Saturday, October 28, 2017

Yearbook of Astronomy 2018

After the death of Sir Patrick Moore in 2012, The Yearbook of Astronomy was in danger of ceasing publication.  It had been published annually for more than 50 years and was saved by the timely intervention of dedicated astronomers and laypeople who were invested in securing publication going forward.

Happily, Pen and Sword, a UK publisher, along with Brian Jones and Richard Pearson, FRAS,  have picked up the mantle to carry this worthy yearly resource forward into the future to inspire and educate astronomy fans worldwide.

The book is a workhorse.  It's built on a no-nonsense, useful, and familiar format.  A forward and introduction are followed by recommendations for using and getting the most out of the book. The following star charts, which comprise roughly 15% of the content, are split into northern and southern hemisphere charts.

After the charts, there's a short section with dates and data for moon phases and eclipse info and best viewing areas.

The bulk of the yearbook (as in previous years) is taken up by the monthly sky notes and articles.  I really love that the 'meat' of these yearbooks are accessible and interesting to a broad range of users, from amateurs to academics.  It's a very inclusive, well (and entertainingly) written guide for everyone.

Following the monthly sky notes are the articles whose author list reads like a who's who from Astronomy, Popular Astronomy, Astronomy FM, etc etc.  Contributors include Neil Haggath, Mike Frost, John McCue, Rod Hine, Damian Peach (with whose gorgeous photography many readers will be familiar even if they don't know that they know his work), and many others.

Practical, well written, inclusive and classic, it's a worthy successor to a long line of Astronomy Yearbooks.

Personal confession.  Some of my best memories are going out (with a homemade redlight) with my dad to look up at the stars.  He gave me a lifelong love of and joy in learning and an appreciation for physics and astronomy particularly. I'm overjoyed that my dad lived long enough to know that my daughter, his granddaughter has gone on to study astrophysics and pursue a career as an astrophysicist.
I'm very happy and thankful that Pen and Sword picked up the publication for the Astronomy Yearbook and continue to offer it to enthusiasts worldwide.

I would encourage everyone to get outside and look up at our beautiful and amazing night sky.

Five stars, plus nostalgia value

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

Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, 5th Edition

Storey Publishing is well known for producing practical, sensible, well illustrated books aimed at helping smallholders and gardeners get the best out of their properties and small farms.  Many of their books and leaflets have found a permanent place in my gardening library and I turn to them often for inspiration and advice.

Raising Dairy Goats, originally published more than 40 years ago, is now in its 5th edition with updated information and many new photographs.

I have heard many people call this the 'goat bible' and it really is.  It is comprehensive, well written with sensible timely advice and covers pretty much every eventuality.

The book starts from a very basic introductory level (what are goats, where are they from, what are they like, how do they react to different situations)  and moves through very well written chapters concerning milk and dairy products, how to source your first goat(s) and which breeds to buy (or even how to decide if purebred animals are suitable for your needs).  The next chapters cover how to house, feed and care for your goats and how to estimate costs.  I really liked the examples used in the book concerning how to figure the costs of the dairy and/or meat you produce from your goats.

There is a very in-depth chapter on health and how (and when) to consult a professional and what healthcare and grooming tasks can be carried out by the owner.

To produce milk and dairy, the does must produce kids, and to produce kids, they must be bred.  There are comprehensive (and realistic) chapters on buck goats and the inherent challenges they represent (and how to decide if you need to own a buck or not), breeding, kidding, milking and producing cheese and other items, including meat.

The book concludes with appendices, a resource section with links, a glossary and a very useful index.

For the last 40+ years, if people bought one goat book, it would be Storey's Guide to Goats.  The 5th edition is a worthy addition to that legacy.  A wonderful updated encyclopedic sensible book for the homesteader or 'someday' goat owner.

Five stars.  Couldn't be better written or presented in my opinion.

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

Bucket's List

Bucket's List is the first of a new series by Gary Blackwood, due out 1st December, 2017 from Severn House publishing. It's set in 1853 in London and environs.  The main character, Charlie Field, has been forced out of the police for refusing to be taken off a case and causing embarrassment to the powers that be by solving it.  Finding himself out of a job, his friend Charles Dickens (yes, that Charles Dickens) suggests that he use the fictitious name Inspector Bucket, since it was he who originally served as the inspiration for the fictional inspector from Dickens' Bleak House, to set himself up as a private enquiry agent.

This is a fun period mystery, introducing a handful of characters who are well written and believable.  There are poignant reminders of the social inequalities and conditions for the poor and exploited in Victorian London.  The book manages to avoid being preachy despite the serious and melancholy nature of Charley's investigations, including the murder of a friend who's a prostitute. 

He enlists help from several friends including Isam Jones, a chemist turned photographer (and former counterfeiter), who provides a nice scientific counterpoint to Charley's more traditional investigative methods.  He's also aided by a young constable named Mull whom I hope to see in upcoming books.

There are a number of interwoven story-lines in this book.  The plotting and dialogue are comfortable and believable.   The author manages to sew up most of the subplots while leaving enough loose threads to lay the groundwork for an overarching plotline which will support the following volume(s).

I'm a huge fan of period mysteries, especially Victorian and Edwardian English mysteries, so this was right to my taste. Other fans of period London will likely also enjoy this holiday mystery.

Three and a half stars.

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Mansions of Murder

This is the 18th entry in the Brother Athelstan series by Paul Doherty from Severn House.  Due out on 1st December, 2017, it's a very well researched historical mystery set in the late autumn of 1381 in London.  After the great revolt was put down earlier the same year, the uneasy peace was held by private armies, gangs of ruffians called 'rifflers', and the standing army.  A functional civil government had more or less been re-established and the parliament had been recalled to London.

Brother Althelstan is called in to investigate the perplexing 'locked room' mystery of a priest and a visiting retainer who are found dead in a church.  Not only are both men found murdered inside the locked church, but a woman's corpse is missing and a treasure chest is opened and emptied.  The missing dead woman is the recently deceased mother of the most notorious of the rifflers, Simon Makepeace, a.k.a. the Flesher.

Having read many of Mr. Doherty's other books, I was expecting a well crafted mystery.  Although it is the 18th book in the series, it had been some years since I had read any of the other books in this series and it works perfectly well as a standalone mystery.  The background for the characters is presented in a way that manages to convey all the necessary backstory without spoon-feeding readers already familiar with the setting and characters.

The plotting and dialogue are very well crafted and the entire book is beautifully researched and historically correct.  I felt that the dialogue succeeded quite well in walking the fine line between being comprehensible to a modern audience and still maintaining a period flavor.

There are many subplots and subtly interwoven stories here and I wondered how Doherty would manage to tie them together in a lean 240 pages, but he does manage it (and satisfyingly).  I also really enjoyed the development of Athelstan's friend, Sir John Cranston, the Lord High Coroner of London.  He's by far one of my favorite characters (and I wish he would get his own series).

All in all, a really nicely written and satisfying period mystery; can we ever really have enough of those?

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Niki Jabbour's Veggie Garden Remix

Niki Jabbour is a familiar name to people who love gardening (or reading about gardening). This is her newest book, which offers a fun and useful look at heirloom varieties and alternatives to classic garden crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, etc.

There's a whole literal world of heirloom and localized varieties which are mostly not known to American gardeners.  Some of them are becoming more available via farmers' markets and CSAs as well as heirloom seed saving groups, many of whom have an almost zealous fervor about spreading and preserving the variety and heritage many of our great grandparents took for granted.

This book, 240 pages, due to be released 6th of February, 2018 from Storey publishing is written in Jabbour's informal, familiar, and informative style.  It also has an unusual format.  The chapters are arranged around garden standard plants and their lesser known (but often more delicious and nutritious) alternatives:  'if you like tomatoes---why not try this'.  There are chapters for tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, snap beans, arugula, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and several others.  The 'alternatives' to the usual popular garden staples include information and many luscious full color photos of 238 new plants to try in your home garden.

The photography is straight up gardening heaven.  Beautifully photographed and well explained, the photos support the text very well and give great depth to the book.  There are also a fair number of pictures of (presumably) Niki's own family garden.  I've yet to meet a gardener who doesn't like to see pictures of other people's gardens.  (Hint: hers are well organized, healthy, and beautiful).

I like that she takes the time in several places to talk about pollinating insects and planting heirloom varieties for other reasons than just growing exactly the same thing as everyone else.  Diversity is so incredibly important and she really 'gets it'. 

One quibble I had with the book and text (and it's a small one) is that she generally doesn't talk about suitability for different zones.  I get the feeling that was intentional, because it might have been beyond the scope of the book, and that gently forcing the readers to do more support is a good thing... but some broad general guidelines would have been useful, I think. 

Anyhow, a beautifully written and photographed book which fills a definite need.  I enjoyed the chatty style and the lovely photography.

Four stars.

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Wolf's Joy

The Wolf's Joy is a holiday novella due out 20th Nov, 2017 from Simon & Schuster's Adams imprint. Written by Holley Trent, this is a standalone tie-in with crossover characters from her other 'Maria' novels.  (Maria is a town, not a person).

Alex Cavanaugh is a waitress in a diner in Maria, New Mexico where paranormals live side by side with humans.  Ben Swain's a wolf shifter who's in town on bodyguard duty and looking for a temporary encounter to keep his wolf hormones in check.  Alex has had some bad experiences (her ex's nickname, 'Deputy Dipsh*t' almost made me snort diet coke out my nose), and she swears she's not looking for anything other than a temporary measure to keep her hormones in check, so she can concentrate on her budding horticulture business. 

Yes, they bonded in about 5 minutes flat.  Yes, it's goofy in places and the sarcastic humor doesn't always ring true.  On the other hand, sometimes you need a really sweet, silly, light, romantic sexy read and this one is sweet and undemanding.  There's enough dramatic tension to give the denouement a fluffy and romantic payoff. 

I wasn't particularly pleased by portraying the local conservationist/ecology park ranger type character as a complete doofus, and I'm very much against gathering native plant materials irresponsibly (which Alex doesn't do, exactly), but I'm probably the only person who will react to that part of the story.

For fans of playfully light paranormal romance, this quick read (128 pages) will satisfy. NSFW, but not erotica, either.  I'm not really the target audience; I'm sure paranormal romance fans will enjoy it very much.

Three and a half stars.

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

Dragon's Trail

Dragon's Trail is book 1 of The Outworlders series by Joseph Malik from Oxblood books.

Scratch beneath the surface of any hardcore LARPer/SCAdian/fantasy/dragon bookworm and you'll likely find someone who deep down really wants to believe that it's possible to hop worlds into a dragon/magic/fantasy realm.  Frankly most of us would be up for being a peasant in one of those stories and I bet you most of us would allow ourselves a 5 minute freak out and then say 'I KNEW IT!!'

This book is a crossworld fantasy with a world class fencer/martial artist who's working off a bad load of karma after a duel leaves another competitor dead.  He's been drifting from job to job, picking up consultant gigs in the movies, training other martial artists and trying to find his long lost self respect.
Written in 3rd person omniscient, it has such a classic vibe that the entire book almost resonates with pure epic fantasy.   The background info and worldbuilding is unparalleled in my experience and I have never seen any novel (letalone a first novel) with such exquisite detail. 

This book is intelligently written with complex and believable characters.  The dialogue is smooth and the pacing and plotting are beautifully paced and well rendered.  I honestly can't find one single quibble and in 472 pages there wasn't one negative note from me.  That's not easy for an (almost) 500 page book.  I was not yanked out of the story even once.

I really really loved this book and impatiently await the next book(s). Write like the wind, Mr. Malik!

5 stars.  Classic fantasy, perfectly executed.  A true delight to read!

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mining for Justice

Mining for Justice is the 8th book in the Chloe Ellefson series by Kathleen Ernst from Midnight Ink.

Writing history based narrative fiction is always a tricky prospect because often, it winds up being too technical for period fiction lovers and not academically rigid enough for historians.  Balancing between the needs of laymen and academics is something living history museums are well acquainted with, almost always with the added constraint of budget cuts and lack of resources.

'Fighting the good fight', to provide resources and education to the public and academics is obviously very familiar to the author of this authentically written and engaging mystery.

Set in Mineral Point, Wisconsin and environs, Chloe Ellefson is a visiting curator on loan, who's only trying to enjoy a week long sabbatical from her antagonistic, micromanaging boss.  What she gets instead is murder, intrigue and a long buried skeleton in a root cellar.

The plotting is well managed between the current day and supporting flashbacks to the 1830's. The dialogue is believable and well written.  The characters are well drawn (this is the 8th book in the series).

The novel functions fine as a standalone, though I found it well written enough that I intend to go pick up the other entries in the series.  Chloe and company are fun and intelligent.  I enjoyed the book very much.  I also enjoyed the actual photographs of the site and some of the artifacts written in the book (though they're fictionalized of course).

Four stars

Stats: 384 pages, available in Kindle, library binding and paperback
Published October 8, 2017

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

Friday, October 20, 2017


Every year for the last several years there have been studies and polls which sample people from many countries in the world.  The questions range from general (how happy you are) to specific things about health, general well being, satisfaction, wages, living, safety etc.

Every year the statistics have been compiled, the Scandinavian countries (or more generally speaking, northern Europe) have ranked highest.

This charming book by Brontë Aurell on Quarto Press' Aurum imprint
explores (in a very laid back and humorous and sweet manner), just why Scandinavians are so darned happy (but not smug).

The book is surprisingly comprehensive and does a fairly good job at pointing out some of the subtler differences between Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and other cultures.  Obviously there are generalizations, no country is completely homogenized, there are regional differences, but it manages to cover the basics without being preachy, boring, or rude.

My personal journey is sort of a mirror image, I moved from the USA to Norway to study and work, and very many of the things she explains in the book, I wish I'd known when I moved here.  I personally also found that sometimes the cultural differences (and there ARE some) are semi-hidden because nearly everyone in Scandinavia speaks English perfectly fluently, so when there are cultural misunderstandings, they can be difficult to pin down.

Anyhow, it's a fun book, a very relaxed and gently humorous book.  The styles and crafts and food (MOST of the food), the breathtaking scenery and the wonderful friendly down-to-earth people are worth a visit (or a longer stay).

I know that I personally am so much happier living here and have never regretted it.

Stats:  224 pages, released 7th Sept 2017

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Artsy Mistake Mystery

This is the second book in the Great Mistake series by author Sylvia McNicoll from Dundurn. It's a fun and very well written chapter book for middle readers with an appealing protagonist, Stephen Noble and his sidekick, Renée Kobai. 

I really loved that this book gently showed the main character coping and mastering life skills whilst dealing with OCD in a positive manner.  He's very intelligent, careful, and honest but not an unbelievable paragon (at one point early on in the book, he's contemplating as only a 12 year old boy can, the social costs of having a friend who's a girl).  He's a very likeable kid and I liked that he's not too perfect.

The plotting is steady and comfortably tense without tipping over into scary.  When art goes missing around town, Renée's brother Attila gets the blame.  Renée is sure that the only way to clear Attila's name is to solve the mystery themselves in between homework, school and their dog-walking job.
The book has 217 pages and would be appropriate for more advanced middle grade readers (there's very little interior art and a fairly complex plot with several story lines).

The cover and chapter heading art are appealingly naive and colorful.

I enjoyed the book very much, especially for showing the normalcy of real life for many people living and coping with OCD and other challenges.

Four stars

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

Knit Mitts

Knit Mitts by Kate Atherley is a follow up and companion book to her Custom Socks book.  It's to be released 26th October by F+W's Interweave imprint.

I think most knitters have felt the frustration of substituting yarn or fibre and winding up with a finished article that didn't fit or wear correctly.  The problem is compounded by the fact that we're knitting essentially a 2 dimensional object (sock/mitten/etc) to fit on a very variable 3 dimensional body.

This book is very in-depth and clearly explains how to measure the recipient's hand correctly and compensate for variations (short (or maybe missing) fingers, oddly shaped or very petite hands, a thin or thick wrist etc) and wind up with a finished product that really fits and flatters the recipient.

There's an entire chapter on fit, and one on fibres and how to make appropriate and warm fabrics for mittens and gloves.  There are follow up chapters on the nuts and bolts of construction and on basic patterns and variations.  This is all before introducing the individual patterns.

I -really- love the fact that the measurement and size tables are so complete and detailed.  I've seen some reviews saying it's 'very math intensive' and I would disagree somewhat.  The tables are so detailed and complete and the instructions are so well written that it's just a matter of measuring and finding the row and column in the book.  The mathematical gymnastics are all done for you.
For people who enjoy the number-crunching, there are good guidelines included so you can do your own pattern writing.  I really enjoyed that freedom.

Roughly half the book's content is given to fit and construction.  It's well supported and complete.  The last half of the book is given over to the individual beautiful patterns.  One thing I love about knitting is making cleverly constructed useful objects to warm my family and friends.  The included patterns are lovely, functional, and very cleverly constructed with fitted wrist ribbing and patterning details.

I immediately sat down to cast on a pair of the lovely lace fingerless gloves called 'Forsyte' for my youngest daughter in a luscious aubergine sport weight alpaca.  She's come in practically every hour since then to see if they're done yet.  They're knitting up beautifully. There were no discernible mistakes in that pattern.

Lovely book, wonderfully detailed and well written.  Gorgeous full color detailed photography which illustrates the gloves and mittens very well.

Five stars.  Great value for experimenters and 'blind followers' alike.

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

Son of a Midnight Land

Son of a Midnight Land is a very personal memoir by Atz Kilcher due to release in February 2018 from Blackstone Publishing.  At 330 pages, it's a substantial book.  It's written in a no nonsense gritty unapologetic voice which does not gloss over or minimize his life and upbringing.

Kilcher grew up on a homestead with an often absent, authoritarian and intermittently abusive father and a depressed mother. Life on a smallholding near the arctic circle was fraught and difficult. It didn't help that young Kilcher wasn't interested in, or capable of, the responsibilities thrust on him.  He was a very angry young man.  I very nearly stopped reading this book after about 6% when he describes the circumstances and fallout from being alone on their homestead with sole responsibility for the animals under their care.  I kept reading with the hope that there would be a message of healing or redemption or regret or growth or something in the later parts of the book

There was a message of growth and understanding, but I'm not 100% convinced the often self-inflicted pain of his journey was worth the message for me personally.  It's a brutally honest book.
The author says, "The events described in this book are as true as I can remember. If any omissions or errors were made in the telling, they were unintentional, and not meant to harm or defame anyone mentioned".
The writing is very direct and unflinching and explodes a lot of the romantic notions most people have of 'getting away from it all' and 'living on the land'.  I would recommend this book as background reading for people contemplating a move to a smallholding lifestyle.  It would also be good for background info for people who follow the Discovery series Alaska: The Final Frontier about the author and his family.

Three stars, and a very difficult read (and I live on a smallholding surrounded by wildlife, though I have a day job in the city).

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

Fire Lines

This is a coming of age and quest based fantasy about a young female protagonist facing dire odds against an evil and powerful foe, Mahg.  Published 29 September, 2017, this is a debut novel by Cara Thurlbourn from Bewick Press.

Émi is trying to do the best she can manage after the imprisonment of her father and the demotion of her mother to a slum in her walled and isolated city.  The anti-magic fanatical government and secret police are terrorizing the citizens.  It's during a midnight raid when she turns 17 that Émi's latent magical skill bursts loose, endangering her and everyone around her.

The government's propaganda machine has convinced the populace that their walled city is the only thing protecting them from the evil outside, but Émi's not convinced that the walls around them are protecting them and not imprisoning them.

There are some nice twists on standard fantasy tropes.  There are winged avatar/angel type beings along with some nice twists on the standard fantasy and magic themes.  It's de rigeur to have angst and romantic drama in young adult fiction, but it doesn't overwhelm or drive the plot overmuch.  There's enough romance to satisfy the audience without being completely over the top and unbelievable.

There are some technical problems with the pacing and plotting, even though it's a quest driven fantasy, there seems to be overmuch gratuitous 'go here, now over there, now back where you started from'.  The band of adventurers seems less like a band and more like a group of squabbling teenagers on a class trip.  That being said, it is a thoroughly readable book with a cast of relatable characters (for a fantasy novel).
I was impressed by the detail of the world building.  Clearly there are other things going on in the backstory, and I hope the author shares some of those stories with us in future books.  The elephant riders and watchers (winged people) are well written and freshly original.  

Fair warning, this is not a standalone novel and ends on a dramatic cliff hanger.  I'm looking forward to future books.

Three and a half stars
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

Tale of a Boon's Wife

Tale of a Boon's Wife released on 10th October 2017, is by Fartumo Kusow from Second Story Press. Most of the press and reviews I've seen on this book touch on its value as a window into another culture and encouraging message of teaching and multiculturalism.  While most of the audience for this book are westerners who have never been touched by civil war and murder and strife in their own homes and backyards, I agree...  I would say however, that the viscerality and immediacy of this book come more from the very shared humanness we have with the characters.

For me, the power of this book comes from the compulsion to set ourselves into Idil's situation and imagine how we personally would react in the societal constraints and against the almost impossible odds she faced.  Her bravery and honesty would have broken anyone else.  I truly admired her decency and struggle.  It was a very difficult book for me to read.  I had to stop at several points, but felt truly compelled forward in the hope that Idil and her family would find peace.

The book is full of triggers, animal abuse, rape, murder, indecency, corruption, overwhelming poverty and sadness.  So often, we who live in comfortable relatively safe places in the world feel ourselves shielded from 'those other places'.  We surround ourselves with carefully moderated, relatively sanitized news coverage on the pain and suffering which happens on so much of the planet.  This book tore away my complacency at least temporarily.  It is a deeply profoundly moving book and I won't be able to forget it anytime soon.

In many ways it reminded me of The Good Earth. It's beautifully written and important.   It's difficult to write deeply about this book without spoilers, but I would encourage everyone to read it.  Wonderful book, superlatively written.

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

The Moscow Code

Due to be released 5th Dec, 2017, The Moscow Code is the second installment in the Foreign Affairs Mysteries by Nick Wilkshire from Dundurn Press.

The tag line from the back cover reads, "In Moscow, the truth can be a dangerous commodity".

When Charlie Hillier is seconded to Moscow as a consul for the Canadian embassy, he's happy to have escaped his adventures in Havana and not have to go back to Ottawa, where his ex-wife is involved with another higher ranking government official.

A dinner and after dinner drinks with an old school friend he hasn't seen for over 20 years lands them in the local drunk tank where he meets a fellow Canadian who's being held on vague drug related charges.  Charlie promises to look into the case and charges pending against the Canadian man in his role as a consul for the embassy.  When the Canadian man dies in custody under mysterious circumstances, Charlie's search for justice and answers leads to a very tangled web of lies, deceit, drugs and corruption.

This book was a lot of fun to read.  Charlie's a great character, well developed and charmingly rumpled.  He's almost a Canadian James Bond, but more polite and less suave! The supporting characters are well thought out and further the action and plot very well.  The dialogue is well written and believable.  Even though it's set in the current time period, it reminded me quite a lot of the Travis McGee novels, though McGee is a lot grittier and macho, they both have the same fixation with the truth at all costs, and hang the consequences.

I was engaged with the book from the beginning and the denouement was satisfying.  I'm very interested to read about Charlie's further adventures and look forward to his next posting in (I think) Japan.

Four stars, a very light, enjoyable read.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Harry Potter - The Unofficial Guide to the Collectibles of Our Favorite Wizard

Harry Potter - The Unofficial Guide to the Collectibles of Our Favorite Wizard from F + W Media and written/curated by Heritage Auctions' Eric Bradley, is an in-depth very well photographed collectible price and ID book covering most everything associated with 'Harry Pottery' (all things Potter).

The guide, at 208 pages is well packed with items which are assembled into chapters.  The table of contents lists an introduction, including what is (and isn't) 'Harry Pottery', 8 chapters divided into ephemera and props from the books, movie posters, actual movie props, other items (for example the signed, author decorated chair where she wrote the books - $394,000), retail collectible merchandise, limited edition collectibles, fandom and Potter-inspired collectibles.

The books have a special place in most readers' memories and world.  Actually owning a piece of gear which was used in the movies has the capacity to turn otherwise rational people into squealing fangirls/boys.  To be absolutely honest, I started a review of this book and got distracted several times just looking at the items over and over again.  The chances of me ever actually plonking down  $1.9 miiiillion dollars (please insert Dr. Evil voice) are nil, but darn it, that is one FINE book!  (see below)

Yes, that's a handmade morocco leather bound hand written and drawn (by J.K. Rowling herself) copy of Beedle the Bard.  The backstory has never been published (as far as I know).  A prop version of this book in the movie was given to Hermione by Dumbledore.  Afterward, the author handwrote and illustrated the story for a select number of friends.  The cover furnishings are sterling silver encrusted with semiprecious stones. 

Back to the collectibles book.  It's unofficial but very well written, no-nonsense text by a professional who writes collectible and valuation catalogs as his day job.  He knows what he's talking about.

This book is what it is; a well curated valuation guide and photographic encyclopedia.  I was actually quite surprised at how affordable a lot of the collectibles are.  A first edition authentic movie poster can be had for $40-200. 

Four stars, although now I really want to go find an original movie poster to go with my Creature from the Black Lagoon and Plan 9 From Outer Space posters!

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gwyn ap Nudd

Gwyn ap Nudd by Danu Forest from John Hunt publishing is part of the Pagan Portals series. It's a practical well researched history and magical meditation guide.  It's written in a clear and understandable manner, well laid out in an easy to follow, logical format.

Each of the chapters conclude with two or more practical exercises to increase the reader's awareness and spiritual growth.  These are short practical guides which the reader can apply to his/her own life.

The book begins with an introduction and background.  The second - fifth chapters retell and expand on Gwyn ap Nudd in story and song down through the ages, including the Mabinogion and the wild hunt. Each of the chapters includes exercises for further exploration.

The author's voice is soothing and easy to follow. 
A quote:
Seek him in the reflections of starlight upon deep still water, and
when you hear an owl screech in the night, or see the geese fly
overhead on winter evenings … know that he is close. Close your
eyes and feel the air on your skin, the promise of things unseen just
a breath away.
 The author is also a poetess and it shows in her careful gentle use of language.  The book is very soothing and enjoyable to read, whatever the reader's belief system and motivation in choosing to read it.

The book is well researched enough to be appropriate support material for readers interested in the early pagan beliefs and oral traditions of the early British Isles as well as those interested in meditation and self exploration and internal spiritual growth. 

An interesting and unusual read. 

Four stars for the moving and lovely prose.

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


Weycombe, a new standalone suspense novel by G. M. Malliet from Midnight Ink was released 8th Oct.  The author, who has written the well loved Max Tudor series about an MI5 agent turned village vicar, is a dependable 'writerly' writer, technically adept with plotting, dialogue and action.  Her books are readable and very enjoyable.  I have really enjoyed both the Max Tudor cozies and her St. Just series, a period cozy series.

This book is emphatically not written in the same comfortable mold as her other books.  Whilst her other books have had (for me) laugh out loud moments, this one was full of sharply funny moments, quite a few of which surprised me into laughter, sometimes uncomfortable. Written in first person, the narration is wickedly sarcastic almost to a razor's edge.

Narrated from the viewpoint of an outsider, the story often lampoons (or laments) the cultural disorientation that arises from being an expat American living in England, and married to an upper class scion of the minor nobility.

The murder of the local estate agent has the village in an uproar.  Anna, the victim, is found by the narrator on a nearby walking path. Jillian White's, the narrator's, interactions with the investigation and her decision to investigate on her own provide point and counterpoint to her interactions with her wealthy friends and neighbors.

I read and review mostly high fantasy and cozy mysteries.  I enjoyed this novel very much and sometimes an ascerbic wit-filled slightly gritty mystery is exactly perfect for clearing the palate and resetting my reading taste-buds for the next cat cozy or dragon filled high fantasy.

It is worth noting that the author has earmarked 10% of the royalties from her sales for Weycombe to hurricane relief, a worthy cause. For this reason, I will also be buying a copy of this book, despite having recieved an e-ARC gratis from the publisher for review purposes.
A note from the author: My book WEYCOMBE comes out October 8. I am donating 10% of the royalties I receive from my publisher on this standalone suspense novel, up to $5000, to @RedCrossHouston relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Five stars.  Enjoyable and surprisingly witty.

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tell Tale

Tell Tale is a collection of 14 new short stories by Jeffrey Archer on the St. Martin's Press imprint. I usually try to avoid comparisons in my reviews, but the book is full of well written, twist endings which reminded me a lot of Saki or O. Henry.  They're engaging and very well written.
Two of the entries are in the challenging 'ultra short' 100 word category and both are winners. Between these first and last bookend 100 word stories are a mixed bag of modern and period pieces, whimsical and more serious pieces.

All of the stories in this collection are well over the average.  They're all very readable and engaging.  Mr. Archer has a long and distinguished career writing good solid readable books for a large audience.  This collection is a worthy addition to his oeuvre.

Who Killed the Mayor?*
View of Auvers-sur-Oise*
A Gentleman and a Scholar*
All’s Fair in Love and War
The Car Park Attendant*
A Wasted Hour*
The Road to Damascus*
The Cuckold
The Holiday of a Lifetime*
Double or Quits
The Senior Vice President
A Good Toss to Lose*
The Perfect Murder

*Inspired by real events

I enjoyed all of the stories, but Who Killed the Mayor, A Gentleman and a Scholar, and The Senior Vice President really stood out for me.  The fact that it was difficult for me to choose only three to highlight, speaks to the general quality of the collection and the writing.

Release date: 24 October, 2017
271 pages by Jeffrey Archer from St. Martin's Press

Four and a half stars
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Where the Stars Rise

I can be fairly clueless.

I love anthologies and picked this one solely on the basis of its cover.  I was not aware until I started reading the introduction (yes, I read the introduction and you should also) that it was a collection of Asian SF & fantasy.

Second background tidbit: I have been involved in fandom in one form or another for over 40 years until I mostly passed the baton on to my three minions (two females and a male).

This means, as a female heavily involved in fandom in the late 60's through the 00's, I've been marginalized, patted on the head, straight up disdained, called names, and worse.  Some of the nastiness came from my 'peers' in non-fandom of course, but a discouragingly large amount came from other fans.  Generally caucasian, nearly universally male.  You grow a tough skin, you move on (or quit).

Fast forward to the time period between 2000 and the present day.  Non-white-non-male fans and authors seemed more welcome to the dialogue and to bring N-W-N-M voices to the chorus.  Things seemed to be going ticketty-boo.  Then the backlash.  There always seems to be a backlash.  Puppygate, calling out Social Justice Warriors, etc etc.

For people who will read the description and think 'Where the Stars Rise is not for me'.  Or 'these authors' voices are not speaking to things which concern me',  this is a collection of well written (in some cases transcendent) stories which speak to our common existence.  They're not all perfect of course,  but all of them are worthwhile.

As stated on the cover, this is a collection of 23 short works written by Asian authors.  As with all anthologies, it's a mixed lot.  They're all in the 3-5 star range, well weighted to the upper 4 star range.  There are some truly standout pieces; Memoriam by Priya Sridhar, Back to Myan by Regina Kanyu Wang, and The dataSultan of Streets and Stars, by Jeremy Szal were amazing for me. There are many more well written stories included, but just these three alone are worth the price of the anthology.

Why is it important to read and expose oneself to other voices and other ideas?  It's precisely because our strength is in our diversity.  Unity and understanding can only come from growth.  What other people have to say is vitally important and if we're going to live together on this planet and not die together, we desperately need to stop marginalizing one another.

Four stars

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

The Imposters of Aventil

The Imposters of Aventil is the third in a trilogy-tie in in the world of Maradaine by Marshall Ryan Maresca on Penguin's DAW imprint.
High fantasy world, young ensemble cast, mystery and mayhem.  It might be formulaic, but it's great going down, easily digestible and keeps everyone coming back for more.  The action is nonstop and well written.

It fits in the slot left by 'what happened next' to Harry and co, but honestly, Mr. Maresca is a better writer than J.K. Rowling was (at least at the beginning of her career).  He's a gifted storyteller and has the technical chops to write snappy dialogue and action which doesn't fall flat.

Take a bunch of college kids at a local magical+ university, add one vigilante trainee mage outsider (the Thorn) with a heap of past history on a quest to take down the local drug pusher kingpin, toss in a lookalike bad guy running around killing people to everyone up in arms and hunting the Thorn, and stir in a pair of semi-scary FBI equivalents who are VERY interested in sorting out the fallout before the smoke clears.

I enjoyed the heck out of this novel.  I read it as a standalone, and did follow everything which was going on (another technical coup to the author) without any trouble.  I read the other books in the series as a follow-up and do recommend reading them in order if possible.  The series fill in a great deal of detail and nuance for one another.  Reading the follow ups, I had a fair number of 'aha!' moments.

The book is a hefty 400 pages, but the action and plotting pulled me along. It was a fun, undemanding, well written fantasy, thoroughly enjoyable.

Four stars, nonstop action, magic and excitement. 
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Garden Renovation

It's almost always awe-inspiring to see engaged, talented professionals doing what they do best.  Bobbie Schwartz and Timber Press have teamed up on Garden Renovation. Ms. Schwartz has nearly 50 years in the gardening and landscaping business and it shows.  This is a meaty workbook oriented book which isn't just eye-candy.  It's full of lush and illustrative photographs of course, but more importantly, it's designed as a workbook full of really sound advice.

Our houses and environments are unique.  Our goals for our spaces are also unique to us and our expectations and desires for the places we live.  This book gives concrete advice for laying out a detailed plan to get from 'where we are' to 'where we realistically want to be'.  Landscaping (even for the enthusiast) can be very daunting, very fraught, and very expensive.  Obviously we want to avoid as many pitfalls as possible.  The author's vast experience with a broad variety of situations and budgets really shows in the work.  This is a practical book full of great advice including defining goals, setting realistic budgets and work plans, timelines for implementation, and other vital steps in success. The planning chapter encompasses roughly 10% of the total content.

The book moves on to essential landscaping concepts such as soil, amendments, climate, sunlight and other physical constraints. The subject matter is well researched and presented in a clear understandable manner.

Another important concept in landscaping and preparing and creating our perfect outdoor space is hardscaping, those permanent or semi-permanent structures, walkways, driveways, balconies etc which are possibly expensive or difficult to change.  The book presents creative practical methods for changing or incorporating existing hardscape elements into the garden design or solutions for changing them within budget.  This is an incredibly well presented chapter, easily the best and most practical I've seen on the subject. The chapter (indeed the whole book) is lavishly photographed with great illustrations showing the contrasts between different solutions for common problems. It includes sections on patios, decks and furniture selection. This chapter alone is worth the price of admission.

Plant selections in gardening are obviously essential.  However, too many books turn into basically 'flavor of the month' lists of 'essential' plants which wind up being dated in a few years. This book cleverly and classically avoids the trap of being dated by teaching the reader how to assess a plant's functionality and why to choose a certain plant over other alternatives.  By teaching the reader to train their own eye and trust their own instincts, the author educates the gardener.  It's very much the 'give the man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him forever' mentality and it really works.

Teaching and showing are all fine and well, but at the end of the day don't change the outdoor home environment one jot.  The last 25% of the book are given over to concrete advice for methods of establishing a plan and following through.  I loved that the author did NOT just toss off a bit of 'you can do it yourself' fluff, but also said 'there are things which are beyond the scope of all but the most fanatical DIY'ers.  Clearly explaining the difference between landscape designers and landscape architects and offering reasonable advice on when to call in the experts was a refreshing change from many other DIY gardening books in my experience. There's also a subchapter on how to choose and work with your chosen professional.

The last chapter includes a wide variety of before and after success stories.  These are also well photographed and practical, showing the possibilities hidden in different situations.  I, personally, am really good at 'grunt work'... I love gardening passionately, but I'm woman enough to admit that I'm a bit of a plodder when it comes to actually seeing the inherent possibilities creatively.  This book is solid gold for me for that reason.  It presents myriad creative solutions which would never have occurred to me in a clear manner. There were a fair number of 'forehead smacking' why didn't I think of that?! moments.

The very end of the book includes a bibliography, online resource section and index. It's slanted toward the US gardener, but includes so many bits of advice which are applicable to gardeners everywhere.

Five stars, wonderful book, perfectly presented, and flawlessly edited (I didn't find a single mistake, and when I'm reviewing, I LOOK).

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

My Secret Dog

A young reader book by Tom Alexander from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.  Written in first person with simple line drawn art (see cover), this short book (40 pages) will engage younger readers.  The art is charmingly simple and illustrates the story very well. 

The young protagonist meets a stray dog who follows her home.  Her mother has already said they don't have enough room to care for a dog.  She attempts to hide the dog, with hilarious and predictable results.  This book could have easily been my biography as an 8 year old.  Happily, my grandparents were able to give my stealth dog a home where I could see her and help take care of her at least part time.  I really felt for the little girl in this book.

It's worth noting that the language in My Secret Dog is British English, not American.  'Mum', 'daft', 'wellies' etc, though all of them are illustrated/contextualized and none are confusing.  I think this is an added bonus, exposing youngsters to more nuanced and localized language at a young age.

I enjoyed this book very much and heartily recommend it to anyone going through 'I want a DOG' phase with their own youngsters.  It would also be timely in a classroom setting when discussing themes such as planning or consequences.  Very sweet and likeable book. 

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

What Hides Beneath

What Hides Beneath is a standalone mystery with romance subplot by J.L. Canfield and Black Rose Writing. A mud encrusted vase is discovered in a box of similarly forgotten items in a storage area under an unspecified Richmond, Virginia museum.  Research including photographs sent to an expert in Japanese artifacts indicate the find to be a priceless 16th century Japanese vase.  A contradictory valuation from Sotheby's appraiser, Annette Williams claims the vase is a 19th century copy, worth a few hundred dollars.  By the next morning, the vase and a plainclothes insurance security guard have disappeared. 

The bones of a really well crafted story are here.  The characters are well described, and the plotting is well paced.  The book is 210 pages, so the author has sufficient time to develop the story and characters.  There are, however, some problems.  There are a number of grammar and spelling mistakes, 'poured' instead of 'pored' as well as several dittographies. I received an ARC, so the editing and grammar mistakes might have been corrected before release. Additionally, the place setting has very little to do with the story, which makes the story line seem somewhat untethered.  There is very little background or sense of place.  There are problems with the dialogue which seems forced and unnatural at times.  There is a fair amount of 'telling instead of showing'. All in all, the problems are relatively minor and probably won't detract from the enjoyment of the novel for most readers.

There is very little direct violence or sex; it's a 'clean' mystery and would be suitable for most readers. The violence is mostly psychological.  The murders are not gruesome and I found nothing to be offended over.  I feel the author has a real voice and that the technical problems with the narrative and dialogue are a matter of experience, rewriting and editing.
Three and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Man Who Knew Everything

The Man Who Knew Everything is an illustrated biography of Athanasius Kircher aimed at younger readers.  Written by Marilee Peters, the prose is informal and interesting.  Kircher lived an incredible life which almost defies belief (when faced with a devastating volcanic eruption, he decides to pay a local guide to help him up the mountain and lower him into the vent so he could observe and take samples).  Unsurprisingly, he nearly died.

He was a polymath, with a wide interest in a huge variety of subjects.  His known written works include treatises (not always accurate) on Egyptian hieroglyphics, natural history, mathematics, physics, medicine, language, geology, music theory and many other subjects.

The art for this short book (61 pages) is by Roxanna Bikadoroff and plays up the fantastic elements of Kircher's life.  There are period woodcuts juxtaposed with charming pen and ink and colorized maps which add a lot to the narrative.

There are also sidebars with highlight information from Kircher's life and the social and scientific upheaval of the mid 17th century. At the end of the book are good references for further reading along with an index and maps and timelines with interesting points about Kircher and his journeys.

All in all, a worthwhile biography for young readers about a formerly obsolete scientist who deserves more modern interest.

Four stars

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

The New Voices of Fantasy

I love anthologies for a lot of reasons.  It's always nice to find new authors to follow.  I enjoy short fiction as a break after having so many back to back longer pieces (or trilogies + series); especially in the speculative fiction genre, I can't remember the last time I picked up a new truly one-off standalone novel. It's always exciting even with known authors to see how they react to and solve the different problems inherent in short fiction. I also use anthologies as 'crib notes' to cheat a bit and find out what and where my favorites have published before, for further reading.  In short, it's -exactly- the same reasons supermarkets give out taste samples.  They know you're hungry, you taste one chili-cheese-nugget and go buy a 5 pound bag. *cha-ching!* Everyone goes home happy.

I love Peter S. Beagle.  I've loved (and read, and owned) pretty much everything he's ever published.  He's permanently on my shortlist to automatically buy whatever he puts his name on.

I have loved so many Tachyon press books that again, basically anything they stick their imprint on, I'll line up at the bookstore, wave my filthy lucre and hop up and down impatiently. Tachyon's catalog is impressive and a no-fail reading list for speculative fiction fans. It would be fun to just start at one end of the list and read to the other end.  

So getting this book was an automatic "Yes, please, with sugar on top"! 

There's something for everyone in this anthology.  I found myself checking my reading notes and except for two entries which were  '2/5' for me personally, they were all easily in the 4-5 range.

There are 19 stories in the collection, with background info and a short bio included in the intro for each one. 
Table of Contents:
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
“Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar
“Tornado’s Siren” by Brooke Bolander
“Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker
“A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone
“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon
“The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
“The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate” by A. C. Wise
“The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley
“The Haunting of Apollo A7LB” by Hannu Rajaniemi
“Here Be Dragons” by Chris Tarry
“The One They Took Before” by Kelly Sandoval
“Tiger Baby” by JY Yang
“The Duck” by Ben Loory
“Wing” by Amal El-Mohtar
“The Philosophers” by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
“My Time Among the Bridge Blowers” by Eugene Fischer
“The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado
“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik

Most anthologies have a thematic cohesiveness.  This one's stated purpose was to pass the baton to the next generation of authors and though many of the authors included are well known, they are the 'up and coming' or relatively newly arrived standard bearers.   

There are some exquisitely written pieces in this anthology.  All of them are worthy.  

Four stars!

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

When the Lonesome Dog Barks

A new police procedural and western mystery novel from Trey R. Barker and Down and Out Books due to be released 20th November. This is the third novel featuring Deputy Sheriff Jace Salome but my first introduction into the series and it works well as a standalone book. 

The book is set in rural Texas. Jace, who is assigned to security at the local prison is imperfectly dealing with psychological fallout from traumatic events and violence in her past, and trying to figure out if her job is right for her and whether she can move forward to doing detective work. 

The secondary cast of characters is large, but well developed and contribute to the story.  The banter and occasional rawness and sarcasm of people who are forced to work closely together in a stressful situation that could erupt violently at any moment is masterfully written and it's no surprise to find the author has a history in law enforcement. 

The writing style itself is often jarring and difficult to follow.  There are places where the dialogue isn't clearly marked between characters, so it's not easy to see who said what. I received an early ARC, so the wrinkles will almost certainly be ironed out with final editing, but there were also several typos and misspellings; 'then' instead of 'than' for example. They didn't prevent enjoying the narrative, so it's probably a non-issue for most readers.

The plotting is well paced and taut.  I enjoyed the story and especially enjoyed the dichotomy of her stress and tightly wound work persona contrasted with her unusual but loving mismatched family.  

Definitely worth a look, especially for fans of gritty western mysteries. 

Three and a half stars.

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

Mehndi For the Inspired Artist

Mehndi For the Inspired Artist is a collaborative work from four author-artists and Quarto Group - Walter Foster.

The book is beautifully illustrated and lavishly photographed.  It begins with a history and introduction to henna and mehndi. Since this book is more slanted toward mehndi inspired design and crafting, the 'Getting Started' chapter is less about how-to for temporary henna tattoos on skin and much more about tools and supplies for paper and crafting and paint based mehndi design. There is a very short section on blending henna paste to make a stain (especially for leather items), but that's not the main focus of the book. Only one of the projects, a stylish tambourine (p. 88 in the PDF version), actually uses mehndi henna paste.  Most of the other projects use acrylic paint, glass markers, or other media. It's a relatively short book, 131 pages, but full of inspiration.

There are a number of beautiful projects which really appealed to me, including the beautiful mason jar on the cover.  The other projects run the gamut from paper & stationery to  picture frames, wall art, coasters and pendants.  I certainly intend to modify some of the designs to textile art and intend to make placemats and a tablecloth at the very least.

This tutorial book has a step-by-step format.  The design pages are all laid out in steps with each following part highlighted so the progress of the intricate designs follow naturally for the artist. The design pages comprise roughly 30% of the total content, followed by about the same amount of project tutorials. 

There are also outline template pages to try out different layouts on hands, feet, legs, etc.  There are inspiration pages with information about non-traditional designs as a further experimentation starting point for more 'tribal' looking art.

This is a wonderful resource for mixed media artists, doodlers/zentanglists, and creative souls of all types no matter what art form they prefer.  It's a joyful book absolutely full of inspiration.

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

The Wildlife Gardener

The wildlife gardener by Kate Bradbury, published by Pen and Sword, UK
is filled with wonderful advice and tips and usable information to attract a wide variety of wildlife to our gardens.  The book is filled with beautifully photographed wildlife from insects to mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

The book begins with an impassioned and well reasoned introduction making the case for counterbalancing in some small way the loss of habitat and unchecked pesticide use which is devastating our natural environment and having such a terrible impact on our ecosystem. I've been a beekeeper and gardener for years and I've personally seen the effects in the dwindling numbers and varieties of insects and wildlife which I've experienced on my property.  I have been moving toward a more natural setting in my own gardens and was looking for tips on expanding my own use of native food plants for more species.  The advice included in this book is usable and not too intimidating for a casual gardener to implement.  There are many small projects in the book which could easily be built in a short amount of time (several in a single weekend).  Many of the projects are not invasive or costly and make a lot of sense, such as a shady rock or wood pile for habitat for insects, amphibians or small mammals, plans for building a shallow pool or a bug house for insects.  The projects and coordinated planting suggestions take up roughly the first half of the book. 

 The second half of the book continues the theme with a lavishly photographed introduction to common types and species of wildlife including birds, mammals, amphibians & reptiles, insects, and butterflies and moths.  Each entry has a description, including proper nomenclature for most of them, along with specific advice for  'How to attract them'.  The species included are slanted toward mainland Great Britain, but there are many species which are common to a much larger range.

Roughly the last 25% of the book is a listing of appropriate plants which are valuable food or habitat resources for indigenous species.  There are planting recommendations with explanations of why they're useful and for which species they provide food or shelter.

The author also makes a very good case for using native plants which aren't overly bred for extreme displays, but provide nectar and pollen which are usable and accessible.

At the end of the book is a troubleshooting guide on how to deal with injured or sick wildlife (call the experts) and a listing of potential occurrences for each season.  The reference section is also full of links for further research and reading. It's slanted toward the UK, but includes resources which are also valuable for non-UK gardeners.

The book is quite short, at 120 pages, but packed full of usable, well written, beautifully photographed advice.

Highly recommended. Four stars.

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