Sunday, July 5, 2020

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 

Chiquis Keto

Chiquis Keto is a tutorial guide and recipe collection by Chiquis Rivera & Sarah Koudouzian. Due out 4th August from Simon & Schuster on their Atria Books imprint, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

The author has a very sassy Latinx style with a lot of humor and warmth. She includes a short bio-introduction with some of her emotional history with food and dieting (and I found myself nodding along). This book's hook is the emphasis on Latin culture and cuisine with a more relaxed and informal diet style (no urine testing to check for ketosis, no macronutrient counting or food logs, and an occasional indulgence). 

The introduction covers the basics of the keto lifestyle/diet, including a basic primer on ketosis, tips, ingredients, tools, supplies, how-to. The authors include lists of guideline foods (both desirable and undesirable) as well as their philosophy behind food journals and testing being mostly unnecessary. The following chapters include a 21 day meal plan quick start guide, recipes, a short chapter on physical workout activities which support the lifestyle goals, and a wrap up chapter on continuing the lifestyle. 

Ingredient measurements are supplied in American standard measurements only.  There's no conversion chart for metric measures included. The nutritional information is not included (the serving sizes and prep time are).  Extra tips or recipe alternatives are listed in the recipes. The recipes themselves are fairly straightforward and are made for the most part with easily sourced ingredients. Many are very simple, none of them are overly complex.

The photography is non existent; none of the recipes are illustrated.  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 the recipes are very simple with limited ingredients. The recipes themselves are wholesome and include keto-friendly versions of some Latin comfort foods including homage recipes (mostly substituting cauliflower for the carbs/nachos) for elote (street corn), nachos, tostadas and more.

Four stars. I really liked the attitude of this book, it's full of personality. 

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

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Mistress of Illusions

The Mistress of Illusions is the second book in Mike Resnick's crossworlds Dreamscape trilogy. Released 14th April 2020 by Penguin on their DAW imprint, it's 304 pages and available in hardcover, mass market paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

The author has been one of my favorites for many years. He's amassed an enviable collection of SF's highest honors. He's undeniably a talented and prolific author who has really proven his competence over decades. I was surprised, therefore, when this book failed to draw me in (to about the same degree as the first book in the trilogy which I also read and reviewed on my blog).

There is a crossworlds speculative fiction trope where the protagonist is thrust into the action without really having any idea of how they fit into the grand scheme of things, what the rules are, where they are, or what's going on. Heinlein's Number of the Beast, Willett's Worldshaper, and others spring to mind. Obviously each author brings their own experiences and plots to the writing.This book sees protagonist Eddie Raven thrust into a crossworld manhunt with him as quarry. He doesn't understand what's happening, how he's jumping from one world to another, and he spends the entire book saying "I don't understand. I'm nothing special. I'm just a guy"!

I found the passive nature of jumping from one encounter to the next jarring and bewildering. I'm familiar enough with the author's mastery over the written word to assume that he's perfectly well aware that's the effect he's creating and that it's intentional. The worlds Eddie Raven jumps into are odd pastiches of old movies like Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz. Even the narrative bits set in Raven's 'prime world' have an odd/nostalgic vibe and could well be set in the 1950's America or earlier.

It took me several weeks to finish reading The Master of Dreams because I found myself restless and unengaged with the narrative. It's competently written, with flowing (if odd) dialogue. The characters are well written. There was just something which failed to draw me in.

It honestly comes down to a matter of trust. The author's works have been entertaining and engaging me for decades at this point and I will stick around and see how the series develops. I'm saddened that Mr. Resnick passed away in early 2020 and I hope the third book in the trilogy ties up all the loose ends and gives some closure.

Three and a half stars. I've rounded up for the quality of the writing.

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

The Secrets They Left Behind

The Secrets They Left Behind is a standalone (?) procedural thriller mystery by Lissa Marie Redmond. Released 7th April 2020 by Crooked Lane Books,  it's 304 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

This is a well written FBI procedural with a young female protagonist on loan for fieldwork from the Buffalo PD. She has a history with the FBI and the supervisor with whom she's working which is revealed through a series of flashbacks throughout the novel. Her particular appeal for this case (and the prior assignment she completed for the FBI) is that she looks much younger than she actually is.

The story itself is interesting and set up well: the disappearance of three freshman women at a local small-town community college has her placed in the field undercover as a freshman in the same social circle as the missing girls. The plotting and story arc seemed oddly paced to me and moved forward somewhat unevenly however. The author devoted a fair amount of wordage to the interactions of Shea (undercover cop) and her freshman girlfriend group; exchanging clothes, doing one another's hair and makeup, talking about boys, and slagging off girls they don't like.

The book will likely find a willing audience in the new adult market and the strong romance subplot will probably be a bonus for those readers. I will say that the denouement and big reveal were strongly foreshadowed throughout the book and not much of a surprise. I also found my suspension of disbelief hiding behind the sofa over the deux ex machina methods that the author utilized to get Shea out of her predicaments.

The writing is capable. I recommend it to fans of procedurals who enjoy a large dose of romance with their mysteries.  Three and a half stars.

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

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Regrow your Veggies: Growing Vegetables from Roots, Cuttings, and Scraps

Regrow your Veggies is a DIY/gardening/plant recycling manual by Melissa Raupach and Felix Lill. Originally released in 2018 in German, this English translation edition from Fox Chapel is 144 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

There have been a number of videos and posts on youtube, instagram, and the like on this subject but they're generally either sensationalized or vague/incomplete (or both). This book takes a logical and thorough look at the methods of regenerative and vegetative propagation for different specific vegetables and herbs and also gives a good overview over common problems and how to troubleshoot less than desirable results.

It is undeniably a cool exercise to grow an avocado tree from a pit, or regrow spring onions from the bulb roots. These would make superlative home activities for young kids to do with the family and they are both interesting and educational. I would caution readers from thinking that they can make a significant contribution to their food needs, especially restricted growing to indoor windowsills. This is more of a philosophical process than a practical one. There are some exceptions of course, it's perfectly feasible to keep many herbs growing indoors and move them outdoors when weather permits.

The introduction includes a good overview over vegetative propagation and plant culture requirements. The second part of the book contains a primer with entries for 21 different vegetables and herbs; from scallions and leeks, to ginger and coriander. There's a good troubleshooting guide with what happens when things go bad (which was my personal experience, whether fungus gnats, aphids, or fusarium wilt (my basil has -never- done extremely well in my cool wet climate). The authors also include a useful bibliography, short index, and online links list for further reading,

This is an interesting and fun guide to regrow some vegetables. Limited practicality in my experience, however.

Four stars.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Southeast Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden

The Southeast Native Plant Primer is a gardening guide with herbal encyclopedia covering a plethora of indigenous plant species for gardeners in the southeastern USA. Due out 4th August 2020 from Timber Press, it's 252 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

As we learn more about the interconnectedness of local biomes and the desirability of supporting indigenous pollinators, plant, and animal species, more gardeners are moving to reduce or eliminate potentially invasive species and substitute with native species. This is a regional guide aimed at the southeastern USA and includes a huge variety of native plant species and their niche in the garden.

I liked the layout of the book which was very well organized and easy to follow. The introduction provides a good overview of native plants, why they're desirable for habitat and food for local species, how the choice of these species for our gardens actually benefits us as gardeners (less maintenance, suited to the climate and growing conditions already, hardiness), and more.

The plant primer takes up the majority of the page content and is split into plant types: Ferns, grasses, woodland wildflowers, sunny perennials, vines, shrubs, and trees. Each of the primer entries contains the botanical and some common names for the plant, habitat/soil conditions and culture requirements, active growing seasons and other special info, size, light requirements, a good description, and a clear picture. There are 225 species contained, enough to provide lots of alternatives for almost any garden role.The end of the book contains appendices which include a hardiness and climate chart, bibliography, good resources list, and index.

This is one of the better regional gardening guides which I've reviewed. Five stars.

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

The Mosquito

The Mosquito is a new nonfiction graphic art book aimed at younger readers in The Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel. Originally published in French in 2017, this English language translation is due out 14th July 2020 from Penguin Random House on their Tundra imprint, has 32 pages and will be available in hardcover format.

The art is whimsical and appealing (see cover), and the text is fact based and scientifically accurate. The info included in the book covers preferred habitat, diet, reproduction, and different species and ranges. I liked that the book includes proper nomenclature for things such as proboscis and larva. If the terms aren't already familiar to young readers (or adults), they can be researched.

This would make a super choice for classroom/public library, homeschool library, or gift. Really cute and worthwhile subject for young readers. The graphic design and interactive dialogue would also lend itself quite easily to a bedtime read. My only quibble with the book is that it's apparently one of a series called (in English) 'Disgusting Critters' and while I do know that 'disgusting' is meant as an attractive choice of words for kids, it just sat wrong with me. Are there really any truly disgusting creatures? I wish they could've called the series Cool Critters, or Interesting Critters or something. I'm a middle aged science nerd, and I think flatworms are cool, so I guess I'm not really the target audience.

Four and a half stars.

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

Realistic Still Life in Colored Pencil: Learn to draw beautiful still life in colored pencil

Realistic Still Life in Colored Pencil is a tutorial guide to still life techniques using pencil as a medium. Due out 7th July 2020 from  Quarto on their Walter Foster imprint, it's 144 pages and will be available in paperback format.

The layout follows the familiar Walter Foster tutorial format. An introduction covers tools and supplies and is followed by a short and easily accessible general drawing tutorial and an introduction to color theory and composition.  There's a good subchapter on blending, texture strokes, and pencil techniques as well as a short intro on how to compose a drawing and developing forms.

Each of the chapters includes several start to finish projects illustrating the concepts and techniques from the chapter. The 5 complete tutorials are grouped together in the last half of the book: poppies, peaches, macarons, sunflowers, and meringues. Each tutorial includes a color photo, line drawing, palette with specific pencil colors, and step by step process photos. Tips and troubleshooting info are highlighted in sidebars throughout.

This is a solid book full of good techniques and will provide some useful takeaways for the majority of readers/artists.  This entire series is worthwhile and will be a valuable addition to the artist's home library. 

Four stars.

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

Modern Brush Lettering: A Beginner's Guide to the Art of Brush Lettering, Plus 20 Seasonal Projects to Make

Modern Brush Lettering is a tutorial and style guide to a popular and useful style of calligraphy which lends itself to many uses and is especially popular for bullet journaling. Due out in late 2020 from Pen & Sword on their White Owl imprint, it's 120 pages and is available in paperback format.

This is an accessible and encouraging guide. The author has a very upbeat style and I found myself just grabbing some brush markers I had from my attempts at other papercrafts and lettering and jumping in. The introductory chapter covers tools and supplies (very easily acquired and inexpensive), followed by basic strokes and mark making, moving on to alphabets and building up to words and phrases.

Following a short chapter on mindfulness and the philosophy of process, the 20 project tutorials are arranged by season with 5 for each: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The projects range from total beginner to slightly more advanced, all are attractive. The projects themselves are a good starting point for further embellishment and I can definitely see myself using them as further inspiration. Each of the tutorials include an introduction, materials and alternatives in a bullet list sidebar along with tips from the author. The step by step instructions are clear and simple. The instructions are accompanied by lots of photos which illustrate each step. They're composed well and clearly formatted and it's easy to see hand and pen positions as well as drawing layouts. Pretty much every page has one or more photos.

The book also includes a very short FAQ and  abbreviated resource list with specific paints, papers, and inks used by the author. 

I've been spending a lot more time with my journal (mostly in an effort to organise my book blogging) and I've found a lot of really good tips here.

This would make a great gift (maybe with some paper and brush pens) or selection for the home library. There are a number of nice projects included. 

Five stars. Very useful. 

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

Fashion Design Workshop: Remix: A modern, inclusive, and diverse approach to fashion illustration for up-and-coming designers

Fashion Design Workshop: Remix is an accessible tutorial and style guide for aspiring designers. Due out 7th July 2020 from Quarto on their Walter Foster imprint, it's 128 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is a fun and well made tutorial guide for fashion and accessory sketching. The aesthetic is body-positive, and inclusive with a wide variety of body types illustrated, including a broad range of skin tones, shapes, (even

An introduction covers tools and materials, basic figure drawing, using manual and digital drawing tools, adaptive apparel (their examples include wheelchair and crutches), tips on keeping a sketchbook and several other topics. The following chapters provide instruction on developing a style, fashion icons for inspiration, high fashion design, casualwear design, and evening & formal-wear. The book also includes useful reusable templates for time-saving sketch use.

Especially with the current necessity of staying home as much as possible and social distancing, this would make a superlative choice for at-home creativity and boredom busting for younger readers as well.

Five stars. I loved the upbeat and positive message of inclusivity. Well done!

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

Kawaii Doodle World

Kawaii Doodle World: Sketching Super-Cute Doodle Scenes with Cuddly Characters, Fun Decorations, Whimsical Patterns, and More is a new tutorial book from kawaii mistress Zainab Khan (a.k.a. Pic Candle). I've reviewed a couple of other books by the same creator here, and this is another serving of the same.  Due out 18th Aug 2020 from Quarto - Race Point publishing, it's 144 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This companion book fills out the previous book by including more composition and combination page-filling tutorials (see cover).  The format is the same as the previous book and is accessible and user-friendly. The tutorials have step-by-step illustrations which anyone can follow.

The book starts with a general tips & tricks introduction showing tools and supplies and how to use them followed by chapters building up characters, adding decorations and background patterns, and composition (including contour filling).  

One of the most brilliant aspects of this book (and of Ms. Khan's art) is in showing the would be doodler how to combine and build on simple elements to produce a deceptively simple cohesive piece of art which looks very complex.  There are whole collage drawings at the end of the book which are provided as search & find puzzles but which would also make superlative coloring pages as well as a good tutorial on planning full page illustrations.

I've been using doodling as an awareness/mindfulness exercise and it really does work.  These are cute and good fun.

This would make a really fun rainy day activity for younger kids to, well, adult age.  They're appealing and whimsical and sweet. 

Five stars

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Antigonus the One-Eyed

Antigonus the One-Eyed is a comprehensive scholarly look at one of the generals who succeeded Alexander the Great on his death in 323BCE. Originally published in Great Britain in 2014 this reformat and re-release from Pen & Sword 13th May 2020 it's 256 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. (Earlier editions available in hardcover format).

The author writes accessibly but meticulously, and builds up the necessary background context for the compelling history of the time and manages to humanize the major players despite the intervening millenia. The author uses a chronological chapter format, starting with Macedonia of the period, through the Alexandrian period, Antigonus' rise and solidification of power, then through the successor war and battles which followed Alexander's death.

The book is meticulously annotated throughout. The author has cited period and later scholarly research to support the narrative. There are 5 appendices as well as copious chapter notes, an exhaustive bibliography, maps, photos (of period artifacts) and a cross referenced index.

The author has a casual academic style of writing; accessible and careful, with proper annotation, but not overly convoluted or impenetrably difficult to read. My only quibble with the editing is that no fewer than 7 places in the text, the author uses "infer" when he clearly means "imply". There were a few other similar errors, but nothing truly egregious.

This would be a great selection for fans of military history, as well as a superlative support text for related academic studies on the time period.

Four stars.

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

Dinosaur Lady

Dinosaur Lady is an illustrated biography of Mary Anning, a fossilist who is widely regarded as one of the first paleontologists helping to define the discipline in addition to making significant contributions and discoveries. Due out 7th July 2020 from Sourcebooks, it's 40 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

I love children's nonfiction. This is a well written, factually based, beautifully illustrated biography aimed at younger readers (~4-8 years of age) which manages to provide a kid-friendly version of Anning's often frustrating and impoverished life. She was rejected by the scientific establishment at the same time they were acknowledging her as an expert in her field. The book gleefully provides the information that she correctly identified coprolites as fossilized feces as well as identifying fossilized ink sacs from early cephalopods (squids).

The text is age appropriate and engaging. The art is beautifully rendered and supports the text very well. This is definitely a book which would grab the interest of most kids. I found it interesting and learned quite a lot of information of which I was previously unaware.

The book includes an abbreviated timeline of Anning's discoveries and contributions along with contemporary occurrences as well as a short glossary.

Five stars. This would make a great selection for a classroom or public library, as well as the child's home library or a gift.

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

Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden

Spirit of Place is a beautifully presented book, a biography really, of the genesis of the gardens and grounds surrounding the author's home. Due out 23th June from Timber Press, it's 288 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a really inspirational and surprisingly intimate look at the creation of a green space which is a product of the author's vision and creativity and fits into its setting companionably. The author began renovating the gardens in 1991 after he and his partner bought a farmhouse and land in New England. Obviously a garden developed over 30 years (and often following contours laid out over the previous 2 centuries) isn't an undertaking which bears comparison to new gardens. It was valuable to me to follow the development and maturation of these gardens, but also to follow along with the author as he explained in quite detailed fashion about his inspiration and creative process. 

The text is erudite and more formal than casual, but always understandable and accessible. The photography is glorious, often breathtaking and filled with inspiration and takeaway lessons for readers no matter what size and shape their gardens. The chapters cover individual areas of the plantings and highlight photos show particular specimens in situ (with botanical nomenclature included). 

This is an inspiring and educational book, full of usable advice and help. Since the book is absolutely full of color photographs and the text is relatively small and densely packed, I strongly recommend a color monitor or the hardcover format. I tried accessing the book on three different e-readers and whilst compatibility wasn't an issue, the full effect of the photography was much diminished. 

Five stars. Lots and lots (and lots) of inspiration. Aesthetically one of the better garden inspiration books I've seen lately.

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

Basket Essentials

Basket Essentials is a tutorial and technique guide for weaving reed baskets by Lora S. Irish. Due out 1st July 2020 from from Fox Chapel, it's 200 pages and will be available in paperback format. 

Fox Chapel are well kn0wn for the quality of their DIY and homestyle publications. This is a worthy entry into that lineup. It's a fine primer with step by step instructions and copious tutorial photographs which are clear and illustrative. The author has an upbeat and casual writing style which is easy to follow. 

The introductory chapter includes a survey of styles, terms, and tools with good clear photos of each. Finishing, dyeing/painting, and repair and maintenance round out the intro chapter. The next chapters progress through techniques and weaving, basket shapes and styles, and decorative features to incorporate. The third chapter includes step-by-step instructions for three specific weaving projects: a hip basket, a melon basket with decorative spoke, and a wheel-ear high shoulder melon basket. The tutorials are filled with clear usable photographs and spare no-frills instruction. I have no doubts that a keen beginner could produce a useful basket with access to the tools and supplies enumerated.  The book also includes abbreviated tutorials for 12 additional baskets which are all beautiful and functional as well as decorative. 

Each tutorial includes an introduction with finished measurements and special features in a header. Tools and supplies are listed bullet style in a sidebar (measurements are given in American standard units). The step by step instructions are numbered sequentially. The book includes an index, but no metric conversions or source links - though a short internet search turned up a plethora of suppliers.

Well written, accessible for beginning to advanced basketweavers, useful, and appealing. Five stars.

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

Spice Apothecary: Blending and Using Common Spices for Everyday Health

Spice Apothecary is a tutorial and introduction to the uses and active ingredients in several common herbs and spices. Due out 23rd June from Storey Publishing, it's 175 pages and will be available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook formats.

Storey is well known for producing practical, sensible, well illustrated books aimed at helping readers get the best out of their lives and live a healthy lifestyle.  Many of their books and leaflets have found a permanent place in my library and I turn to them often for inspiration and advice. This is a well written collection of precise and accessible tutorials with lots (LOTS) of recipes for utilizing the active ingredients in spices and herbs to enhance and support the immune system and general health.

This is a beautifully presented book, well written and photographed. The recipes are interesting and (mostly) made with easily sourced ingredients. The introduction covers the history and a little scientifically accurate and layman accessible explanation of the history and uses of different spices. The equipment chapter also gives a good overview on equipment and supplies which will make life a lot easier. Scattered throughout the book are highlights and essays written about different herbalists with information and background on diverse topics such as why medicinal plants are effective, how to utilize them to maximize effect, and where they come from and some history of the spice trade.

It would make a good basic introduction to herbalism for readers exploring the uses of various herbs. There is little info here for more advanced students. The recipes have their ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar. The headers include a description and introduction. Special notes such as vegan friendly are listed in the introduction. Measurements are given in US standard only (there is a metric conversion chart at the end of the book). Special tools (mortar/pestle) and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and processing and dosage directions. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store (some items will need a specialist co-op or world-food/specialist grocery). Nutritional information is not included.  Variations for each recipe are also included in a footer at the end. The book also includes an index as well as references and a suppliers list (slanted toward North American readers, but readers located elsewhere will have no trouble locating supplies online). 

Four stars, absolutely gorgeous book, but -very- basic information.

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

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963)

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963) is an anthology of silver age SF written by women. Released 16th Aug 2019 by Journey Press, it's 276 pages 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.

This is a varied collection, only a couple were previously familiar to me and all were enjoyable. One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging.  It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting.  Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love anthologies because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away. Each of these stories are introduced by modern day authors with background info and the intros include interesting tidbits about the authors and their works. Attributions are included in the headers with publication info.

The stories are a varied bunch but all are enjoyable high quality silver age SF and all are 3-5 stars. The styles are reminiscent of a stroll through back issues of Astounding and F&SF (when my young and non-jaded self couldn't *wait* for the new issues to hit the stands). The book also includes an erudite and well written foreword and introduction by Laura Brodian Freas Beraha and Gideon Marcus respectively. I don't recommend that readers go into this anthology searching for feminist themes and righteous indignation because they won't find it. These are classic silver age stories written in classic style by competent authors who happened to be female. There are 14 stories included and, at the very end, a facsimile mimeographed copy of the 1958 Hugo award voting ballot which really made me smile.

Four stars.

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

Japanese Cooking Recipes

Japanese Cooking Recipes is a comprehensive technique/tutorial/recipe guide for Japanese cuisine. Released 1st June 2018 by Shinsei publishing, it's 256 pages and available in paperback format. I couldn't find ebook format information online, but I strongly recommend against puchasing the electronic format (if available), since this is an extremely graphics heavy book, literally every page has photos, and it's printed in bilingual Japanese/English which makes small format graphics a chore to read.

The book is arranged thematically with recipes arranged by category. The introductory chapters include everything from food prep, ingredients, to tools and cooking utensils. This is the best tutorial I've ever seen on knifework, showing vegetable and meat prep work such as matchstick, rosettes, dices, and others for several different vegetables. Photos are clear and easy to follow (even being unable to access the text portions, the photos are super clean and easy to understand).

The author continues with a meticulous and detailed chapter on ingredients followed by general cooking methods. Seasonal varieties and quality of ingredients is a common thread throughout. There's even a tutorial subchapter on tea and using chopsticks.

The recipes themselves have multiple tutorial photos and serving photos. I didn't count the individual recipes, but there are a large number. Special tips and advice for avoiding problems are highlighted in sidebars.

Many of the ingredients may prove challenging to source outside of a specialist grocery. Seasonal proteins and fruits may also prove difficult to find outside of Asia.

This is a beautifully written and encyclopedic text on Japanese cuisine. I am tempted to buy the print version myself (the ebook version isn't feasible for practical use).  Five stars (two stars for the .pdf version which is missing vast amounts of text and ingredients sidebars).

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

Let's Bake!: A Pusheen Cookbook

Let's Bake!: A Pusheen Cookbook is an adorable and well curated selection of baked goodies which feature Pusheen, the cute tabby cat of internet and media fame. Due out 30th June 2020 from Simon & Schuster on their Gallery Books imprint, it's 180 pages and available in hardcover and ebook formats.

This is such an appealing and well made cookbook. I've literally never met anyone who doesn't love Pusheen. It's an admittedly niche book, but every one of the recipes would make a wonderful starting point for a wide variety of inspiration (I stuck with the recipes as written and they all worked perfectly). The recipes are arranged thematically: cookies & sweets, desserts, pastries, cakes, and breads and breakfast and there are 40 different ones by my count.

The recipes all have an introduction header with yields and information. The ingredients are listed bullet style in a sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard with metric measures in parentheses (yay!). Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and cooking directions. The ingredients are all easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store. There is no index, but the expanded table of contents is well formatted and recipes are easy to find. The book does include an abbreviated glossary.

The entire feel of the book is cute, breezy, and sweetly upbeat. The recipes are written simply and clearly and the graphics, including the photographs, are clear and easy to understand. All of the recipes have finished serving photos and many of them have step by step tutorial process photos as well.

I'm often a little bit *meh* about strictly niche cookbooks, but this one is so full of appealing, tasty, and well developed recipes, that I'm making a big exception. This is a valuable cookbook for desserts and small bites which will actually get a lot of use in my kitchen.

Five stars.

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