Wednesday, June 12, 2024

SHIPS


Ships is an interesting and well illustrated chronological encyclopedia of the shipbuilding arts by David Ross. Originally released in 2010, this reformat and re-release from Amber Books is due out 14th June 2024. It's 448 pages and will be available in paperback format. 

This is a great reference, featuring over 1000 ships with their specs, class information, history, national origin and noteworthy military engagements. The illustrations are clear and in color, rendering it a very valuable resource to artists, media folks, military history enthusiasts, modelmakers etc.

The book also includes several information dense and useful appendices including a solid glossary of terms, index of ships by name in alphabetical order, and a general cross referenced index.  

Five stars. It would make an excellent choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, artist/modelmaker's studio, wargamers, and general maritime military history fans.

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

From Plant to Plate: Turn Home-Grown Ingredients Into Healthy Meals!


From Plant to Plate is a colorful and well written gardening/cooking guide for young readers written by Darryl Gadzekpo & Ella Philips. Released 14th May 2024 by Penguin Random House on their DK imprint, it's 224 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. The links in the ebook format are super useful and make the book a joy to use.

There are lots of benefits which come from helping young people to gain skills by learning how to garden and learn how to cook for themselves and others. Self-sufficiency, exercise, learning about ecology and the interdependence of all life on the planet, increasing food security, physical and mental benefits, it's a long list. This book is an appealing and *cool* way to help kids find out they enjoy being outdoors and gardening and the coordinating included recipes will allow readers to see how plants actually turn into healthy nutritious food.

.The authors do a good job of covering the basics, some safety rules for both the garden and the kitchen. The introduction also gives some colorful, relevant, and basic info about how food "powers up" the body and how high quality food does its job of helping people grow and function. The language is completely age appropriate and there aren't any graphic illustrations. The illustrations are drawn in bright simple colors and the cutaways show a smiling cartoon mouth, stomach, and intestines. 

The authors have kept the info limited and accessible; the recipes are simple and kid-friendly (lasagne, muffins, soup, frittatas, etc) and the vegetables are generally ones which everyone loves (tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, leafy greens, and a few others). 

There are some inset photos with the authors and their kids doing gardening tasks which are appealing and friendly (they look wholesome, fun, and happy). They've also included photo tutorials and serving suggestions for the recipes which are beautifully styled, simple and appetizing. Recipes include a short introduction/background, ingredients in a bullet list format, and step-by-step cooking directions. Ingredient measures are given in imperial (American) units. Non-homegrown ingredients will be available in most kitchens in North America without needing any sort of specialist suppliers.

Five stars. This would be an excellent choice for public or school library acquisition, school gardening groups, allotments, activity groups, scouting, home use, gift giving, or similar uses.

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

The Self-Sufficiency Garden: Feed Your Family and Save Money

 

The Self-Sufficiency Garden is a concise and useful guide to increasing food security by gardening by Huw Richards and Sam Cooper. Released 14th May 2024 by Penguin Random House on their DK imprint, it's 224 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.The links in the ebook format are honestly absolute gold and make the book a joy to use.

In times of increasing food insecurity, supply line and distribution chain disruptions and distrust/boredom with the incredibly limited selections available to most people who don't have ready access to local farmers markerts, coupled with the psychological and health benefits of being in contact with growing plants and having more control over our food as well as the sense of accomplishment that comes from being more self sufficient, it's easy to see why more people are making a conscious choice to garden. 

This is a good basic guide which includes all the necessary info to arm beginner (and non-beginner) gardeners with what they need to plan, plant, grow, harvest, and succeed with vegetable gardening (with basic info which also applies to other parts of horticulture and flower gardening). It's arranged in digestible parts, with a logical progression: planning & basic terminology, planning & creating different gardens with season extenders and other aids, planting and growing crops arranged by the calendar year (with monthly tasks and categories), recipes for using and preserving the harvests, and a general broad-range skills and troubleshooting chapter (lots of good info here). The author/publisher have also included a links and resources lists for further reading.

The book is well photographed, and includes many clear color photos of gardens and the recipes. It's helpful to see what fermenting vegetables can/should look like, especially for readers who are new to canning/preserving.

Four and a half stars. Full of information. This would be a superlative choice for public and school library acquisition, home use, allotments/gardening groups, smallholders (with or without urban locations), and similar. Tutorial and recipe lists have measurements given in imperial (American) units with metric units in parentheses (yay!).

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


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Let Me Take You Down: Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever


Let Me Take You Down is part history, part memoir, and a cultural context of the Beatles by Jonathan Cott. Released 30th April 2024 by The University of Minnesota Press, it's 152 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

The author is one of the few living writers who are still placed to have actually *lived* during the time and who interviewed the principal players during the time period he writes about. He writes eloquently in the introduction about literally being stopped in his tracks (on the way to deliver a term paper on Chaucer to a professor) the first time he heard Penny Lane. It gives the book an authenticity which engages and informs. 

The book's peppered with photos and facsimiles in black and white which add a lot. For example, the author's own copy of the 45 RPM recording of Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields which he purchased 13th Feb 1967 features in the book, which he apparently still owns. The Beatles were, and are, iconic, titans of modern music and indelibly woven into the 20th century. 

It's split into two dichotomous parts. The first is a straight history/memoir of the time around the writing and recording of the two songs amidst which sea changes were happening inside the Beatles, from a touring band to becoming mostly a studio entity. (Having seen many hours of videos of the fans and the life they led, it must have been absolutely traumatic and often equally elating and terrifying). 

The second part of the book is 5 conversations/interviews with Bill Frisell, Jonathan Rose, Margaret Klenck, Richard Gere, and Laurie Anderson. It's striking how well the author draws out these utterly disparate creative people and shows the similarities of experience which we share as humans. There are a number of moments in the book which are quite profound and both hopeful and wistful (especially given the current climate in the world).

Four stars. A short but quite powerful read. It would be a good choice for public library acquisition, home use, and for music and culture fans.

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

Monday, June 10, 2024

Murder At The Allotment


Murder At The Allotment is the 10th Whitstable Pearl mystery by Julie Wassmer. Released 14th May 2024 by Hachette on their Constable imprint, it's 304 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. Audiobook format released by Bolinda.

This is a long running, genuinely warm, and well constructed series with relatable and appealing 3 dimensional characters who are (mostly) appealing and realistically rendered. The latest installment sees escalating drama at the allotment when weekenders vs. locals heats up over the availability of the allotment spaces and not fitting the Down From Londoners' aesthetics. The ringleader of team DFL is soon found deceased in the hot composter, and Pearl (and her fiance, DCI with the local police), try to untangle the mystery.

Although it's the 10th book in the series, the books are self-contained standalones, and readers can jump in at any point. 

The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 7 hours 9 minutes and is beautifully read by Jennifer Kirby. She has a nuanced earthy voice and does a good job with the various and varied regional character accents. She's easy to listen to and enunciates very clearly. Sound and production quality are high throughout the read. 

Four and a half stars. Entertaining and well written cozy with appealing returning characters and a solid narrator.

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

The New Silversmith: Innovative, Sustainable Techniques for Creating Nature-Inspired Jewelry


The New Silversmith is a technique and tutorial guide by Nicole Ringgold with an emphasis on sustainability and processes for silversmiths. Released 4th June 2024 by Quarto on their Quarry Books imprint, it's 160 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is not a beginner manual and the instruction presupposes familiarity and some experience with basic metalworking concepts: forming, shaping, sawing, torchwork, soldering, materials, and safety processes to name a few. The author writes well and authoritatively on all of the above and more. There's a lot of frank honesty in the way she speaks about workshop procedure and safety - there are some unalterable *must follow* rules, and some which can safely be ignored in *some situations*. 

There are numerous really good exercises on annealing, work hardening, shaping and forming, sawing, filing, etc. These will not replace the need for instruction from a good teacher, but they do provide extracurricular instruction for keen smiths learning beyond the absolute basics. 

The book is very well photographed throughout (it's one of the strengths of the book), and the photos are clear, and in color, without hands or tools in the way of the action. The author has a minimalist attitude about tool acquisition which is refreshing. She gives some good tips on substitutes and alternatives for some (expensive) tools and encourages readers to add more specialized tools only as, and when, they're needed for specific purposes. 

Special/important information is provided throughout the book in highlighted text boxes inset into the chapters. This makes is much easier to find specific information without wading through a wall of text to locate it. 

The chapter on general torchwork is superb, and her photos of flame composition are stellar (and -fiendishly difficult to photograph - whatever the publisher is paying the photographer, it's not enough). 

The tutorial projects are varied, and except for the chainwork projects, are all representative and inspired by nature. Each project includes a bullet list of tools and materials, followed by step-by-step instructions and many process photos. 

Five stars. This is a very well written manual written accessibly. It is not a substitute for actual instruction, but would be a very good resource as an adjunct to hands-on learning with a mentor or class. It would be an excellent choice for public library acquisition, maker's spaces, vocational/technical instruction, or the artist's studio. 

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

Kill or Bee Killed - A Bee Keeping Mystery #2

 

 

 

Kill or Bee Killed is the second bee keeping cozy by Jennie Marts. Released 4th June 2024 by Crooked Lane Books, it's 336 pages and is 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 and references throughout.

It's always fun to watch a new series develop. This is the second installment of this small town cozy featuring a family friendly cast of characters and an appealing, honest, and engaging young female amateur sleuth whose day job is writing cozy mysteries. It also includes an eccentric collection of small town characters, a handsome sheriff with whom the MC has some history, some snark, and the requisite honey themed recipes at the back of the book as a bonus.  

Although it's not at all derivative, fans of Nancy Coco and Amanda Flower will likely find a lot to like here. There's a lot of humor, small town atmosphere, a well constructed mystery (featuring a repulsive unlamented murder victim), and sympathetic characters. The bonus recipes at the back of the book are offered as written by characters appearing in the book. They're not overly fussy or complicated, and all seem appetizing. They include recipes for French toast, baked vanilla pears, honey latte, pecan praline honey butter, and a couple more.

Four stars. The denouement and resolution were a trifle outlandish, but not overly so for the subgenre. It's a simple clean read without bad language or on page violence. It would make a lovely summer beach or mini binge/buddy read.

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

 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Countryside: Ten Rural Walks Through Britain and Its Hidden History of Empire


The Countryside is a frank look at the colonialism of the British Empire and how it casts a shadow down to the present day, written and presented by Dr. Corinne Fowler. Due out 11th June 2024 from Simon & Schuster on their Scribner imprint, it's 432 pages and will be 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 and references throughout.

Countryside rambles are so quintessentially English that people come from the world over to visit and experience the stately homes and gardens, the hospitality, and the charm of rural England, and generally never really thinking about the less salubrious history *behind* the wealth and nobility enjoyed by the families who were instrumental in that transfer of wealth from half a world away. 

These are actual walks with itineraries which each explore a different facet of colonialism, from the slave and sugar trade in the Caribbean, the East India Company, to cotton & wool as well as the Raj period of British India. 

The author writes well, and surprisingly objectively, about what were unquestionably monstrous interactions with the local peoples of the places "civilised" (and resources exploited and stolen) by colonial forces.

This is a layman accessible work, and although written in easy to understand everyday language, it's meticulously annotated and the chapter notes will provide readers with a wealth of further reading. So much of it is depressingly sad and not dulled by the passing centuries. 

The routes taken by the author are not specifically laid out (with maps or links, though there are some abbreviated line drawn maps), and it would take a lot of effort to recreate her routes precisely. It's a book for armchair history buffs and students of history. She makes no direct judgements in the text, but the historical events themselves stand as a testament to the appalling capacity of humans to inflict calamity on other human beings for their own gain. 

Five stars. Interesting and important, but depressing reading, especially in a modern context.

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

Great Scandals of the Victorians: Disreputable Stories from the Royal Court to the Stage

 

Great Scandals of the Victorians is an interesting and layman accessible guide to some of the more salacious scandals which played out in Victorian England written and collected by Debbie Blake. Released 23rd May 2024 in the UK, and 30th July elsewhere by Pen & Sword it's 256 pages and will be available in hardcover formats.

I love the Victorian era in theory. I love the literature, the music, the dress, the civilized aspects. In short, I love the curated sanitised version provided in a modern BBC costume drama and would have in actual fact decried the squalid and desperately short lives of the actual reality of the time (and probably been locked up and/or beaten to death for my troubles). This interesting and wide ranging collection of scandals which were recounted in the broadsheets (newspapers) of the time period range from plainly tragic to almost comedic in scale and effect. People then as now love to read about scandals which don't touch them directly.

The text is annotated and the chapter notes make for interesting further reading. There are numerous illustrations and facsimile documents scattered relevantly throughout which are illuminating.The extensive bibliography invites exploration and will provide useful avenues for further research. 

Four and a half stars. It would make a good choice for public or home library acquisition, as well as being a very good resource for writers interested in background research for the period. 

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

 

The Other Half - Detective Inspector Caius Beauchamp #1


The Other Half is the first book in a police procedural series by Charlotte Vassell. Released 21st Nov 2023 by Knopf Doubleday on their Vintage Anchor imprint, it's 368 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperbakc due out in Aug 2024 from the same publisher.It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. 

There are moments of levity and humor, but for the most part, the book is quite full of highly unpleasant characters upon whom readers will actually *wish* harm. The writing is well wrought and the plotting is well engineered, but perhaps a little less awfulness in the characters would have rendered the whole read a more pleasant experience overall. 

There's also a large dose of social satire and poking fun at the upper classes which has more spite and snark than actual humor. There are numerous books which do the upper classes behaving badly trope with humor and delicacy (Crazy Rich Asians, Malibu Rising, and Big Little Lies for example), this, sadly, isn't one of them.

Another book in the series released April 2nd 2024 and has considerably higher ratings overall. It's probably worth slogging through the first book in order to give the second book a fair try; as said, it's generally well written and moderately well plotted. 

Three stars. Worth a look for readers who enjoy hating most of the characters and don't mind some serious -stupidity- in action from the same.

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

Stop People Pleasing: And Find Your Power

 

Stop People Pleasing: And Find Your Power is an interesting and enlightening self-help manual by life coach Hailey Magee for folks who have a tendency to support and help others always, even at the cost of their own well-being. Released 14th May 2024 by Simon & Schuster, it's 352 pages and is 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 and references throughout. 

This is an in-depth workbook full of deep and meaningful discussions on trauma behaviors, "people pleasing" - what it is (and isn't), how it happens, how it gets deeply imbedded in our personalities, how to recognize the difference between kindness and empathy (positive attributes) and people pleasing (generally negative/harmful).

The author has an accessible and understandable non-judgemental style of writing, and readers are gently drawn along. There is apparently no "magic bullet" to replace doing the work involved in changing these deep seated behaviors... but for those who are interested in learning how to set boundaries and how to be kind and supportive without it coming at a prohibitive cost to our well being, there is a lot of valuable info contained here.

The book is divided into four sections: Finding ourselves, Standing up for ourselves, Taking care of ourselves, and Enriching ourselves. Each section builds on the ones before -  from defining what people pleasing is and how it becomes such an ingrained part of our personalities, through setting boundaries and re-discovering the real joy of kindness and giving without hurting ourselves doing it. 

There is frank discussion throughout the book on trauma (psychological and sexual), healing, guilt, anger, and a lot of negative emotion. It was quite painful to read in places. 

Although it's written in layman accessible language, it is well annotated throughout, and the chapter notes will provide lots of resources for further reading. 

Four and a half stars. This book has a lot of salient, useful information for readers who are interested in discontinuing the pattern of making themselves smaller and not taking up space, and who tend to sublimate their own needs and desires in order to always defer to others.

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

Secret Gardeners: Growing a Community and Healing the Earth


Secret Gardeners is a sensitively written and encouraging story for all ages (but aimed mostly at younger readers) about restorative gardening, community, and stewardship by Maija Hurme and Lina Laurent. Due out 11th June 2024 from Pajama Press, it's 56 pages and will be available in hardcover format. Originally published in Swedish in 2021, this English translation by Sofia Karlsson & Jen Pulju Porter is seamless and smoothly done.

It's accessible and well written and although it's mostly aimed at 6-9 year olds (Lexile measure 760L) it's full of interesting background and gardening ideas and community, along with a lovely story which everyone will find touching. The author and publisher have also included an abbreviated glossary and a bibliography/links for further reading as well as short info blocks about no-dig gardening, composting, beekeeping, and more. 

Four and a half stars. This would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, gift giving, and home use. 

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

Complete Starter Guide to Needle Felting: Enchanted Forest: Fairies, Gnomes, Unicorns, and Other Woodland Friends

 

Enchanted Forest: Fairies, Gnomes, Unicorns, and Other Woodland Friends  is a well written and illustrated beginner friendly guide to learn needle felting by Claudia Lenart. Due out 11th June 2024 from Fox Chapel on their Landauer imprint, it's 128 pages and will be 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 and references throughout.

There are 13 well written tutorials for learning the basics and making projects full of magical whimsy. The characters are really adorable and most of the projects are scrap-friendly stash busters which don't require a huge outlay in tools or supplies which thrifty crafters will appreciate. These are all adorable and appropriate for all-ages gifts, and holiday gift giving as well as creating small dioramas or woodland scenes. 

The introduction and basic tutorials give a good overview over general materials and techniques which are used in the individual projects. Each of them includes tools and supplies in a bullet list in a sidebar, followed by step by step instructions. The characters are all woodland themed and will suit customization with regards to poses and details. They are all general enough that they will also be suited to readers' own creativity with other color themes and changes appropriate for other seasonal uses and personalization. Templates are included in the book.

The photography is beautifully clear and in color. I liked that each of the tutorials contain numerous photos.

Five stars. This would make a good choice for public library acquisition, makers' groups, and quilters.

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

 

The Plants of the Appalachian Trail: A Hiker’s Guide to 398 Species

 

The Plants of the Appalachian Trail is a field guide to the AT and the species commonly found there curated and written by Dr. Kristen Wickert. Due out 11th June 2024 from Workman Publishing on their Timber Press imprint, it's 288 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

Timber Press is well known for solidly usable gardening and nature tutorial guides and this is another winner. The information is logical, solid, up-to-date, and well arranged in an accessible and logical form. I don't think there's been a person on a nature walk who hasn't wondered what a particular plant was, and this book has good, accessible information for exactly that. 

This book includes profiles for 398 species spread over several ecological areas and within a very broad range of species grouped into: trees, shrubs & vines, herbaceous plants, and fungi lichen & slime molds. Each short profile includes a color picture (generally in bloom, if applicable), the Latin binomial, and common name, range location along the AT, flower color, fruiting/blooming times, size, and natural habitat, along with a short background and info description.

Five stars. This is a very good field guide with lots of entries as well as ancillary information, resources for further reading, glossary, and cross referenced index. It would make an excellent choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, scouting/activity groups, and similar uses. 

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

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Up Close and Incredible: Human Body


Up Close and Incredible: Human Body is a well illustrated simple scientifically correct look at the human body and its systems written by Isabel Thomas. Released 4th June 2024 by Quarto on their Wide Eyed Editions imprint, it's 48 pages and is available in hardcover format (packaged with a magnifying glass).

This is an intricately illustrated collection of illustrations which concisely explain the major functional systems in the human body. Most of them have a cutaway element (see cover) which shows what's going on under the surface. There are also small magnified areas throughout with people exploring the close up features of skin, intestines, alimentary canal, major organs, etc. The illustrations by Damien Weighill are *full* of tiny details which invite readers to spend some time exploring and thinking about how everything fits together. 

It's a fun and entertaining way to learn about the human body. All the information included is presented in an age appropriate manner and with accessible, easy to understand language. The target audience is circa 5-10 years, but it's suitable for all-ages. It would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, and gift giving.

Four stars.

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

Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure

 

Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure is the third cozy mystery featuring the wonderful, wise, and practical octogenarian Nonna Maria alongside a whimsical cast of secondary characters and featuring another cleverly constructed puzzle by Lorenzo Carcaterra. Released 7th May 2024 by Penguin Random House on their Bantam imprint, it's 288 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback format due out from the same publisher in first quarter 2025. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.

This was such a relaxing and enjoyable read. It's redolent of the setting, with the local cuisine and lifestyle pace and rhythms of the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples and the charming and intelligent chief protagonist, Nonna Maria. Everyone knows her and she knows everyone and their extended family histories and interrelationships, so she's naturally sought out for advice and help when the locals don't need or want to go to the official police. 

In some ways this reminded me of the pacing and atmosphere of the Bruno, Chief of Police, novels or Guido Brunetti, or even Bannalec's excellent Georges Dupin novels. The pacing is similar, the storytelling unhurried, but it's not at all derivative. The mysteries small and large entwine closer to a satisfyingly constructed climax and denouement. 

Nonna Maria herself, though age and craftiness comparisons will surely be made to Miss Marple, strikes me as tough, resilient, and resourceful and more compassionate than Christie's inimitable sleuth who could be cold as ice and brilliantly calculating. Nonna Maria is thoroughly likeable and wonderfully warm and it's just an engaging and enjoyable read.

Readers who enjoy intelligent, well plotted cozies would be wise to have this author on their radar. It would make a nice choice for public library acquisition as well as for home use and mystery book club or buddy read.

Four stars. Very well done.

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

 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Explanatorium of the Earth

Book cover for Explanatorium of the Earth

Explanatorium of the Earth is a useful and fascinating encyclopedia of geoscience facts curated and illustrated by DK, under the auspices of the Smithsonian. Released 21st May 2024 by Penguin Random House on their DK imprint, it's 288 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. 

This is a beautifully illustrated guide absolutely packed with graphics, charts, tables, and interesting facts about planet Earth. It's aimed at youngsters (circa 9-12 years), but there are lots of takeaways for all ages. The art and photography are clear and vibrant and it's a really engaging read. 

The book introduces the planet in context, from formation some 4.5 billion years ago, through the physical characteristics, composition, volcanoes and earthquakes, landscapes and formations, rocks and minerals (SO much good info here), the atmosphere, the biosphere, and a collection of reference charts and info including caves, rivers, mountains, and much (much) more. 

Five stars. This is a useful reference and would be a great selection for public, school, or home library acquisition. Accessible for the target audience (middle grade readers) but certainly not *just* for them. 

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

Well Worn: Visible Mending for the Clothes You Love


Well Worn is a philosophically written monograph on mending, enhancing, fixing, and extending the life of the clothing we have, written and with tutorials by Skye Pennant. Released 21st May 2024 by Princeton Architectural Press, it's 144 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats.

 This is a practical guide, but additionally, the author educates about the negative impacts of the "fast fashion" industry in terms of resource use, exploitation and abuse of workers, and environmental impact. The book is logically laid out and written in layman accessible language which anyone can understand. 

The introduction (roughly 1/3 of the content) includes background, a -solid- tutorial on notions and tools for repair, and a good triage discussion on what to repair, how to decide if it's worth it, and what to do with the pieces which don't get repaired. The author is practical and efficient and explains the how, what, where, and when of the process. 

The other 2/3s of the book are given to specific tutorials (jeans, knitwear, shirts, t-shirts, leggings, socks, jackets, and delicate fabrics). The specific tutorials are very well illustrated with clear color photographs as well as line drawn illustrations. 

This will be a fast favorite with readers who enjoy fibrearts, thrift/retro shoppers, marketplace and flea market bargain hunters, as well as making a good addition to the home sewist's library. It would also make an excellent acquisition for public or school library, maker's groups, and similar. 

Five stars. Creative and worthwhile. 

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

Mushrooms A guide to fungi and toadstools

 

 

 

Mushrooms is a well written and clear guide to edible and poisonous mushrooms written by Liz O'Keefe. Released 4th June 2024 by Amber Books, it's 192 pages and is be available in paperback format. 

This is a layman accessible guide to mushrooms and includes what to look for and (just as importantly) what to avoid. Additionally, it presents the information in an appealingly direct way which is accessible and understandable. 

The book's introduction covers what mushrooms are botanically, the different types of fungi to be found and how they interact with their environment as well as what types of trees they grow with/on, identifying structures, and how and where to find them. There is a definite emphasis on safety in identifying, handling, storing, using, and eating the foraged fungi. The two main sections of the book are separated into edible and poisonous mushrooms.

Graphically the book is full of clear color photos which will help with ID and location. The field guide sections contain many color photos of each species including closeups and at different stages of development. Each entry includes the name, the binomial (Latin) name, common name(s), identifying descriptions, look-alikes, and uses including some taste descriptors. 

Five stars. Interesting and useful, with clear and specific directions. This would be a good selection for library acquisition, smallholders, self-sufficiency folks, gardening and foraging readers, and similar. 

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

 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

I'm Fabulous Crab


I'm Fabulous Crab is an enchanting and adorable picture book with simple rhyming verse written and illustrated by Nicki Greenberg. Released 19th Sept 2023 by Flyaway Books, it's 40 pages and is available in hardcover format.

This is such a cute, upbeat, and friendly book. Henry doesn't want to be a drab brown hermit crab, and searches for ways to be more colorful and blingy and embraces his inner Fabulous Crab! It's not always safe to stray outside your comfort zones, but having helpful and supportive friends is always good as Henry finds out.

Despite being June, this sweet story is 100% age appropriate and not pushing any message other than living authentically and that it's ok to be yourself. Unfortunately, in some areas in the USA, libraries are battling censorship and book banning threats, and acquisitions personnel might worry that this would attract unwanted attention. There is zero objectionable content. 

The art is very colorful and festive and full of small details which will be perfect for "I spy" type games with youngsters. The author/publisher have included discussion questions and resource materials for classroom use and discussions with parents or teachers/facilitators. 

Five stars. Fun and well illustrated. It would make an excellent choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, and gift giving.

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