Saturday, July 11, 2020

Pugtato Finds a Thing


Pugtato Finds a Thing is a beautifully illustrated and gently written tale about friendship, curiosity, and compassion. Due out 4th August 2020 from Zonderkidz, it's 32 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

The text is positive and upbeat, with sweetly silly rhyming text, and adorable illustrations.  The characters are clever vegetable/animal hybrids (Pugtato, Tweetroot, Tomatoad, and others). The story follows Pugtato's adventures after he finds a mysterious thing and consults his friends and neighbors to see if they can help identify it.

With so many varied characters, the potential for silly read-along voices is stellar. The whimsical illustrations are deceptively simple looking but full of small rich details which will provide opportunities for 'hunt-and-find' during laptime or bedtime reading. It might be important to some readers to know that although Zondervan is a Christian publishing house, there is no overt Christian branding or proselytizing included in this book. The messages are of kindness and compassion, following one's dreams and trusting in oneself.

Four stars

 Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

Keto Celebrations: Low-Carb Dishes for Holidays and Special Occasions

Keto Celebrations is a tutorial and resource guide plus recipe collection by Mary Alexander. Due out 14th July 2020 from Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 232 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook is available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

The introduction covers the basics of keto cooking and essential accessories as well as an intro to the keto lifestyle/diet, including a basic primer on ketosis, macronutrients, tips, ingredients, tools, supplies, and how-to. The following chapters include the recipes arranged roughly by calendar year: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each season includes numerous celebratory holidays and mealtimes like Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Father's Day, Rosh Hashanah, Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, all the 'major' American holiday highlights as well as a fair number of others which are part of the LatinX, Jewish or other calendars. I found the recipes inclusive and varied.
 
Ingredient measurements are supplied in American standard measurements only.  There's no conversion chart for metric measures included. The nutritional information:  fat, carbs, protein, fiber content, macronutrients, etc are listed for the recipes as well as serving sizes.  Each recipe has a header with special labels such as nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, with a short description of the recipe and approximate prep-times. Extra tips or recipe alternatives are listed in text boxes in the recipes. The recipes themselves are fairly straightforward and are made for the most part with easily sourced ingredients (not all though, sweeteners for example, will likely need to be sourced from specialists). Many are very simple, none of them are overly complex.

The photography is not abundant; most of the recipes are not illustrated, but the photographs which are included are clear and well done.  I wish there had been more photographs and serving suggestions, but I do understand that extra photography increases the price of book projects very quickly and the lack is not crippling because this is a fairly simple recipe collection.

This is a nice and varied collection of recipes and even allowing for the fact that some of them are very similar to others in the same category, this will keep keto-cooks going for ages. The resource list includes interactive links to a number of relevant online resources.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

Celebrate with Baking: Sweets and Treats for Every Special Occasion

Celebrate with Baking is a tutorial and resource guide plus recipe collection by Malek Binns. Due out 14th July 2020 from Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 198 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook is available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

The introduction (indeed the whole book) is written very clearly and covers everything from tools to supplies to "how-to" tutorials and techniques. The recipes are arranged by seasons with holiday recipes for each season grouped with thematically similar items. Not all the recipes are for desserts or cakes, there are a lot of savory choices and dinner breads and rolls included.

The recipes have their ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard only. Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and cooking directions. Yields, description, and prep time are included in a header bar. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. The book also includes a short author bio and a metric conversion chart, but lacks any index or a general ingredients index. The recipes themselves are varied, and represent a wide variety of holidays and occasions to celebrate. They're tasty and many are simple and easy to prepare, requiring few ingredients and little prep time.

My main quibble with the book is that the recipes are mostly not photographed. There are a few photos, and they're beautifully clear and attractive, but they only represent about 5% of the recipes included in the book. It is, however, a very well written book with a positive and upbeat "vibe" and the author's voice is absolutely full of fun! I would love to be able to take a class or three with him as a teacher.

Four stars. I really enjoyed the aesthetic of this book and the author's enthusiasm and expertise.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

No-Fuss Cookbook for Newlyweds: Practical Tips and Perfectly Portioned Recipes to Cook Together

No-Fuss Cookbook for Newlyweds is a tutorial and resource guide plus recipe collection by Ryan Ross. Due out 14th July 2020 from Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 192 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook is available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

The book has a straightforward and easy-to-follow format. Following an introductory chapter on setting up a first kitchen, the author covers the other necessary tools, supplies, and ingredients (with some very astute observations on what tools are *really* necessary and how to set up limited space for best use). The following chapters include the recipes, arranged rather oddly by prep time: no-cook, 30 minutes, recipes with 5 or fewer ingredients,  one pot meals, and sauces and staples. The nutritional info provided is arranged with most major info given (calories, fats, carbohydrates, sodium, sugar, fiber). Almost none of the recipes are photographed, but the ones which are, are photographed well and clearly. Serving suggestions are attractive and appropriate.  The lack of photography subtracts a bit (but not much) from the overall experience for me personally. (I like pictures, but realize and accept that they raise the production costs a lot on a book project).
 
The recipes have their ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard only. Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and cooking directions. Special classifications for each recipe (30 minutes or less, 5 ingredient, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc) are included in a header bar. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. The book also includes a short author bio and a metric conversion chart, along with a "what's for dinner" interactive index with links to recipes. The recipes are tasty and easily prepared, most requiring few ingredients and little prep time. One other thing I really liked was that the author included recommendations for cooking and spending time in the kitchen together. Although the book is ostensibly for couples setting up housekeeping together, there are a lot of good practical takeaways for roommates as well.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.


Secrets of Storytelling: A Creative Writing Workbook for Kids

Secrets of Storytelling is a colorful book full of creative writing prompts for kids. Due out 14th July 2020 from Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 196 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook is available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

This is a graphically appealing and accessible guide with 100 tutorial prompts and exercises aimed at young readers with structured ideas to get them writing. So much of our lives have been put on hold during the pandemic (and that includes our kids especially who have virtually no control over anything happening to them). Writing and journaling can give a measure of control and stress relief to everyone, including youngsters. This book includes lots of prompts which can also become an important part of online/distance learning. Many of these tutorials will fit seamlessly into home learning with or without other classes.

Most of the prompts include fill-in-the-blank exercises for things like dialogue, characterizations, settings, story arc, mood boards, and more. One feature which I really loved was the inclusion of encouraging words or quotes from famous authors and cultural icons (Desmond Tutu, Kate DiCamillo, Margery Williams, Roald Dahl, and more) in highlighted sidebars scattered throughout.

The book can be used in a linear manner, front to back, as well as a pick-and-choose resource with specific prompts where needed. Though the book is aimed at youngsters (~8-12 year olds), there are some good takeaways here for readers of all ages. I enjoyed it a lot and the exercises were really fun.

Five stars. This would make a superlative classroom or home learning resource.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Goats: How to Keep a Happy Herd

The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Goats is a tutorial and instruction guide to goat-keeping by Amber Bradshaw. Due out 14th July 2020 from Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 180 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook is available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

The author has an inviting and engaging style of writing and does a great job of sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for goats and quality goat husbandry. The introductory chapters cover the positive benefits of goatkeeping and some of what's entailed in adding goats to the reader's life, choosing goats (to prevent potential problems later), and preparing a home which will suit them (and you). The following chapters cover subjects more deeply: structures, cleanliness, training, routine care and maintenance, health & breeding, producing milk, meat (and processing), goats for fiber, and food recipes for meat & dairy.

Recipe ingredients are listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are in American standard only.  Tips and alternatives for the recipes are contained in highlighted text boxes. The book includes a short author bio, but lacks any index, metric conversions, or a general ingredients list. The bibliography and resource lists will provide lots of possibilities for further learning and reading.

This is a useful and well written book. It's graphically appealing and typeset in a clear, easy to read font, but the photography is not abundant. This would not be my *first* choice for a goatkeeping book to learn from, but it would make an excellent choice to add to the homesteader's (or those interested in living a more self-sustaining lifestyle) libraries. 

Four and a half stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Of Mutts and Men (Chet and Bernie Mystery #10)

Of Mutts and Men is the 10th Chet & Bernie mystery by Spencer Quinn. Released 7th July 2020 by Macmillan on their Forge Books imprint, it's 304 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

This is a long running series of modern PI murder mysteries narrated by the canine half of the duo. Chet the shepherd carries the stories along with pithy observations about life, love, humans, dogs, and occasionally squirrels. There's a synergy between Chet and his human sidekick, private investigator Bernie Little. Despite being murder mysteries (this one includes a grisly exanguination), there's a real warmth and humor to the writing which makes them appealing. The mysteries themselves, the hidden motives, the interrelationships between the characters, and the nuts-and-bolts technical construction make this an engaging read.

This is a true partnership and they trust and depend on one another and I have really enjoyed every new book in the series. This one sees some nice background character development. Although it's the 10th book, it works very well as a standalone; the author's very adept at providing necessary backstory without spoon feeding. The dialogue is never clunky and the story arc moves along at a good clip. I was so invested in the story I wound up reading it in one setting. Every new entry into the series feels like a welcome visit with a good old friend.

Four stars, honestly closer to five.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

The Complete Bee Handbook: History, Recipes, Beekeeping Basics, and More

The Complete Bee Handbook is a quirky (but useful) collection of history, recipes, how-to tutorials, advice, and guidance on the apiarist's art by Dr. Dewey M Caron. Due out 14th July 2020 from Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 180 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook is available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

This is such a fun and well written book. The author's enthusiasm really shines through in the text (he's an entomologist and beekeeper himself, apparently). I liked the book's logical and easy-to-follow layout. An introduction with a good, science-based history of bee history, the ecological niche bees fill as pollinators and food sources is followed by chapters covering beekeeping (past and present), and recipes for enjoying and using honey and beeswax.

The recipes are varied and useful and encompass everything from baklava and cookies to lip balm and old fashioned wood polish. Recipe ingredients are listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are in American standard only.  Tips and alternatives for the recipes are contained in highlighted text boxes. The book includes a short author bio and a metric conversion chart, but lacks any index or a general ingredients list. The bibliography and resource lists will provide lots of possibilities for further learning and reading.

This is a useful and well written book. It's graphically appealing and typeset in a clear, easy to read font, but the photography is not abundant. This would not be my *first* choice for a beekeeping book to learn from, but it would make an excellent choice to add to the beekeeper's (or those interested in becoming apiarists) libraries. 

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Easy Frugal Cookbook: 100 Satisfying Recipes That Won't Break the Bank

Easy Frugal Cookbook: 100 Satisfying Recipes That Won't Break the Bank is a new cookbook and recipe collection by Sarah Walker Caron. Released 7th July 2020 by Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 180 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

The book has a straightforward and easy-to-follow format. Following an introductory chapter on food budgeting and cooking well and cost-effectively, the author covers the other necessary tools, supplies, and ingredients (with some very astute observations on making the most of your cooking time and keeping food fresh to minimize waste and costs). The following chapters include the recipes, arranged thematically by type: breakfast, soups & salads, sandwiches & wraps, vegetarian & vegan mains, poultry & seafood, beef & pork, sides & snacks, desserts, and recipes for condiments sauces & dressings. The nutritional info provided is arranged with most major info given (calories, fats, carbohydrates, sodium, sugar, fiber). Almost none of the recipes are photographed, but the ones which are, are photographed well and clearly. Serving suggestions are attractive and appropriate.  The lack of photography subtracts a bit (but not much) from the overall experience for me personally. (I like pictures, but realize and accept that they raise the production costs a lot on a book project).
 
The recipes have their ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard only. Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and cooking directions. Special classifications for each recipe (30 minutes or less, 5 ingredient, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc) are included in a header bar. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. The book also includes a short author bio and a metric conversion chart, but lacks any index or a general ingredients index. The recipes are tasty and easily prepared, most requiring few ingredients and little prep time.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Cast Iron Camping Cookbook

Cast Iron Camping Cookbook is a new niche cookbook collection for cast-iron cooking in the great outdoors. Released 30th June 2020 by Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 180 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

 The book has a logical and easy to follow format. Following an introductory chapter which covers the background how-to of outdoor cooking and how to incorporate cast iron utensils, the author covers the other necessary tools, supplies, and ingredients, and the following chapters include the recipes, arranged thematically by meal type: breakfast, snacks & sides, lunch, dinner, and dessert. No nutritional information is included in the recipes, but the author has provided portions, and cooking times as well as tips and variations highlighted in text boxes. 

The recipes have their ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard only. Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and cooking directions. Special classifications for each recipe (30 minutes or less, 5 ingredient, vegan, etc) are included in a header bar. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. The book also includes a short author bio and a metric conversion chart, but lacks any index or a general ingredients index. The recipes are tasty and easily prepared, requiring few ingredients and little prep time.

My main quibble with the book is that the recipes are mostly not photographed. There are a few photos, and they're clear and attractive, but they only represent about 5% of the recipes included in the book. It is, however, a very well written book and especially given the pandemic, when camping and socially isolating is one of the few alternatives for vacation time, this is a very timely book.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook

Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook is a recipe collection and meal plan guide by Lauren Keating. Released 30th June 2020 by Callisto on their Rockridge Press imprint, it's 174 pages (for the print copy) and available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

 The book has a logical and easy to follow format. Following an introductory chapter which covers the background how-to of slow cooking and how to incorporate it in meal planning, other necessary tools, supplies, and ingredients, the following chapters include the recipes, arranged thematically by meal type: breakfast, soups stews and chili, vegetarian and vegan items, seafood and poultry, pork lamb and beef, and finally partial recipes for staples and other ingredients. Nutritional information is included in the footer at the end of the recipes and includes calories, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, and sodium. 

The recipes have their ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard only. Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and cooking directions. Special classifications for each recipe (gluten free, nut free, 5 ingredient, vegan, etc) are included in a header bar. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. The book also includes a short author bio and a metric conversion chart, but lacks any index or a general ingredients index. The recipes themselves are varied, and represent a number of world cuisines. They're tasty and easily prepared and many are simple and easy to prepare, requiring few ingredients and little prep time.

My main quibble with the book is that the recipes are mostly not photographed. There are a few photos, and they're clear and attractive, but they only represent about 5% of the recipes included in the book. It is, however, a very well written book with a positive and upbeat "vibe".

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Death Comes to Durham

Death Comes to Durham is the 23rd book in the Dorothy Martin cozy mystery series by Jeanne M. Dams. Due out 1st Sept 2020 by Severn House, it's 224 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats (ebook out now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

I love English cozies and this one is warm, well written, engaging, and with well developed mature characters whose kind and loving relationship is a pleasure to read about. The plotting is gently meandering but doesn't drag. There's not a lot of dramatic tension and there are a few oddly humorous plot twists. The author manages to write intelligently and compassionately about dementia patients and long term elder care without being strident or preachy.

The denouement and resolution are satisfying and capably written. For all lovers of English modern cozies with clean language and little to no on-page violence, this is a series which delivers very well. This one can be read as a standalone, but they're all enjoyable mysteries and it's nice to see the development of the main characters' relationship from the early books onward.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Sayings Expressions: Stained Glass Patterns

Sayings & Expressions: Stained Glass Patterns is a collection of stained glass projects by Anna Croyle. Due out 15th July 2020 from  Dover, it's 64 pages and will be available in paperback format.

The book contains all templates and two styles of letters and numbers to use in the projects but the book contains no instruction or hand holding at all. (The author recommends Stained Glass Craft Made Simple by James McDonell for beginners who need some tutelage in stained glass craft). 

The projects are appealingly modern in style and most are fairly advanced (a few include inset curved pieces and numerous very precise pieced areas.  Tools, supplies, and materials lists are left up to the crafter and there are no materials listed in the text. In fact, there's very little text of any sort.

Lovely patterns for the advanced glass crafter. Four stars. Dover seems to always provide consistently high quality crafting books and this one is no exception.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

LEWSER!: More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump

LEWSER! is the third collection of Doonsbury in the Trump era (the other two are YUGE! and #SAD!) by Garry Trudeau. Due out 7th July 2020 from Andrews McMeel, it's 128 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

Every day seems to bring more bizarre news which would've been unbelievable just a few years ago. Trudeau has always had a laser sharp talent for zeroing in on the sanguine bits of whatever ridiculousness we're facing and making it, if not actually funny, at least more palatable in its pathos. This collection, true to form, is full of the pithy ascerbic wit which is Doonsbury's trademark. Some of these are genuinely funny, some are sad, all of them are worthwhile.

Not all of these strips are actually about Trump (many are). They provide a running commentary about the state of America, drawn from the daily headlines. For fans of Doonsbury, definitely worth picking up, for new readers, there is a learning curve involved; most of the characters have a very long history in the story line.

Four stars. I hope we survive the current madness, but in the meantime, there's Doonsbury.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

The House on Widows Hill (Ishmael Jones #9)

The House on Widows Hill is the 9th book in the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R. Green. Released 2nd July 2020 by Severn House, it's 192 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

These books, about a generally altruistic alien trapped on earth since 1963, are genre crossing speculative fiction at its absolute best. This one is a worthy addition to the series and combines an array of literal locked door mystery, historical noir, urban fantasy, humor, and supernatural governmental espionage.

The insanely prolific author is well known to urban fantasy fans for his 200 works over 12(+) series including The Nightside. Despite being the 9th book in the series, it works very well as a standalone and readers new to the series won't have any trouble keeping up with the action. One thing that didn't appeal to me as much with this book as the previous works in the series was that this one literally takes place in the rooms of one house, and the action is *entirely* dialogue driven. Yes, it's a  murder mystery with a spooky house and a "locked room" cast of suspects, but the pacing is weirdly off. It's still eminently readable, but (for me) wasn't quite up to the level of the others. The denouement was rapid, completely deus ex machina, and made me roll my eyes, but it did provide some interesting backstory for the titular character.

Very entertaining and a quick and humorous read. The author has a definite gift with repartee and I found myself smiling often whilst reading. This series will likely appeal to fans of Charles Stross' Laundry Files, Jasper Fforde, and similar.

Four stars. Well worth a look.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

Super Simple Hand-Lettering Projects

Super Simple Hand-Lettering Projects is a tutorial and style guide for hand lettering crafts by Kiley Bennett. Released 12th May 2020 by Fox Chapel, it's 128 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

I enjoyed this short book. The pictures are all very clear and colorful, the projects are clean and appealing, and the text is upbeat and encouraging. The color thumbnail gallery/table of contents is followed by a very short introduction to lettering and calligraphy techniques. The bulk of the book is taken up by the 15 (by my count) projects. The projects themselves are varied and attractive, from a personalized serving tray to gift tags, chalkboard projects, ornaments, cupcake toppers, and more. Most all of the projects could certainly be easily adapted to other surfaces.  All of the templates are included. Each tutorial contains an introduction, materials list (nothing too exotic or difficult to source), and step by step photo tutorials from start to finish. Tips and alternative finishes are included in the tutorials in highlighted sidebars. The book also includes a short index.

This would make a nice addition to the home crafter's library, bullet journal enthusiast, beginning calligrapher, and similar papercrafting enthusiasts. Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Easy Aircraft Origami: 14 Cool Paper Projects Take Flight

Easy Aircraft Origami is a tutorial guide with 14 aircraft projects by Jayson Merrill. Released 17th June 2020 by rom Dover, it's 64 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

At the very beginning of the book are the symbol explanations and a VERY short tutorial (2 pages) for the traditional folds.  This will help new hobbyists to be able to follow the later tutorials.  Most of the pieces in this book are quite advanced and total newbies would be well advised to have some help or a mentor available for the later tutorials. The tutorials are clearly illustrated and explained, so it's possible that a patient and keen beginner could fold most of the included sculptures.   There are some really impressive folds in this book, including the iconic F-X and the XA-20 razorback.

Dover publications has long been a standard bearer for beautifully illustrated well made crafts books.  This one is no exception.  Everything is top notch.  The illustrations are crisp, and clear. There's not much color photography in the book, but the color plates which are included are clear, crisp, and illustrative.  It's a nice collection with enough projects to keep enthusiasts busy for a long while.  This would make a perfect gift for both aircraft and origami fans.

In fact, though I received a free e-book copy of this book for review purposes; I've already purchased a copy for my origami (and engineering) mad daughter.

Five stars

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins is a catalog guide to accompany an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty museum on the rise of Mesopotamia and its place and influence in the emerging world. Released April 7th 2020 by Getty Publications, it's 236 pages and available in hardcover format.

This is a lavishly illustrated volume with well written subject essays by well known scholars of cultural and ancient history. The exhibition is on loan from the Louvre under the auspices of a collaborative effort between the Getty, the Louvre, and several other institutions.

This volume would make a good selection for students of ancient art, history, anthropology, arts, and ancient language and culture. It is written in a meticulous and scholarly style, but as a layperson I had no problems understanding and learning from the included essays. 

The exhibition is scheduled to run at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from March 18 to 27th July, 2020. Given the current climate of the world with regard to travel, the status of the exhibition and access to the museum and exhibits is unclear, but this beautiful volume is an acceptable alternative.

Five stars, this is a sterling exhibition catalog and will have value long after the exhibit is over.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Garlic, Mint, & Sweet Basil

Garlic, Mint, & Sweet Basil is a collection of short sensual epicurean essays about food, culture, and experience by Jean-Claude Izzo. Originally published in 2003, this reformat and re-release by Europa Compass is due out in late July 2020. It's a quick read at 128 pages and is available in ebook format (earlier editions available in other formats).

This was a sweet and nostalgic collection of short writings about the author's love affair with the Mediterranean area and more specifically the Riviera. The author was something of a renaissance man, poet, playwright, and novelist, but these essays are more personal and felt more open and conversational. Despite being listed in the cooking, food, & wine categories, there are no recipes contained herein. This is a nice boutique collection of short musings.

This would be the perfect gift for oneself or others, especially given that travel is seriously restricted and/or simply impossible during the current pandemic situation and likely to remain so for some time. I got such a summery holiday feeling reading this short book.

Four stars. Lovely work.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes 

Hid from Our Eyes (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #9)

Hid from Our Eyes is the 9th mystery in the Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Released 7th April 2020 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 352 pages and available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

Although it's been 6+ years since the 8th book in the series, it wasn't a problem for me to keep the characters or their relationships straight. The author provides the necessary backstory in the narrative, so new readers won't need a dramatis personae list to keep them sorted either. It would work moderately well as a standalone. What might be slightly more problematic is the three interwoven timelines: 1952, 1972, and the modern day. The characters are overlapping, and one of the chief suspects from the murder in 1972 is a young Russ Van Alstyne, now chief of police. The delineation isn't always clear since some of the same characters appear in more than one timeline. The similarities in the (very) cold case murders and the modern day are well done and the writing in general is very capable and engaging.

Much of the book is concerned with the Reverend Clare, husband Russ, their infant son, and their day to day struggle to manage professional and family life. Clare is a recovering alcoholic and that is an important theme in the book also. The author has a deft touch with suspense and characterization and overall the book is quite good. There are some dark themes which are potentially triggering (substance abuse, fetal alchohol syndrome, depression, trauma). The language is rough(ish), with multiple usage of damn, hell, and similar and a couple of "f-bombs" used in context.

Four stars. Well written and engaging. Likely moreso for prior fans of the series who have built up a relationship with the characters.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes