Monday, May 31, 2021

World in Their Hands: Original Thinkers, Doers, Fighters, and the Future of Conservation

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World in Their Hands is a collection of short biographical sketches of 17 environmental philosophers and activists curated and written by Steve Johnson. Due out 1st June 2021 from Rowman & Littlefield, it's 254 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is an interesting layman accessible overview of the conservation movement over the last century. The essays are each roughly ten pages in length and include vital statistics (birth, death, family connections) as well as their involvement and contributions to world conservation. Many of them were familiar to me already but not all of them. I found it an engaging and learning-rich read. The book is sparsely illustrated, but there are some black and white photos of the subjects themselves and places they visited, studied, or fought to protect. 

The author has also included a short resources and links lists to modern conservation organizations and links for further reading.

Four stars. This is an information rich nonfiction book and would make good selection for library acquisition or home use.

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

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Minotaur Sampler, Volume 3: New Books to Make Your Heart Race

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The Minotaur Sampler, Volume 3 is a new multi chapter preview of four upcoming books publishing fall 2021. The sampler was released 25th May by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint. It's 90 pages and is available (possibly for a limited time) as a free download in ebook format.  It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

The book includes excerpts from: Hannah Morrissey's Hello, Transcriber, Kimi Cunningham Grant’s These Silent Woods, Julia Dahl’s The Missing Hours, and Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche. The publication dates range from Aug through Nov 2021. These are all top shelf mysteries with the full. All of these are top quality fiction from well known authors with the promising addition of debut author Hanna Morrissey. Of the four books, I was unsurprised to find that I intend to acquire and read all four of them, and moderately surprised to find that I'm anticipating the debut from Ms. Morrissey the most.

I do really enjoy the extra resources and enhancements the larger publishing houses are able to employ to support their upcoming publications. I also appreciate that most library systems can provide quite a lot of extra support and guidance to their patrons and groups via these "sneak peeks" and promotional materials.. These previews would be appropriate for online/remote discussion groups, book clubs, individual readers looking for good "buzz" books to build up the TBR lists. Five stars.

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

So It Began (Delaney #1)

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So It Began is the first book in the Delaney thriller series by Owen Mullen. Originally released in 2017, this reformat and re-release is 246 pages and is available in ebook format. (Other editions available in other formats). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately; it makes finding phrases or passages so much easier when reading. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is currently included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.

This is a serial killer thriller. The murders involve children, specifically children entered in pageants and shows. Although the author thankfully refrains from descriptions which are shocking or titillating, I found the subject matter relentlessly difficult to read and sad. The climax and denouement are well written, and admittedly go a way toward relieving the distressing plotline. The secondary plot threads are very well written and provide a great deal of backstory and development for titular protagonist Delaney. The main plots are resolved in this book and there's nothing left dangling at the end. (Cliffhangers annoy me).

The setting is New Orleans and although I've only briefly visited the city, I felt that the author did a good job with the setting and atmosphere. There weren't any errors which jumped out at me. The dialogue flows well and all in all it's an engaging and exciting read. The language is somewhat rough (as is, obviously, the subject matter). 

Four stars. It would be a good fit for fans of modern police serial killer thrillers. 

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

Thief of Souls (Inspector Lu Fei Mysteries #1)

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Thief of Souls is the first book in a procedural series by Brian Klingborg. Released 4th May 2021 by Macmillan on their St. Martin's Press imprint, it's 288 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats; it makes finding phrases or passages so much easier when reading. 

This is a well written modern police procedural set in rural China. I found the characters believable and well rendered, both from their internal motivations and their external interactions with one another and their environs. Despite graduating with honors from the top police university in China, Inspector Lu Fei has had a less than stellar career arc up to this point and has been transferred to a small rural town outside of a major metropolitan area in China. We do become privy to the reasons behind his transfer later in the book (no spoilers). His usual official duties include finding chickens and helping residents with their internet problems. The office is not prepared to deal with a serial killer, yet that's exactly what he's faced with. Soon the CIB (China's FBI equivalent) is called in to help and much of the book turns on the politics of inter-agency investigation and (lack of) cooperation. 

Protagonist Lu Fei is both dogged and intelligent and begins to unravel the many layers of complexity tied up in the crimes surrounding the murders as well as uncovering information which powerful local government personnel would strongly prefer to remain hidden. The climax and denouement are satisfying and tensely written. I'm looking forward to future books with Inspector Lu Fei. 

Four stars. 

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

Saturday, May 29, 2021

When We Went Wild

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When We Went Wild is a retelling of the wilding of the author's estate, Knepp Castle in West Sussex written and illustrated for children. Due out 1st June 2021 from Quarto on their Ivy Kids imprint, it's 32 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is such a beautifully illustrated, exciting, and encouraging book for kids and their teachers, families, and facilitators. It's very simple but shows the concepts clearly and understandably for even very young readers. The author explains some of the concepts, and mentions regenerative farming, rewilding, and resource equity in the afterword which could prove a good starting point for very valuable conversations with our children or in a classroom setting. 

The book is beautifully and simply illustrated with a wealth of subtle detail and colour. There are insects, animals, and wildflowers on almost every page. It's never directly referenced in the text, but I appreciated that the human characters are multi-ethnic. Representation is important. (I like that the author and illustrator didn't make a huge deal out of it; but it's nice to see, nevertheless). 

This would make a good selection for public or school library or home. It's a heartening story and has a happy ending, but not without dramatic tension in the telling. 

Five stars. 

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

Build Your Own Farm Tools Equipment & Systems for the Small-Scale Farm & Market Garden

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Build Your Own Farm Tools Equipment & Systems is a DIY and tutorial guide for the small scale farmer by Josh Volk. Due out 3rd August 2021 from Storey, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

Self sufficiency encompasses so many challenges: food security, shelter, repairing and making tools and the systems to support and provide for the other aspects. There's a lot of satisfaction and pride to be had in making tools which work well for their intended purpose. I worked for quite a long time as a jeweler and goldsmith and often there simply weren't ready made tools for some tasks. Being able to forge tools and build carts and other farm implements can make life on the smallholding a little easier, more fun, and (hopefully) safer. 

The author has an accessible no-frills writing style and the book is laid out logically and appealingly. The graphics are high contrast, easy to read, and the tutorials are well illustrated. The introduction covers shop setup, basic tools and materials and some good basic maintenance and important safety. The tutorials are arranged into thematic chapters: greenhouse projects, field, irrigation, tools for washing and packing produce, and office tools (including some really spiffy worksheets for planning and record-keeping, which is my downfall).  

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

Five stars. This is a very good book for home gardeners, smaller "truck farm" gardens, smallholdings, community gardens, maker's spaces, schools, library activity groups, and similar. 

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

Litany of Dreams: An Arkham Horror Novel (Arkham Horror #19)

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Litany of Dreams is a tie-in horror novel set in the Arkham Horror universe. Due out 24th June 2021 from Aconyte, it's 352 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook available now). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

The setting is Lovecraftian - Miskatonic University and environs. The mythos is pure Lovecraft - psychological horror, creeping dread, incomprehensible nightmarish chanting in the dead of night and awakening unspeakable elder gods. Of the intelligently rendered protagonists, one is in search of his roommate who has gone missing after delving in dark mysteries best left alone, one is an indigenous man on the trail of a powerful profaned stolen artifact of his people, and the third is a reference librarian.

This will be an obvious choice for fans of the Arkham Horror board & card games and the co-op universe, but for a broader audience who are not necessarily already fans of the canonical Lovecraft stories, this could be a good fit as well. It's very well written and while it -is- horror, there's very little actual gore (mostly some body horror). 

Four stars. Not for kids and possibly NSFW because of content, not language, which is fairly mild. 

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

Bitter Herbs: The vivid memories of a fugitive Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Holland

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Bitter Herbs is a short semi-autobiographical series of recollections of the WW2 years by Marga Minco who was a young woman in occupied Holland during the war. Originally released in 1957, this reformat and re-release from Penguin on their Ebury Press imprint, it's 128 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats.

Despite the inevitable comparisons with The Diary of Anne Frank, in a lot of ways this account (with which I was previously unfamiliar) moved and saddened me even more. That's possibly because I read the former when I was a young child and assimilated it before it had the power to horrify me as an adult. There's so much sub-context in this short retelling which is not explicitly written down; the holocaust is not directly referenced, for example. It's the small day-to-day facts of life which are so heartbreakingly retold here which have the power to dismay and shock more than 75 years on. There's a quiet pervasive matter-of-fact sadness to the whole which made this a difficult read for me.

The English translation work by Jeannette K. Ringold is very well done and seamless and manages to capture the guilelessness and unapologetic directness of the original very well. 

This would be a good selection for school or public library acquisition, book study groups, classroom units in modern history, holocaust, WW2, and related subjects. 

Four stars. Difficult but important reading. 

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Secret Mischief (Cragg & Fidelis Mystery #7)

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Secret Mischief is the 7th Cragg & Fidelis mystery by Robin Blake. Released 4th May 2021 by Severn House, it's 256 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

These are very well written, immersive, believable historical mysteries set in the mid 18th century featuring a county coroner (Cragg) and his investigative partner, physician Fidelis. The plots are complex and twisty and full of intricate misdirection and parallel subplot threads which wind together more tightly as the book progresses. The author skillfully weaves fiction around a framework of real historical events and characters. At times it's delightfully unclear where fiction shades over into reality, and I really liked that about this book. 

Although it's the 7th book in the series, it works well as a self-contained standalone. There are, admittedly, some small background character developments presented in this book which will spoil some of the background history from the earlier books, but there's nothing major, and readers who read the series out of order won't find their enjoyment significantly diminished.

The language and dialogue are fairly true to period. The writing is clean and there are no graphically violent on-page scenes, however, it should be said that there is one scene in open court with some graphic descriptions of a sexual nature (which some readers might find objectionable).  The deus ex machina climax did cause some internal eye-rolling, but it segued seamlessly into the resolution satisfyingly and I wasn't dissatisfied overall.

This series continues to develop very well with an unusual depth and compassion in the protagonists alongside a perceptive, sometimes humorous and wry commentary on humanity in general. 

Four and a half stars. Highly recommended for fans of historical mysteries. 

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

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook: Nourishing Recipes for Every Stage of Your Reintroduction Protocol - Includes Recipes for The 4 Stages of AIP!

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The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook is a tutorial guide and cookbook by Kate Jay. Due out 25th May 2021 from Quarto on their Fair Winds Press imprint, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook available now). 

For people (and their families) who have gotten a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease it can be very very confusing to even begin to know where to start. Diet is virtually always an important component of management and (to the degree it's possible) recovery. The autoimmune protocol (AIP) has become best practice in many clinics and is recommended to millions of patients by their healthcare providers. This cookbook is for people who have gone through the early stages of the AIP and are looking for healthy ways to reintroduce foods to give variety without causing flare-ups or relapses.

The book is written in accessible understandable language which won't be a problem for the majority of readers. The author is encouraging, calm, and knowledgeable and the recipes are sensible and appealing. The chapters are arranged logically, with recipes grouped by subject: the introduction includes a good overview over the basics, what the AIP is (and isn't) and a short discussion of pantry basics and ingredients. The following chapters cover the reintroduction process, along with the recipes for the four progressive stages of reintroduction. Recipes have their ingredients listed in a bullet style format in a sidebar. Ingredient measures are provided in both American standard and metric measures (yay!!). The ingredients are mostly easily sourced and should be readily available at most moderately well stocked grocery stores (in North America). The recipes have tips in a highlighted text bar with information about FODMAP compliance, AIP substitutions, potential allergens, and more. Nutritional information is not included. Nearly all of the recipes are photographed and the pictures are clear and in color. Serving suggestions are appealing and appropriate. 

It can be quite challenging to try to cook for a family under normal circumstances, even more so if one of the family members is on a strictly controlled diet. There are many of these recipes which are palatable and appetizing enough to be very well received by the whole family or incorporated into a family mealtime without anyone feeling deprived or left out.

Five stars. Well worth a look for people who are on some stage of the AIP diet or are cooking for someone who is.

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


A Modern Guide to Textured Crochet: A Collection of Wonderfully Tactile Stitches

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A Modern Guide to Textured Crochet is a stitch pattern guide dedicated to textured crochet stitches by Lee Sartori. Due out 25th May 2021 from Penguin Random House on the Interweave imprint, it's 128 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

The author/designer is one of my favorites on ravelry and honestly got me interested in crochet again (I'm a fanatical knitter and embroiderer and crochet was always an also-ran for me personally). Although the advance materials sent for review are a very small portion of the book, I've been familiar with both the publisher and author designer for years. 

The layout is light and bright with high contrast text and modern feeling colors. The chapters are arranged thematically: a tutorial introduces the basic stitches and concepts and is followed by the stitch patterns (there are 32 total) grouped seasonally: spring (tulip, lilac, butterfly stitches), summer (ice cream, lemon peel, summer shell stitch), fall (acorn, loose leaves, fall cable), and winter (embossed holly, winter cable, snowflake stitch). Each season also has a project tutorial included which incorporates some of the stitches from the relevant season. The photography in the sample pages is excellent, clear and full of color.

This is a must have for fans of the designer, as well as lovers of textural crochet which often gets passed by for more open crochet grounds. Seeing these stitches really got my imagination engaged. I could definitely see using the bobble stitch to make designs or letters to spell out the recipient's name on a blanket for example. 

Four and a half stars (because the partial copy received for review was incomplete and didn't include any excerpts from the pattern tutorials - I strongly suspect the final product will be 5 stars). 

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

The New 5-Gallon Bucket Book: Ingenious DIY Projects, Hacks, and Upcycles

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The New 5-Gallon Bucket Book is a DIY and tutorial manual full of ingenious ideas for sourcing/using/repurposing 5 gallon plastic buckets by DIY maven Chris Peterson. First published in 2015, this reformatted second edition is due out 25th May 2021 from Quarto on their Cool Springs Press imprint. It's 144 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook available now). 

The projects are of varying usefulness or practicality. Most of them look like what they -are-; items made from 5 gallon HDPE buckets. The tutorials are grouped roughly thematically: things for use in the home, camping/outdoors, pet/livestock, toys, and gardening. The upcycled items are truly creative and make good use of the particular strengths of the buckets, especially the more utilitarian projects. I'm a little iffy on some of the home decor uses (they're about as attractive as macaroni art - but there are a lot of people who like macaroni art, so *shrug*). The gardening and outdoor tutorials are really packed with do-able, suitable, utilitarian projects which I will definitely be using. One of the tutorials is for an "upside down" tomato planter, and my personal experience using a similar layout some years ago was not an unqualified success. The plants spent a majority of their growth trying to compensate for being suspended upside down and didn't bloom or fruit as vigorously as their earth-bound siblings. I suspect like most DIY books, it's a mix of varying degrees of success and experimentation is key. 

Each of the tutorials includes tools and materials lists, time / difficulty / cost estimates, followed by step-by-step tutorial instructions. The guides are easy to understand and clearly photographed. Tools and supplies will be easily sourced or readily available in the average home.

Four and a half stars. As the author says in his introduction, "the best things in life are free". I would recommend this one for library acquisition, homeowners, self-reliance smallholders, DIYers, recyclers, low-impact living folks, maker's groups, cooperative gardens, and similar. 

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

The Sprite and the Gardener

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The Sprite and the Gardener is a beautifully illustrated gentle tale of friendship and mutual respect by Rii Abrego & Joe Whitt. Released 11th May from Oni Press, it's 88 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook/comiXology formats. 

This is *such* a beautifully told story. I was completely captivated. The art is perfect for this story, lightly whimsical and ethereal. There is a misty quality which reminds me in some ways of the best of this style of drawing, P. Craig Russell and Linda Medley for example. In some ways the sweetly whimsical and gentle storytelling style reminds me a lot of Katie O'Neill's Tea Dragon Society books and I would heartily recommend this one to fans of any of the above artists/authors.

Five stars. One of my better reads this year and a good selection for public or school library acquisition as well as all-ages reading.

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

Plants on the Move

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Plants on the Move is a beautifully illustrated nonfiction book on horticulture by Émilie Vast. Originally published in French in 2018, this English translation, out 25th May 2021 from Charlesbridge, is 56 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a nonfiction science based but beautifully illustrated, accessible, and engaging book on how plants spread themselves via different methods. There are a number of methods examined via 14 plants such as "parachute" seeded plants such as dandelions and thistles, plants that send out creepers such as strawberries and buttercups, seeds that cling with burrs, seeds that are dispersed after being eaten, and nuts that fall and bounce (or are carried away).

In each case the plants are simply illustrated and perfectly recognizable. The text is simple and accessible to young readers with correct scientific terms used in context to aid understanding. The translation work is seamless; it doesn't read as though it were translated. 

Four stars. Really well done short book. This would make a good selection for school or public library or for home use. 

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

1,500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acrylic Watercolor: Achieve precise color when painting landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and more

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1,500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acrylic & Watercolor is a tutorial guide with recipes for palette mixing by William F. Powell. Originally released in 2012 this reformat and re-release is due out 15th June 2021 from Quarto on their Walter Foster imprint. It's 176 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is a no-nonsense bare bones mixing guide for oil, acrylic, and watercolor media. The mixing diagrams are specific and useful. The charts are arranged according to medium and color and contain specific values and ranges for 1500 colors from the base colors for each medium (Burnt sienna, Burnt umber, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red light, Cadmium yellow, etc). They are grouped together in their own chapters and aren't confusing to keep separate. The color blends are -not- specified by brand of pigment.

The author has also included an overall tutorial on watercolor mixing specifically for portraiture with a good overview over values and tones for skin colors across a wide range of skins.There is also a tutorial on color theory, an appendix. with a legend/index for typical mixes for things such as trees, sunset sky, stormy sky, etc.

This is a very useful book. It would make a good reference for maker's spaces, studios, library acquisition, or the home studio. It's worth noting however that the content for the -other- re-releases in the same series from the same publisher contains a large overlap with the content here. If only one volume is to be purchased, it should be this one.

Four stars. 

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

 

 

 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Color Mixing Recipes for Watercolor: Mixing recipes for more than 450 color combinations

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Color Mixing Recipes for Watercolor is a tutorial guide with recipes for palette mixing by William F. Powell. Originally released in 2007 this reformat and re-release is due out 22nd June 2021 from Quarto on their Walter Foster imprint. It's 48 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is a no-nonsense bare bones mixing guide for watercolor media. The mixing diagrams are specific and useful. The charts are arranged according to color and contain specific values and ranges for 450 colors from 28 base colors (Burnt sienna, Burnt umber, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red light, Cadmium yellow, etc).

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

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

Four stars. 

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

Sumo Opposites

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Sumo Opposites is a bilingual Japanese/English illustrated book for babies and children about opposites written and illustrated by Sanae Ishida. Due out 7th Sept 2021 from Sasquatch imprint Little Bigfoot, it's 22 pages and will be available in boardbook format.

This is such a fun book with engaging colourful and fun illustrations full of movement and learning opportunities. Each of the illustrations covers two full pages with simple inset text describing the pictures simply with words shown in both English and Japanese hiragana / IPA. It's written as opposites: "up/down", "awake/asleep", "full/empty" etc and each subsequent picture is filled with more little sumo wrestlers doing sumo thing in their daily lives; eating, training, dressing and washing. The illustrations are full of subtle little extras which will provide lots of opportunity for hunt and find during reading time. 

I really liked that this little book (and the other one in the series) is full of Japanese vocabulary which is easy to understand. All the Japanese words included in the text are also defined with their IPA/hiragana in the text. This would make a wonderful all-ages book for babies up to adults who want to learn a few rudimentary words as well as simple cultural things from Japan. 

Additionally, and it has no real bearing on the book review, but the author/artist, Sanae Ishida's own website and blog are wonderfully creative and full of beautifully designed and constructed sewn clothing, watercolors, printables, papercrafts, and insight. She's a multi-talented creative soul and I am in awe of her sheer productivity. 

Five stars.

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

Sumo Counting

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Sumo Counting is an adorable bilingual Japanese/English illustrated book for babies and children by Sanae Ishida. Due out 7th Sept 2021 from Sasquatch imprint Little Bigfoot, it's 22 pages and will be available in boardbook format.

This is such a fun book with engaging colourful and fun illustrations full of movement and learning opportunities. Each of the illustrations covers a full page with simple inset text describing the pictures simply with numbers shown in both Arabic numerals, Japanese hiragana / IPA, and a short 2 line text in English. It's written as a counting book: "One little sumo full of yokozuna dreams", "Two little sumo wrestlers bouting in a dohyo ring", etc and each subsequent picture is full of more and more little sumo wrestlers doing sumo things (including cleaning up their sumo heya - training and living area). The illustrations are full of subtle little extras which will provide lots of opportunity for hunt and find during reading time. 

I really liked that this little book (and the other one in the series) is full of Japanese vocabulary which is easy to understand. All the Japanese words included in the text are also defined with their IPA/hiragana in the back of the book. This would make a wonderful all-ages book for babies up to adults who want to learn a few rudimentary words and numbers as well as simple cultural things from Japan. 

Additionally, and it has no real bearing on the book review, but the author/artist, Sanae Ishida's own website and blog are wonderfully creative and full of beautifully designed and constructed sewn clothing, watercolors, printables, papercrafts, and insight. She's a multi-talented creative soul and I am in awe of her sheer productivity. 

Five stars.

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

Bees: Heroes of the Garden

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Bees: Heroes of the Garden is a beautifully illustrated and neatly written nonfiction book about bees by science and nature writer Tom Jackson. Due out 6th July 2021 from Amber Books, it's 224 pages and will be available in hardcover format.

The photography, much of it macro, is crystal clear and breathtaking. There are photos which show the incredible diversity of different species of bees and varying anatomy. The graphics and layout are concise and easy to understand. 

The book's chapters are arranged logically: social bees, solitary bees, anatomy (with some of the most spectacular macro photography I've ever seen - impressively clear and in colour), inside the hives, and bees' interactions with flowers. The photography is mostly stock images (credited in the back of the book), but very very high quality. There was no index provided in the early eARC I received for review purposes.

Five stars. Gorgeous coffee table book on bees. This would provide many many hours of learning for youngsters as well, especially with an older reader/adult to read the captions and any questions which arise. 

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

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Talking Back: How to Overcome Chronic Back Pain and Rebuild Your Life


Talking Back is a practice based layman accessible monograph on chronic back pain by Dr. Rowland G. Hazard. Published 7th May 2021 by Rowman & Littlefield, it's 160 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a well written and engaging book written with people in mind who are living with chronic pain and are struggling to find diagnoses, coping mechanisms, and/or ultimately improve their mobility and quality of life. The information is related in the form of general case studies (mosaics of lots of patients from similar situations) in a group treatment setting, which the author refers to as FRP (Functional Restoration Programs). The "patients" he discusses and their situations are believable and definitely compassionately rendered and relatable. 

The book is strong on background and analysis. The author spends quite a lot of time discussing the differences in patient perception of pain, function, and treatment outcomes. He also does a decent job of allowing the reader to think about their own pain and how (and when) it presents and help for beginning the dialogue which needs to happen for patients to begin their own recovery, and even planning for discussing with their practitioner(s) about practical concrete goals and how to begin to realize them.

The book is a good tool for advocacy. After reading it, patients will have some idea of potential new avenues to try, new options for diagnostic tools, and how to bridge the gap between trying to explain one's own case history to (yet another) healthcare professional and get them to really *listen* to what is being explained. 

What is not really within the scope of the book is concrete treatment/workout routines or physical exercises to combat pain or helpful coping mechanisms. It is *not* a how-to book. It wouldn't be logical (or medically responsible) to write down "one-size-fits-all" physio exercises and call it a day. What would be helpful and therapeutic for one patient would be potentially catastrophic for another. 

I did like that despite being fictionalized, the author included an epilogue with the outcome for each of the patient cases included in the group sessions in the book. Even though they weren't all happy, it gave the book a more realistic feel.

This would be a worthwhile read for patients going through the medical system carousel right now and who aren't feeling heard or helped. It would also be a good choice for friends or family of chronic pain patients who are fulfilling the role of patient advocate. 

Four stars. The author has also included a good selection of links and resources for further reading.

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

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Locked in Time: Animal Behavior Unearthed in 50 Extraordinary Fossils

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Locked in Time is an engaging layman accessible monograph on function and the behavior of prehistoric animals based on the fossil records written by Dr. Dean R. Lomax. Released 18th May 2021 by Columbia University Press, it's 296 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a really beautifully illustrated and fascinating look at prehistoric animals' behaviors and lives from information gleaned from the fossil records they left behind. The book is layman accessible, and I found it a fascinating read. The chapter bibliographies are well annotated and make for fascinating further reading, but it doesn't get bogged down in overly academic language. This is popular science writing - not a textbook.

The photographs of fossils throughout are fascinating especially with the expert interpretation and extra notes from the author. The thing that elevated the whole book for me were the beautifully and realistically rendered illustrations.

This would make a superlative selection for library acquisition or for fans of science writing, especially those interested in paleontology. 

Five stars.

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

Murder at the Lakeside Library (A Lakeside Library Mystery #1)

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Murder at the Lakeside Library is the first book in a new library cozy mystery series by Holly Danvers. Due out 13th July 2021 from Crooked Lane Books, it's 336 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

It's always fun to find a new library cozy, and this one is off to a promising start. Protagonist Rain has only been at the lakeside summer cabin community less than 24 hours before she stumbles (almost literally) across a body. The usual pool of small-town-oddball characters are present, there's skullduggery and hidden motives to be unearthed, there's even a handsome law enforcement officer, and Rain is motivated to establish her parents' innocence, as well as her own. 

Some of the plot developments are admittedly a bit over the top and there are some twists which require a healthy suspension of disbelief, but all in all, it's a pretty good example of why the librarian cozy subgenre is so popular. I found the denouement and explanation out of sync with the majority of the rest of the novel and made me roll my eyes so hard I could almost see the inside of my skull. The language is squeaky clean and the violence is off-page and not graphic. 

Three and a half stars. This would be a good light summer read for fans of cozies. It would be perfectly safe for work/commute reading. I'm interested to see what comes next for Rain and co. 

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

Monday, May 17, 2021

MEGA Word Search (Volume 1)


MEGA Word Search (Volume 1) is a new collection of 300 puzzles from Blue Penny Press. Released 1st March 2021, it's a whopping 353 pages and is available in paperback format. 

This is exactly as stated on the cover: 300 family friendly word search puzzles. They're numbered sequentially. Each puzzle has a title which gives a hint as to the theme. The word list underneath contains the words which are included in the puzzles. The grids are 19x19 letters and the answers can be found vertically, diagonally, and horizontally, in all directions (forward and backward).  The puzzles are high contrast in an easy to read font and the pages are large enough that the print is easy to see. There is a complete solution list in the back of the book.

This would make a really good choice for long car trips, vacation/beach use, or cabin vacations. I remember so many wonderful vacations spent with my grandparents at the lake or beach and I -always- had a huge book bag full of puzzles and books to read. *Bliss*.

Five stars. Well made puzzles are a joy.

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

B-Side Books: Essays on Forgotten Favorites

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B-Side Books is an anthology of essays edited by Dr. John Plotz, curated from bookish erudite authors and others on their favorite "forgotten" books which they feel don't deserve to lie on the literary scrap-heap of history.  Due out 1st June 2021 from the Columbia University Press, it's 280 pages and will be available in ebook format (other formats currently available also). This is an entry in the Public Books series devoted to scholarly essays and commentary on contemporary culture, politics, and society. 

I always enjoy essays on literature and writing. They provide a wealth of inspiration for hunting down new authors, finding previously overlooked gems, and reaching outside comfort zones to choose cross-genre books which would otherwise get away. There are 40 essays included here ranging from the very popular and well known authors and essayists to those scholars who are perhaps less well known outside their academic niches. The "hidden gems" they've chosen were mostly previously unknown to me. In fact, of the 40 included books, only 4 of them were previously familiar to me.

I'm glad to have found this book and will utilize the suggestions here to at least sample some new works and authors. I found some few of the essays stilted and very dryly academic, but the points were salient and the language precise and worth the effort. 

Three and a half stars.

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


Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London's Lost Treasures

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Thames Mudlarking is a fascinating look at the a niche modern archaeology obsession, searching for lost and abandoned treasures presented by Jason Sandy & Nick Stevens. Due out 18th May 2021 from Bloomsbury on their Shire imprint, it's 96 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook available now). 

I was captivated at a very early age by stories of treasure. I grew up in an area of the USA which provided a wealth of hunting opportunities for indigenous artifacts after every summer storm. In fact I *still* have a carefully grooved, shaped, and well used stone hammer which is thousands of years old on my bookshelf. I'm fascinated by the people who lived and valued these objects and lost them or possibly tossed them into rivers to be found by people not-yet-dreamt-of to find and treasure. 

This book resonated on a visceral level with me. I loved seeing every one of the pictures and reading the accompanying stories. The introduction (who, what, where, how, and not least *why*), is followed by thematic chapters elucidating different time periods, uses, and classes of items, from fossils to ceremonial items, votives and offerings, coins and, well, pretty much anything in between which might've been dumped or lost into the Thames throughout time. 

The book is illustrated throughout with photos from the authors' personal collections as well as stock photos. There are an amazing variety of items both precious and utterly mundane. Some of the ones which really touched me were the toys, lost or abandoned throughout time. I was reminded of my own experience as a child losing a beloved toy over the side of a ferry, lost forevermore. 

This is emphatically *not* a how-to guide, although enough information is provided on how to contact The Society of Thames Mudlarks & Antiquarians  (and presumably they can point enthusiastic would-be mudlarks toward the proper licenses and permits and safety instructions). The authors have included a short list of resources for further reading and information as well as an abbreviated index.

This would make a superlative selection for library or classroom acquisition, or for fans of archaeology and history. 

Five stars.

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

Destroy & Design This Journal: Make art and break the mold

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Design & Destroy This Journal is an art diary/journal with creative prompts intended to get the reader to fully interact with and change the physical journal. Released 11th May 2021 from Quarto on their Chartwell imprint, it's 204 pages and is available in hardcover format. 

This is, quite simply, a book of prompts with instructions like "sew a button onto this page", "practice your signature", "write your favorite song lyrics", and many more. There are some (ok, a fair number) which I didn't feel were engaging to me personally (smear food fingers on the page, smudge, draw inside the circle til the page tears, etc), but that's to be expected for a journal of this type. Quite probably de rigueur, honestly, since one of the benefits of creativity journals is to push readers outside their current comfort zones. 

This would make a good choice for potentially bumping artists or writers out of a dry spot, for warming up before an art session, or for creative play with younger readers (possibly bound with some pencils, drawing and/or crafts materials). For obvious reasons, it wouldn't be appropriate for library or classroom use. 

Three and a half stars, speaking of the prompts themselves. I was provided an electronic review copy, so I can't speak to the quality of the paper, binding, or physical aspects of the book itself. I can say that Chartwell books tend to use high quality paper and binding, so it should be fine.  

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

The Shooting at Chateau Rock (Bruno, Chief of Police #13)

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The Shooting at Chateau Rock is the 13th Chief Bruno mystery by Martin Walker. Released 26th May 2020 by Knopf, it's 320 pages and is available in most formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is such a subtly written, engaging, and satisfying book. I've been with the series since the beginning and always look forward to the narratives which are full of food and camaraderie (and some crime); they feel like catching up with old friends.  This one is very much in the same mold. Bruno begins to investigate a potential rural insurance fraud and is soon neck deep in international money laundering, Russian / Ukrainian shady politics, and international security.  Contrasted with high crimes and misdemeanors are sunny and satisfying descriptions of town markets, vineyards, his friends and acquaintances, horse culture and riding, loyal hound Balzac, and as always good food. 

This is classic crime fiction, exceedingly well written, engaging, and worthwhile. Although it's the 13th book in the series, it works very well as a standalone book and would make a good entry into the series.

Five stars. 

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

Collectable Names and Designs in Women's Handbags

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Collectable Names and Designs in Women's Handbags is an interesting retrospective history of handbags/purses written by Tracy Martin. Due out 31st Aug 2021 from Pen & Sword, it's 240 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is an interesting and broad historical look at containers used to carry necessities. It's mostly, but not exclusively, about handbags/purses because the author does spend a bit of time talking about chatelaines, sweet bags (medieval bags with herbs and pomanders to ward off bad smells), even prehistorical versions (Ötzi had some very fashion forward bags with him when he met his fate in the Alps). Most of the chapters are arranged roughly chronologically and include the modern era from the turn of the 20th century to the modern day. 

Many manufacturers are covered, and happily not *just* the big names, although they're there too of course. Some of the manufacturing history behind the production is also provided, and I found that more engaging than the bags themselves. I especially enjoyed reading the comprehensive entry on mesh and lucite bags. 

This is not a price guide. The emphasis is more on history and manufacturing. There are some tips and hints on focusing on a period and building/curating a collection. I also liked that the author concentrated more on lesser known areas of handbag collecting, such as the lucite bags. 

There are a fair number of photographs in the book, and most are in colour, but it's not a photography heavy coffee table type book. The iconic Hermés, Chanel, Gucci, and other heavy hitters are included (alongside some of the swoon-worthy prices they've fetched at auction), but it's really the quirky, ephemeral, and lesser known bags which kept me enthralled.

I do have a small collection of classic bags myself, mostly modern "popular" brands like Coach, Juicy Couture, and one Louis Vuitton bag, but this book has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities which are within my price range. I don't imagine I'll ever own a Hermes Birkin, but there are a load of drool-worthy pictures here to inspire readers' dreams. 

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

How to Grill Vegetables: Surprising Techniques and Delicious Recipes

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How to Grill Vegetables is a technique guide and cookbook with recipes by Steven Raichlen. Due out 20th July 2021 from Workman Publishing, it's 336 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

I like the author's logical and accessible style. The book is easy to use and the chapters are arranged thematically: a general how-to is followed by starters, dips & chips, salads slaws soup (yeah, really), breads (pizzas sandwiches quesadillas), small plates, not-so-small plates, sides, grilled eggs & cheeses, and desserts. 

Each of the recipes includes an introductory description, ingredients listed in a bullet point sidebar (US standard measures only - metric conversion table in the appendices) and step by step instructions. The nutritional info is not provided . Many of the recipes are photographed, and the ones which are, are photographed well and clearly. Serving suggestions are attractive and appropriate.

The recipe ingredients themselves are mostly easily sourced and will be available at well stocked grocery stores along with some ingredients being found in international/Asian markets (gochugaru (Korean ground red pepper), halloumi, miso, etc). The early pre-release review copy does not include an index or an ingredients list; presumably they will be added to the final release copy.

There are a lot of creative and appetizing recipes included here with a lot more versatility than just grilled veggies and BBQ rubs. We grilled stone fruits (peaches, plums, and apricots) with brown sugar & bourbon sauce and they disappeared instantly. This would be a great selection for folks who like to experiment and are into barbecue. The emphasis is on fresh wholesome quality ingredients and simple preparation and presentation. It's a very well presented cookbook full of good food. It should be noted that this is -not- vegan or vegetarian friendly, but the recipes -are- easily adapted to non-meat presentations.

Five stars, definitely worth a look.

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

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club

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The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club is a slice of life narrative about a group of tabletop gamers and their interrelationships written by Doug Henderson. Released 21st April 2021 by the University of Iowa Press, it's 252 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. 

I am a lifelong gamer (and proud geek). This book ticked a lot of boxes for me. The setting is clearly one which is familiar to the author and there's a lot of potential here. He's an adept storyteller and there are glimmers of good ideas which never quite gel. The book reads like a young adult/NA offering but is in no way appropriate for younger readers. There are adult themes which wouldn't be appropriate for younger readers (threatened/actual homophobic violence, sexual situations, rough language, etc). I also admittedly had trouble engaging with any of the primary characters. They were all too caricature-ish or unpleasant. 

The problems with the narrative and plotting all feel surmountable with some ruthless rewrites and careful trimming (the entire vampire subplot was fairly superfluous). The author is undoubtedly a creative soul and has an interesting and valid voice. Although this particular book fell flat for me personally (way too many cheap sexual "jokes" and innuendos), I am interested to see how his storytelling develops in future. 

Three stars.

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

The Hands On French Cookbook: Connect with French through Simple, Healthy Cooking

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The Hands On French Cookbook is an interesting and tasty hybrid language & culture cookbook with recipes by Elisabeth de Châtillon. Due out 2nd June 2021, it's 156 pages and will be available in paperback format. 

This is a really fun bilingual cookbook and vocabulary for learning and retaining French words by learning to cook 10 different recipes; 5 main dishes and 5 desserts. Research has shown that tying information to muscle memory is a very good way to retain it permanently. Associating the word "stir" with the action of stirring is a great way to remember the word in another language (French). All of the instructions and vocabulary are given in both French and English.

Recipes are all pictured and are exhaustively described with specific, complete, easy-to-follow step by step preparation directions. The ingredients are given with both American standard and metric measures (yay!!). Recipes are accompanied by interesting trivia about the origin of the dish and time of year/occasions where it's popular. The recipes have a French flair and include classics like quiche, crepes, salad nicoise, chocolate mousse, and gateau. 

This is a very useful book and would make a superlative selection for library acquisition, classroom support text, as well as home use. It's appropriate for all ages, though I would say it's possibly intended for a younger (middle school or older) audience. It's *not* a complete resource or language textbook on its own and there are no pronunciation guides. 

The drawings and graphics are appealing and simple - mostly line drawn with the exception of the recipe photographs. The dishes are presented appealingly and serving suggestions are appetizing and appropriate. 

Four stars.

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

Organza Hoop Art: Embroidery Techniques and Projects for Sheer Stitching

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Organza Hoop Art is a tutorial guide for surface embroidery on sheer ground fabric by Sarah Godfrey. Released 20th April 2021 by Fox Chapel on their Landauer imprint, it's 96 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a well written and exuberantly illustrated book with a good primer on basic surface embroidery techniques and 12 step by step project tutorials. The projects are all framed in hoops, but could easily be adapted to other uses such as embellishments for tulle overlays on clothing, lampshades, stumpwork, or other applications. The author includes an introductory chapter which gives a good overview of tools, beginning techniques, and materials. Following the introduction is a really well done tutorial chapter with the different stitches used for the patterns in the book.  The step-by-step photos are annotated and accompanied by explanatory text.  They're clear and easy to follow.

The final half of the book contains the patterns for the elements listed in the catalogue at the beginning.  They are mostly natural elements (ladybugs, goldfish, sun, florals) which can be individualized in terms of color and arranged as desired. There are no links or retailers included in the book, however all the materials will be easily accessible at nearly any large retailer or craft shop. The author has included color conversion charts for Anchor and DMC flosses.

I enjoyed the book very much.  It's a worthwhile and fun introduction and guide to learning embroidery. Many of the designs in the book could also serve as a good jumping off point for dimensional embroider/stumpwork.

Four and a half stars

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

T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us

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T: The Story of Testosterone is a non-fiction layman accessible overview of the biochemical properties of testosterone written by Dr. Carole Hooven. Due out 13th July 2021 from Macmillan on their Henry Holt imprint, it's 352 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a well written and uncontroversial examination of the effects of testosterone on physiology and behavior. It's aimed at the layperson and doesn't require more than an average basic understanding of science and/or biology. The text throughout is well annotated and the links and chapter notes provide ample opportunity for evidence based and peer-reviewed (advanced) reading later. The author has a conversational style of writing and although it's well annotated with proper citations, it's perfectly understandable and accessible.

This is admittedly a niche read, but it would undoubtedly make a good selection for library acquisition or science readers' use. I would also recommend it for lovers of natural history and biology as well as students of the human condition. 

Four and a half stars. Rounded up for the comprehensive annotations and clear and concise writing. 

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

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Japanese Art of the Cocktail

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The Japanese Art of the Cocktail is a visually stunning and elaborately presented ode to the artistry of Japanese barcraft. Due out 1st June 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's 288 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a really beautiful book. It does include recipes, but honestly it's the gorgeously rendered photographs which elevate this bar book to the ultimate top shelf. Author Masahiro Urushido is the award winning mixologist behind the bar and an owner at Katana Kitten in NYC. The recipes are exotic and refined and exquisitely presented. 

These are -beautifully- made cocktails and the blending ingredients are exotic, colorful, and will be moderately difficult and expensive to source (fino jarana sherry, Hinoki tincture (for which the author includes a recipe), specific plum brandies, and others with which I was even less familiar).

Some of the ingredients should be available at any well stocked grocery/liquor store although most will need to be sourced at specialists or recreated by the reader.

Cocktails are such a civilized interlude and this book includes a solid cross section of (new and variations on old) drinks to build mixology skills and impress one's friends at the next gathering.
Five stars.
 
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

Bare Minimum Dinners: Recipes and Strategies for Doing Less in the Kitchen

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 Bare Minimum Dinners is a cookbook and strategy guide written by Jenna Helwig. Due out 7th Sept 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's 240 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a cookbook for the rest of us. I work full time in healthcare and to say this last couple years have been hectic is a massive understatement. There are so many days when I have come home and none of the adults in the household have had energy to put together much of a dinner at all. This book is packed with good recipes which are streamlined in terms of ingredients, time, hands-on prep, or cleanup. 

The introduction includes a good overview of basic tools and supplies including a list of basic staple pots, pans, and tools to have on hand which would be a good jumping off point for newly-fledged folks living on their own for the first time. The rest of the chapters are arranged thematically: time-saving (30 minutes or less), 7 ingredients or fewer, single pot/pan for easy cleanup, instant pot & slow cooker (life savers for me for the last couple years of the pandemic), and easy side dishes to round out dinner.

Ingredient measurements are supplied in American standard measurements only.  The nutritional information is not included.  Each recipe includes a header with a short description of the recipe and approximate servings. Extra tips or recipe alternatives are listed in text boxes in the recipes. The recipes themselves are fairly straightforward and are made for the most part with easily sourced ingredients. Many are very simple, none of them are overly complex. The photography is abundant and clear and the recipes are illustrated simply and clearly. Serving suggestions are appealing and appropriate. Nearly all of the recipes also include tips and alternative presentations and variations.

There were, admittedly a couple recipes I tried which didn't thrill me. The refried black bean "burgers" were very very mushy and bland. All of the other recipes can be spiced up and changed up, but that one defeated me. 

This cookbook is bare minimum (which is even in the title!). It's not haute cuisine, it's not for fancy company or special dinners. It's for when inspiration refuses to strike standing in front of the refrigerator and peering inside. This would also be a good selection for folks newly living on their own as the recipes are especially beginner friendly and require little in the way of exotic ingredients or tools/supplied.

Four stars.

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

Invitation to Draw: 99 Drawing Prompts to Inspire Kids Creativity

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Invitation to Draw is a fun guide aimed at younger readers with interactive prompts for creative play by Jean Van't Hul. Due out 15th June 2021 from Roost Books, it's 208 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is a graphically appealing and accessible guide with 99 varied and fun tutorial prompts and exercises aimed at young readers with structured ideas to engage them and get them drawing. So much of our lives have been put on hold during the pandemic (and that includes our kids especially who have virtually no control over anything happening to them). Drawing and self-expression can give a measure of control and stress relief to everyone, including youngsters. This book includes lots of different prompts which can also become an important part of online/distance learning. Many of these tutorials will fit seamlessly into home learning with or without other classes.

Most of the pages include fill-in-the-blank type frames and partial drawings for things like dialogue, settings, small drawn stories, story boards, and more. One feature which I really loved was the inclusion of some solid advice from the author to parents and facilitators with good ideas on how to use the book and make it relevant for different ages and situations (for example laminating a page and using it again and again).

The book can be used in a linear manner, front to back, as well as a pick-and-choose resource with specific prompts where needed. Though the book is aimed at youngsters, there are some good takeaways here for readers of all ages. I enjoyed it a lot and the exercises were really fun.

Five stars. This would make a superlative classroom or home learning resource.

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

The New Oil Painting: Your Essential Guide to Materials and Safe Practices

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The New Oil Painting is a tutorial and instruction guide to safe and sustainable oil painting and studio practice by Kimberly Brooks. Due out 18th May 2021 from Chronicle Books, it's 176 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a well written, layman accessible, clear and easy to understand treatise on studio safety, practice, and supplies for oil painting. I work in a medical lab around all kinds of caustic chemicals and solvents and lab safety is always a very high priority. It's amazing how many hobbyists and artists don't take chemical safety and waste disposal seriously. 

The book has a logical layout, the introduction (how and why the information included is relevant and what to do about it) is followed by two main sections: first workspace and materials considerations, and the second covers techniques including some relevant tutorials on preparing canvases, laying down ground, and color mixing which will be learning opportunities for artists at all levels of experience. The author's voice throughout is calm and knowledgeable but not pedantic or preachy. She also includes commentary on her own working style and tips along the way (as well as some truly sobering cautionary commentary on the potential toxicity of traditional materials and solvents which she experienced for herself). 

Five stars. This would make a great choice for library acquisition, maker's spaces, home and school studios and the like. 

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