Saturday, August 11, 2018

Penned

Penned is the fourth book in the Kate Turner mystery series.  Written by real life veterinarian Eileen Brady, this entry has an anticipated release date of 9th Oct, 2018.  Published by Poisoned Pen Press, it's available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

I had read the previous books in the series and had really enjoyed the gentle pace of these cozies along with the quirky secondary characters (and their pets).  I honestly enjoy that the author slips in the occasional good suggestion for responsible pet ownership without being strident or snarky. 

The plot develops gradually, the dialogue is solidly readable.  The slow-burn romantic tension between Kate and Luke adds a little extra frisson (though I think they're both kind of being jerks to their respective romantic interests).  The denouement was a bit over the top, but that's why most of us are reading cozies with amateur sleuths anyhow.  (and *OUCH*,Kate's quite a b@d@ss!). I really like that she can take care of herself and I was cheering and *high fiving* at the end. 

This book (and the series) are well written and comfortably fun cozy reads.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series and seeing what Oak Falls has in store for Dr. Kate next.

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





The Last Netherworld of the Apocalypse (Kelly Driscoll #4)

The Last Netherworld of the Apocalypse is the 4th book in the Kelly Driscoll urban fantasy series by Nina Post. Published 14th Nov, 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press, it's 234 pages and available in ebook format.

I was unfamiliar with the artist or the series when I started reading, so I read it as a standalone.  The plot moves along at whiplash speed, so it took a while to (mostly) keep track of the players. Once I got on top of the main characters it was a lot easier to stay up to speed. 

As stated, this book is frenetic and moves along at a fierce, almost speed-of-thought pace. It is quite humorous and surprised a few giggles out of me on my daily bus commute (not easy to do).  There were a couple of times I felt that some of the sight gags were slightly indulgent on the author's part, but she is certainly adept at driving the wildly careening out of control bus with no brakes that is this book.

If I had to try to categorize the 'feel' of the book, I'd compare it to Charles Stross' Laundry Files or Larry Correia's Monster Hunter books (though this book is less testosterone driven and not as full of obscure geekery).  There's not a whole lot of super-snarky dialogue in this book which is a distinct relief.  Brain candy, fun to read, undemanding and well written.  Can't ask for much more!

Four stars

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


Monday, August 6, 2018

Her Mother's Grave (Detective Josie Quinn Book 3)

Her Mother's Grave is the third book in the Detective Josie Quinn series by Lisa Regan.  Published by Bookouture, and released 19th July, 2018, it's 346 pages and available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook formats.

This is a graphically brutal novel.  Every possible trigger warning is appropriate; there's explicit psychological torture and abuse, drug abuse, sexual abuse, trauma, sexual abuse of a child, etc.  I read this book as a standalone, and wondered (no spoiler warning) if the book might actually be using the unreliable narrator trope (it isn't).  I was sort of impressed wondering about that since it's the third book in the series using this main character. 

All that being said, it wasn't an easy book to read, though it is a well written book.  I do like police procedurals and mysteries especially with ensemble casts and I'm more than willing to stick with an author for a long while in a series until they find their footing.  The plotting in this particular entry is taut and suspensful, it just felt like slow torture to read about all the horrible things which happened to main character Josie as a child and as an adult.  It was (for my taste) just over the top.

I do know there are huge numbers of fans of procedurals/thrillers who really love nonstop action and suspense.  The ratings for this book and others in the series are proof of that.  I will add that the language is quite brutal throughout with a fair bit of strong cursing, so for readers for whom that's problematic, it's something to be aware of going into the book.

I will stick around to see how the characters develop, though the violence may cause me to bail on the series eventually.

Three and a half stars.

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

Saturday, August 4, 2018

DIY Hydroponic Gardens






There has been a resurgence lately on more effective use of our gardening resources and much more emphasis on self reliance skills for 'regular' people who don't have a lot of land or the background (or desire) to be full time farmers.  Hydroponics, though it's not a new idea, has really come into its own as a method for increasing productivity and there are a plethora of books from which to choose.

Tyler Baras has written a practical how-to book aimed at introducing several different kinds of hydroponic systems along with the pros and cons of each type of system. Most hydroponics books I've seen are impractical because they're either aimed at the professional grower with a lot of money for setup and equipment or they've been entirely too simple and impractical because they don't give any real solid how-to or steps for actually getting from the idea of growing crops or flowers hydroponically to doing it.

DIY Hydroponic Gardens spans the middle ground in providing entirely realizable practical systems which have the potential to produce food without being huge, prohibitively expensive, or impractical.

The book is 192 pages, available in ebook and paperback formats and was published by Quarto - Cool Springs Press. It's laid out in a logical format, beginning with and introduction which includes concept definitions, advantages of hydroponic growing and a good overview of the parts of a successful working hydroponic system.

Chapter two covers specific equipment including hardware, substrates, lights, and more, along with some maintenance info and how to take care of problems (like pests) before they become debilitating.

There is a large chapter on specific system setups.  Each of these includes a tutorial section which includes tools and supplies for the DIY setup.  Each setup includes a recommended plant list and a realistic discussion of the limitations and potential drawbacks.

Propagation, nutrition, maintenance, and troubleshooting, all have chapters including a good (realistic!) photography section showing some of the less desirable outcomes.  I really liked that the author showed some of the problems which occurred in his own systems.  Most books only show strawberry and lettuce plants bursting with health growing vigorously and apparently trouble-free, so that when bugs or algae pop up, new gardeners feel discouraged and incompetent.

The book has a good glossary and appendix with crop selection charts, conversion tables, a short bibliography and a no-frills index.

All in all a very useful and practical book with usable plans utilizing easily sourced hardware. 

Four stars

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

Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy

Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy is a new and refreshing look at traditional kumihimo worked with metal and mixed media threads instead of the traditional cords.  Author Christina Larsen is a self taught jewelry artist with an active YouTube following.  Published by F+W Media (partnering with Interweave Press) with an anticipated release date 11th September 2018, it's 146 pages and available in paperback format.

This is a tutorial book and includes clear full-color photographs to support and enhance the clear step-by-step instructions.  The book is laid out in a logical progression, beginning with a general introduction followed by a chapter of tools and materials.  The following chapters develop techniques, braid structures, and finishing and make up approximately 30% of the page content.

The individual project tutorials progress from simpler projects to more complex, but all of them are really beautiful and none of them look like beginner projects. Each project has its own chapter starting with a chapter heading listing measurements, all materials, and tools necessary for project completion. 

I was really surprised by the breadth of the included tutorials.  Bracelets are what spring to mind for me when I think of kumihimo but this book includes earrings, necklaces (and not just torcs), and even rings.  All of them are rich looking and lovely.

My only (small) quibble with the book was the lack of any supplier links or recommendations. In the age of e-tailers and internet supplies, that's certainly not a big hurdle.

This is a genuinely useful addition to the wireworker's library.

Four stars

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

The Pendulum: A Granddaughter's Search for Her Family's Forbidden Nazi Past

The Pendulum is a personally recounted story of a historian's search for the truth about her family's history during and after WWII.  She was born in Brazil where her grandparents had emigrated after the war. The family history was forbidden or glossed over or simply reinvented.  She decided as an adult to confront the ghosts of the past in order to try and understand her family and herself more fully.

Author Julie Lindahl is a storyteller and historian and does a meticulous job of describing and documenting her journey to unearth her grandparents' personal involvement in the war as enthusiastic National Socialist German Workers' Party members (i.e., Nazis).  As a former Fulbright scholar and graduate of Oxford University, she's a well trained academic with impressive credentials, but what struck me about this book was not the academic precision, but the basic humanity.  All families have 'skeletons' lying buried.  There are always things which are no-go zones, whether it's a distant relative's drinking problems or their great-great-grandmother's transportation to Australia. Few of those skeletons leave such long shadows as the ones resonating down to the present day from the second world war, at least in the west.

I personally grew up in a family where questions about WWII weren't really allowed (or at least emphatically not encouraged) and it wasn't until I was an adult that I really understood that my paternal grandfather's entire family perished and that he was the only survivor.  The trauma and survivor's guilt left him with lifelong depression which also colored my father's childhood and upbringing.  Despite the problems, he was my grandfather and I adored him.  I can very easily understand the same dichotomy Ms. Lindahl describes in her book.  How do you even begin to try to reconcile the person you knew as a loving family member with the history which you objectively know to have happened?

I look around at the political climate and the horribly unthinkable things which are happening in the full light of day today, which would simply not have happened even ten years ago and I shiver.  There have been wounds festering for the better part of eighty years which really should have been acknowledged and dealt with long ago.  There's a metastasis occurring now, today, in many places in the USA and Europe and if we don't do something, we're destined to go down the same road.  It's absolutely chilling.

Anyhow, this book is very well written.  It doesn't provide much that will thrill actual historians, it's not a history book.  It's emphatically not dry or academic.  It's more of a journal.  It's not a long book, 256 pages, and I devoured it in a couple of sittings.  There is an interestingly eclectic further suggested reading list appended to the end of the book, many of which were previously unknown to me.

This would make a really superlative group or bookclub read.

Five stars, meticulously written, gripping, sad but occasionally humorous as well.

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

Friday, August 3, 2018

Time for Bed, Miyuki

Time for Bed, Miyuki is a lovely book aimed at younger children (and their caregivers).  I was enchanted from page one.  The story is familiar to everyone who has ever interacted with a young child.  ... "Just one more thing before bed"!  Luckily Miyuki's grandfather is the epitome of patience.

There is a concept called 'iterative contextual repetition' (or similar formulations), which basically says that the human brain learns by hearing and repeating the same things over and over and learning things by gradually building lists is a very effective way to learn.  There are many examples of cumulative songs/poems/stories such as The 12 Days of Christmas, The Rattlin' Bog, The House that Jack Built, and others.  This book uses that format very effectively for the narrative text.

Miyuki's whimsically imaginative before-bedtime to-do list includes a pavilion for the coming visit of the Dragonfly Queen (and her court), taking her snails for a walk, knitting a sweater for her cat, and more.  Each activity is accompanied by full page illustrations which are breathtakingly lovely, crisp, and beautifully rendered. This is a wonderful book for children and adults alike and would make a super read-together for bedtime (or library read-along).

Superlative book. Five stars

Stats:
30 pages, release date 18 September, 2018, available in hardback format.
Author: Roxane Marie Galliez
Illustrator: Seng Soun Ratanavanh
Published by Princeton Architectural Press

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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Heirloom Vegetable Gardening

Heirloom Vegetable Gardening is an updating and re-release of the classic reference book by William Woys Weaver.  Originally published in 1997, this second edition has been updated with many new photographs, new content, and a new introduction.  Republished by Quarto - Cool Springs and released 20 March, 2018, it's 480 pages of well written advice and information very well presented.  The author, William Woys Weaver, is a genuine expert whose love of plant diversity and heirlooms shines through in the warm and well written prose.

This is a great reference book, but along with the clear instructions and culture information comes a wealth of side-stories, history, and trivia.  The book is beautifully written and the author manages to convey his lifelong love and respect of plants without being strident or fanatical.

I have a copy of the first edition of this book and have worn it out.  I treasure it because it still has margin notes and clippings from my paternal grandmother inside.

Genetic diversity in our plants and especially in our food cannot be overstated.  It's absolutely critical that we reclaim and preserve the varieties which still exist.  In the last 80 years, we've lost approximately 93% of our vegetable varieties.  It's scary and sad, and luckily there are dedicated folks making an effort to protect our heritage.

I don't know anyone who can really look at this graphic and not be terrified.


Dr. Weaver continues the good fight.  This book is informative, engaging and vital.

Five stars, honestly off the scale in terms of accessibility, correctness, information and importance.

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

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Father of Lies

The Father of Lies is a collection of short novels and novellas by K.J. Parker (a.k.a. Tom Holt). It's a brick of a book, well over 500 pages, and contains 12 pieces which run the gamut from first person revenge/love tales, to (mostly) straightforward mythology retellings, complete with the drama and infighting immortals get up to, and a couple of decent Faustian stories for good measure.

Most of the time when I'm reviewing collections and anthologies, I swear I'm going to savor them like a box of chocolates and wind up devouring the whole thing cover to cover.  That's not really the way to experience this book.  I enjoyed this book a lot more for having read a story at a time interspersed with other completely different genres and styles.

Picking out stories to highlight is difficult, they're consistently well written and the author has a deft hand and sure voice.

I honestly enjoyed all of the stories, but No Rest for the Wicked, The Things We Do for Love, and The Devil You Know were outstanding.  It's worth noting that all of the stories in this collection were previously published elsewhere, but it's nice having them conveniently accessible together.

There is no additional author background or introduction included with the book; the stories stand up quite well on their own merits.

Enjoyable, savor them over time.

Four stars (on average, trending toward a five, there are many flashes of brilliance here).

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



Song of a Captive Bird

Song of a Captive Bird is a fictionalized historical account based on the life of Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad. Written by Jasmin Darkznik, released 13th February, 2018 by Random House Ballantine, it's 401 pages and available in all formats.
Though it is a fictionalized account, the author has clearly done exhaustive and meticulous research.  The narrative is seamless and engaged me from the beginning.   This was a really difficult book for me to read.  As a westerner growing up in the 70s-80s, I was never directly confronted by the overwhelming sexism and casual cruelty experienced as a daily part of life of women in Iran in the early part of the 20th century.

Forough was an outspoken poet and activist during a time and place when women simply weren't given the option to be anything other than wives and mothers.  Much of the narrative of this book centers on her childhood to young adulthood and her chafing anger at the harsh realities for women in pre-revolutionary Iran. I've read much of Farrokhzad's poetry after reading this book and it astounded me how razor sharp and strong and desperately sad much of it is even after 50+ years.

She was a fascinatingly complex, flawed, strong soul and Jasmin Darznik does credit to her life.  This is not a book I will forget in a hurry.

Five stars

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


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Hopjoy Was Here

Hopjoy Was Here is the third in the Flaxborough Chronicles and another winner in Colin Watson's classic English crime procedural. Like the other books in the series, this entry sees Inspector Purbright on the hunt for a potential murderer. It's not immediately clear if there has been a murder, so Purbright & co. have to figure out what has happened and to whom.  The author's incredibly dry humor and sense for the absurd is spot on and this book is really funny albeit macabre (see cover for this edition) in places.

This re-release, out 22 March, 2018 from Farrago is 160 pages.  Originally published in 1962, this reformat and re-release is available in ebook and paperback formats.  The plot is convoluted (in a good way) and the humor is wry and subtly sharp.  For having been written over 50 years ago, it has aged very well and doesn't seem very dated at all in my opinion.

Colin Watson was a really masterful and precise writer who wrote very enjoyable humorous books.  This is one of them and well worth picking up.

Four stars, I liked it very much!

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




Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions is the first novel in a mystery series by author Mario Giordano. The titular character, Isolde Oberreider, aka Poldi, has retired from film/tv (where she was a costumer) to Sicily to drink, soak up sun, enjoy seeing attractive men in uniform and live out her twilight years whilst solving the occasional murder.

At 346 pages, it's a more substantial read than many contemporary procedurals or cozies. The length allowed the author to richly develop the setting and characters without suffering from book bloat at all.  The plotting was tight and the pacing was perfect and never dragged for me.

 Released 6th March, 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audiobook formats.

This is a really charming book with very appealing and sympathetic characters written with humor and heart.  I really cared about the characters.  The narrator, Poldi's nephew, serves as Poldi's sounding board, along with three Italian aunties who serve as a Greek chorus for the narrative.
Originally released in German in 2015, the translation by John Brownjohn is seamless and nuanced and certainly doesn't seem to detract from story at all.
Poldi is smart and funny, quirky and outspoken and I adore her.  I'm really looking forward to future installments (foreshadowed on the last page, and already released in German and coming soon in translation). 

Five stars, really enjoyable read.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

Rocks, Fossils, Minerals, and Gems

Rocks, Fossils, Minerals, and Gems is a nonfiction intro to mineralogy aimed at young readers (elementary - middle school).  Author Claudia Martin has written numerous books on nonfiction subjects for young readers previously.
Published by Quarto - QEB, due out 18 July, 2018, it's 80 pages and available in paperback format.

 The text is easy to follow and logically structured.  The pictures are curated from many sources; there is a comprehensive credits list at the end of the book.  Though the graphics are not original to this book, they do a good job of supporting and enriching the text.

This would make a good addition to a science library or classroom introductory unit on mineralogy for primary to early middle school readers.  It's appealingly colorful and easy to understand.  It must be understood that this is a very basic introduction to some of the terms and properties of minerals.  The science is sound and the book is factually correct (with a lot of trivia). The book includes a very short glossary and photography credits, but no bibliography or resources for further reading.

Three and a half stars.

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wabi-Sabi sewing

Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a new sewing/crafting book from Karen Lewis.  Due out 31st July 2018 from F+W Media, it's 128 pages and available in ebook and softbound formats.  The concept of wabi-sabi is deeply satisfying to me.  It's about making do, creating something from less-than-exactly-perfect materials and celebrating the innate imperfection in everything. 

The book follows a logical format.  The first chapters introduce concepts, techniques, materials and tools.  The next chapters are split into general groups:  Living, Eating, Exploring, and Sleeping.  Each of the broad categories includes five related projects.  The 'Living' chapters include a lovely paper pieced pillow, a Hawaiian quilted wall hanging, a quilted pouffe, a set of fabric coasters, and a pieced lap quilt. 

All of the projects in this book are suitable for keen beginners to more advanced sewists and all are appealing, in my opinion.  As I was reading the book, all of them were projects I could imagine myself making at some point.  The instructions are very clear and well written.  The piecing instructions are also clear and easy to follow.

The supplies listed at the beginning of each project are complete and include everything (even thread is listed).

All in all a very useful sewing book filled with appealing projects. 

The illustrations for each project are line drawn and easy to understand.  There are color photographs of the finished projects throughout the book, including at least one clear color photo of each project inside the project chapter (so no flipping back and forth trying to figure out what goes where).

All in all a really appealing, well written book. 

Five stars

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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker is a new young reader book in the series Little People, Big Dreams.  Written by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara and illustrated by Agathe Sorlet, it's due out 31st July from Quarto publishing Frances Lincoln imprint.  Aimed at younger readers, it's 32 pages, perfect for a storytime or classroom circle read.  It's available in hardcover and ebook formats.

The text is inset into full color page illustrations and each page illustrates the accompanying text.  The art is whimsical and simple (see cover) and very appealing.  I absolutely loved that it's factually based and realistic and doesn't shy away from the reasons for Ms. Baker's emigration from the US or her life and activities without devolving into stridency or preachiness.  The story is followed by a short biography with pictures of her life with ideas for further reading.

This is a perfectly charming little book.  I enjoyed it very much and appreciate that this series takes on serious subjects in an accessible and digestible format for young readers. 

Five stars for the format, subject matter, honesty, and charming presentation.

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

Love Letters to Jane's World

Love Letters to Jane's World is an anthology collection by Paige Braddock with an anticipated release date 21st August, 2018.  Published by Lion Forge, it's 304 pages of previously released material with new background info and commentary.  It's available in paperback and ebook formats.

I love the ensemble cast in Jane's World because they highlight the innate random absurdity of the universe (talking dogs, aliens, bigfoot (bigfeet?) glasses wearing crabs), whilst still remaining firmly human in their day-to-day travails (crap job, relationship problems, money issues).  I love the escapism and humor (and there's lots of both to be found here).  The book doesn't spend any page content getting new readers up to speed, so it's good to have a little background familiarity going in.

Underneath the random weird stuff, the cast seem to be (mostly) decent and kind.  There's no hidden agenda, they're just folks living their (slightly weird) lives.  Jane's something of an everyperson dork and she's really easy to like, even when she's being clueless and annoying.

I would strongly recommend not trying to compare this series to anything else.  I think a lot of reviewers have such strong preconceived ideas of What It Means To Be A Gay Comic that they sort of miss the point.  Jane & co. are people going about their lives, buying wine and groceries and going to work and don't HAVE (and shouldn't need to have) an agenda.  It's a mostly humorous comic book about life whose titular character happens to be gay.  Don't read it just for the gay.

I really enjoyed the book a lot.

Four stars.  

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


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Night Dragon

The Night Dragon by Naomi Howarth is a beautifully illustrated story for young readers (4-7 years). Written by Naomi Howarth and published by Quarto - Frances Lincoln with an anticipated release date 7th August, 2018, it's 32 pages and available in hardback format.

This is a gently written fable with an uplifting and encouraging message.  The themes of friendship, teamwork, believing in oneself and encouragement are supported by the artist/author's exquisitely detailed whimsical art.

I adored this book.  This will make a really wonderful bedtime story or reading circle book for preschool to second grade.  The prose is sweet and simple.  Mouse is Maud the dragon's best friend, cheerleader and partner.

Five stars.  Just lovely!

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

Rock Art Handbook: Techniques and Projects for Painting, Coloring, and Transforming Stones

Rock Art Handbook by Samantha Sarles is an exuberant how-to DIY for turning found stones into small works of art.  Due out 13th August, 2018 from Fox Chapel Publishing, it's 160 pages and available in paperbound format. 

I already used 'exuberant', but it's the best descriptor for this book.  The photography is lovely and full color throughout.  The author writes in an easy to follow style and the book is simply packed with good tips and techniques.  The introduction does a good job of showing the available tools and necessary supplies.  She even describes what makes a rock easy or difficult to paint. Preparation and priming are covered in the intro chapter with more advanced techniques having the necessary additional steps included inside the individual project chapters.

The step by step tutorials are clear and easily followable with photographs and supporting text. The included techniques are broadly varied, from marbling to decoupage, painting with acrylic, puffy paint, markers, metallic pens and more. There's something for everyone.  I especially love the mandalas and zentangles.  

The author says something quite profound in her introduction also: 
Here's the best thing about creating art on rocks: rocks are not intimidating. There's something quite different about looking at a simple, natural rock compared with staring at an overwhelming blank canvas or piece of paper.

This is just a really fun (exuberant!) colorful do-able art book.  The final chapter includes  rock art with (and for) kids.  I really loved the story rocks.  What an awesome idea!

Five stars.  This book does what it aimed to do very well. Fun fun fun!

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



Cross Stitch Patterns From 1660 Vol. 1

Cross Stitch Patterns From 1660 Vol. 1 is the first of a 4 volume set of paperback reprints of Paul Fürst's 1660 Neue Modelbuch. There are a number of obsolete copyright free books which are being resurrected and presented to a new generation of artist/crafters.  That's undeniably a good thing.  All of these books (and there are a pile of them in addition to the four in this series) are facsimiles of the original archived books available on the internet (for free).

The books themselves are paperbound and pretty high quality.  The actual plates could definitely have been cleaned up and reprinted in a much clearer format than they are. They appear to be scans of an extant original text copy. They're readable, mostly. They each include 48 pages of illustrations, printed on both sides of the page.  Volume 1 is allover patterns (see cover). Volume 2 includes a few pages of allover (diaper) designs, but also has several pages of heraldic charts and a few charted bands which would be suitable for a sampler embroidery.  Volume 3 has some larger (page sized) floral designs along with a few heraldic shields. Volume 4 has fruits, florals and more  bands.

The reprinter/compiler (Angela M. Foster) makes an oblique reference to the original sourecebook on the back cover: " These designs were collected from a book titled, "New Model Book of Different Kind Vol. 1".  There is no further discussion of the original author (Paul Fürst) or publishing history (1660 Leiden(?) or Nurnberg) or original published title (Das neue modelbuch, von schonen nadereyen, ladengewürck, und paterleinsarbeit) at all.

These books would be a useful starting point for SCAdians, costumers, counted cross-stitch or other graphed type crafts (filet, crochet, netting, etc).

I am happy that they're available.  I don't begrudge the compiler the opportunity to make a living repackaging original works for a new generation, but I really don't like the omission of any historical context or credits.


Three and a half stars




Monday, July 2, 2018

Flotsam (Peridot Shift #1)

Flotsam is the first book in a new series (Peridot Shift) and the debut novel from new voice R. J. Theodore. This book had me at hello.  It promised everything in my ideal book checklist. Fantasy, touch of magic, aliens, steampunk, strong female characters with ensemble cast, pirates/junkers on a treasure hunt, some humor, good dialogue and plot driven narrative.

This was a solidly readable good book.  I really saw a cliffhanger coming for 300 pages but when I had read the last page, I immediately started jonesing for the next book in the series.

This is high fantasy with cool world building, well thought out races, alien tech (the wasp-aliens with carved exoskeletons made me squee out loud.  Ok, almost...but damn that was cool!), betrayal and survival and teamwork and...

It's a brick of a book, 535 pages, but doesn't suffer from book bloat in the slightest.  It's not slow, doesn't drag, and the author isn't so fond of their own voice that they can't bear to cut anything they've written (I'm lookin' at you, Stephen King).

Released 27 March, 2018 by Parvus Press, it's available in ebook, paperback and audiobook formats. Really well written. Looking forward to the sequels.

Four stars

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