroner), the training he received, and how he went about doing his job. We learn about the things Ken Holmes checked when he first came to a death scene, the importance of death certificates, and the difference between cause and manner of death. The author also explained how death notifications were done by the coroner's office, how they dealt with the media, how they interviewed people about the death, and many other aspects of Holmes' job.

We're also told about some of the cases he was involved in, from suicides and accidents to homicides. He talked about some big name cases, unusual or shocking cases, and about the many suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. The accidents and murders were described with minimal gory detail and were more about the clues found while working the case. He gave more gory details about the suicides, though. I found the book very interesting and would recommend it to people interested in what a death investigator and coroner do and to fans of true crime stories.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England by Monica Hall

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A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England
by Monica Hall


ISBN-13: 9781473876859
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Oct. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Find yourself immersed in the pivotal world of Georgian England, exciting times to live in as everything was booming; the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the nascent Empire. You will find everything you need to know in order to survive undetected among the ordinary people. What to wear, how to behave yourself in public, earn a living, and find somewhere to live. Very importantly, you will be given advice on how to stay on the right side of the law, and how to avoid getting seriously ill.

Monica Hall creatively awakens this bygone era, filling the pages with all aspects of daily life within the period, calling upon diaries, illustrations, letters, poetry, prose, 18th century laws and archives.


My Review:
A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England describes what life was like in England from 1714 to 1830. It's a brief look at various aspects of life, so we might get details about the routine of getting dressed but more of a survey of the sports played at the time. Most of the information was about the middle and upper class, but it does mention the poorer class.

The author started by providing an overview of the time period and of the attitudes that people generally held. She then looked at clothing and makeup (what they wore, how you put it on, and the makeup they made and used); what location you might choose to live in and what type of job you might take; the diseases and such you might encounter and the treatments that could be offered; fitness and sports you might engage in (with descriptions of how they were different from modern versions). She also looked at the rise of etiquette; unusual (to us) laws, how to bring someone to trial, and possible punishments; what theatre, opera, circus, and pantomime performances were like; how the lottery worked and all the ways people gambled (cards, dice, horses, etc.); what topics children were taught, and some notables from the Enlightenment.

The writing style was lightly humorous and very readable. The book focused more on what was different, so don't expect a complete, detailed look at any subject. However, it was a fun overview of Georgian England with some interesting details thrown in. I'd recommend this book to those interested in how the Georgian's were different (and yet similar) to us.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

999 CSI by Larry Henderson, Kris Hollington

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999 CSI:
Blood, Threats and Fears
by Larry Henderson,
Kris Hollington


ISBN-13: 9781910670804
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Released: Dec. 1, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Machine guns, safe-blowers, sadomasochists, pythons and flesh-eating viruses, all in a day’s work for Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) Larry Henderson who, in 999 CSI provides an unforgettable insight into a life dedicated to forensics.

Larry, whose career with London’s Metropolitan Police started in 1971, a time when police officers were more than a little sceptical of science, soon proved his worth and attended every kind of crime scene, from terrorism to rape and from blackmail to murder - before he became the head of the Flying Squad’s forensic team during the busiest and most dangerous period of the legendary outfit’s existence. Soon, Larry was caught up in shoot-outs, pavement ambushes, record-breaking drug deals and tiger kidnappings, confronting some of the UK’s most terrifying villains along the way.

Larry’s groundbreaking work features some of the UK’s most notorious crimes - a key piece of forensic evidence from one of Larry’s murder cases is displayed at Scotland Yard’s infamous Crime Museum. At turns breathtaking, fascinating, hilarious and tragic, 999 CSI opens up a truly astonishing world that most people never get to see, a world filled with cruelty, matched only by the courage of those who work tirelessly for justice.


My Review:
999 CSI is a memoir about Larry Henderson's years working as a Scenes of Crime Officer in London. He worked as a SOCO from 1972 to 1994 in various districts (Sutton, Wimbleton, New Malden, BatterSea, Royal A District) plus the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory and the Flying Squad. He talked about some of the cases he was involved in as a crime scene examiner (grouped by district) as well as the people he worked with and some of how the work affected his home life. He covered a great variety of cases: robbery, burglary, fatalities of various sorts, bomb threats, blackmail, rape, bestiality, drug raids, arson, kidnapping, protests, riots, and more.

For each case, he briefly described what he did at the scene and his interactions with the victim if he thought it was interesting. Since he didn't want to teach criminals how to get away with a crime, he didn't give much detail about the techniques used to catch them. Combine that with most of the cases being robberies and burglaries, and you don't need to worry about gory descriptions (though you get the feeling that it's there). He did detail his grievances with some of his bosses, though. This is the second British policing book that I've read, and both seem to feel that politics within the police/detective/forensics system is preventing that system from working well.

It was interesting to see how the scene examiners worked during those years and what the author contributed to how future generations will do that job. It was also interesting to see how a variety of crimes were handled. However, since we only get the evidence collection aspect of the job for much of the book, it did get a little repetitive. I found the Flying Squad part more interesting because he had to think about the bigger picture as he coordinated multiple people. Plus he was often on the scene when the action happened. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting memoir.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Draw 50 Sea Creatures by Lee J. Ames, Erin Harvey

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Draw 50 Sea Creatures
by Lee J. Ames,
Erin Harvey


ISBN-13: 9780399580178
Paperback: 67 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: July 25, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In this new installment of Lee J. Ames's beloved Draw 50 series, readers will find easy-to-follow, step-by-step visual lessons on sketching and rendering all kinds of sea and ocean-dwelling creatures. Animals and plants from in and near the water featured in the book include clownfish, whale sharks, sea otters, dolphins, turtles and more.


My Review:
Draw 50 Sea Creatures is a drawing book. Except for some brief encouragement at the beginning of the book, there was no text describing how to draw the various figures. He usually provided 6 steps for drawing each sea creature. You build the creature by drawing the lines demonstrated in each step in the book. The final step showed the fully shaded-in plant or animal, but you're left to experiment to figure out how to create a similar shading on your line figure. Some of the animals with more complex texture patterns had "guides" drawn during step 5 to help you place the shading in step 6.

As I said, most of the figures had you add lines to lines to create the figure in steps 1 through 5 and then added shading in step 6. These were the easiest ones to do, in my opinion. Some figures had you draw guide lines in the first few steps (which are erased from the final drawing) before you start on the actual animal. I'd suggest looking at the whole sequence before drawing these as sometimes I found it easier to skip one or more of the guide line steps. The blade coral had so many guide lines and was so complex that I found the suggested sequence too messy to successfully follow.

The drawings were grouped by type (fish, shell animals, etc.) rather than difficulty level, so the complex figures were mixed in with the easier ones. I'd suggest starting with some of the easier ones to get used to this learning style. You can draw some decent looking sea creatures using this book--better than I could without the suggested steps. However, I now realize that I prefer to learn drawing from books that include more steps and/or text to explain the steps.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Simply Electrifying by Craig R. Roach

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Simply Electrifying
by Craig R. Roach


ISBN-13: 9781944648268
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: July 25, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Electricity is at the core of all modern life. It has transformed our society more than any other technology. Yet, no book offers a comprehensive history about this technological marvel. Until now.

This book brings to life the 250-year history of electricity through the stories of the men and women who used it to transform our world: Benjamin Franklin, James Watt, Michael Faraday, Samuel F.B. Morse, Thomas Edison, Samuel Insull, Albert Einstein, Rachel Carson, Elon Musk, and more. In the process, it reveals for the first time the complete, thrilling, and often-dangerous story of electricity’s historic discovery, development, and worldwide application.

Written by electricity expert and four-decade veteran of the industry Craig R. Roach, Simply Electrifying marshals, in fascinating narrative detail, the full range of factors that shaped the electricity business over time—science, technology, law, politics, government regulation, economics, business strategy, and culture—before looking forward toward the exhilarating prospects for electricity generation and use that will shape our future.


My Review:
Simply Electrifying is a history of electricity for the average person. Anything technical regarding an invention, experiment, or scientific idea was explained in simple terms. It was mostly a collection of biographies of people who made a major impact on the history of electricity and how we use it. The author also talked about how politics, technology choices, and economics have impacted how we use electricity. I'd recommend this book to those who'd watch a documentary on the topic, as it had a similar feel.

He covered Benjamin Franklin (how the Leyden Jar worked, lightening experiments), James Watt (invented improved steam engine, which was used for electrical generation), Michael Faraday (link between magnetism and electricity, invented electric motor, electric generator), James Maxwell (electromagnetic waves), Samuel Morse (telegraph) and the transatlantic cable.

Thomas Edison (inventions needed for an electricity industry, like electric light bulbs, wall switches, power lines, generators), George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla (AC/DC current wars, AC electric motor, Tesla coil), Samuel Insull (economy of scale to lower pricing and make electricity affordable).

FDR's New Deal for electricity (more hydro power and proposed government action and regulation), the building of Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority and David Lilienthal (public versus private utilities), coal mining and use and John L. Lewis (labor strikes), Albert Einsten, nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, the modern environmental movement, California's electricity crisis and competitive reform, President Obama's Clean Power Plan, climate change, George Mitchell's shale gas revolution (fracking and natural gas usage), and Elon Musk's vision for the future of electricity set against the lessons learned from history.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

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Jane Austen at Home
by Lucy Worsley


ISBN-13: 9781250131607
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: July 11, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'.

Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but--in the end--a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.


My Review:
Jane Austen at Home is a look at Jane Austen's life from the perspective of what her daily life was like. Starting with her family and her birth, we learn what the house was like, how she was educated, what her social life was like, and so on. The author used letters, guidebooks from the time, old records, etc., to reconstruct what her daily life was like throughout her life and in different homes. She included many quotes from Jane's letters to her sister (and others), so we get to hear Jane's opinions in her own words.

The author mentioned Jane's marriage prospects and her path to publication, but she brought out the reasons why she might choose to marry or reject an offer and looked at how Jane found time to write, how she lived with a brother (who was her advocate with the publisher) when double-checking the galleys, and so on.

I really enjoyed how she pointed out real people and occurrences that happened in Jane's life that have echoes in novel. Since I enjoy learning about Georgian and Regency daily life and enjoy Jane Austen's stories, I found this book enjoyable on many levels. I'd highly recommend this interesting book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Pinks by Chris Enss

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The Pinks
by Chris Enss


ISBN-13: 9781493008339
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Two Dot Books
Released: July 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West Outlaws.

But the story of Kate Warne, an operative of the Pinkerton Agency and the first woman detective in America, and the stories of other women who served their country are not as well known. From Kate Warne’s part in saving the life of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to the lives and careers of the other women who spied during the Civil War, these true stories add another dimension to our understanding of American history. Their stories are richly illustrated throughout with numerous historical photographs.


My Review:
The Pinks is a collection of true crime and spy stories and some biographies. The author talked about several of Kate Warne's cases and about various other women who worked as spies during the Civil War. We're told a little about Pinkerton, his detective agency, and how he hired Kate Warne in 1861. We get details about a couple cases that Kate helped solve (before and after the war). These cases were interesting, especially as the Pinkerton team was hired more to gain confessions than gather clues.

But most of the chapters talked about spying just before and during the Civil War. Kate Warne, Hettie Lawton, Vinne Ream, Elizabeth Baker, Mary Touvestre, Elizabeth Van Lew, and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker were all involved in spying for the Union during the war. I don't think that they all worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, though.

Some of the chapters described details about what the woman did and discovered, but some missions were covered only in general terms. The chapter on Dr. Walker focused more on her ambitions and what happened after the war than on what she did as a spy. One chapter was more about submarines and the battles involving the Merrimack and the Monitor than about the women who passed on information about the submarines.

I'd expected more details about Kate Warne's life or a focus on the detective cases involving the first female Pinkerton operatives. Though the book focused more on spying and gave only a brief look at these women, it was interesting to learn some of the things these women did.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Just for Fun: Drawing by Lise Herzog

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Just for Fun: Drawing
by Lise Herzog


ISBN-13: 9781633222816
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster
Released: May 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
With Just for Fun: Drawing, aspiring artists and art enthusiasts who have never before picked up a pencil can follow incredibly simple step-by-step instructions and discover how to draw everyday subjects. Each featured subject starts with basic lines and shapes, and slowly progresses with each new step to a fully rendered, completed drawing.

Saving the nitty-gritty technical aspects of drawing for the more advanced student, Just for Fun: Drawing simply touches upon key drawing concepts and fundamentals, including perspective, proportion, volume, shading, and composition, among others, that are relevant to a beginner's core understanding of the craft. With its abundance of approachable and contemporary drawings, as well as loads of tips, instruction, and inspiration, Just for Fun: Drawing will have even the most artistically challenged individuals mastering the art of pencil drawing in no time.


My Review:
Just for Fun: Drawing is an art book to help beginners learn how to draw. It combined text describing what to do and why you do it with simple, step-by-step drawings. This allows the person to learn how to draw cats in general, for example, not just the pose shown in the book.

I'd recommend this as a good beginner artist book for tweens and teens (or older). It's done in a style that should keep a younger person interested, but it also taught some basics found in adult drawing books. So we learn how to draw basic shapes--in perspective--and how to add simple texture and shading.

The book began by describing what drawing tools to use, and you can start out with as little as a common pencil and a sheet of computer paper. Other tools were described, but you don't have to start fancy. We then get the step-by-step "add a circle here and here, combine the shapes, add some texture" instructions. These usually involved four steps that were easy to understand and weren't complex to draw.

We're taught to draw animals like cats, big cats, dogs, wolves, rabbits, horses, cow, and birds. There were brief descriptions on how to draw people standing and in motion, the parts of the body, and clothing. And we learn to draw nature in part (like a tree, flower, or water) or as a whole landscape drawing. The finished drawings should look recognizable without being complex to draw.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Foundations of Drawing by Al Gury

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Foundations of Drawing
by Al Gury


ISBN-13: 978-0307987181
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: June 13, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
From a leading art instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, a complete survey of drawing as an art form covering its history, materials, and key techniques.

Foundations of Drawing is a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the history, aesthetics, methods, and materials of the drawing medium. Throughout, clearly defined demonstrations provide easy access to the practice of drawing as well as the history and development of core drawing techniques. Richly illustrated, the book contains reproductions of the finest master drawings from the fifteenth century to the present.

Unlike other drawing instruction books that focus on step-by-step lessons exclusively, Foundations of Drawing provides readers with the context and background to help understand just why these materials and methods are so vital for successful drawing.


My Review:
Foundations of Drawing is an art book about the history, tools, materials, and techniques of drawing. I wish I had this book when I started learning how to draw. My original art instructor and many art books assumed that I already understood what various drawing terms meant or what mediums best worked with what paper. This book is cheap considering it'll save you money by explaining what supplies you really needed for what you want to do.

The book started off with a brief history of drawing, which looked at the various periods to see what styles dominated or changes took place. The author then described the various drawing tools and materials, including how to best use them and what papers or brushes work best with which mediums. This was so helpful and explained why I've felt frustrated at times. He also explained the advantages and disadvantages of the various mediums. He included watercolor and other paints when used in a "drawing" style.

He then covered a wide variety of drawing skills, like how to hold drawing tools; use grids; blend; erase; use line, shape, and hatching; create light and shade, and more. He clearly explained the various terms and how to do the skill. There were illustrations either showing a finished work that used a technique or demonstrating how to do it. A lot of the drawings were of nudes or figures, though he did describe the steps to take to compose and draw still life, interiors and architecture, as well as portraits and figures.

I expect to regularly consult this book until I settle down to a favored medium and style. I'd highly recommend this as a reference book for students and self-taught individuals who are serious about learning to draw. Don't expect a lot of step-by-step drawing projects but rather the basics of how to draw well that you can apply to any project.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor by Barbara Roth

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Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor
by Barbara Roth


ISBN-13: 9781633221956
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: May 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Whether in your backyard or while traveling the world, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is an inspirational, easy-to-use reference guide for artists who seek to expand their artistic horizons in new and adventurous ways.

After a basic overview of tools and materials, learn how to find inspiration and beauty everywhere and in everything. Discover how to create a portable pack-and-carry supply box to create art spontaneously, even while on the go. Basic drawing and painting techniques, approachable step-by-step projects, and instructions for working with tools outside the studio demonstrate how easy it is to draw and paint without too much advanced planning.

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor inspires artists of all skill levels to embrace their creative side to create beautiful works of art wherever they might be, from Monet's garden in Giverny, France, to sitting in their car on a rainy morning.


My Review:
Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is a art book that will help you create a portable watercolor kit or get set up to paint during short breaks. The author described what tools and materials are best suited for portable watercolor painting. She briefly described how to sketch a scene and then paint it, and how to do this from a photo. She very briefly described color theory and different watercolor techniques. She then provided 12 step-by-step painting projects that are fairly simple to draw and paint. The cover painting is one of those projects.

The author's basic technique is to sketch out a scene then paint in the colors with watercolor (without getting too detailed). While the author did give some tips that would be helpful for beginners, it's aimed at people already familiar with the basics of watercolor. For example, there are no pictures of what a "puddle of paint" looks like or how to do a flat wash. She assumes that you know what that means or can guess based on her text descriptions.

In the step-by-step projects, she tells the reader what colors to use for different objects and what technique to use to apply it. The changes between the steps were small enough that I could see what was being done and didn't feel confused about what she was describing. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who like her style and want to go more portable.

I've tried a few of the step-by-step projects, and my end product looked better than my watercolors ever have in the past. I think it's having the pencil or ink along with the watercolor. I'm glad I tried out this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Quest for Security, 1715-1740 by Penfield Roberts

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The Quest for Security, 1715-1740
by Penfield Roberts


Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Harper & Row
Released: 1963

Source: Bought at a Friends of the Library book sale.

Book Description:
Series about changes in Europe from medieval period to "modern" period.


My Review:
The Quest for Security, 1715-1740 is the eighth book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1715-1740. The chapters were organized by topic. Some quotes from people from that time helped make it more interesting. The author's writing style was also more readable and interesting the the earlier books in this series that I've read.

The author talked about the changes in political and religious power, how wars affected things, economic and social changes (especially the changing concept of personal property), and new ideas in art and science. I was very interested to learn that the people we think of as "land owners" didn't actually own the land but merely had certain rights regarding the land (like rents, annuities, etc.). Now I wish I had a book that solely explored this topic as this book only covered one point in time.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Mysteries of the Ancient World by National Geographic

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Mysteries of the Ancient World

ISBN-13: 9780870442544
Hardback: 233 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Released: May 1, 1979

Source: Bought at a Friends of the Library book sale.

My Book Description:
The book covers cave paintings, neolithic Jericho, Çatal Hüyük, the Egyptian pyramids, the oldest known Indian cities, the various megaliths in Europe, the Minoans, the Mycenaens, the Etruscans, and the Easter Islander stone heads.


My Review:
Mysteries of the Ancient World looks at some ancient, mysterious civilizations. The author(s) write about visiting site, what they see, and what the people working on the site think about what the various structures were used for (which involves a lot of speculation). The basic attitude was that these ancient builders were intelligent, capable people. They simply didn't leave behind explanations of some of their more mysterious works.

The book covered cave paintings, neolithic Jericho, Çatal Hüyük, the Egyptian pyramids, the oldest known Indian cities, the various megaliths in Europe, the Minoans, the Mycenaens, the Etruscans, and the Easter Islander stone heads. About half of the book is full-color pictures of the sites and artifacts found there. I really enjoyed the pictures, and the text was interesting (though it's more a survey of ideas than a close look at the structures).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The China Study Family Cookbook by Del Sroufe

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The China Study Family Cookbook
by Del Sroufe


ISBN-13: 9781944648114
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: May 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
So you've learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet, but now you need to successfully make the transition and convince your family to do the same. The China Study Family Cookbook is the family-friendly cookbook and guide you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to make plant-based eating easier and even more rewarding for your family.

Chef Del Sroufe--author of The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook and Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook--provides 100 easy, flavorful recipes—with reinvented family classics. The cookbook includes:

Mac & Cheese
Cream of Tomato Soup
White Bean and Squash Chili
Wheatberry Sloppy Joes
Meatball Subs
Hush Puppies
Creamed Corn Casserole
Breakfast Tacos
Biscuits and Gravy
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Donuts

The China Study Family Cookbook offers stories from plant-based advocates whose whole families have adopted a plant-based lifestyle—and how they got their spouses and children on board. It also gives tips for getting your kids involved in the kitchen and fostering their love of plant-based cooking. The China Study Family Cookbook even includes strategies to negotiate the family menu from families made up of both those who eat plant-based and those who don’t.


My Review:
The China Study Family Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 100 recipes. It's intended for families, so most of the recipes were for 4 or 6 or 8 people. The author also explained how to get kids involved with making the food (so many of the recipes are fairly easy to make). He also assumed that the reader had little experience in the kitchen, so he explained things like knife safety.

The cookbook is targeted at people who are used to popular, Standard American Diet foods. He has healthy versions of hot cocoa, baked donuts, Mac & Cheese (with no cheese), meatballs (with no meat), and so on. The intent is for a similar taste and texture experience, but with much healthier ingredients. Some recipes did use gluten-containing grains or tree nuts (if this is a concern for you), but others didn't. There were pictures of the finished products, many of which looked very tasty.

There were also some short articles about people who went vegan, why, and how they did it when the rest of their family wasn't interested in eating vegan. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to people with families who are interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their diet.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires

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The Book of Greens
by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires


ISBN-13: 9781607749844
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: April 11, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From one of Portland, Oregon's most acclaimed chefs comes this encyclopedic reference to the world of greens. It's for any home cook who wants to cook delicious, vegetable-focused meals, but is tired of predictable salads with kale, lettuce, cabbage, and the other usual suspects. Chef Jenn Louis has compiled more than 150 recipes for simple, show-stopping fare, from snacks to soups to mains (and even breakfast and dessert) that will inspire you to reach for new greens at the farmers' market, or use your old standbys in totally fresh ways.

Organized alphabetically by green, each entry features information on seasonality, nutrition, and prep and storage tips, along with recipes like Grilled Cabbage with Miso and Lime, Radish Greens and Mango Smoothie, and Pasta Dough with Tomato Leaves.


My Review:
The Book of Greens explains how to use 40 varieties of leafy greens in your cooking and provides 175 recipes that include those greens. These are not "healthy" recipes. She adds the greens to dishes that use cheese, cream, eggs, fish or meat and use a lot of oil or sugar. Since she's trying to get a specific blend of taste and texture, I doubt the dishes will taste as good if you remove or replace some of the ingredients. She's traveled a lot, so there are recipes from other cultures in addition to adding greens to more Western foods.

The book is organized around the Greens information pages. The Greens are listed alphabetically and include pictures of the greens and information about what season they grow in, what foods they pair well with, and how to choose, clean, store, refresh, and cook them. After the information page for a specific Green, she provided recipes that used that Green. The recipes usually served 4 but varied between serving 1 and 12 people. Some recipes were simple, while others had many steps and involved more time and effort.

The book also had a few templates, like for how to make a salad (add a food from this list, then add a food from this group, and so on). I did find the information pages about the greens to be useful, but I'd expected a book that helped healthy eaters to find new, tasty ways to eat their greens. But it's more targeted at foodies than health nuts.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry to Plate by Heather Crosby

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YumUniverse Pantry to Plate
by Heather Crosby


ISBN-13: 9781615193400
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: The Experiment
Released: May 16, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Cooking at home is good for you, but sometimes it’s nice to eat without planning (and shopping) ahead of time! Enter YumUniverse Pantry to Plate: Improvise Meals You Love—from What You Have!—Plant-Packed, Gluten-Free, Your Way!

In this one-of-a-kind recipe playbook, healthy living enthusiast Heather Crosby shares ingenious master recipes that home cooks can customize endlessly. For example: Pick any grain, one or more veggies, and a complementary aromatic, sauté them together in your choice of sauces, and voilà! You’ve just improvised a hearty, nutritious “scramble.”

Are you a recipe renegade who likes to bend the “rules”? A new vegan or vegetarian seeking more kitchen confidence? Are you tired of going shopping for just one missing ingredient in a recipe? Infinite possibilities await you in your own YumUniverse!


My Review:
YumUniverse Pantry to Plate is a vegan (no meat, dairy, or eggs), gluten-free cookbook. The author provides 30 recipe templates that you can customize based on what you like (or have on hand). She also provided 100 recipes based off of those templates so you can see some of the possibilities. Most of the recipes take between 15-40 minutes to create.

These recipes look fairly simple in terms of cooking skill required. However, the author didn't spend much time explaining how to cook or what the different ingredients can bring to the overall taste, so it may be hit or miss in terms of the resulting taste of the dish. Also, many of the recipes had a lot of added sweetening and/or oil, though these were usually optional additions.

I've tried several of the recipes. They tasted good, and one was quite tasty. One turned out to be less work than the template format made it look like. Overall, I felt like these recipes were more for committed gluten-free vegans than for tempting people to eat more vegan meals.

The templates: For breakfast, a veggie and grain stir-fry, granola, pancakes and waffles, muffins, warm cereals, or breakfast cookies. In addition to some recipes for sauces and creams, she provided templates for compotes and fruit butters, coconut yogurt, and dairy-free milk. For lunch and snacks, it's gluten-free crackers, amazeballs, dairy-free fermented cream cheese, dips and spreads, crunchies, fermented veggies, bites and tots, veggie fries, and soups. For main meals, it's cheesy comfort food, epic salads, veggie sushi makis, tacos and wraps, 'banza bakes, veggie burgers, and hand pies. For sweets, it's cookies, crispy bars, brownies, coconut-based ice cream, and crisps and crumbles.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Dawn of a New Era by Edward P. Cheyney

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The Dawn of a New Era
by Edward P. Cheyney


ISBN-13: 9780061384004
Trade Paperback: 389 pages
Publisher: Harper Torchbooks
Released: 1962

Source: Bought at a book sale.

Book Description from Amazon:
The first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. The merit of this book consists in its mature presentation of the best results of modern scholarship within a broad but defined range of topics. Its value is enhanced by authoritative bibliography, compiled, like others in this series, with helpful critical comments.


My Review:
The Dawn of a New Era is the first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1250-1453. The chapters were organized by topic rather than chronologically.

The author talked about how this was a period of expansion in trading, which led to a growing middle class that had wealth. These merchants could then lend their money, which kings needed, so they were increasingly included along with the nobles and the clergy in government-related councils. He talked about how this worked out in various countries.

He talked about various peasant-class insurrections, the Hundred Years War, and the decline of the power of the Catholic church over governments. He talked about John Wyclif, the Lollards, and John Hus. He talked about the increased use of vernacular language in speech, literature, and university, church, and government documents. He talked about Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, and Giotto. He also talked about Marco Polo and the Far East as well as the eastern frontier of Europe.

Frankly, it reads like a textbook. Some parts, like the section on the insurrections, came across as disconnected facts that I'm unlikely to remember. However, I did find interesting the sections that showed how one thing lead to another (like the rise of middle class wealth led to their representation in the government).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, April 28, 2017

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell

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The PlantPure Nation Cookbook
by Kim Campbell


ISBN-13: 9781940363684
Paperback: 319 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: March 24, 2015

Source: Bought through Amazon.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The PlantPure Nation Cookbook brings the powerful, science-based approach to nutrition from the movie to your kitchen with some of the same mouthwatering recipes that kick-started the revolution, promoting the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet.

Author Kim Campbell is the wife of PlantPure Nation Executive Producer and Director Nelson Campbell and daughter-in-law of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, coauthor of The China Study and father of the modern plant-based nutrition movement. She is also a culinary contributor, recipe developer, and cooking instructor at Campbell Wellness, a health and wellness business. In PlantPure Nation Cookbook, she shares more than 150 extensively tested, 100% plant-based recipes that she has created and cultivated over 25 years of vegan cooking.

With a foreword by Dr. Campbell, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is also filled with tips, tricks, and grocery lists for people interested in a whole food, plant-based diet.


My Review:
I've now tried about 15 of the recipes from the The PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell. All of them turned out well and were so tasty that I didn't miss the meat, dairy, eggs, or added fat. My dad, who enjoys meat, agreed to go vegan for 10 days to lower his cholesterol. He discovered that he enjoyed these recipes so much that he's willing to eat them whenever we make them. So we decided to buy the author's other cookbook.

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 150 recipes. Again, this would be a good cookbook for someone new to cooking vegan meals from scratch. The author provided cooking tips and most of the recipes were pretty simple to do. She does use gluten-containing grains and tree nuts in some recipes.

The author described plant-based substitutes so you can convert regular recipes. There were also short educational articles (usually relating to the movie) at the end of most sections.

There were pictures of the finished product for each recipe, and they looked very tasty (which I can't always say about vegan foods). I've made several of these recipes now, and they're as tasty as the recipes I've tried from her other cookbook. They're full of flavor and have nice textures. There are times I think "that combination of foods doesn't sound yummy" yet it always turns out well. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to those interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their diet.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Regency Women Did For Us by Rachel Knowles

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What Regency Women Did For Us
by Rachel Knowles


ISBN-13: 9781473882249
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books
Released: April 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Regency women inhabited a very different world from the one in which we live today. Considered intellectually inferior to men, they received little education and had very few rights. This book tells the inspirational stories of twelve women, from very different backgrounds, who overcame often huge obstacles to achieve success. These women were pioneers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, authors, scientists and actresses women who made an impact on their world and ours. In her debut non-fiction work, popular history blogger Rachel Knowles tells how each of these remarkable ladies helped change the world they lived in and whose legacy is still evident today.


My Review:
What Regency Women Did For Us provides short biographies for 12 women who were remarkable in their time and who lived during the Regency period. They included business women, scientists, authors, an inventor, and women who used their money to help others.

For each woman, we learned a bit about their childhood, their adult life and career, their later life, how others described them, and their legacy. Some still have a wide, lasting impact (like Jane Austen), but others don't. Eleanor Coade, for example, ran a successful artificial stone business and some pieces made from this stone still exist. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting read to fans of short biographies.

Eleanor Coade (1733-1821) - business woman
Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) - astronomer
Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) - actress
Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) - business woman
Mary Parminter (1767-1849) - traveler, mountaineer, philanthropist
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) - author
Jane Marcet (1769-1858) - author
Sarah Guppy (1770-1852) - inventor
Jane Austen (1775-1817) - author
Harriot Mellon (1777-1837) actress, business woman
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) - reformer, nursing
Mary Anning (1799-1847) - fossilist


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, April 17, 2017

The Truth About Vaccines Docu-series

Maybe you've heard some about parents who are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children. When in the news, they're generally portrayed as anti-science, anti-reason, and endangering not only their children's health but everyone else as well. It's a "don't listen to them; only stupid people would" tactic that I'm seeing more and more often, which now makes me want to listen to the people dismissed that way. I mean, we all want what's best for our children; they must have reasons that seem very compelling to them. It makes sense to really listen to those concerns and see if they're good ones.

So I've been watching this well-made docu-series, The Truth about Vaccines. It's for people wanting to understand the concerns about vaccines. The host did a good job of arranging the material and clarifying the concerns so the viewer can follow and understand them. And, frankly, I'm finding it heart-breaking to watch.

Parents should be told about these things before their children are vaccinated, but we're simply told that vaccines are safe and have saved the world from deadly diseases. Well, they're clearly not safe. The question is if they're worth doing anyway. Some of the doctors interviewed believe that some of the vaccines are worth doing, but not on the CDC schedule. Even they question vaccines like the HPV, which sound good but end up doing more harm than good.

I really should have told people about this series sooner. I suspect they'll still have a day where you can access missed episodes, and the first two episodes give a great overview of the arguments. But I'd highly recommend watching what you can, even if you only can access the later episodes. Here's the link to sign up for a free, limited-time viewing: https://go.thetruthaboutvaccines.com/?a_aid=1619624&a_bid=988aa9d6

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Law and War by Jonathan Swan

book cover
Law and War
by Jonathan Swan


ISBN-13: 9781473853379
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: March 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Within days of the outbreak of hostilities of the Great War, the English government introduced the Defence of the Realm Act. With several amendments over the years, this all-encompassing legislation resulted in the creation of hundreds of subsidiary regulations, many of which affected the lives of ordinary people in a way they had never expected.

Many, including the magistrates themselves, fell foul of the myriad orders, covering billeting, licensing, lighting and rationing, which were enforced by the new special constables. At the same time, the conscription of the criminal classes saw a huge fall in the normal workload of the courts and the closure of many prisons.

The magistrates responded as best they could. Some magistrates went to war; some lost their lives. Others served in the many voluntary organisations and committees that appeared across the country, such as the Military Service Tribunals or the Volunteer Corps.

The end of the war saw a further change to the old order when the first women magistrates were appointed, marking the birth of modern magistracy.


My Review:
Law and War looked at the many challenges faced by England's magistrates during the Great War as many new laws--often poorly worded or not well thought out--were put into affect. The author explained how things worked before the war and then during the war. He included a detailed overview of how the legal system worked prior to the war, which I found especially useful since I'm not from England.

The author quoted the laws (in part or in full) and described some court cases showing how people accidentally or deliberately broke those laws. He talked about military law and martial law, the Defense of the Realm Act, laws about billeting, enemy aliens, drunkenness and alcohol, lights showing at night, enlistment and exemptions, desertion and absent without leave, food prices and rationing, and laws specifically affecting women and children. He also briefly talked about fraud, special constables, and a few other issues.

I thought the book was going to be more about how the role of magistrate changed because of the war, and he did cover this. However, most of the book looked at the laws that were passed and how they affected people. The information was interesting, so I'd recommend this book to people interested in this aspect of WWI.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Another World by Patricia Mainardi

book cover
Another World
by Patricia Mainardi


ISBN-13: 9780300219067
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: March 14, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Taking its title from the 1844 visionary graphic novel by J. J. Grandville, this groundbreaking book explores the invention of print media—including comics, caricature, the illustrated press, illustrated books, and popular prints—tracing their development as well as the aesthetic, political, technological, and cultural issues that shaped them.

The explosion of imagery from the late 18th century to the beginning of the 20th exceeded the print production from all previous centuries combined, spurred the growth of the international art market, and encouraged the cross-fertilization of media, subjects, and styles. Patricia Mainardi examines scores of imaginative and innovative prints, focusing on highly experimental moments of discovery, when artists and publishers tested the limits of each new medium, creating visual languages that extend to the comics and graphic novels of today.

Another World unearths a wealth of visual material, revealing a history of how our image-saturated world came into being, and situating the study of print culture firmly within the context of art history


My Review:
Another World looked at developments in printing technology in the 1800s (like lithography) and how this promoted the development and popularity of caricature, illustrated magazines, comics, illustrated books, and popular prints. The author mostly talked about developments in France and England.

The author looked at the early experiments in these forms, like how the format and graphic language of comics developed as various authors/illustrators tried new things. He also talked about the first people to make illustrated magazines, comics, etc., and the challenges they faced. He talked about who bought these prints, magazines, etc., and what people thought about them at the time.

There were many pictures of these early caricatures and prints and of pages from the illustrated magazines, books, and comics. The author interpreted these pictures, which was nice since the political statements or cultural context would often have been lost on me. I found the information to be very interesting and easy to understand (though it's academic in tone). I'd highly recommend this book to those interested in illustrated prints and printing in the 1800s.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

book cover
City of Light, City of Poison
by Holly Tucker


ISBN-13: 9780393239782
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Released: March 21, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Appointed to conquer the “crime capital of the world,” the first police chief of Paris faces an epidemic of murder in the late 1600s. Assigned by Louis XIV, Nicolas de La Reynie begins by clearing the streets of filth and installing lanterns throughout Paris, turning it into the City of Light.

La Reynie unearths a tightly knit cabal of poisoners, witches, and renegade priests. As he exposes their unholy work, he soon learns that no one is safe from black magic—not even the Sun King. Nobles settle scores by employing witches to craft poisons and by hiring priests to perform dark rituals in Paris’s most illustrious churches and cathedrals.

From secret courtrooms to torture chambers, City of Light, City of Poison is a gripping true-crime tale of deception and murder based on thousands of pages of court transcripts and La Reynie’s compulsive note-taking, as well as on letters and diaries.


My Review:
City of Light, City of Poison is a true crime book about a rash of poisonings that occurred in Paris in the 1670s. The book started by describing how violent Paris could be and how the first police chief of Paris cleaned up and lighted the city along with other efforts to reduce crime. Then a good bit of the book was about the king's various mistresses and the political maneuvering of certain people who played a role in the later trials.

The author used information in the interrogation transcripts to also describe the activities of various main players in the poisoning scandals--the women supplying the poisons and the high-class women who bought their poisons, love potions, or spells. She described the questioning of these people in detail, including grisly details about their torture. Finally, even the king's mistresses were being accused of using the spells. The king didn't want these accusations getting out, so all records of the affair were destroyed--or so he thought. We're told how these records survived so that the book could even be written.

I had thought the book would be more about how the early police conducted investigations, but apparently that involved arresting suspects, putting them in unpleasant prison cells, and eventually questioning them. They did have some crude tests to identify any potential poisons that were found, but autopsy was pretty limited in its usefulness in terms of identifying death by poison. I could have lived without learning the graphic details about the torture involved. Other than that, though, it was written in an interesting way and I'd recommend the book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.