Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Made Simple: Delicious Recipes to Reduce Inflammation for Lifelong Health

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The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Made Simple is a nutrition guide with recipes included by Molly Thompson. Due out 20th July 2021 from Quarto on their Fair Winds Press imprint, it's 176 pages and will be available in paperback format.

Recipes are arranged by category: breakfast, dips spreads & snacks, pasta & grains, poultry & pork, beef, seafood, meatless meals & sides, beverages, and desserts. They have their ingredients listed bullet style in the sidebar. Measurements are given in US standard, with metric measures in parentheses (yay!). There is no nutritional info provided. Special tools and ingredients are also listed, along with yields and step by step cooking directions. Special features such as dairy-free, gluten-free, low carb, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, and refined sugar-free are noted in the headers for each recipe.

The ingredients are mostly easily sourced at any moderately well stocked grocery store, and esoteric ingredients can be found online. Roughly half the recipes are pictured (by my quick estimate). The photographs which are included are clear and appealing and serving suggestions are appropriate. The food is styled attractively but not overdone.
 
This book would make a great gift/housewarming for someone cooking for themselves or family members with special dietary needs,  with appealing recipes, and fans of food-prep planning / batch cooking. These are healthy and appealing. I was impressed that the book avoided huge comprehensive lists of DO and DON'T eat foods. One of the biggest reasons I hesitated for so long to begin with an anti-inflammatory diet (despite psoriasis flare ups, a long history of PCOS, and moderate inflammatory joint pain (right knee) was because it seemed so darned -difficult- and there was so much forbidden. This book will make it a lot easier.

Four and a half stars.

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

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a classic Arthurian tale, certainly one of the best known of all of them. This facsimile reprint and re-release by Dover of the 1909 edition is due out 22nd June 2021. It's 112 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a readable and accessible translation in prose for readers who are interested in reading it for the story rather than studying the actual middle English alliterative poems in translation (in which case I recommend the Tolkein translation as an accessible alternative). This is a faithful reproduction done to Dover's high standards and is enhanced by line drawn knotwork illustrations and chapter headers and footers. This edition includes the chapter notes and introduction by the translator, Jessie L. Weston. The original text has been reproduced with misspellings and inconsistencies intact for authenticity.

Five stars. Worthwhile. Five perennial stars for Dover, long may they reign. This review is for the reformatted and re-released edition by Dover, not for the story itself (which is also a ripping yarn and scary/creepy/wild in its own right).

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

The Garden of Angels

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The Garden of Angels is an immersive thriller with a definite "destination fiction" element (Venice) beautifully written by David Hewson. Originally released in 2011, this new reformat and re-release from Severn House is 320 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. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. It makes it so easy to find info quickly with the search function.

This is such a beautifully written and crafted book. The interwoven timelines and juxtaposition of the (mostly) unchanging physical city contrasted with the sometimes desperate, short, muddled, and tragic lives of its inhabitants is powerfully metaphorical and effective. I loved that nearly all the characters were nuanced. Few of them were *truly* evil or good and the author does a very good job of portraying them believably. 

The historical mystery elements are cleverly done and though the plot is slow at the beginning (it's a complex story, deeply told), it kept me engaged and never lost me. I was a teenager the last time I visited Venice and the author's intimate knowledge of the city historically and currently is impressive and filled me with a desire to visit again. 

Five stars. This is one of my better reads for 2021 thus far. I would unhesitatingly recommend it to readers of historical fiction, mystery, and well written family saga.

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

Monday, June 21, 2021

How to Grow a Baby: A Science-Based Guide to Nurturing New Life, from Pregnancy to Childbirth and Beyond

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How to Grow a Baby is a layman accessible clearly explained guide to pregnancy and childbirth written by Amy J. Hammer. Due out 21st Sept 2021 from Roost Books, it's 240 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is an informative and comforting science-based book on conception, pregnancy, birth, and post-partum recovery/family planning. The chapters are arranged thematically and chronologically around a successful conception and pregnancy. Although it's not an academic work, there are meticulous and abundant annotations provided throughout. The chapter notes and bibliography are full of links for more comprehensive reading for especially curious readers. 

The illustrations are clear and understandable and the models represent a wide variety of skin tones. The text throughout is thoughtful and respectful with regard to gender and identity referring often to "birthing parent" and "sperm-contributing parent" as well as adding "chestfeeding" where "breastfeeding" also occurs. Outside of those forward-thinking and inclusive adaptations (which are positive and a good thing) the rest of the book stays far far away from any undesirable outcomes more serious than vitamin D deficiency and to avoid stress. There's no discussion of miscarriage, IVF or infertility (except for some vague talk of sperm motility and counts), stillbirth, or maternal death. It's obviously outside the scope of this book (which is to reassure expectant parents and their partners who are unsure what to expect), but having experienced stillbirth myself, I can't help thinking that despite the vanishingly slim *chance* of it happening even in industrialized nations, it *does* happen and some sort of acknowledgement of the fact would be a comfort to those few of us who are so unlucky as to have experienced it.

This is an updated guide with updated and inclusive language on what to expect from pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery. I also liked that the author made a point of saying "There is no ranking or hierarchy connected to how we birth. What matters is that we feel empowered and that we’re given every opportunity to bond with our babies". So having a C-section absolutely doesn't mean you "failed" in any way, and it's nice to see a healthcare professional saying it in black and white.

Four stars. This would be a good choice for library acquisition, people trying to conceive, or for an expectant parent. 

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

The Tiny Kitchen Cookbook: Strategies and Recipes for Creating Amazing Meals in Small Spaces

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The Tiny Kitchen Cookbook is a practical guide for using kitchen space effectively and strategies for paring down necessities in small spaces. Due out 14th Sept 2021 from Storey, it's 224 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

There is a popular trend toward minimalism in our living and working spaces. People are making do with less in a philosophical move to solidarity with our planet's dwindling resources and our ever growing economic challenges. More of us are living in RVs, some in boats, and many many more are making the move to tiny houses. Admittedly, few of us have the experience of the author, who lives on a sailboat half the year and cooks on a woodstove without electricity, without refrigeration, without a freezer, and doing all the kitchen tasks by hand. In other words, she really knows what she's talking about.

Much of the book is given to an analysis of kitchen setup and strategies for efficiently using space, making working spaces which double (or triple) the job tasks for which they are suitable. The chapter on meal planning also has really sensible tips for sharing the small space with other people if necessary, coping with smells (keep everything clean, open windows, use a fan, clean up as quickly as possible afterwards), shopping and storage tips, trash, recycling, and others. Certainly there are a number of logical takeaways for readers who are living in larger spaces as well as those who are contemplating downsizing and want a glimpse of what that might entail later. 

The recipes which are included are varied and appealing. They're arranged roughly thematically: snacks & light meals, one bowl salads & mains, stovetop one pan dishes, oven/toaster oven dishes, and desserts. Recipes are mostly scaled for two servings but can be adjusted up or down (there are a lot of good pieces of advice for using leftovers efficiently and appetizingly). Recipe measures are given in American standard units (no metric equivalents), followed by step-by-step instructions. There is no nutritional information provided. 

The photography is superlative throughout. About 25-30% of the recipes (by my rough count) are accompanied by one or more color photos as well as interior shots of the author's tiny kitchen and food serving suggestions. 

This would make a superlative addition to a 'moving out' care package for newly independent youngsters/singles/newlyweds, etc. It would also be a good choice for RVers, boaters, or folks who are downsizing.

Four stars.

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

Antoni: Let's Do Dinner


Antoni: Let's Do Dinner is a recipe guide and cookbook dedicated to pared down weekday meals by Antoni Porowski. Due out 14th Sept. 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's 272 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

I confess to being a (not obsessive) fan of Queer Eye and have enjoyed the clips I've seen; I don't watch much TV at all, but I did have a vague idea of who the author was before reviewing the book. This is in style with the down-to-earth casual but stylish vibe. The advice is sensible and emphasizes planning a little ahead and having a well stocked fridge and freezer. There is an included suggested pantry list with staples for cabinets, fridge, freezer, and countertops. The ingredients are widely available and reasonable and most of them will already be available in the moderately well stocked kitchen. 

The recipes are grouped roughly thematically and include a generous number of plant based options for meatless meals. (Reviewer aside: the falafel salad with yogurt-tahini dressing is outstanding and very easy to make). Recipes have their ingredients listed in a sidebar, bullet point style. Ingredient measures are given in American standard units only, followed by step by step instructions. Alternative ingredients and presentations are abundant and interesting. Nutritional info is not included. 

The photography is spectacular; clear and abundant. In the advanced publication version provided for review, all the recipes are accompanied by color photos - many of them have more than one. Serving suggestions are appetizing and appropriate and I loved the casual food styling throughout. The dishes looked realistic and very tasty. 

I always read intros, author's notes, and acknowledgements and I have to say that I smiled reading the gently humorous, humble, and sweetly written thank-yous at the beginning of the book from Antoni and Mindy. I haven't figured it into my overall rating of the book, but it was very nice to read.

Five stars. This would be a perfect choice for casual family dining, or for newly fledged young adults living on their own. The ingredients are reasonable and the dishes are healthy and nutritious and don't take a ridiculous amount of time to prepare.

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

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Doodle Days: Over 100 Creative Ideas for Doodling, Drawing, and Journaling

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Doodle Days is a fun and engaging tutorial guide for doodles and how-to tips by Jane Maday. Due out 23rd June from Penguin Random House on their North Light Books imprint, it's 128 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a beginner accessible, cute, and useful guide to doodling and page set-ups for journaling with tons of step by step line drawn tutorials which are easy to follow. The eARC provided for review contained a preview of approximately 40% of the finished release material, but the quality was very good throughout. The doodles cover a large number of subjects from florals to animals, foods, seasonal items and objects. In addition, the author has added chapters on journal page setups, adding text to drawings, and other how-to tutorials. 

Very informal and cute doodles will appeal to a wide audience and many of them would be welcome in drawing sessions with small humans; thus will find use for child minders, parents, educators, and others who spend time with kids.

Five stars (assuming that the overall quality holds true to the same given in the review copy provided). 

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

The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce

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The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook is a beautiful fusion of cross-culture synergy and tasty twists on familiar traditional recipes. Due out in late 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is, certainly, a recipe collection and cookbook packed with tasty recipes. More than that, though, it's a readable and engaging family story of food and hospitality which tie us all together with bonds of culture and the very basic desire to feed and care for our families and our wider communities. The highlights of the book for me were the asides and the story of the origins of the Red Boat company and the owner/proprietor

I also liked the logical and accessible layout of the book. Following the introduction, there is an information dense and useful primer on the special ingredients used in many Southeast Asian cuisines (and where to find them and how to choose the best quality). The recipes which follow are grouped thematically: breakfast, appetizers & snacks, salads & vegetables, braises, seafood, pork, chicken & beef, feasts, sweets & drinks, and pickles sauces condiments & stock. 

Recipes have their ingredients listed in bullet lists (American standard measures only), followed by step-by-step prep and serving instructions. Nutritional information is not included. The photography is abundant and colorful. The foods in the photographs are appealingly realistic and not over-styled. Serving suggestions are appealing and appropriate. Sprinkled throughout the recipes are glimpses into the history, culture, production, and packing of Red Boat sauce and other products. The authors have also included some menu planning advice and restaurant tips for visitors who find themselves in Sài Gòn. All of these are accompanied by family photos. 

Five stars. Five stars. Five stars. This is a beautifully warm and welcoming family cookbook filled with good food. One of the best American cookbooks I've seen in a while. 

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

The Heirloom Gardener: Traditional Plants and Skills for the Modern World

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The Heirloom Gardener is a multi-purpose gardening and philosophy guide by John Forti. Due out 22nd June 2021 from Workman Publishing on their Timber Press imprint, it's 264 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

The author has collected culture tips, some traditional skills, and philosophy in an alphabetical primer format. The chapters are arranged from angelica to zucchini and visit such skills as foraging (safely), grafting, and foraging and using kelp to help increase biomass and trace minerals in soil along the way. 

There are no photographs nor step-by-step tutorials. The illustrations (see cover) are woodcut primitive style and really suit the "old farmer's almanac" traditional vibe. This one fits in my library alongside the John Seymour books and more philosophy minded conservation books such as Muir and Carson.

I would recommend this to smallholders, gardeners interested in more gentle, conservation minded, and traditional methods of culture, gardening groups, allotments and community gardens, schools, urban gardens, and similar. 

Four stars.

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


Color Mixing Recipes for Oil Acrylic: Mixing Recipes for More Than 450 Color Combinations - Includes One Color Mixing Grid

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Color Mixing Recipes for Oil Acrylic is a tutorial guide with recipes for palette mixing by William F. Powell. Originally released in 1994 this reformat and re-release is due out 22nd June 2021 from Quarto on their Walter Foster imprint. It's 48 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is a no-nonsense bare bones mixing guide for oil & acrylic paint. The mixing diagrams are specific and useful. The charts are arranged according to color and contain specific values and ranges for 450 colors from about 31 base colors (Burnt sienna, Burnt umber, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red light, Cadmium yellow, etc). The base color counts are different for oil and acrylic in this book and approximations are given as mixtures.

The author has also included a short tutorial on paint mixing specifically for portraiture with a good overview over values and tones for skin colors across a wide range of skins.The book also includes a short tutorial about color theory. 

This is a very short booklet but a useful one. It would make a good reference for maker's spaces, studios, library acquisition, or the home studio. 

Four stars. 

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

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Pantry Cocktails: Inventive Sips from Everyday Staples (and a Few Nibbles Too)

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Pantry Cocktails is an interesting collection of barcraft recipes made with ingredients which are emphatically outside the normal range of cocktail items. Due out 1st July 2021 from Simon & Schuster on their Tiller Press imprint, it's 176 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats (ebook available now). 

This is an.... eccentric... collection of recipes. The positive aspects for me personally were the spirit of adventure and frugal economy in many of the recipes. The illustrations are charmingly whimsical and attractive. The writing is lightly humorous and full of appeal. I understand the impetus, the year+ of hunkering down and sheltering in place have required a spirit of grit and ingenuity from all of us. I'm willing to make a lot of sacrifices in the name of public safety; I'm not at all sure I'm willing to extend that to my cocktails. 

The ingredients are varied and, in some cases, quite odd. There is a lot to be said for a gin & tonic - gin, tonic, ice, and a lime wedge. This author would have you creating cocktails from mustard, miso paste, and the drained liquid from a can of baked beans (thankfully not in the same drink). There are pickles here, peppers, spices galore, and the juice and/or drained liquid from canned fruits and vegetables. 

More miss than hit in the cocktails for me, but I will say that the author is masterful and gives logical reasons for her choices and blends. There's a fair amount of background and history and it's clear she's knowledgeable and experienced. The food parts of the book were lovely and the small bites, appetizers, and boards are well thought out and beautifully curated and presented. The book contains no photography but the whimsical art suits the style very well. 

Three and a half stars (almost exclusively for the food recipes - very very little for the cocktail recipes). This is one for the avant-garde urban foodies who already have white miso paste in their fridges as a matter of course.

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

Forest School Wild Play

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Forest School Wild Play is a sensible and exuberant guide to outdoor fun by Jane Worroll. Released 8th June 2021 by Watkins,  it's 168 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a fun and healthy learning-rich guide for facilitators (and older kids)which contains tips and tutorials for engaging play activities outdoors. The chapters are grouped thematically by primal element: earth, air, fire, and water. The activities are appropriate for a wide age range and the number of suggested participants as well as safety considerations are provided by the authors along with alternatives and related activities. 

Many of the activities are appropriate for all ages, from preschool kids through teenagers. Tutorials are presented with info on setting, ages, learning goals, tools and supplies, and optional alternative activities. The step by step instructions which follow are well written and specific. "Try this" tips are scattered throughout the text in highlighted text sidebars. I really liked that the authors had a mostly hands-off style of engagement, suggesting to teachers and facilitators that they provide the minimum of intervention and only then in regard to safety. 

The graphics and illustrations are woodsy and really suit the style of the book. The text and layout are high contrast and easy to read with monochrome line drawn illustrations throughout. There are no photographs, but the illustrations are easy to follow and add a lot of character to the book. I didn't miss not having photographs and think the execution was very much in keeping with the outdoorsy vibe of the book.

Although it's aimed at kids, there is a quite surprising amount of bushcraft and practical survival advice contained here. There are also a lot of fun activities (making a bullroarer, simple kite, and wood whistle for example) which hide lots of practical skills. 

Five stars. This is a -very- well written and presented book. It would make a superlative choice for public or school library acquisition, makers' groups, youth activity groups, and similar.

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

The Wellbeing Toolkit for Doctors: A Supportive Guide to Help Everyone Working in Healthcare

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The Wellbeing Toolkit for Doctors is a reasonable self-care support guide aimed at healthcare workers by Dr. Lesley Morrison. Released 8th June 2021 by Watkins, it's 192 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is a well written, sensible, layman accessible guide to well-being and self-care aimed at healthcare professionals. The author is a retired clinician with years of experience both in practise and as an educator in the medical field. 

Nobody can possibly say that the last couple of years haven't been extremely stressful and exhausting. This is especially true for front line workers for whom the workplace became more comparable to a chaotic battlefield and less like a reasonable professional environment. In the midst of a crisis, we go into survival mode, both physiologically and emotionally, but over an extended period of time unresolved trauma can have lasting effects. 

This guide groups different aspects of the daily work of healthcare professionals into relevant sections: communication, compassion, kindness, empathy, psychological support and network, resilience, hope, family support, teamwork, different roles in life for one individual (she refers to these as "hats"), finding (and using) our voices, improving our working environment and relationships with colleagues, and other pertinent issues. She gives relevant and practical advice in honest pared down plain language. It felt more like a one-on-one conversation with someone who really understands the issues and constraints of being a healthcare professional, because she *is* one. 

Although the bibliography and chapter notes are full of good academic resources and links to follow up, the language of the book itself is not obfuscated or convoluted in any way. I'm not a clinician, I work as a bioengineer in a histopathology lab, so I don't have any patient contact at all, but I found a number of good takeaways relevant to my professional interactions with my colleagues and others, as well as many well presented ideas for self-care. 

Five stars. This would be a good selection for medical professionals, academics, families of front-line workers, and should be on recommended reading lists for students of clinical medicine and allied fields. 

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

Everyday Mathematics Made Easy: A Quick Review of What You Forgot You Knew

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Everyday Mathematics Made Easy is an accessible, encouraging, and simple mathematics primer by Thomas Begnal. Due out 22nd June 2021 from Quarto on their Chartwell imprint, it's 272 pages and will be available in hardcover format.

For most people, their educational arc includes some mathematics up to (and generally including) algebra, geometry, and either calculus or practical math such as statistics and data science; three to four years. For many who don't go on to pursue education in STEM subjects, that knowledge eventually fades unless actively pursued again. That's this book's purpose.

The author has a very supportive and encouraging voice, especially comforting to the readers who have had some previous math related trauma during their school days. The book starts very simply (numeracy, counting, positive and negative integers) and proceeds to somewhat more complex concepts: arithmetic, fractions, decimals, order of operations, ratios, and interest and rates. The book does a good job of presenting problems and breaking them down into step by step  solutions. Everything is specified in each step and solutions are easy to follow and understand. There are "quick tips" scattered throughout the text in highlighted sidebars with concise small bits of information which is easy to understand and utilize.

This is a very basic book with practical arithmetic instruction. It would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, for readers who need a brush-up on math problems which crop up in daily life such as household bills or figuring how much paint to buy for a project, or for helping your kid with arithmetic homework. 

Four stars.

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

In Harm's Way (Mackenzie Darroch #1)

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In Harm's Way is the first book in a psychological thriller series by Owen Mullen. Originally released in 2018, this reformat and re-release from 23rd March 2021 is 254 pages and available in 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. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book (and the sequel) are currently included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

Although referenced as Scottish noir, this is a psychological thriller and gave me more of a Gone Girl vibe than anything else. More than the first half of the book is character driven and consists of watching an extended family of unpleasantly dysfunctional people scream and throw things at one another. It took three or four attempts for me to get far enough into the book to read the parts with the actual abduction and crime solving. Once they got underway, the pace did pick up substantially.  

The author writes capably. The technical aspects of the plotting and characterizations are well done and the whole flows well stylistically. Readers who are fans of brutal psychological thrillers will likely find much to enjoy here. The book does contain a fair bit of torture, domestic violence, psychological and physical abuse, substance abuse (alcohol), and rough language. The climax and denouement were foreshadowed fairly heavily, but well written nevertheless.

Three and a half stars. Recommended for adult readers due to content and language. 

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

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Audubon Birdhouse Book, Revised and Updated: Building, Placing, and Maintaining Great Homes for Great Birds

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Audubon Birdhouse Book is a reformat and re-release of the Audubon classic. Originally published in 2013, this updated edition released by Quarto on their Cool Springs Press imprint is 176 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is such an accessible and useful guide with no-frills plans for useful, purpose built, high quality, healthy houses for birds. There are no furbelows, no twee painting, and no questionable materials. Each of the tutorials include information about the habitat and species for which they're intended. The authors have included siting and maintenance information as well.

The graphics are high contrast, easy to read, and the tutorials are well illustrated. The introduction includes information about climate change and its impact on bird habitat and range. The most common North American species are introduced along with some info about their ranges and nesting habits.

Tutorials contain isometric and exploded line drawn schematics as well as materials lists and design background details, followed by step by step tutorial directions. The projects are full of good ideas and variations to make them more specifically useful to individual readers' own needs. 

Five stars. This is a very good book for birdwatchers, ecology minded gardeners, smallholdings, community groups, maker's spaces, schools, library activity groups, and similar. 

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

Epic Vegan Quick and Easy: Simple One-Pot and One-Pan Plant-Based Recipes

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Epic Vegan Quick and Easy is a new cookbook for one-pan/pot plant based cooking by Dustin Harder. Due out 29th June 2021 from Quarto on their Fair Winds Press imprint, it's 192 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats (ebook available now). 

I liked the casual humorous vibe here. The author is encouraging and supportive as well as presenting appealing food which can be prepared quickly and with a minimum of fuss. The dishes aren't too complex and none of them require esoteric ingredients or expensive tools.

The chapters are arranged logically and the recipes are grouped by theme: staples and recipes for ingredients are followed by appetizers/snacks, small bites, soups, sandwiches, lunch, main dishes, desserts and sweet treats. 

Ingredient measurements are supplied in American standard measurements with metric measures in parentheses (yay!). The nutritional information is not included. 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 (not all though, some of the recipe ingredients are vegan substitutions for other products (butter, cheese, chorizo, etc)). Many are very simple, none of them are overly complex and they represent a refreshingly wide variety of world cuisines. There are a *lot* of one-bowl (Buddha bowl) type meals, so there are lots of variations or DIY dinner bowl possibilities. The author has also included a nice meal planning graphic for days when inspiration is difficult to find. 

The photography is abundant, although not all the recipes are accompanied by photos. The illustrations are colorful and appealing and serving suggestions are attractively styled and appetizing. 

Four stars - there are many recipes included which are perfectly accessible for beginning cooks and busy people. This would make a superlative choice for singles, college students, or younger folks cooking for one or two. There are abundant meal planning options to minimize food waste (and costs). 

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Amazing Story of Lise Meitner: Escaping the Nazis and Becoming the World's Greatest Physicist

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The Amazing Story of Lise Meitner is a new biography of the iconic physicist written by Dr. Andrew Norman. Due out 7th July 2021 from Pen & Sword, it's 256 pages and will be available in hardback format. 

The book is layman accessible, and I found it a fascinating read. It's well annotated (and the chapter notes and index make for fascinating further reading) but doesn't get bogged down in overly academic language. The biography is straightforward and doesn't dwell too much on minutiae with a notable exception. The author is quite thorough in the chapter on the Meitner family connections which includes short one-paragraph bios on many of them which was interesting and gave some scope to the appalling losses during the war and how scattered families became during the early to mid 20th century. 

The book is full of quotes from Meitner's own correspondence (she hints at lots of juicy academic gossip at the highest levels) as well as quotes from contemporary interviews and media reports on her and her work. What absolutely fascinating tales she could have told.

The chapter notes and bibliography are for papers and research many of which are presented in languages other than English (chiefly German) so readers who would like to delve deeper will need to read German or find translations.

Five stars. Heartily recommended for readers of science, history, and similar subjects. This would be a good choice for readers of science history who are not, themselves, physicists. Although the book is about physicists and their interactions and squabbles and politics, it's doesn't contain much actual physics (which is a plus for readers who don't have a strong maths or physics background).

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

 

Conscious Crafts: Pottery: 20 mindful makes to reconnect head, heart & hands

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Conscious Crafts: Pottery is a tutorial guide with projects by Lucy Davidson. Released 15th June 2021 by Quarto on their Leaping Hare Press imprint, it's 144 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

I liked the layout a lot. There's a casual philosophical feeling throughout which is much more focused on the process and mindfulness than in the finished product. The introduction includes some basic clay recipes (air drying dough type clays) as well as a primer on basic tools and supplies. The following chapters include process tutorials for lace/botanical surface impression, slab work dishes jewelry components and several others, pinch pots, wall art, plant pot markers, and several other tutorials for a wide range of objects both practical and whimsical (or both at the same time). 

Each tutorial has an introduction, tools and supplies in a bullet list in the sidebar, and step-by-step directions. The accompanying photographs and line drawings are clear and easy to understand and illustrate the process well. 

There is some good information here about the artistic process and skill building. The projects themselves are simple, the clay recipes provided are non-toxic and easy to use. This would make a good choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, or use in maker's or activity groups. The tutorials are appropriate for all ages (with a facilitator for the youngest artists). 

Four stars.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Pierced Peony (Motts Cold Case Mystery #2)

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Pierced Peony is the second book in a cozy murder mystery series by Dahlia Donovan. Released 1st May 2021, it's 199 pages and is 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. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. It makes it so easy to find info with the search function.

Although it's the second book in the series, it works well enough as a standalone. The author is adept at providing the necessary backstory without info-dumping. The plot moves along at a good pace and the scenery and interaction between the characters are engaging and well written. The characters are -all- quite quirky, several (including the main protagonist) are neurodivergent. That's not a bad thing, but it is noticeable and permeates the whole of the story. One of the things with which main character Mott struggles is serious anxiety. Some of the descriptions of her anxiety episodes are quite heartrending and might potentially be triggering to some readers. I liked that she and her friends help and support one another no matter what. 

Mott's friends and her pets (one sphinx cat, one turtle) along with Mott herself solve the mystery - which is a good thing, given the utterly useless official investigation. For readers outside of the British Isles, the spelling and vernacular are British English (tyre, flat, crisps), but should pose no difficulty for readers. 

I did enjoy this installment enough to compel me to go seek out the first book in the series. It's also nice to see neurodiversity and representation in media. 

Three and a half stars.

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